Basics to Prayer

What Does the Bible Say About Prayer?

Praying
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Is your prayer life a struggle? Does praying seem like an exercise in eloquent speech that you just don't possess? Find biblical answers to many of your questions about prayer.

What Does the Bible Say About Prayer?

Prayer is not a mysterious practice reserved only for clergy and the religiously devout. Prayer is simply communicating with God—listening and talking to him. Believers can pray from the heart, freely, spontaneously, and in their own words.

If prayer is a difficult area for you, learn these basics principles of prayer and how to apply them in your life.

The Bible has a lot to say about prayer. The first mention of prayer is in Genesis 4:26: "And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the LORD." (NKJV)

What Is the Correct Posture for Prayer?

There is no correct or certain posture for prayer. In the Bible people prayed on their knees (1 Kings 8:54), bowing (Exodus 4:31), on their faces before God (2 Chronicles 20:18; Matthew 26:39), and standing (1 Kings 8:22). You may pray with your eyes opened or closed, quietly or out loud—however you are most comfortable and least distracted.

Should I Use Eloquent Words?

Your prayers need not be wordy or impressive in speech:

"When you pray, don't babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again." (Matthew 6:7, NLT)

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2, NIV)

Why Should I Pray?

Prayer develops our relationship with God. If we never speak to our spouse or never listen to anything our spouse might have to say to us, our marriage relationship will quickly deteriorate.

It is the same way with God. Prayer—communicating with God—helps us grow closer and more intimately connected with God.

I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'These are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' " (Zechariah 13:9, NLT)

But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! (John 15:7, NLT)

The Lord instructed us to pray. One of the simplest reasons to spend time in prayer is because the Lord taught us to pray. Obedience to God is a natural by-product of discipleship.

"Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!" (Matthew 26:41, NLT)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1, NIV)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)

What If I Don't Know How to Pray?

The Holy Spirit will help you in prayer when you don't know how to pray:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8:26-27, NIV)

Are There Requirements for Successful Prayer?

The Bible establishes a few requirements for successful prayer:

  • A humble heart

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV) 

  • Wholeheartedness

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13, NIV)

  • Faith

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

(Mark 11:24, NIV)

  • Righteousness

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16, NIV)

  • Obedience

And we will receive whatever we request because we obey him and do the things that please him. (1 John 3:22, NLT)

Does God Hear and Answer Prayer?

God hears and answers our prayers. Here are examples from the Bible.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17, NIV)

He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. (Psalm 91:15, NIV)

See Also:

Why Are Some Prayers Not Answered?

Sometimes our prayers are not answered. The Bible gives several reasons or causes for failure in prayer:

Sometimes our prayers are refused. Prayer must be in accord with God's divine will:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14, NIV)

(See also - Deuteronomy 3:26; Ezekiel 20:3)

Should I Pray Alone or with Others?

God wants us to pray together with other believers:

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:19, NIV)

And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. (Luke 1:10, NIV)

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:14, NIV)

God also wants us to pray alone and in secret:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

(Matthew 6:6, NIV)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35, NIV)

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:15-16, NIV)

Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12, NKJV)