“Let’s pray.” For Christians the world over, this simple sentence serves as an invitation to come before the Lord and thank Him for the meal we are about to eat. For some, it’s the only time they pray each day. For others, prayer is as much a part of their lives as breathing. Why the difference, and why should it matter? There is abundant Scripture on prayer, and investigating it is a worthy endeavor. To that end, this article is packed with biblical references to prayer.
During the Sermon on the Mount recounted in Matthew 5-7, the Lord Jesus taught the people how to pray in what is referred to as the Disciples’ Prayer. Introducing it, He says, “And when you pray…” Notice He doesn’t say, “If you pray.” The inference is we will pray, and because Jesus made it a mandate, it is of paramount importance for us to pray. It’s a command.
Through prayer, we center on worship of the Lord, thanksgiving to Him, His will, our confessions, and our needs. We shake off the mundane and enter into the holy of holies as we bow before our Maker (Hebrews 4:16, Hebrews 6:19, 20, Hebrews 10:19-20). Prayer brings us back to the One who ushered us into His kingdom.
Prayer is important for Christians because:
The Holy Spirit supplements our communication with God (Romans 8:26).
This is not an exhaustive list, and some passages overlap in their motivations, but the list serves as a springboard for more study.
Prayer is a very important part of each Christian’s life. The Bible has much to say about its role, and, being the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), Jesus Christ gave us a mandate to pray (Luke 11:1-4). Throughout the Bible, the word, “prayer” occurs 114 times, and “pray” is recorded in ninety-four passages.
We are told in Hebrews 4:14-16, we can go before the throne of grace with our confession of Jesus as our Great High Priest.
Where do our prayers go, if not to the Creator of the heavens and the earth? Revelation 5:8 tells us they are collected in heaven as “incense" that fills “golden bowls.” That is a magnificent image of how the Lord views our conversations with Him.
Our greatest exemplar on fervent prayer is the Lord Jesus Himself. Scripture states He, “went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). When in Gethsemane the night before He was crucified, Jesus, “being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44), and Hebrews 5:7, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” Hebrews 6:19-20, Hebrews 10:19-20.
It is noted King David penned 73 of the 150 Psalms. He poured out his heart and soul in impassioned pleading and worship (e.g., Psalm 6, Psalm 51, Psalm 139). Let us not miss Psalm 23, which even unbelievers can often quote.
Fervent prayer is displayed by numerous other persons in the Bible, including not a few women.
Hannah, whose story is told in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:21, offered fervent prayers to the Lord for a child.
Mary, when told by the mighty angel, Gabriel, that she was to give birth to the Messiah, magnified the Lord through prayer.
The Canaanite woman who prayed to Jesus to the consternation of the disciples in Matthew 15: 21-28, did not let that stop her; her faith prompted Jesus to answer her prayer.
The story of David displays the many prayers he offered to God in all seasons of his life.
Daniel and his three companions, while serving him, would not worship King Nebuchadnezzar. When foreign officials sought to dishonor him, Daniel continued his worship and prayed toward Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10). His companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were thrown into a furnace when they refused to worship the king (Daniel 3:16-18).
Peter and Paul were disciples who prayed fervently to the Lord. The books of Acts, Romans, and the Epistles record their prayers.
Job not only prayed with all of his heart to the Lord, but he also conversed with Him (Job 38-42)!
Scriptures to Use while Praying
There are many Scriptures that show us how and what to pray. The Psalms are replete with models of prayer for every need, from praise to confession to imprecation.
One can use numerous Scripture passages as a starting point, whether it’s a pause to praise God for His wondrous works or even to cry to Him for help. God wastes nothing and every jot and tittle of the Bible is there for His reasons. 1 Timothy 3:15-16 tells us it’s all for our growth in Him. There are myriad ways to pray, and topical Bibles can help us with word searches to match our needs.
Here are a few common emotions and passages that are good to pray through.
Depressed? Isaiah 41:10
Happy? Psalm 139
Sad? Psalm 23
Afraid? Philippians 4:6
Joyful? Psalm 150
Confused? Proverbs 3:5-6
Persecuted? Joshua 1:9
Guilt-ridden? 1 John 1:9
Lord, You told me that Your grace is sufficient for me, for Your power is made perfect in my weakness. Since that is true, I will boast all the more gladly for being weak! Because it is then that Your power rests on me. For Your sake, Lord Jesus, I am content in my weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. You have said it; When I am weak, then I am strong. Thank You, Lord!
Even Genesis 1:1 can be prayed to God!
Lord, You were there in the beginning because You always have been. You created everything! Everything! Here I am on the earth You created and I am blessed to be able to look into the daytime sky and see the wonder of the clear blue or even a cloud-filled stormy sky. At night, I get to look upon the stars that You created! It’s true, Father, “day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge (Psalm 19).
One passage can flow as you pray through Bible passages.
Whenever you pray, know that as a Christian, your prayers are being heard by the One who created you and loves you.
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Photo credit: Unsplash/Olivia Snow
Lisa Loraine Baker is the award-winning author of Someplace to Be Somebody (End Game Press, February 2022). Lisa writes fiction and nonfiction and is currently co-writing a Christian living book with her husband, and a suspense novel.
Lisa is a member of Word Weavers, Int’l (as a critique partner and mentor), AWSA, ACFW, Serious Writer Group, and BRRC.
Lisa and her husband, Stephen, inhabit their home as the “Newlyweds of Minerva” with crazy cat, Lewis.