Faith & Wisdom

What Does The Bible Say About Prayer?

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Date Published:
September 9, 2021

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Summary

As Christians, one of the things we first learn at a young age is the importance and power of prayer. We are taught that praying to God is our way of talking to Him. In return, prayer helps us develop a strong and open relationship with Him from a young age.

We don't necessarily need to be asking for anything when we pray to God. Instead, we can just speak freely and openly to Him about anything we want to.

Sometimes it is just comforting to know He is listening to us. The power of prayer can also be beneficial to both our mind and our body. 

Prayer can help reduce sadness and anxiety and help us sleep more peacefully when we speak to our Heavenly Father at night. Through prayer, we are keeping communication open, and Jesus is always listening.

In this article, we will discuss what the Bible tells us about prayer. We will also tell you about the different types of prayer.

Let’s dive in.

A.C.T.S.: The four types of prayer

In the Christian faith, there are four main types of prayer: 

  • Adoration 
  • Contrition 
  • Thanksgiving 
  • Supplication

This is also known as the A.C.T.S. formula for prayer. You can find each of these four types of prayer within the pages of the Bible.

Let’s break down these types of prayer and look at where they are displayed in the Bible.

Adoration

Adoration is another way of saying worship. This is a very common way to glorify and show loyalty to our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer. To display adoration, we can praise God through prayers. Psalms 5:7 serves as an example of adoration: 

“But as for me, I will come into your house in the multitude of your mercy; In fear of you I will worship today your holy temple.”

Another Bible verse that shows adoration and love for the Lord is 1 Chronicles 29:11

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is Your Kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.”

Woman praying in church

Contrition

Contrition is the next type of prayer in the A.C.T.S. formula. Contrition is associated with the feeling of remorse and the seeking of forgiveness, also known as penitence. 

This is commonly seen in the Catholic church when the faithful seek penitence through acts of contrition after confessing one's past sins to a Catholic priest in a confessional. After confession, the priest gives the faithful a penance, such as reciting The Lord’s Prayer (also called Our Father), to acquire forgiveness.

Here is The Lord’s Prayer:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”

An example of a Bible verse about contrition is Psalms 34:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 

Another verse relating to contrition and God's forgiveness is 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Our Lord is a forgiving Lord, but we still must ask for His forgiveness through prayer.

Thanksgiving

The T in A.C.T.S. stands for thanksgiving. Prayers focused on thanksgiving reflect on what our Lord Jesus Christ has done and the gratitude we feel. 

Through prayer, we can thank God for all of His gifts to us, including His salvation, love, and protection.

Many Bible verses display our thanksgiving for such a loving and kind Lord as ours. A prime example is Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Another instruction to thank our Lord Jesus Christ is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Woman in veil praying in dimly lit church.

Supplication

Supplication is the final form of prayer in the four prayer model. Supplication is when one asks in a humble and earnest manner. 

This is perhaps the most common form of prayer for many, as we are taught to turn to Jesus in troubling times when we need His assistance, guidance, and forgiveness for our sins.

One Bible verse that encourages comfort in seeking God's support and guidance is found in Hebrews 4:16: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” 

We are taught not to fear God in our times of need but to come to Him and speak openly. While He may not respond with a direct answer, He is listening, and He will display His love and guidance in ways in which we may never have imagined. Through supplication, we can learn about the will of God and His plan for us.

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Prayers for others

The Scripture tells us to pray for others. An example of this is found in James 5:16

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Ephesians 6:18 also encourages us to pray for others always:

“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 Lord’s people.”

Three people praying together in church.

As Christians, we are to reflect what we are taught in the scriptures through how we treat others. This includes praying for them. Through prayer, we show our love for others regardless if they share our faith.

When Jesus does tell us to pray for each other, this does not mean our prayers for others are restricted just to fellow Christians. We should pray for all of God’s children.

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More Bible verses about prayer

Here are 13 more Bible verses you can read to contemplate prayer. There is much to take away from these verses, such as putting your trust and love in the Lord and devoting yourself through prayer. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:24-25).

“...as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:11).

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer” (Psalms 4:1)

But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” (Psalms 66:19-20).

“I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalms 145:1).

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (John 5:14-15).

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

“Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). 

“...ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).

“I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice” (Psalms 141:1-2).

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Praying to God will bring you closer to Him

The Bible teaches us there is no single right way to pray to God. Whether you follow the A.C.T.S. model or pray from your heart, Jesus is listening.

It is important to remember above all else that praying to Jesus Christ is a form of communication. Open your heart to him and tell him what you need. 

If you need inspiration on what to speak with God about, open the Bible and find a verse to discuss. You can ask for more clarity on the verse or tell Him how this particular verse speaks to your soul.

God's ear is always open to you, so remember to speak to him often and truthfully because we are His beloved children, and He is always present to assist us in our times of need and celebrate our accomplishments in life.

For more on prayer and the Holy Spirit, download the Pray.com app on the iOS App Store and Google Play.

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