If you ever feel at a loss for what to pray, there’s no better guidebook for petitions to our Heavenly Father than the very book He wrote—the Bible. Almost every book in there contains a plea or request, and page after page points to another reason we need a Savior. So, when you feel like you just don’t have words, turn first to the Word.
Although we could list hundreds of prayers, we plucked out five of our favorites to show just how filled to the brim the Bible is with ways to call upon our great God.
The Prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10)
When the author of Chronicles dutifully provides us with a list of Judah’s descendants, he can’t help but stop himself. Right in the midst of all these names, he comes to Jabez, a man he wants us to notice, a man of true honor. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve caused pain or if you’ve ever wanted to believe that God can do more than you can ask or imagine, this prayer is for you:
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13)
This prayer is the true classic. Most of us have said this prayer and could likely recite it right now. But there’s much more to this model that Jesus gave us than rote recitation. This is a prayer with real power: God’s kingdom coming, God’s will being done, all that we need for the day. It’s truly power packed. So, take a closer look at what it teaches:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Jonah’s Prayer for Salvation (Jonah 2:2–9)
We may never be swallowed by a great fish, but we can still experience the shame and regret that Jonah felt after he ran from God. The prophet’s plea to the Father provides a poignant scaffolding for our own prayers of repentance. And remember that God heard and answered this humble, honest prayer:
“In my distress I called to the Lord,
and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
“When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
“Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
David’s Prayer for Deliverance (Psalm 3)
This one was a tough choice because the Psalms are stuffed full of cries and petitions. If you ever want a primer for prayer, you can’t go wrong with this wisdom book. But we chose Psalm 3 because it provides a concise portrait of crying out to God in the midst of great stress. David’s words are no less relevant to our modern workplace and lifestyle as they were to his battles:
Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.
Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.
Hannah’s Prayer of Praise (1 Samuel 2:1–10)
When Hannah received the child she begged God for, her first instinct is to praise the One who provided. She wants to thank Him for His greatness and His deliverance. Too often we pray before receiving, but then forget to pray after God answers. Let this prayer guide you in thanks:
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord:
for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
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