7 Different Types of Prayer from the Bible
In the Bible, we see several different prayer types on display. Here are seven types of prayer for you to learn to take your prayer life to the next level…
There is no one right way to pray. Throughout the Bible, we see several different types of prayer used. A strong prayer life incorporates various prayer types, which will help you through the many different situations you will face in your life. Here are seven different types of prayers for you to learn and master to take your prayer life to the next level.
7 Types of Prayer
The first of these seven types of prayer is adoration. Adoration is praising God for who He is. God is the Lord of all and deserves our praise because of that alone. Psalm 99:5 encourages us to exalt the Lord because He is holy. Recognizing the Lord’s power, mercy, love, and more in your prayer life is good. Check out these three prayers from the Bible as examples of adoration:
“Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire.”
“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, ‘O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart; you have kept with your servant David my father what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth, and with your hand have fulfilled it this day.’”
“Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise. You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”
Which of God’s characteristics do you admire and adore, and which inspires you the most? Make a list of as many things as possible about who God is, and keep them at hand when you pray. Each time you pray an adoration prayer, pick a few things off your list and tell Him that you adore those things about Him.
The next prayer type is the lament. God wants us to bring our fears, doubts, and despair to Him. In 1 Peter 5:7, we are told to cast all our anxieties on Him. We see countless examples of lament in the Bible, where faithful followers of God wrestled with doubts, difficulty, and even depression. An entire book of the Bible is called Lamentations, after all! Check out these three prayers from the Bible for examples of lament and sorrow and how we can approach God while feeling that way.
“O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand. You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves.”
“Remember, O Lord, what has befallen us; look, and see our disgrace! Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. We have become orphans, fatherless; our mothers are like widows. We must pay for the water we drink; the wood we get must be bought. Our pursuers are at our necks; we are weary; we are given no rest.”
“How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death…”
Has your heart been heavy and burdened lately? Do you feel anxious, depressed, angry, or grieved? Know that God’s arms are a safe place, and His listening ear is there for you. How can you tailor these laments to fit your current situation, feelings, and needs?
Thanksgiving is the next type of prayer. Like adoration, thanksgiving is praising God for what He has done. God has done so much for each of us, not the least of which was sending Christ to save us from our sins. When praying, think of God’s actions in your life and recognize Him for that by giving thanks. This will also help you build an attitude of gratitude in your daily life. Check out these three prayers from the Bible for examples of thanksgiving.
“Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.’”
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.’”
“And Hannah prayed and said, ‘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.’”
When you look back on your day for all the things – big and small – that God has done, you may be surprised! There are so many things that He does that we are unaware of. Sometimes the things we are thankful for create an overwhelming list! It may be helpful to write down your list of things you are grateful for in a journal or try this fun activity:
Take a jar, box, or other container and decorate it any way you would like. Next, write down on scraps of paper things you are thankful for, fold them up, and add to the jar. Be sure to add one thing a day, minimum. Then, when you are praying, pull out a few paper scraps and thank God for those things. Let Him know you see and appreciate His hand moving in your life.
The fourth type of prayer is petition. Petition is what many people imagine when they think about prayer. It means asking God for something, whether for yourself or someone else. And God certainly wants us to do this! Philippians 4:6 tells us to let our requests be known to God. But prayer is not just about asking God to do things for us – it’s just one of the many ways that He wants us to communicate with Him. Check out these three prayers from the Bible for examples of petition.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
“Then Abraham drew near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ And the Lord said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’ Abraham answered and said, ‘Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And he said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ Again he spoke to him and said, ‘Suppose forty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of forty I will not do it.’ Then he said, ‘Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.’ He answered, ‘I will not do it, if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.’ Then he said, ‘Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’
In Mark 10:51, Jesus asked a blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” God knows our every need and the desire of our hearts, yet He wants us to have a conversation with Him and ask Him for those needs. What needs and desires do you have that you can ask Him for today? Come to Him with a thankful heart, and write down what you’ve asked Him for after you’ve prayed. When you receive an answer to that prayer (whether it is yes, no, or wait), write it down. You’ll be amazed when you look back at how Jesus comes alongside you and answers you.
The next prayer type is deliverance. Prayers of deliverance are similar to prayers of petition. They are requests made to God to save us or others from challenging or dangerous situations. But they also acknowledge that we can do nothing apart from God and that He has the power to save. These prayers are all over the Bible – especially in King David’s Psalms. Check out these three prayers from the Bible for examples of prayers for deliverance.
“O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no salvation for him in God.’ But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!”
“And [Jesus] came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’”
“Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, ‘I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was fainting away, remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!’ And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.”
Think back to a time when you were in a dangerous or difficult situation and needed help. Did you cry out to God for help? How did He answer? Are you in a situation now that feels hopeless unless He intervenes? Are there things in your life from which you need to find freedom? Struggles you have from which you need deliverance? Ask Him for what you need and set it before His feet. Trust that He will help you and ask Him to speak to you.
The sixth type of prayer is contrition. Contrition is the feeling of remorse and the desire to repent of sin. You are probably familiar with prayers like this, which ask God for forgiveness for things we have done. They are essential prayers that allow us to confess our wrongdoing and reconnect with our forgiving Heavenly Father. Psalm 51 tells us that when we mess up, God desires “a broken and contrite heart” from us. Check out these three prayers from the Bible for examples of prayers of contrition or asking for forgiveness.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”
“[Jesus] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
It’s often difficult to admit that we have made mistakes or sinned. God already knows every nuance of you, your day, and what you have thought or done. When you bring those things to Him, He offers you forgiveness and freedom from them. Take a few moments to think through your day and week. Are there things for which you need to ask forgiveness? Are there unresolved things from your past that you want God to forgive?
The last of the types of prayer that we will cover are prayers for guidance. Similar to prayers for deliverance, these conversations with God allow us to acknowledge God’s sovereignty. We can express that He knows best and that we trust him to direct our lives when we ask Him for guidance. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us that we should not lean on our own understanding, but instead trust in the Lord with all our heart. Check out these three prayers from the Bible for examples of prayers for guidance.
“And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, ‘Ask what I shall give you.’ And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?’”
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
“I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.”
God sent His Holy Spirit to live in your heart when you asked Jesus into your life. He promises that if we ask for wisdom and guidance, He will give it generously (James 1:5). Where do you need guidance in your life today? Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you, give you the knowledge and wisdom you need, and provide you with direction. You can create a fun visual of the directions God gives you by creating a map. Start where you are and draw a path where His Spirit leads you as He guides you. Drawing a map can be a fun way to detail the journey and a way to look back on how He navigates you through life’s twists and turns.
The Lord’s Prayer
Remember, a strong prayer life will regularly incorporate these seven different types of prayer in your conversations with God. For an example of this, look no further than Jesus’ prayer in Luke 11:1-4, commonly referred to as the Lord’s Prayer:
“Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ And he said to them, ‘When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
Can you identify the different types of prayer included in that single prayer?
Hopefully, by identifying these different types of prayer, you will be able to strengthen your prayer life!
Hopefully, by identifying these different types of prayer and putting them into your own words, you will be able to strengthen your prayer life! Take the time to work on each kind of prayer and go through the application activities to help you deepen your time speaking to the Lord.
Remember that a strong, healthy prayer life requires a conversation with the One who loves you the most. Take the time to speak to the Lord every day, as often as possible, and watch your relationship with Jesus grow!