Prayer is a huge part of Christianity. Christians are encouraged to pray when they need to make a serious life decision, when they are sad, when they are thankful and at just about every other point in their lives. Prayer is also a big deal in the Bible. The Bible lists nine main categories of prayer, five special praying postures, and prayer mentioned almost immediately in Genesis. There are also more than 650 actual prayers recorded in the Bible. Strangely enough, however, most Christians do not use those prayers. They tend to use prayers that have been written by more contemporary people or that they themselves have constructed on the spot. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but there is something to be said for using the words found in God’s Word to speak to God Himself. Here are six biblical prayers everyone can use in their everyday lives.
Matthew 6:9-13“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 do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”
Most commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer, this prayer from the Gospel of Matthew is arguably the most famous prayer in all of Christianity. The prayer can be used for a wide variety of purposes and is commonly recited by Christians of all denominations during worship services or whenever they feel the need for a reminder of their faith. The Lord’s Prayer is called such because it was originally recited by Jesus when he told the Apostles, “Pray in this way.” It remains one of the first prayers many Christians learn and, in some cases, is the only formalized prayer that they know.
Numbers 6:24-26“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
Numbers is one of those books that most Christians more or less forget exists unless they are bemoaning the difficulty in staying interested in the first few books of the Old Testament. A large portion of Numbers is dedicated to laying out the laws that God gave the Israelites through Moses. As such, most Christians are happy to skip over the book and jump straight from Exodus to the conquest of Canaan. This means that they miss this prayer that God gave to Aaron to say over the Israelites. The prayer is short and simple, but it is an easy prayer for protection and blessing that can be used at any time and directed at anyone. All that would need to be done to make the prayer about someone specific would be to replace “you” in the prayer with their name.
Luke 18:13“God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
There are few prayers that are shorter and yet more poignant than these seven words in the Gospel of Luke. The prayer comes from one of Jesus’ most famous parables, the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. In the story, the tax collector says this simple but heartfelt prayer to God begging Him for mercy. As everyone is a sinner, this is a good prayer to keep in your back pocket and to use often as long as you say it sincerely. Otherwise, you are less of the tax collector and more of the Pharisee.
Psalm 25“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me. Do not let those who wait for You be put to shame; let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 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 day long. Be mindful of Your mercy, O Lord, and of Your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to Your steadfast love remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His decrees.
For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who are they that fear the Lord? He will teach them the way that they should choose. They will abide in prosperity, and their children shall possess the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes His covenant known to them. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me[a] out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. O guard my life, and deliver me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in You. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all its troubles.”
Almost all of the Psalms are prayers of one type or another. Psalm 25 is a popular one among Christians because it is largely a prayer of praise. It extols the virtues of God and asks that He grant some measure of His blessing on His people. Psalm 25 also does a good job of listing the various attributes for which God is known and showing how similar, in many ways, the problems of yesterday are to those of today. David prays for understanding and for God to show him the way. People make that same request every day in modern times. David asks for victory over and protection against his enemies. This is certainly valid in many corners of the world today where Christians live in fear. Yet throughout it all, David focuses on the glories and virtues of God. Psalm 25 is longer than most of the prayers Christians today use, but that does not mean that it is not still a wonderful prayer or one that could not be used by modern Christians.
Ephesians 3:14-19“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power 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, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3 contains a prayer that is longer, but a good one for Christians to remember. It calls for a person’s spirit to be strengthened and for them to become more aware of Christ, God and His love. It is a rather general prayer, but that is part of what makes it such a good one to remember. There are times when Christians may want to pray for a friend who is having difficulties but is reluctant to air their dirty laundry and give out details of the problem. A person might also be asked to pray for a neighbor even though they do not know the details of the situation that requires prayers. In those instances, a general prayer asking for strength, understanding and God’s love is a perfect choice.
Matthew 26:39“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not what I want but what You want.”
It is easy to get caught up in what you want. That, after all, is what most people are used to thinking about and what they are largely wired to consider. Sometimes, however, people need a reminder that it is not all about them. They are part of a bigger plan, but they are not the only character in the greater story. This prayer that Jesus prayed in Gethsemane is a humbling reminder of that fact. The prayer also serves to remind Christians that they are not the ones in control and are not meant to be. Sometimes, things happen that they struggle to understand or explain. In those instances, it is helpful to have a prayer that recognizes that there is a greater will at work, and God has a plan for everyone.
The Christian Bible is filled with prayers that are perfect for every situation. So, instead of searching through the internet for some blogger’s idea of a great prayer, crack open your Bible and search for the perfect words to pull directly from God’s Word and whisper in God’s ear.