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What Do People Pray for in the New Testament? (Part 2)

We first looked at prayers people make “to God,” with God as the primary focus. Now we turn to prayers people make for themselves.


Prayer for Needs 

  1. Give us today our daily bread (Matt. 6:11).
  2. Asking, seeking, knocking for our needs (Matt. 7:7-11).
  3. Jesus tells the parable of the friend who asks for bread at night. His friend will give only because of his shameless audacity (Lk. 11:5-8).
  4. Parable of the widow who went to the judge over and over again (Lk. 18:1-8).
  5. Don’t be anxious, but by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil. 4:6).
  6. Widows who are in need pray and ask God for help (1 Tim. 5:5).

Receiving What We Ask For 

  1. Jesus says that whatever you ask for in prayer, if you believe, you will receive it (Matt. 21:22; Mark 11:24).
  2. Jesus says he will do whatever you ask in his name, so the Father may be glorified in the Son (Jn. 14:13-14).
  3. If you remain in Jesus and he in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you (Jn. 15:7).
  4. I chose you and appointed you so you might bear fruit that will last and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you (Jn. 15:16). Similar language in Jn. 16:23-26.
  5. When you ask, you don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (Jam. 4:3).
  6. We receive what we ask for when we keep his commands: believing in Jesus and loving one another (1 Jn. 3:22).
  7. We have confidence that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (1 Jn. 5:14).

Let Us Not Give in to Temptation 

  1. Lead us not into temptation (Matt. 6:13).
  2. He told his disciples to pray so they would not fall into temptation (Matt. 26:41).

Prayer for Protection 

  1. Jesus prays that the Father would protect the disciples that they may be one (Jn. 17:11-12).
  2. Jesus prays not that they would be taken out of the world, but be protected from the evil one (Jn. 17:15).
  3. The church prayed for Peter while he was in jail (Acts 12:5).
  4. Paul asks for prayers to be kept safe from unbelievers in Judea (Rom. 15:31).
  5. Paul asks for prayer to be delivered from wicked and evil people (2 Thess. 3:2).

Thanking God for Food

  1. Jesus thanked God for the food when he fed the 5,000 and 4,000 (Matt. 14:13-21; 15:32-39).
  2. Jesus thanked God for the food at the Last Supper (Matt 26:26-27).
  3. If we take part in the meal with an unbeliever with thankfulness, we are thanking God for it and don’t deserve condemnation (1 Cor. 10:30).

Prayer for Healing 

  1. Peter prayed before raising a girl from the dead (Acts 9:40).
  2. Paul prayed for a man sick with fever and healed him (Acts 28:8).
  3. Those who are sick should call the elders of the church and be anointed (Jam. 5:14-15).

Prayer in the Midst of Suffering 

  1. Jesus says to pray that flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath (Matt. 24:20; referring to Rome in AD 70).
  2. Jesus prayed in Gethsemane that the cup would be taken from him, but also for God’s will to be done (Matt 26:39).
  3. Paul knows that the prayers of the Philippians while he is in chains will result in his deliverance (Phil. 1:19).
  4. Jesus offered prayers and petitions to the one who could save him from death (Heb. 5:7).

What Do People Pray in the New Testament?

In an earlier post, I said we need to evaluate our prayers with those of the Bible. You could probably group them differently than I did. Keeping in mind that some things are simply descriptive, not prescriptive, here is the list, starting with what I’ve called “Prayers to God.” Some I have quoted the verse, others I have summarized.

I’ll follow this up with Prayers for Our Needs, Prayers for the Church, and Prayers for Others.


Prayer of Praise
Praise the God of comfort who comforts us in our troubles (2 Cor. 1:3).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Eph. 3:20-21).

Prayer for God’s Name
Hallowed be your name (Matt. 6:9).

Glorify the Son
Jesus prays in His high priestly prayer for the Father to glorify Him (Jn. 17:1-5).

Prayer for God’s Kingdom
Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).

Prayer for God’s Will
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
Jesus prayed in Gethsemane for God’s will to be done (Matt 26:39).
We pray that you will not do anything wrong, that you will do what is right even though we seem to have failed (2 Cor. 13:7).
Epaphras always prays for the Colossians. He wrestles in prayer that they might stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured (Col. 4:12).
The Spirit helps in our weakness. The Spirit intercedes through wordless groans (Rom. 8:26). He intercedes for God’s people according to the will of God.

Prayer that Seeks God First
Seek and you will find (Matt. 7:7).

Prayer that Questions God
Jesus prayed on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).

Prayer for Mercy and Forgiveness of Sins
Forgive us as we have forgiven (Matt. 6:12).
If you hold anything against anyone, forgive them so the Father will forgive your sins (Mk. 11:25).
If two of you ask for anything having to do with forgiveness of sins, it will be done (Matt. 18:19).
The tax collector prayed for God’s mercy while the Pharisee prayed he wasn’t like the tax collector (Lk. 18:9-14).
Peter tells Simon to pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22).
Those who are sick and are anointed will be healed, and if they have sinned, they will be forgiven (Jam. 5:15). We are to confess our sins to one another and pray so we may be healed (Jam. 5:16).
If we see those who commit sins that don’t lead to death, pray and God will give them life (1 Jn. 5:16).

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Anna, the prophetess, gave thanks to God for sending the Messiah (Lk. 2:38).
Jesus thanks God for hearing him (Jn. 11:41-42).
Paul thanks God for the famous faith of the Romans (Rom. 1:8).
Paul thanks God for the Corinthians because of the grace given to them in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:4).
Paul thanks God that he speaks in tongues more than all of the Corinthians (1 Cor. 14:18).
Thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Cor. 15:57).
Thanks be to God who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere (2 Cor. 2:14).
Always give thanks to God the Father for everything (Eph. 5:20).
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Col. 3:17).
Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18).

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