What Types of Prayer Are in the Bible?

Jesus had a lot more to say about prayer and it all boils down to relationship; honoring God and having our hearts engaged no matter what we want to talk to him about. The various types of prayer are assorted ways to communicate what we need.

Danielle Bernock
Hands on the table praying

Throughout the Bible, we find various types of prayer. To some, this is confusing, while others find it helpful. To begin, let’s simplify it by pointing out that prayer is talking to God and the types of prayer are not a complicated way to twist his arm to do something. Prayer is not manipulating God, it’s communication.

Whenever we talk with someone there’s always a reason. There’s something we want to communicate. This is where the “types” of prayer come in.

A better word to use than "type" might be "way" because of how Jesus taught on prayer.

Jesus on Prayer

When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray, he did two things. He taught them the way not to pray as well as the way to pray. This portion of Scripture is where we find the infamous Lord’s Prayer, or as some call it “The Our Father.”

This prayer is recited in countless churches, and in many homes. It’s a beautiful prayer. However, if it’s recited without paying attention to what Jesus said, it isn’t prayer at all. It’s merely performing a beautiful piece of literature.

Before Jesus started verbalizing what we know as the Lord’s Prayer he said, “In this manner therefore pray” (Matthew 6:9). He did not say repeat after me. Some translations say to “pray in this way,” which is still not saying to merely repeat.

This meant don’t merely repeat words. He called it vain repetition. He also said not to pray for the sake of being seen like the Pharisees were doing (Matthew 6:5).

Jesus had a lot more to say about prayer and it all boils down to relationship; honoring God and having our hearts engaged no matter what we want to talk to him about.

The various types of prayer are assorted ways to communicate what we need. There are many different ways to pray and the following list is not exhaustive.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Not to be confused with the American holiday this way of praying is an attitude of heart. When we need something, God wants us to come to him instead of worrying or trying to take care of it ourselves. He wants us to come with a grateful, thankful heart for all he’s done. Philippians 4:6 says:

Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart (GNT).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done (NLT).

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (NASV).

Prayer of Worship

This way of praying is similar to that of thanksgiving but focuses even more on who God is. It’s recognizing his majesty and humbling ourselves in worship, sometimes with fasting. In the book of Acts, the church was doing this when the Holy Spirit spoke to them.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off (Acts 13:2-3).

Prayer of Intercession

This type of prayer is the way we pray for others. That is what the word intercede means — on behalf of others. When we pray for others, we are doing two things. One is that we are walking in love with who we are praying for. And two, we’re following biblical instruction.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Jesus prayed, or interceded for, his disciples and all those the Father had given him in John 17.

Prayer of Consecration

To consecrate something means to set it apart. This means, when we pray in this manner, we are setting ourselves under the authority and will of God. This can be done when we don’t know what God wants, but also when we do, but know it will be hard and need him to empower us. Jesus prayed this way in the garden of Gethsemane.

…he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

Jesus knew his father’s will because that is what he came to do, but that didn’t make it easy. Consecrating himself empowered him to follow through.

Prayer of Faith

We pray in faith when we know what God’s will is. For example, we know that God’s will is forgiveness because that’s what Jesus came to secure. And we know his will is healing because Jesus “went about healing all” (Acts 10:38). In James 5:15, we find the term prayer of faith when connected to healing and forgiveness.

And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Prayer of Agreement

In the Old Testament, it says two are better than one because they’re stronger together. This is also true in the New Testament. When you have two believers join together in prayer, God promises to answer.

"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven (Matthew 18:19).

Prayer of The Holy Spirit

There are times when we just don’t know how to pray. We want to, but either we don’t have the words or the strength. This is where we can press into the help of our helper, the comforter, the Holy Spirit.

…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27).

Prayer for All the Time

Praying to God is a joy once we’ve come to know his loving heart for us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we’re told to “never stop praying.”

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Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, speaker, and coach who helps people embrace their value and heal their soul through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn (now available in audio), Love’s Manifesto and Because You Matter. A long time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/ 


Originally published May 28, 2020.