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Series Theme:  Prayer



































Title:   Appendix on Prayer



The following notes are a result of having examined every scriptural reference to prayer in the Bible and are included to give an overview of the use of prayer in Scripture. It is not exhaustive and not all references to prayer have been included, merely sufficient to show its use.



1. The words used

 The Hebrew is “Palal”

1.1 Used 4 times to indicate “to mediate”

1 Sam 2:25 “ If a man sins against another man, God may mediate (AV = judge :'palal') but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede (AV = entreat : ‘palal') for him”

  Also Ezek 16:52 Gen 48:11 & Psa 106:30

1.2 Other 80 times indicates straight “prayer”

      In what follows it will be this use.

2. Crisis Need

Most of the times in the Old Testament, prayer is seen as a response to a crisis or serious need. The following is a simple summary:



Crisis or need

Gen 20:17


to save Abimilech's wife & children (by God's instruction v.7)

Num 11:2


to stop consuming fire

Num 21:7


to take away the snakes

Deut 9:20


to save Aaron's life & v.26

1 Sam 1:10


for a child

1 Sam 7:5


for Israel's low spiritual life

1 Sam 8:6


when Israel reject God and want a king

1 Sam 12:23


for Israel's continuing low spiritual life (in response to v.19)

1 Kings 13:6


when his hand is shrivelled

2 Kings 4:33


over a dead son

2 Kings 6:17


for his servant to see the spiritual help

2 Kings 19:15


when letter from enemy comes

2 Kings 20:2


with major illness

2 Chr 30:18


for forgiveness for the people

2 Chr 33:13


prays in captivity in distress

Ezra 10:1


prays & confesses for state of the nation

Neh 1:4


prays & fasts for broken state of Jerusalem

Neh 2:4


prays when the king questions hi

Jer 37:3


asks Jeremiah to pray for him

Jer 42:2


remnant ask him to pray v.20 reports back

Dan 9:4


prays over the 70 years

Jon 2:1


prays inside the fish

Jon 4:2


prays after no judgement



3. Instructions to Pray

On rare occasions there are instructions to pray, as follows

Job 42:8


to pray for the three friends

Jer 7:16


not to pray for the people also 11:14 & 14:11

Jer 29:7


instruction to pray for the city of exile

Jer 29:12


to pray for release



4. General


Prayer is also mentioned when David prays for blessing (2 Sam 7:27 v.18-29) and Solomon prays at the dedication of the temple (1 Kings 8:25-53). The following refer to Solomon's prayer:

  v.28   in respect of the dedication

  v.30   when the people pray

  v.33   when they pray when defeated (crisis again!)

  v.35   when no rain (crisis)

  v.38   when famine or plague (crisis)

  v.42   foreigners praying at the temple

  v.44   praying before going to war (crisis)

  v.48   prayer when exiled (crisis)



5. Conclusions

In the Old Testament

    - prayer is mostly example to us i.e. being done

    - it is virtually all in response to needs

    - it is seeking God for help in some way



1. Words used

Various words are used in the Greek and the following are way they were used in the Authorised version:

  Erotao = ask (23)       VERBS

        beseech (14)

        desire (6)

        entreat (1)

        pray (14)

  Euchomai = wish (4)

        pray (2)

  Deomai = beseech (9)

        make request (1)

        pray (12)

  Proseuchomai = pray (83)

        make prayer (3)

        pray for (1)

  Euche  = prayer (1)       NOUNS

        vow (2)

  Proseuche =  prayer (36)

Rather than reproduce each of those references, we have categorised them under teaching headings and the following are the use of ‘proseuchomai' - to pray (except where indicated and the noun ‘proseuche' is used). Duplicates in the Synoptic Gospels have not been included.



2. Jesus' Example

Best seen in Luke's Gospel (with same but fewer references in Mt & Mk)

  3:21   while being baptised

  5:16   often withdrew to lonely places and prayed

  6:12   went up mountainside for night - before choosing the twelve

  9:18   praying in private, but the disciples were there

  9:28   up mountain to pray, taking Peter, John & James

  11:1   simply praying

  22:41  in Gethsemane


3. Early Church's Example i.e. apostolic example

  Acts   1:14   together constantly in prayer (noun)

    1:24    pray for guidance for next apostle

    2:42    church devoted themselves to prayer (noun)

    6:4      apostles focus on prayer (noun)

    6:6      pray over deacons, who?

    8:15    for new disciples in Samaria

    9:11    Saul praying

    9:40    Peter prays for dead woman

    10:9    Peter prays on roof

    12:12   house church prays for Peter in prison

    13:3    Antioch church pray for Barnabus & Saul

    14:23   appointing elders in each church

    16:25   Paul & Silas in prison

    20:36   Paul with Ephesian elders

    21:5    departing prayer

    22:17   Paul's testimony and example

    28:8    Paul prays for a healing



4. Paul's Example in his letters

Phil   1:9        prays for Philippians

  Col    1:3        prays for Colossians

          1:9        testifies to his ongoing prayer for them

          4:3        request for them to pray for him

  1 Thess 5:25   request for Thessalonians to pray for him

  2 Thess 1:11   testifies to his continual prayer for them

               3:1   requests them to pray for him

  Heb   13:18      request for prayer


5. Teaching on Prayer

 Who to pray for     

        Mt 5:49      those who persecute you

        1 Tim 2:1   for everyone (noun)

        1 Tim 2:2   for those in authority

        Mt 26:42    for ourselves

        Phil 4:6      for ourselves

  Where to pray     

        Mt 6:6     in private

        (NB. Example also shows praying with others)

  How to pray     

        Mt 6:7         not with vain babbling

        Mt 6:9         structure given

        Mk 11:24     asking believing

        Mk 11:25     forgiving first

        Lk 18:1        not giving up

        Rom 12:12   being faithful in prayer (noun)

        1 Cor 7:5     special times of prayer (noun)

        1 Cor 14:14  in tongues

        1 Cor 14:15  with mind and spirit

        Eph 6:18      as led by the Spirit

        Col 4:2        devoting ourselves to prayer

        Jude 20        in the Spirit

        1 Pet 3:7      husbands living considerately with wives

  Why pray - in addition to the above -

        Jas 5:13       if in trouble

        Jas 5:14       if sick

6. Conclusions

The New Testament has much to tell us about prayer.

a) It was very much a part of Jesus' life
b) It was very much part of the life of the early church
c) It was very much part of the life of the apostle Paul
d) Jesus assumed we would pray
e) Jesus taught that we should pray and keep on praying
f) The teaching on prayer indicates that there is nothing that is outside the scope of the things we can pray about