When you're not sure what to pray, turn to the Bible for a multitude of options.
If you pray the Lord’s Prayer, you already pray at least one of the prayers found in the Bible. But there are many that can provide help when you’re not sure what to pray.
1. A Prayer of Surrender
When my friend entered hospice care, I wasn’t sure whether I should pray for miraculous healing or a smooth transition into heaven. I told God about my mixed feelings and expressed my desire that my friend be healed, adding the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane:
“Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39, ESV)
2. A Prayer for Strength, Faith and Love
Sometimes when I am asked to pray for someone without knowing details, I will pray Ephesians (changing the pronouns from “you” to “him” or “her,” or inserting the person’s name):
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, [asking] 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. (Ephesians 3:14-19, ESV)
3. A Prayer for Enlightenment
Similarly, I often pray Paul’s prayer for enlightenment in Colossians (again altering the pronouns):
We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. (Colossians 1:9-12, NLT)
4. A Prayer for Understanding and Favor
Moses’ prayer for guidance and favor often helps me, too:
If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. (Exodus 33:13, NLT)
5. A Prayer for Blessing
I will often pray Aaron’s blessing for my wife, children and grandchildren, as well as for family and friends as we part from each other:
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 6:24-26, ESV)
6. A Prayer for Influence and Protection
Jabez’s prayer for influence, publicized and popularized in a bestselling book a few years ago, is also a frequent prayer of mine:
Oh, that You would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain! (1 Chronicles 4:10, NLT).
7. A Prayer of Repentance
David’s prayer of repentance after his shameful treatment of Uriah and Bathsheba, found in Psalm 51, is a helpful prayer of confession and repentance from beginning to end, but especially the middle verses):
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you. (Psalm 51:7, 10-12, NLT)
8. A Prayer for Revival
Habakkuk’s prayer for revival is a fitting prayer for any family, community, church, or nation:
God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about You,
and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what You did among them.
Work among us as you worked among them. (Habakkuk 3:2, The Message)
9. A Prayer for Mercy
The prayer of the tax collector in Jesus’ story of the Pharisee and the tax collector is an appropriate prayer anywhere, anytime:
God, be merciful to me, a sinner. (Luke 18:13, ESV)
10. A Prayer for Boldness
When the first Christians prayed, they apparently didn’t ask for prosperity or ease, but for boldness and power–a good prayer for us today:
Give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word. Stretch out Your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30, NLT)
These and many other Bible prayers make it easier to pray according to God’s will. They can help you express yourself when words fail. And they can simultaneously enrich your knowledge of the Bible, confidence in prayer and sensitivity to the Spirit of God as you pray.