The Bible includes 19 names for God. Does it matter which one you use when praying?
Posted in , Mar 9, 2017
Most of us pray in much the same way every time we approach God. We may call Him “God,” “Father,” “Heavenly Father” or “Lord.” And that’s about the extent of it. But even a casual reading of the Bible may suggest that praying God’s names can have an impact on how God hears and answers our prayers. In fact, just incorporating these 20 names of God into your prayers can make a huge difference:
One of the most common Bible names for God is “Elohim,” the plural form of El, meaning “Strong One.” It indicates God’s majesty, sovereignty, and creative power (e.g., Genesis 1:1, Psalm 68:7, Isaiah 54:5, Jeremiah 32:27). Try using this name when you are calling upon God to create or generate something.
2. El Shaddai
“God Almighty.” This name refers to God’s power over everything and everyone (Genesis 17:7, Exodus 6:1, Psalm 91:1-2). Pray this name when you are asking God to show His power in a situation.
3. El Elyon
This phrase means “Most High God,” emphasizing His regal authority and supremacy (Genesis 14:19, Psalm 9:2, Daniel 7:18ff). Consider using this phrase when you wish to praise and exalt God.
4. El Olam
This name translates as “The Everlasting God,” He who was, and is, and is to come, who does not change and never ends (Genesis 16:13, Psalm 72:17, Psalm 90:1-3). You may want to pray this name when your praise or intercession involves time and timing.
5. El Gibhor
“Mighty God,” a name that evokes an image of God as a warrior (Isaiah 9:6, Jeremiah 32:18). Try invoking “El Gibhor” when you are in a battle or are praying for someone who needs a defender.
6. El Chaiyim
This phrase means, “The Living God” (Psalm 42:2, Jeremiah 10:10), and is a good way to pray at times involving birth, life and death.
This name was revealed to Moses at the burning bush and comes from a verb that means simply “to exist.” It emphasizes God’s self-existent nature (Exodus 3:12, 3:14, 6:3). This name, which Jewish teaching reveres too highly to even speak it, can be a prayer in itself, especially when you don’t know what else to pray.
8. Yahweh Yireh
This phrase means, “The Lord will provide,” and stresses God’s provision for and redemption of His people (Genesis 22:14). Pray this name when you need God to provide for you or redeem someone or some situation.
9. Yahweh Nissi
“The Lord is my Banner.” This name emphasizes God’s willingness to fight for His people (Exodus 17:15). Pray this name especially when you face a “come-from-behind” situation.
10. Yahweh Shalom
“The Lord is Peace.” The Hebrew word “shalom” indicates not only the absence of conflict but also rest, harmony, and wholeness (Judges 6:24). Pray this word when you feel a need for peace, harmony or wholeness.
11. Yahweh Sabbaoth
This name translates as “The Lord of Hosts,” meaning the commander of heaven’s armies (1 Samuel 1:3, Psalm 46:7, Isaiah 1:24). You may want to pray this name when you are asking God to triumph over a wide-ranging field of challenges or issues.
12. Yahweh M’kaddesh
The phrase means, “The Lord your Sanctifier”—that is, the One who sets you apart and makes you holy (Exodus 31:13, Leviticus 20:8, Ezekiel 37:28). Try praying this name in a situation calling for purity and righteousness.
13. Yahweh Rohi
Psalm 23 begins with this phrase: “The Lord my Shepherd.” Consider praying this name when you are asking for God’s guidance, protection or provision.
14. Yahweh Rapha
"The Lord Who Heals" (Exodus 15:26). Pray this name when you are asking for healing and restoration for you, someone else or a place or situation.
15. Yahweh Tsidkenu
These words mean, “The Lord our Righteousness,” referring to God’s agency in making His people righteous (Jeremiah 23:6, 33:16). This name can be used to pray for deliverance when you are (or someone else is) feeling overwhelmed, condemned, or worthless.
16. Yahweh Shammah
“The Lord is there,” a phrase that invokes the Lord’s immediate and personal presence (Ezekiel 44:1-4, 48:35). Call on God by this name when you sense—or wish to sense—His presence.
17. Yahweh Elohim Israel
This name—“The Lord, the God of Israel”—contrasts God with the idols worshiped by the nations surrounding Israel (Judges 5:3, Isaiah 17:6). Pray this name of God to remind yourself or others that He alone is God, and there is no other.
The singular form of this word means “master,” “owner.” Like Elohim, it refers to God’s majesty and authority (Genesis 18:2, Exodus 21:1-6, Joshua 5:14, 1 Samuel 1:15). Pray this name to remind yourself of God’s authority over you, in particular, and everyone, in general.
The only non-Hebrew word in this list, “Abba,” comes from Aramaic—though it crosses linguistic lines, reflecting a baby’s first utterance for “Daddy” (Matthew 7:11, James 1:17). This is a great name to use when you are feeling (or want to feel) vulnerable and intimate before God.
There are, of course, many more names of God that can be profitably used in prayer. But these represent a good start, especially if they help us remember as we pray that God is so great and so good that our feeble words can only begin to describe Him.