The Components and Contents of Prayer

We have already discussed three types of prayer, the basic principles of prayer, as well as the subjective and objective conditions of prayer. Today we focus on the content and components of prayer.

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The Bible is not silent about the components of our prayers and it also provides some indication about what the content of our prayers should be.

The Components of Prayer

Nine different components of prayer can be identified.

    1. Worship: Worship is the loving ascription of praise to God for what He is and His ways. An old English word, ‘worth-ship’, may be helpful: worship is saying to God what He is worth and confessing to Him what He is worth to us. We see worship in prayer in Psalm 45:1-8; 138; John 4:24 and Philippians 3:3.
    2. Adoration: A second component of prayer is adoration. To adore God is to praise Him, as in ‘Hallowed be Your Name (Matthew 6:9). Adoration is slightly different from worship. Whereas worship emphasises knowing and stating what God is worth, adoration is simply praising who and what He is without the concept of worthiness necessarily attached to it. Examples are found in 1 Chronicles 29:11; Acts 2:46-47; 16:25; Hebrews 13:15 and Revelation 4:11. We praise God for Himself, we praise God for creation, for His Word, for our salvation, for His actions towards us, and we praise God for other people.
    3. Thanksgiving: This should be a major component of our prayer life (ex: Matthew 11:25; John 11:41; Romans 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 2 Timothy 1:3).
    4. Confession: This important component of our prayers is taught in 1 Kings 8:47; Ezra 9:5-10; Daniel 9:3-19; Hebrews 10:23 and 1 John 1:9.
    5. Submission: We must willingly submit to God’s authority in prayer (Psalm 31:5).
    6. Commitment to future obedience: We must also commit ourselves to obey the Lord in the future (Psalm 80:18).
    7. Intercession: See Acts 12:5; Ephesians 3:14-19 and 1 Timothy 2:1.
    8. Supplication: This component of our prayer life is found in Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Timothy 2:1.
    9. Petitions and requests: These are specific petitions and requests by ourselves which is a proper part of prayer. This is taught in Daniel 9:16-19; Matthew 7:7-12 and Acts 4:29-30.

The Contents of Prayer

The content of our prayers can be very comprehensive. There are no limitations as to what we can pray for. We can pray for just about anything and for every detail of life. Even so, it is best not to pray haphazardly or in a disorganised manner. In his High-Priestly prayer in John 17, Jesus clearly organised his prayer into three parts. First, He prayed for Himself (John 17:1-8), then for the eleven apostles who were with Him (John 17:9-19) and then He prayed for the rest of the people, specifically those who would become believers as a result of the witness and ministry of the apostles. This prayer of Jesus was organised.

Are there specific things that the Bible says we can and should pray for? Twenty things can be noted:

    1. Pray for all human beings in general (1 Timothy 2:1).
    2. According to 1 Timothy 2:1-2, we should pray for rulers (presidents, prime ministers).
    3. Pray for the salvation of Israel (Psalm 122; Isaiah 62:6-7; Romans 10:1).
    4. Pray about the actions of unbelievers. For example, Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34; cf. also Stephen in Acts 7:60).
    5. Pray for our enemies and persecutors (Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 6:27-28).
    6. Pray for all fellow believers (Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 1:9).
    7. Pray for new believers (1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
    8. Pray for believers who have backslidden (1 John 5:16).
    9. Pray for ministers and pastors (1 Thessalonians 5:25; cf. Ephesians 6:19-20).
    10. Pray for missionaries and evangelistic endeavours (Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1).
    11. Pray for labourers in His harvest (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:1-2).
    12. Pray to see and fellowship with specific believers (Romans 1:9-12; 1 Thessalonians 3:10).
    13. Pray for our children (1 Chronicles 29:18-19).
    14. Pray for safety, especially the safety of fellow missionaries (2 Thessalonians 3:2).
    15. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5).
    16. Pray when we suffer or when we see others that are suffering (James 5:13).
    17. Pray concerning sicknesses (James 5:14-16).
    18. Pray when we are in the midst of a crisis (Psalm 102:17; cf. James 5:14).
    19. Pray for ourselves (2 Corinthians 12:7-8; Hebrews 5:7).
    20. Pray for Jews in the diaspora, who live outside of the land of Israel (Jeremiah 29:7).

We will conclude this series about prayer next time by focusing on two prayers, one taught by Jesus and another that Daniel prayed.


If you would like to read more about The Components and Content of prayer, we suggest you read the original article and source of this post, The Components and Contents of Prayer, written by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum and published by Ariel Ministries in San Antonio.

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