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THE PURPOSE OF PRAYER

Many people use the five types of prayer below as a guideline for a session of prayer. There are many examples of these types of prayer throughout scripture. The examples below are taken from Psalms (NIV translation).

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:
In a prayer of praise and adoration, we focus on God and His eternal characteristics–His majesty, glory, and power; His love, mercy, and grace. Examples:

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:1-3

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Psalm 96:1-9

The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. 2 Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. 3 Let them praise your great and awesome name-- he is holy. Psalm 99:1-3

Prayer of Penitence:
In a prayer of penitence, we confess our sins and ask God's forgiveness. Examples:

I said, "O LORD, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you." Psalm 41:4

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:1-12

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. Psalm 130

Prayer of Petition:
In a prayer of petition, we ask God for something according to His will. Examples:

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings Psalm 17:6-8

Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me. For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. Be pleased, O LORD, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me. Psalm 40:11-13

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. "Selah" Psalm 61:1-4

Prayer of Thanksgiving:
In a prayer of thanksgiving, we thank God for what He has given us. Examples:

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
Psalm 7:17

Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:6-7

You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:28-29

Prayer of Intercession:
In a prayer of intercession, we pray on behalf of others, asking God to bless, save, comfort, heal, strengthen, etc. Examples:

From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. "Selah" Psalm 3:8

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:11-12

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4