Foundation Topic

What Is Prayer?

Prayer is the greatest privilege humans have been given. Not only has God spoken, but he offers to listen. In the Bible, we discover that prayer is God’s invitation to speak to him.

Related Topics
What's on this page?

God listens

God wants a relationship with us. He wants us to speak to him. He speaks to us in his Word, the Bible, and we respond to him in prayer.

Theme Verse
Psalm 116:1-2 ESV

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

Short Content

What Does the Bible Tell Us About Prayer?

Many people pray. People of all religions, people in desperation, people wishing for a miracle.

We all deeply desire to be heard, because we know that to be listened to is to be loved. And oh if the person listening to us were able to help, to put love in action, to meet our needs (Mark 1:40)!

Dear friend, we’re here to tell you good news. When we open the Bible and begin to read, we find a love deeper than anything we can find on Earth. Love that wants to listen to you, can take your cries and change the world around you, love that will answer you, if you merely believe (Isaiah 30:18; Mark 11:23).

Your heart was knit in such a way that it longs to have deep relational intimacy (Psalm 139:13). You were created by a Designer who himself is a relational being, who reveals himself as Father, Son, Spirit—The Almighty, the Brother, the Great Lover (Proverbs 18:24; Revelation 1:8).

Your anxious heart beats faster, wondering with whom to share your worries. Your mind flexes with frustration, aching for vent from someone who can relieve the pressure. Your wearied will longs for strength when all is spent.

All this, my friend, is the design of Love, who made it impossible for you to live independent of him, so that in these moments of desperation you would cry for help, seek him, and find him (Jeremiah 29:13; Acts 17:26-27).

Prayer is an invitation to courageously approach the Unseen Lover (Hebrews 4:16). You don’t need to be on your knees. You just need to—need (Psalm 40:17). And believe enough to cry for his help. Cry for help to the Creator. He’s waiting on your voice, eager to come to your rescue (Psalm 91:15).

Can we tell you what he’s done for you? He knew you wouldn’t come to him, so he came to you. He came into our world, lived a life worthy of God’s reward, and chose to die for every sin you regret (John 3:16).

And he extends his hand to you, asking that you believe he loves you, believe he forgives you, and draw near to him in faith (Romans 10:9). Jesus Christ came to earth and died for your sins so that you could know God as your Father, Christ as your brother, the Holy Spirit as your ever-present help. It was his joy to remove the sin that stood between you and God so that he might be close to you, and you to him (Hebrews 12:2).

God knows that what would most satisfy your heart is if you were able to pour it out to a person who loves you and who also has the power to answer your cries for help, so he stands ready to receive your every cry, every need, most precious desires (Psalm 62:8).

And he wants to tell you his plans, and the things on his mind, so he’s given us his Word. And he gave you his Spirit so you can pray to him. He tells you to pray, welcomes you to pray, waits on your prayers. In fact, your prayers are part of his plan to accomplish big things in the world that will prove his power and love.

God the Father sent his Son Jesus to die in your place, because Father, Son, and Spirit want to heal your heart, and invite you into his plans for the world. This is how Christians pray—not to merely get something—but to know someone, and to be fully known. Prayer is the reflex of our needy heart to speak to God.

Believe today that you have a heavenly Lover, who hasn’t only spoken in the Bible, but he’s condescended to listen. He hears. He hears you.

But will he answer? We all wonder. God’s Word is full of stories that all whisper his answer: Try me.



What Is Prayer?
Video: 3 Min
by Guy Richard
at Reformed Seminary

Folk | Country Gospel

Talk To Him

by Chris Tomlin feat. Russell Dickerson
3 Part Article Series: 10 Min

Why Pray (Part 1): Correcting Two Misunderstandings



Two Mistakes When
It Comes to Prayer

Here are two wrong conclusions we may come to about prayer. Feel free to download this graphic, save it to your phone, or share it! 

We must earnestly
pray that God
will do what he
promised he would do.
Promises do not make
prayer superfluous;
they make the answer certain.

What Is Prayer?

Messages: 40 Min

Discovering How to Pray

by Tim Keller

Some people think
God does not like
to be troubled
with our constant
coming and asking.
The way to trouble God is
not to come at all.


What a Friend

by Shane & Shane feat. Hannah Hardin

O my people,
trust in him
at all times.
Pour out your heart
to him,
for God is
our refuge.

Psalm 62:8 NLT

Praise & Worship

Boldly I Approach

by Rend Collective
Article: 10 Min

There’s Nothing Trite About It!

by Tim Challies at his blog


Whenever God determines
to do a great work,
he first sets his people
to pray.

Hebrews 11:6 NIV

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Deuteronomy 4:6 ESV

For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?

Chill & Relaxing

In the Secret of His Presence

by Sandra McCracken

What the Heidelberg Catechism Teaches Us About Prayer

Q & A #116

Q: Why do Christians need to pray?

A: Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us (Psalm 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking God for them (Matthew 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13).

Translation © 2011, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Q & A #117

Q: What is the kind of prayer that pleases God and that he listens to?

A: First, we must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, revealed to us in his Word, asking for everything God has commanded us to ask for (Psalm 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Romans 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15).

Second, we must fully recognize our need and misery, so that we humble ourselves in God’s majestic presence (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isaiah 66:2; Revelation 4).

Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation: even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord.

That is what God promised us in his Word (Daniel 9:17-19; Matthew 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Romans 10:13; James 1:6).

Translation © 2011, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Q & A #118

Q: What did God command us to pray for?

A: Everything we need, spiritually and physically (James 1:17; Matthew 6:33), as embraced in the prayer Christ our Lord himself taught us.

Translation © 2011, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Q & A #129

Q: What does that little word “Amen” express?

A: “Amen” means: This shall truly and surely be! It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer than that I really desire what I pray for (Isaiah 65:24; 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:13).

Translation © 2011, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Jesus' Prayer for His Followers

“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

(John 17:20-26 NIV)