Examples Of Prayer In The Bible

Jesus At Gethsemane

Just before Jesus would go to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would be arrested and taken violently—scourged, and crucified, He went before the Father in prayer. John Chapter 17 records the words of this true “Lord’s prayer.” In these 26 verses, Jesus prays directly to the Father. He speaks of the hour that has come, in which all the prophecies that we have looked at together so far, would be fulfilled.

John 17:1-5 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

It should be noted that once we surrender our life to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are on His timeline. The Lord will place us into a predetermined plan that He designed for us before He made the world or anyone upon it. Most often, we may not be aware that we are following a plan that God has determined for us. It is not until we begin to experience difficulties or suffering, that we may doubt whether we are in the will of God. It is during times of trial that we might question the reality of God’s love for us—when He allows our suffering. In reality, it is because the Lord does love us so dearly, that He permits our discomfort.

David’s Pryer Of Repentance

Even after we have surrendered our life to Jesus Christ, we will still continue to sin. The difference is that we are no longer living in a continual lifestyle of disobedience to God. When sin occurs, it is by a moment of weakness or during a time when we are not thinking correctly. It is not because we have a mind set that loves sin and a desire to pursue it. Salvation only occurs when there is sincere repentance from our sins and a genuine sorrow for having offended God. Once this Godly sorrow occurs and we experience a true conviction to repent and act upon that desire, God is able to forgive all our sins and grant us eternal life.

David’s prayer of repentance towards God in Psalm 51 is a perfect example of sincere repentance.

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. Psalms 51:1

This is a long and heartfelt prayer of repentance. David did not make any excuses for his sin; he took ownership of them all, and he rightly laid blame for his errors on himself. In David’s repentance, he exonerated God of all fault, and defined judgment for our sins by God as a just act.

Today, when people come to receive Jesus as their Savior, very often, the message of repentance from sin is not even a part of the prayer for salvation. Often, it is “Jesus, I want to accept you as my Savior….,” as if the Lord would be very fortunate if we asked Him to accept us.

The Prayers of Nehemiah

Nehemiah 2:1-2 And it came to pass in the month of Nisan, (March-April) in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, that I took the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had never been sad in his presence before. 2 Therefore the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.” So I became dreadfully afraid…

The reason that Nehemiah was filled with fear is that after fasting and praying for the past 3 months, his distress is apparently showing on his face. Nehemiah is the Cupbearer to the king. It was his job to taste the king’s food and drink before the ruler consumed them, insuring that they were safe.

It was the task of the cupbearer to die for the king, if necessary.

According to the law of Babylon, to come into the presence of the king with even a hint of sadness on your countenance was considered a great insult to the king and punishable by death.[1]

Once in the presence of the King, you were expected to be joyful and happy. To approach the king of Babylon with sadness on your face could cost you your life. For this reason, Nehemiah is fearful that the king has noticed the despair he feels for Jerusalem.

Remember that Nehemiah has been praying and seeking the Lord for the three months leading up to this day. He should be expecting that the Lord will answer his prayer. Perhaps Nehemiah never anticipated that the answer to his intercession would come from a pagan king. It is an important principle; that the Lord will often work in ways which we are not anticipating. Often, our deliverance may come from the most unlikely of sources. This will be proven true for Nehemiah and the people who have been in captivity for seventy years.

It was said of King Artaxerxes Longimanus that he was a good, and “easygoing” king.[2]

Even though the normal protocol for a cupbearer was to maintain a joyful countenance when he would come before the king, Longimanus does not seem to mind that Nehemiah is sad. In fact, this good natured king seems to care that Nehemiah is sad, requesting the reason for his sadness.

Nehemiah 2:3-4 and (Nehemiah) said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire?” 4 Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.

Notice that when the king asks Nehemiah what he needs, very quickly, Nehemiah shoots up a prayer to the Lord: “What do I say Lord? Give me wisdom.”

Short, Effective Prayers

There are many times when we don’t have time for a long prayer. The need is instantaneous with our prayer—we require the Lord’s help right at that moment. When you pray a short prayer in time of need, you can be sure that the Lord will hear, and help you.

Whenever someone approaches me after I have taught a Bible study to ask me a Bible related question or to ask for advice, I always shoot up my own silent prayer: “Lord, please give me wisdom right now.” I have discovered that in every instance when I have offered up these instantaneous requests, the Lord always gives me a wise answer.

Matthew 10:19 (Jesus said) But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak…

It is comforting to know that when we need help quickly, the Lord will answer us and provide the wisdom and direction required.

Nehemiah spoke silently in his mind: “What should I say Lord?”

Nehemiah 2: 5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.”

Apparently, the Lord told Nehemiah to be direct and tell the King: “I want to go back to Jerusalem and help rebuild the city…”

Nehemiah 2:6 Then the king said to me (the queen also sitting beside him), “How long will your journey be? And when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.

Why does the Holy Spirit include the bracketed section of this verse: The Queen was sitting beside Him? It is my opinion that this Queen may have been Esther, from the Book of Esther.

Esther 2:16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, (Ahasuerus is not a name, it is a title for the king that means: “High Father”) into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

Esther was a Jewess who was brought to the throne of Artaxerxes at the precise moment that God had ordained to save the entire Jewish nation from being murdered by the evil Haman.

Esther 4:14 (Mordecai) For if you (Esther) remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 9:25 but when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letter that this wicked plot which Haman had devised against the Jews should return on his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows.

It is the opinion of many who make commentary on the Bible that this Queen, who is spoken of here in Nehemiah 2, is the same Esther who saved the entire nation, as described by the Book of Esther.

Nehemiah continues with his request to Artaxerxes:

Nehemiah 2:7-8 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

The letters that Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah, granting him permission to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it, were the same decree which is described in the prophecy of Daniel Chapter 9. When a Persian King wrote anything, it was always referred to as a Decree. This was due to the fact that all of his words were considered the words of a living God. Once spoken they could not be undone, even by the king who had declared them.

Daniel records this decree in his prophecy of chapter 9:25..

Daniel 9:25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command (This command by Artaxerxes to Nehemiah) To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.”

  • Sir Robert Anderson from the Royal Observatory in London, computed the exact day this event took place.[3]
  • Taking into account all of the changes in the calendar for leap years and the changes from a 360-day Babylonian calendar year to our current 365.25 days per year calendar.
  • According to Daniel’s prophecy, the period of time required for this command on March 14, 445 B. C. until the coming of the Messiah, there would be 173,880 days.[4]
  • Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on this exact day, April 6th, 32 A. D.[5] and announced that He was the Messiah.
  • This was Palm Sunday, the day that the Passover Lamb of Exodus 12 was to be inspected for defects, four days before He could be offered as the Passover Lamb.
  • This all happened exactly as Daniel had predicted, 700 years before.

See The Prophecy Of Daniel 9

Nehemiah’s role in the return of the Jews from Babylon, to Israel:

Many Christians and students of Bible prophecy are familiar with Daniel’s wonderful prayer of intercession in the first part of chapter 9. What a large majority may not know, is that there is another important servant of the Lord that was also deeply involved in the captivity of the Jews when king Nebuchadnezzar besieged Israel and carried Daniel and many others back to Babylon for seventy years. That Servant was Nehemiah.

The Prayer of Nehemiah:

Nehemiah 1:1-11 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, (December) in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the citadel, 2 that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” 4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, 6 please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses. 8 Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, “If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; 9 but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ 10 Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand. 11 O Lord, I pray, please let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant, and to the prayer of Your servants who desire to fear Your name; and let Your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” For I was the king’s cupbearer.

Try to imagine how you would feel if you, your family, and all of your friends were suddenly and violently taken from their homes by a massive invading army. As you were being transported from your city, looking back you see your house, and every building in your city—burning.

In a brief moment of time, life as you had know it, was over. You are being delivered to the land of your captors—to a place unfamiliar and frightening. In a moment, all of your freedoms are gone—you have become a prisoner of war.

In the Book of Jeremiah, the Lord told the Nation of Israel that because they had forgotten Him and refused to obey His word, they would be taken captive by Babylon and be in captivity for 70 years.

Jeremiah 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

The land shall be “a desolation” and the people will be held in captivity for seventy years. The question is why seventy years? Why would the Lord allow His people to be overrun and captured by their enemies? When God brought His people into the land that He promised them, He established certain laws to be observed that would benefit their nation and make the land fruitful in which they were living upon. A specific requirement for Israel, set forth by the Lord, was that for every seven years that they would plant and harvest, for one year the ground should lie fallow. They could plant and harvest for six years, but on the seventh, the land would enjoy a Sabbath rest. Today it is widely known that this practice of resting the land at intervals of every six years, allows the soil to replenish the nutrients lost in repeated years of planting and harvesting.

Israel was greatly prospering in their new land and they saw no reason to rest themselves or the land. They continues to plant and harvest without resting the land for 490 years. The Lord’s commands are not suggestions for us to determine whether or not we will obey. He is Lord and Creator of all things, and He knows what is best for all of us to be able to enjoy long and happy lives. Nothing that the Lord has ever commanded us to do, is harmful or less than perfect for us.

From time to time, as I have grown older now, I have observed younger people making some of the same mistakes that I made when I was a younger man. How I wish that I had sought out wisdom from the Lord when I was starting out in life. I would have been extremely successful, and would have missed many of the pitfalls that I have fallen into because I was not listening to Him. When I see a younger person making these mistakes, I want to speak up and tell them that what they are doing is going to turn out bad for them later on. Of course, it is not my business to do so. I have imagined how the Lord must feel when He observes the people that He loves so deeply, making so many errors in their life that will only bring them heartache and misery.

In the case of Israel, they were His very own special treasure. He delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt and brought them through the desert for forty years, even though they often complained against Him and failed to trust His instructions. As they are now in the land, He expect His people to do what He has told them.

Leviticus 25:1-4 And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. 3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard

For 490 years, Israel refused to allow the land to rest one year in seven. As a result, they built up a land rest debt of 70 years. The people did not consider that what God had spoken, He meant. When God commanded that the land should rest, it must be followed. Because Israel refused the command of God, this was one of the reasons that He allowed their captivity in Babylon to last for 70 years. While the people were held captive in a distant country, the land back in Israel would rest for the 70 years that God had required.

We should never consider that anything the Lord has spoken, He is not completely serious about, and intends on doing.

In the companion book of Nehemiah, Daniel has been reading the prophecies of Jeremiah, who vividly describes why Israel would be taken in captivity by Babylon, and what the duration of their captivity will be. As Daniel reads the words of Jeremiah, he realizes that the 70 years of captivity are nearly complete.

Daniel 9:2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

In response to this new knowledge that the time appointed by God for their captivity is drawing to a close, Daniel begins to pray for his nation and his people.

Daniel 9:3 Then I Daniel set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes…

Nehemiah, is also in captivity in Babylon. His brother Hanani had just returned from Judah and has brought word to Nehemiah of the desolation of Jerusalem. This news prompts Nehemiah to the prayer that is recorded for us in the first chapter of Nehemiah.

Nehemiah 1:3-4 And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” 4 So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven…

The people who were left in Jerusalem were in great distress and affliction because the entire city lay in ruins.

Nehemiah has a sincere heart for his people and for Jerusalem. He begins to ask the Lord to help him and all the captives in Babylon, to get back to Jerusalem. It is Nehemiah’s sincere desire that the city he loves so dearly, might once again be restored. The Lord did hear the prayer of Nehemiah. Just 3 months after he begins his petition to the Lord for Jerusalem, something amazing happens…

Nehemiah continues with his request to Artaxerxes:

Nehemiah 2:7-8 Furthermore I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given to me for the governors of the region beyond the River, that they must permit me to pass through till I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king’s forest, that he must give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel which pertains to the temple, for the city wall, and for the house that I will occupy.” And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me.

This decree that Artaxerxes granted Nehemiah in having permission to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild it, was the same decree that is in the prophecy of Daniel chapter 9, that is the subject of this 309th prophecy of Daniel 9:25.

Jesus fulfilled the entirety of Daniel 9:25, in the text of Matthew 21:1-9

Matthew 21:1-9 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, “The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying: 5 “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!

All of this came about because of the prayers of two men—for the city that they both loved.

See The Full Commentary On Jesus Prayer From John Chapter 17

[1] James Ussher, His Annals.
[2] Plutarch, Artaxerxes, l. 1. c. 1. 11:129 – cited by Ussher, Annals.
[3] Sir Robert Anderson, “The Coming Prince”, ISBN-10: 1479215945
[4] ibid, Sir Robert Anderson
[5] ibid, Sir Robert Anderson, “The Oming Prince” Location 1550-1551