By: Catherine Ryan

Through prayer, our relationship with God grows stronger. Here are different types of prayers to explore as you seek his presence.

10 Ways to Pray to Help You Grow Closer to God

Through prayer, our relationship with God grows stronger. Here are different types of prayers to explore as you seek his presence.

Written by Catherine Ryan
Photography by Juana Ordonez Martinez, Lina Marcela Alarcón Molina and Caroline A Mwinemwesigwa

It’s through prayer that our relationship with God grows stronger, and — as with building any relationship — that takes time.

Perhaps that’s one reason the Bible tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NKJV). We also read in Ephesians 6:18 (NIV):

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

As there are many occasions and purposes for which we pray, so too are there “all kinds of prayers” as we read in this Scripture above. The start of a new year feels like the perfect time to enrich our prayer life by exploring some of those different types of prayers. Below, we’ll discuss 10 of these ways to pray.

Prayer of Adoration

God deserves our praise and admiration. That’s what a prayer of adoration is all about. It’s worshipping God through our words and thoughts from a place of deep love, respect and genuine awe of who God is.

One prayer of adoration from Scripture comes at an unlikely time, while David was wandering in the desert of Judah. Yet, even in this dry and barren place, David prayed to God …

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” — Psalm 63:3-4 (NIV )
May we be able to set aside our circumstances to recognize that — even in times of pain and discomfort — God is good and worthy of our adoration.

Prayer of Vows

A prayer of vows is a commitment to God that we will or won’t do something. It could be as small as reading the Bible every day, or it could be as big as the vow Jonah made to God while he was inside the belly of the whale.

Jonah had run away from his responsibility to preach to the people of Nineveh, but in Jonah 2:9 (NIV), he made a vow to keep God’s command:

“But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

No matter how big or small our prayer of vows, God’s strength and guidance empowers us to fulfill it. May our prayer of vows not be made casually or half-heartedly but with full recognition of the life-changing commitment that comes with it.

Prayer of Quiet Reflection

Most of us are inundated with noise from the moment we wake, whether it’s the television, kids, work or social media. It can be hard to find a moment of quiet, and when we do, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable. So we often retreat into the noise.

But God calls us to quiet reflection with him. He calls us to embrace silence. Rest in it. We read in Psalm 37:7 (NIV) to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” and in Psalm 46:10 (NIV) to “Be still, and know that I am God.”

May you find moments in your days for quiet reflection. Find ways to escape daily life, get comfortable with silence and allow yourself to listen.

Breath Prayer

A breath prayer breaks down a statement, often a Bible verse, into breaths. It can help us bring our focus back to God in times of stress or anxiety, as we literally slow down our breathing. It is a way to focus on God’s peace, rather than our own thoughts or feelings.

Just like we breathe without thinking, this form of prayer helps us make prayer as natural as breathing. Meditating on Scripture allows the Word to move deeply into our hearts. The most basic breath prayer is from Psalm 23. As you breathe in: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” As you breathe out: “I shall not want.”

Choose your own Scripture or phrase. Meditate, breathe slowly and remember that God has breathed his Spirit in you.

Prayer of Transformation

When we are in Christ, we are a new creation. But being transformed by the Holy Spirit is not a one-time event. It’s a lifelong journey. Our hearts, minds and lives grow closer to Christ each time we come before the Lord in prayer.

In this way, our transformation into the likeness of Christ is not something we do on our own. We can’t earn it. But we can consume his Word and spend time in prayer and wait for the work of the Holy Spirit.

Join me in this prayer of transformation from Psalm 51:10 (NIV):

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Prayer of Confession

We’ve all done or said something we shouldn’t have … or not done something we should have. And when you realize this, there’s great relief in telling God what you’ve done wrong and asking for his forgiveness.

That is a prayer of confession. Yet this type of prayer isn’t only for confessing a sin. A prayer of confession can also be for times of ignorance, when you have been neglectful. Or it can be a prayer for others, when you confess something on their behalf. Such a prayer doesn’t have to be long either. It can be as simple as these words from Luke 18:13 (NIV): “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

As you incorporate this type of prayer into your quiet time, may you experience peace and freedom in Christ’s pardon and grace.

Prayer of Healing

Healing people who were sick was an important part of Jesus’ ministry while on earth. He healed people who could not see, hear or walk. He cured leprosy and “every disease and sickness” (Matthew 9:35).

Maybe that’s why it’s so natural for us to turn to God when we — or someone we love — is sick. Even people who don’t pray regularly can find themselves on their knees during health emergencies … because when doctors and medicine have done all they can, a prayer for healing is all that’s left.

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me” (Psalm 30:2, NIV).

Prayer of Intercession

God’s Word tells us to put other people’s needs before our own (Philippians 2:4). This also applies to our prayer life. Praying on someone else’s behalf — or intercessory prayer — is an important part of being in the Body of Christ.

We see intercessory prayer in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. In Chapter 1, Paul invites the church in Corinth to continue to pray for him: “On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11, NIV).

It’s clear that Paul understood the power of intercessory prayer and did not hesitate to ask the Corinthians to pray for him. Nor should you hesitate to ask others to pray for you!

Prayer of Blessing

God is always with us and providing for us — but there are times when we need an extra dose of his power. Such times call for a prayer of blessing.

We often hear blessings at weddings and at funerals, for newborns and school graduates, even for a new house or car. You can pray a prayer of blessing for any situation — and even lift one up for yourself.

Perhaps you’ve heard this blessing from Numbers 6: 24-26 (NIV): “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Try saying this prayer of blessing for yourself or someone else. Then look for other opportunities to use prayers of blessing throughout your day.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Prayers of thanksgiving are perhaps one of the most common types of prayer. Many of us say grace to the Lord for our food, when we wake up or at night before we go to sleep. These prayers don’t have to be prompted by a special event or situation; we can be grateful for every tiny, simple gift from God, like being given another day of life.

Join us in praying this prayer from 1 Chronicles 16:34-35 (NIV), for no other reason than the truth this Scripture shares of our Savior: He is good.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.”

May these many types of prayers help you expand your communication with God in new ways this coming year — and encourage you to grow closer to the Lord as you spend more time in prayer. Amen.

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