Biblical New Testament Prayers
by Sandy Simpson, from the booklet What Should I Say, 5/01

With all the talk about "praying the Jabez prayer" making the rounds in so many churches, I thought it was time to revisit a short section I wrote in a booklet called "What Should I Say".  It talked about biblical New Testament prayers.  These are prayers that the apostles and Christians prayed.  Since Christ and the apostles are our foundation, we ought to be emulating what they prayed and not some guy who prayed a prayer in the Old Testament that was never meant to be a model prayer.  If you are interested in a model prayer then go to the Disciple's Prayer (most often called the Lord's Prayer) in Matthew 6:9-13.

This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
This is a prayer that we are not told to repeat verbatim, in fact we are not to repeat it with vain repetitions (Matt. 6:7) but this is the prayer we can use as a model.  Notice a few things prominently missing from the Disciple's Prayer that are in the Jabez prayer. First of all, there is no asking for blessings and more land, but rather for simple needs.  The Disciple's Prayer also starts with worship and adoration of God, acknowledging His sovereignty and Kingdom.  Compare this with the Jabez prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10.
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it be not to my sorrow! And God granted him that which he requested.
Just because God granted Jabez's request does not mean it is a model prayer for New Testament believers to pray.  The Disciple's Prayer given to us by God Himself is our model today.  Jabez did not expressly acknowledge the sovereignty of God in His prayer or His Kingdom.  He went straight to asking for blessings and more land.  God was very gracious to grant Jabez's request based on His Kingdom plans in telling Israel to occupy Canaan (which they often disobeyed). The only correlation the Jabez prayer has to the Disciple's Prayer is that he asked to be kept from evil.

There are many prayers today that people who call themselves believers are praying.  We need to be very careful to be praying biblical prayers. The least we can do is follow the model prayer pattern Jesus Christ gave us.  A prayer that many have prayed in the counterfeit revival movements is another example of unbiblical prayer.  It goes something like this:

“I have been praying for the ‘power’ to come upon me for a long time and it is here. I can feel it! It has changed my life for the better.”
This type of prayer has yielded the result that many have received some kind of feeling of power, but it is clearly not power from God.  There is no place in the Bible where we are told to pray for power. Therefore this is a very dangerous prayer.  Christians in certain churches today also feel a need to summon the Holy Spirit to their meetings even though He told us that He is already present where two or three are gathered together (Mat 18:20). Summoning the Holy Spirit is a dangerous unbiblical prayer.  Summoning or invoking is sorcery.

The Scriptures do show us what to pray for. Here are some examples:

Pray for your persecutors (Mat 5:43-44; Luke 6:28)
Pray for children (Mat 19:13)
Pray for escape from judgment (Luke 21:36)
Pray you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40)
Pray for all Christians (1 Thes 5:25; Heb 13:18)
Pray that God's Kingdom will come and His will be done (Matt. 6:10)
Pray God will provide your daily needs (Matt. 6:11)
Pray for God's forgiveness as we forgive others (Matt. 6:12)
Pray we will not be led into temptation, but delivered from evil (Matt. 6:13)
Pray for boldness in proclaiming the gospel and for God to do miracles in people's lives (Acts 4:29-31)
Pray all the time, be alert, pray for the saints (Eph 6:18)
Pray for fearless preaching (Eph 6:20)
Pray to be filled with the knowledge of His will (Col 1:9)
Pray for open doors for the gospel (Col 4:3)
Pray that the Word of God may be glorified (2 Thes 3:1)
Pray for deliverance from evil men (2 Thes 3:2)
Pray for everyone, kings, authorities, peace, quiet, godliness, holiness (1 Tim 2:1,2)
Pray for life for dead sinners (1 John 5:16)
Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5)

There are other things we are taught to pray for in Scripture, but the point is that we need to follow the Scriptural models of prayer.  Before we pray we should look at the Word to see if what we are praying for is proper.  If we are simply praying for power or blessing for ourselves, we ought to stop and think about what we are doing. With regard to a prayer for power, there are only two places where the words “prayer” and “power” are mentioned, first in 2 Thes. 1:11.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
He was not praying for them to get power but that God "by His power" would fulfill "every good purpose" of theirs and "every act prompted by your faith". This is by the sovereign will of God, which if followed will produce good works. If God's will is not followed, it can only produce fleshly or demonic fruit. The second reference in Eph. 3:16-19 is this:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.
Here again Paul is praying for the Ephesians, not for himself. He prays that the indwelling Holy Spirit will show them how much Christ loves them so they may be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  This speaks of empowerment to have love and faith and to understand Christ in a deeper way, not power to perform miracles or for an ecstatic experience. There is no prayer for “power” to be found in the Bible. Christians need to pray according to the will of God and leave empowerment up to the Holy Spirit in His time.


Our prayers need to focus on giving God the glory and asking for things that will advance His Kingdom, not on what we can get for ourselves.  The prayer of Jabez is not a good model prayer. If the intent of praying it is to ask that God's Kingdom come and His will be done, then that is good.  But then why use the Jabez prayer as a model?  Use the Disciple's Prayer!  Most importantly, we should not pray prayers other's prayed in the past verbatim but pray our own prayers as the Spirit leads us to pray.  We should also not use vain repetitions in our praying, as Christ warned us right before he gave us the Disciple's prayer. (Matt. 6:7)  The Disciple's Prayer, the Jabez prayer and any other prayer prayed in the Scriptures do not hold any kind of secret key to unlocking God's power, blessings or abundance.  God is sovereign and may or may not answer any prayer based on the Jabez prayer.  He is the righteous judge and knows our hearts as well as our situation, and He especially know what His Kingdom warrants.  He knows what is best for us, whether that includes blessing or suffering.  But even if it is suffering that God grants us in reply to a prayer for blessing, we can count that suffering a blessing from God (Php. 3:8, Ja. 1:2).  What a novel concept!