Great Prayers of the Bible

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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Rembrandt, St. Jerome at Prayer (1635)
Rembrandt (1606-1669), "St. Jerome at Prayer" (1635), etching 4-1/2"x3-1/8". Larger image.

We've got a long way to go to be able to pray with the courage of Abraham or the passion of Moses -- yours truly included. We want to learn to pray with great faith, but we're just not there yet. I believe that God will use this 11 week "Great Prayers of the Bible" online Bible study to develop you in prayer, to increase your faith and move you into a new level of prayer to your Father. We'll be studying some of the great prayers in order to teach us how to pray prayers that God will honor and answer. This is not a course in manipulating God. It is a study in who God is and how he responds to his children's petitions -- a course in how to be understanding children of God who learn how to adopt God's own heart as we pray.

Here are the prayers we'll be studying week-by-week (though the exact passages are still a bit in flux). Though there are many profound prayers in the Bible, we'll be focusing on these:

Introduction to Great Prayers of the Bible
Artwork Depicting Prayer
What Are the Great Prayers of the Bible?
Chronology (End of the Monarchy, Exilic, Post-Exilic, and Intertestamental Periods)
Participant Guide Handouts (may be reprinted free)
Reprint Guidelines
  1. The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). Jesus taught this classic lesson in prayer to his disciples. We'll consider the Lord's Prayer phrase by phrase as a pattern for our own praying.
  2. Moses' Prayer for Israel in the Wilderness (Exodus 32:9-14). Incredible examples of Moses pleading with God to preserve his own name and character and not destroy Israel. We examine the question: Does prayer actually change anything?
  3. Abraham's Prayer for Sodom (Genesis 18:16-33). An example of intercessory prayer which finds its basis in God's character.
  4. David's Prayer for Pardon and Confession of Sin (Psalm 51). When we sin against God, how can we pray to restore our fellowship? David's prayer is a classic prayer of repentance.
  5. Great Prayers of the Bible: Discipleship Lessons in Petition and Intercession, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson (JesusWalk Publications, 2011)
    Available as an e-book and paperbook
    David's Prayer at the End of Life (1 Chronicles 29:9-20). A short psalm of praise and David's prayer for his son Solomon to build the temple.
  6. Hezekiah's Petitions for Deliverance and Healing (2 Kings 19:14-19; 20:1-7). Here's a godly king about to see his nation conquered and destroyed by the mighty Assyrian army. Then he who has just heard from a prophet that he should prepare to die soon. How does he pray?
  7. David's Psalm of Surrender (Psalm 139). David struggles with God's intense knowledge of him, marvels at God's intricate formation of him in his mother's womb, and then prays a prayer of surrender to God's searching, knowing, probing, and refining.
  8. Daniel's Confession on Behalf of His People (Daniel 9:1-19). When Daniel realizes the 70 years of exile are ended, he offers a prayer of confession in which he (though personally a righteous man) identifies with the sins of his people and asks for God's mercy.
  9. Nehemiah's Prayer for Success (Nehemiah 1:1-2:9). Nehemiah hears of the suffering of the returned exiles. After grieving in fasting and prayer, Nehemiah prays for success -- and commits himself to God's will for his life.
  10. Jesus' Prayer of Submission at Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46). Jesus asks for the cup (crucifixion) to be bypassed, but then prays for the Father's will to be done most of all.
  11. Paul's Prayers for the Ephesian Believers (Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21). Here are Paul's prayers for the Ephesian Christians -- and for us -- to really understand the heights and depths of Christ's love for us.

I invite you to study the Great Prayers of the Bible with me over the next 13 weeks (11 lessons with two breaks to help you stay caught up).  Here's how we'll study together.

  • Each Saturday I'll e-mail you the lesson for the week. Then you'll read the Bible passage and use my notes to help you understand it better.
  • On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe Thursday, you'll receive a question from that week's lesson to think about and answer. This is designed as a "total immersion" approach to Bible study, since I believe God wants to use it to work real and permanent change in your life. (You can opt out of the daily questions if you like, however, and just receive the weekly lessons.) You'll be thinking about these passages constantly for over these 8 weeks -- long enough for God to work his Word into your life and lifestyle.
  • You can respond to the questions using the Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum -- and read others' answers to reinforce your own understanding.
  • With each lesson you'll receive a link to a 20- to 30-minute audio teaching that sums up the passage you've been studying that week. Some who learn better from hearing than from reading really appreciate this.
  • Then on Saturday, I'll send you the next week's lesson.
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