Prayer: Two-Way Communication With God


Communication is essential for any growing relationship, including our relationship with God. Prayer is our means of speaking to God and listening as He speaks to us.

The Spirit links Himself with us in our praying and pours His supplications into our own. We may master the technique of prayer and understand its philosophy; we may have unlimited confidence in the veracity and validity of the promises concerning prayer. We may plead them earnestly. But if we ignore the part played by the Holy Spirit, we have failed to use the master key. —J. Oswald Sanders

Prayer: Two-Way Communication With God

You have been given a special opportunity because of your relationship with Jesus.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV

Be encouraged with what these verses say about you coming to God in prayer.

  • We have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God.
  • We can hold firmly to the faith we profess.
  • Jesus our high priest is able to empathize with our weaknesses.
  • He has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet He did not sin.
  • Because of Jesus, we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.
  • So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Because God is our strength and our refuge, Psalm 18:2-3 tells us what to do.

1 I love you, LORD, my strength.
2 The LORD is my rock,
my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock where I seek refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold.
3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I was saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3 CSB

Do you feel you need a refuge? Why or why not?

God is present everywhere.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You. Psalm 139:7-12 NASB

How might this reality impact your praying?

Another verse tells us something is deeply connected with the truth that God is everywhere. Because He is everywhere, we can pray to Him without ceasing. In other words, we don’t have to schedule an appointment with Him so that He can listen. We can continually pray to Him.

17 pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV

The best prayers often have more groans than words. — John Bunyan

What are some of the emotions you can discuss with God?

Here is another encouragement from the Word concerning when you pray.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 NKJV

The Holy Spirit helps you to know what to say and how to say it.

Your Attitude in Coming to God

8 My heart says this about you: “Seek his face.” LORD, I will seek your face. Psalm 27:8 CSB

10 “Stop fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” Psalm 46:10 CSB

1 God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water. Psalm 63:1 CSB

Prayer Benefits

Believers have the privilege of talking with God about everything. We also experience great benefits from our communion with God. Can you name some of the benefits you and others receive through your praying?

Different types of prayer are necessary to communicate the thoughts and feelings you want to express. Here are a few examples of different types of prayer. There are many other prayer types not listed here. A study of every prayer prayed in the Bible would be an incredible journey!


15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15 NIV


20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20 NIV


18 So I confess my iniquity; I am anxious because of my sin. Psalm 38:18 CSB

1 Be gracious to me, God,
according to your faithful love;
according to your abundant compassion,
blot out my rebellion.
2 Completely wash away my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I am conscious of my rebellion,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you — you alone — I have sinned
and done this evil in your sight.
So you are right when you pass sentence;
you are blameless when you judge.
5 Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
6 Surely you desire integrity in the inner self,
and you teach me wisdom deep within.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Turn your face away from my sins
and blot out all my guilt.
10 God, create a clean heart for me
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore the joy of your salvation to me,
and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach the rebellious your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God —
God of my salvation —
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it;
you are not pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.
18 In your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper;
build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar. Psalm 51 CSB

Prayer for others.

23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 1 Samuel 12:23 NIV

Prayer for personal needs.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV

God answers you.

3 ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3 NASB

Immeasurably more.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20 NIV

In Psalm 34, we see some of the results of David seeking the Lord. This is for us too.

4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and rescued me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him from all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and rescues them. Psalm 34:4-7 CSB

A powerful key to freedom from anxiety has been given to us in Philippians 4:6-7.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 LSB

You make a choice: Be anxious for nothing,

Instead of being anxious, do this: but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

What happens: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,

How you are protected: will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Can you think of an area or areas where you need to apply this truth because you are anxious about it? What circumstance, situation, difficulty, or relationship do you not have God’s peace that passes all comprehension? Whatever it is needs to be addressed by applying these truths so that you are not unguarded in your heart and mind.

Prayer Conditions

Before praying, consider these things.

Is your heart right before God?

18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18 ESV

Do you have any unconfessed sin you are aware of?

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 LSB

16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. James 5:16 CSB

Do you believe God will answer you?

22 “And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 CSB

Are you abiding in Him and are His words abiding in you?

7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7 NKJV

What name are you asking in, your name or His Name?

24 Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. John 16:24 CSB

Are you asking for something according to your will or according to His will?

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 NIV

Even when conditions are met, sometimes we think God is not answering prayer. But remember that no and wait are answers in the same way yes is an answer.

Faithful servants have a way of knowing answered prayer when they see it, and a way of not giving up when they don’t. — Max Lucado

Has God said no to your request and later you realized no was the best answer? Remember Ephesians 3:20.

Consider the pattern for prayer the Lord gave us in Matthew 6:9-13. Notice how it is God-centered and people-centered. It is all about relationship with God and relationship with people.

9 “Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
your name be honored as holy.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13 CSB

How does the prayer begin? Why is this important?

Which requests are God-centered? Which requests are people-centered?

How can this pattern for praying help you pray?

Prayer means yearning for the simple presence of God, for a personal understanding of His Word, for knowledge of His will and for capacity to hear and obey Him. — Thomas Merton

Whom to Pray For

1 Timothy 2:1-4 is a great place to start.

1 First of all, then, I exhort that petitions and prayers, requests and thanksgivings, be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 LSB

The Lord wants us to pray for His harvest.

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:37-38 NIV

Why do you think this is important?

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 CSB

Are there people in your life who have mistreated you? Spend some time now talking with God about them and your response to them.

28 “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28 CSB

Using Ephesians 3:14-21 as a guideline, consider how you can start to pray for others and for yourself.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV

Have you tried using a prayer list to track your prayer requests and to track God’s answer? A list can help you remember things you might otherwise forget to pray about.

  • Your family
  • Your nonbelieving friends and acquaintances
  • Your pastor and church and group you study with
  • Believers you know
  • Those who oppose you
  • Governmental authorities
  • Your personal needs
  • Your work relationships

Points to Remember

  • God desires your fellowship. So He has provided prayer as the means of communicating directly with Him and growing in intimacy with Him.
  • Prayer releases us from fear and worry.
  • The Scriptures provide numerous patterns and examples for our prayer.
  • Regular times alone with God—both pouring out your heart and listening to Him speak into your heart—are vitally necessary for your spiritual growth.

Things to Ponder

Sometimes we hesitate to pour out our hearts to God for fear that some of our thoughts or feelings are not appropriate to express. But the writers of the Psalms didn’t hesitate to be authentic with God emotionally. The Psalms contain many passionate prayers. Some start with songs and praise. Some are quite raw with concerns and pleas at the beginning of the Psalm, but then they circle back reflectively at the end. Questions and confidence are seen together as the writer processes issues and struggles before God. Read Psalm 10, 13, 69, and 142. How do these Psalms help you to have freedom before God in prayer? Talking to God is only part of prayer. The other part is learning to be still in His presence so that you can hear what He is saying to your heart. The verses below will help to quiet your heart. Take some time now to pray. Linger in the presence of God. Listen and pray. Later record some of your experience with Him.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 NKJV

1 LORD, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:1-2 NKJV