Prayer in the New Testament
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

There is no single word in biblical Hebrew or Greek that signifies “prayer” in general, but rather a whole series of different words with related meanings, such as praise, give thanks, confess, bless, repent, ask, plea, beg, petition, sacrifice, worship, bow down, kneel, lift up (eyes/hands), sing psalms, hymns, etc. [The following chart is not comprehensive, but lists only some of the most prominent words related to prayer.]

To learn about the wide variety of “prayer” in the Bible, we can not only look at the explicit teachings about prayer by Jesus, Paul, and other biblical characters and authors, but also consider the situations in which these figures are portrayed as praying, as well as the texts of specific prayers they used. While all four Gospels contain some teachings and examples or prayer, by far the most prayer-related material is found in Luke’s Gospel, as well as in Paul’s letters.

Greek English Matt Mark Luke John Acts Paul Heb Cath Rev NT Total
προσεύχομαι to pray, speak to God 15 10 19 0 16 19 1 5 0 85
προσευχή prayer, request 2 2 3 0 9 14 0 3 3 36
εὔχομαι to pray, make a vow 0 0 0 0 2 3 0 2 0 7
εὐχή prayer, vow 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 3
δέομαι to ask, beg, plead 1 0 8 0 7 6 0 0 0 22
δέησις prayer, plea, petition 0 0 3 0 0 12 1 2 0 18
δοξάζω to praise, give glory 4 1 9 23 5 12 1 4 2 61
εὐλογέω to bless 5 5 13 1 1 7 7 2 0 41
εὐλογητός blessed 0 1 1 0 0 5 0 1 0 8
εὐχαριστέω to give thanks 2 2 4 3 2 24 0 0 1 38
ἐξομολογέω to confess, praise 2 1 2 0 1 3 0 1 0 10
εὐχαριστία thanksgiving 0 0 0 0 1 12 0 0 2 15
προσκυνέω to bow down, worship 13 2 3 11 4 1 2 0 24 60
κάμπτω to bend, bow, kneel 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 4
ᾄδω & ᾠδή to sing / song 0 0 0 0 0 2 / 2 0 0 3 / 5 5 + 7
ὕμνέω & ὑμνός to sing hymns / hymn 1 / 0 1 / 0 0 0 1 / 0 0 / 2 1 / 0 0 0 4 + 2
ψάλλω & ψαλμός to sing psalms / psalm 0 0 0 / 2 0 0 / 2 4 / 3 0 1 / 0 0 5 + 7
ἐπαιτέω & προσαιτέω to beg 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 + 1

Prayers spoken by Jesus himself

Versions and translations of the Lord's Prayer / Our Father

Luke 11:2b-4 (NRSV) Matthew 6:9-13 (NRSV) Didache 8.2 (ANF, vol. 7)
Father,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today our daily (needful) bread,
and forgive us our debt
as we also forgive our debtors.
And bring us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil);
for Yours is the power and the glory for ever.
Thrice in the day thus pray.

Roman Missal (Latin edition) Roman Missal (English Translation) International English Translation (ICET)
Pater Noster, qui es in caelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum.
Adveniat regnum tuum.
Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
sed libera nos a malo.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.

Other occasions when Jesus prays in the Gospels

Prayers addressed to God by other NT characters

References to other characters praying in the Gospels

Jesus’ instructions on prayer

Prayers within the Acts of the Apostles

Prayers and instructions about prayer in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline Letters

Prayer in Hebrews and the Catholic Epistles

Prayer in the Book of Revelation


Electronic New Testament Educational Resources

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This page was last updated on October 28, 2015
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