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21 Types of Prayers from Richard Foster's Book 'Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home'

Updated on June 19, 2018
revmjm profile image

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She posts many articles online that are really Bible lessons.

In his book, Prayer: The Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster contends that there 21 types of prayers that are categorized into three movements relating to the Trinity.

  1. Inward Prayers are to God the Son.
  2. Upward Prayers are to God the Father.
  3. Outward Prayers are to God the Holy Spirit.

A Chapter for Each Prayer

Each of the 21 chapters in the book is dedicated to one of the prayers. So, there is enough information in each chapter to give readers a very good description of the particular prayer.

The 21 prayers in this article have been condensed to give a summary of each of prayer in a short paragraph.

A child's bedtime prayer is an example of a "simple prayer."

Inward Prayers (Chapters 1-7)

Foster includes seven prayers in the first section that he calls Moving Inward Prayers.

The Simple Prayer is the beginning prayer that anyone can pray. Many parents teach their children this simple prayer usually to pray at bedtime. Therefore, Foster summarizes this prayer as coming just as you are before God as a little child. Everyone, including adults, can pray this simple prayer to communicate with God.

The Prayer of the Forsaken is the one you pray when you feel abandoned and forsaken. It is the prayer you pray when you feel God is far away from you. This is the prayer Jesus prayed on the cross when He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 KJV)

The Prayer of Examen is the one you pray when you want God to examine your heart. You cannot examine your own heart, and nobody else can do it. Only God knows the deep things of your heart. Pray that He will examine your heart. Say like David in Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me."

The Prayer of Tears is the type of prayer that people pray when they go to God with a broken and contrite heart. Some people actually weep over their sins and the sins of the world when they pray the prayer of tears. This type of mourning will cause you to sow in tears and then you can give shouts of joy, according to Psalm 126:5. Don’t ever be ashamed to pour out your tears to God.

The Prayer of Relinquishment should be prayed so you will be able to give up the struggling and release everything to God. Say like Jesus, “Not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:39-46). This is a prayer to let go of something to make room for hope.

A Formation Prayer is a prayer of transformation. Prayer changes things, but this type of prayer changes you. Transformation is the outcome. You were made in God's image. Pray that God will let that image show through you and your life.

A Covenant Prayer is an agreement you make with God. It is much stronger than a contract. You can make promises to God through your covenant prayer to Him. God will always keep His part of the covenant. You should keep your part as well.

Moving Upward Prayers (Chapters 8-14)

Foster includes another seven prayers in the second section that he calls Moving Upward Prayers.

A Prayer of Adoration is just what it says. You adore God in this prayer. You want to see His face and not his hand. This prayer is saturated with two things: praise and thanksgiving. Adore God by praising Him for who He is. Adore God by thanking God for what He has done and continues to do.

The Prayer of Rest is one to relax even in the eye of a storm. Rest in God's love, protection, and provisions. Move out of your own way and let God take control.

Sacramental Prayers are the prayer when people cry out to God because of the yearnings of their heart. Sacramental prayers can be read that have been written by you or others. They are like those in the book of Psalms.

An Unceasing Prayer is a continual prayer. God commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “Pray without ceasing.” That means we should have a lifestyle of prayer by praying to God every night and day. Unceasing prayers can be brief breath prayers that can be prayed anywhere and at any time.

The Prayer of the Heart is when you speak to God’s heart from your own heart. This prayer is very personal. You have a heart-to-heart conversation with God as you enjoy intimacy with Him.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart."

Woman is meditating.
Woman is meditating.

Meditative Prayer is the prayer that involves mulling over and fleshing out things to think about. The root word “medi” is a part of the word “medicine” and the word “meditation.” During this prayer, you fill your mind with scriptures and reflect on them as you pray through journaling and listen to God speak to you.

Contemplative Prayer is often confused with the Meditative Prayer. However, this prayer is when you immerse yourself into union with God by reflecting on God as you sit in silence. This is the most disciplined type of prayer because you don't do anything but be quiet and wait for God to speak to you in a supernatural way.

Moving Outward Prayers (Chapters 15-21)

Foster includes the last seven prayers in the third section of his book that he calls Moving Inward Prayers.

Praying the Ordinary is the type of prayer you pray when you see God in everything and not just things in church or Sunday School classes. God is in ordinary things that are all around you. As you see Him in ordinary things, glorify Him.

Petitionary Prayer is just what it says. You let your requests be made known to God. This is the prayer that people use most often because they always want something from God. God wants you to ask for those things; however, this is not the only type of prayer we should pray because He is more than a "Gimme, Gimme God."

The Intercessory Prayer is the prayer we pray when we do not request anything for ourselves. Instead, we go to God on behalf of someone else who needs prayer. We intercede for others just as Jesus is interceding for us.

Healing Prayer is a prayer that is not just for physical healing. We should pray for a person's wholeness that includes his body, mind and soul. When you first start praying for healing, start with the easier cases first. Praying against a headache is much less challenging than praying for someone who has AIDS.

When we pray the Prayer of Suffering, we give to God all our troubles as we ask Him to use them redemptively. We also take onto the griefs and sorrows of others during this prayer.

Be authoritative and speak to that mountain.
Be authoritative and speak to that mountain.


Authoritative Prayer is almost self-explanatory. That's when we use our authority given to us by God and speak not to God, but we speak for God. We take the authority to command something to be done. We speak to the mountain with authority. Jesus often used this prayer to command things to happen. He said, “Peace, be still!” “Be clean.” “Rise, pick up your bed and walk.”

The Radical Prayer is the last on the list of 21 prayers. It is the prayer we pray when we stand firm and speak out against the evils of the world. We use the Word of God to demand that things be as they should be. There is nothing timid about you when you pray this prayer. You tell it like it is without backing off.

Did you learn something from this article?

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Buy Richard Foster's Book to Read More About the 21 Prayers That Are Described in This Article

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      4 months ago from Richmond, VA

      From the Heart, I am glad you noticed the Prayer of the Heart. I also like Ghandi's quote.

    • profile image

      Shizette 

      4 months ago

      I did indeed! :) Loved your inclusion of Ghandi's quote too "It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart." Everything from the depths of the heart is always best...that is where the Spirit of God resides.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      4 months ago from Richmond, VA

      From the Heart, that is one of my favorites as well. Did you see one with a name like yours: Prayer of the Heart?

    • profile image

      Shizette 

      4 months ago

      Thank you for this informative article. While all prayers have their purpose, my favorite is 'The Prayer of Relinquishment'. :)

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