Unspoken prayer requests. We’ve all heard of them and maybe we’ve even mentioned “unspoken” when asked if anyone has any requests they’d like prayer for. But what exactly is an unspoken request and is it Biblical? Today, we will look at both sides of the unspoken prayer request so you can determine for yourself whether it is Biblical or not.
It looks like this post is the first of a new study series on the subject of “prayer.” As I begin my research, one of the first things I read was that unspoken prayer requests were not supported in the Bible. Does this surprise you? I mentioned this in my Bible Study group on Facebook and received some comments that supported the opposite side.
So, based on that, I’m now looking at both sides of this debate to see, not what man says, but what the Bible says, about this type of prayer request. At the end of this study, you and I will know whether unspoken prayer requests are fully supported by God or not.
First of all, as believers, we have a great privilege in prayer, baring our hearts before Almighty God and being heard by Him. We can tell Him anything that is on our hearts and minds.
I could easily write a post that is based on my thoughts and convictions and attempt to persuade you to think as I think. But that’s not what I’m here to do.
Instead, we will look at several verses to keep them in context with each other. It is too easy to make a case on a single verse and possibly be out of will with the Word as a whole.
Need help with your private prayers? Use these Powerful Bible Verses as You Pray the ACTS Prayer Modal. Your prayer time will rise a notch or two!
The Case for Unspoken Prayer
Does the Bible mention “unspoken prayer requests” or “unspoken prayer?” Do a quick search in the online Blue Letter Bible and you will find that those words are not mentioned in the Bible. So what does the Bible say about this?
[all bold emphasis on Bible verses are mine]
1 Samuel 1:13, Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
Psalm 44:21, Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
Psalm 94:11 speaks to the vanity of man but the opposite is true as well, The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.
Matthew 6:8, Be not ye
Matthew 6:32, (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
God Searches Our Hearts
We love that God knows us, inside out, and hears our secret cries. Jesus instructs us in the Lord’s prayer to go into our closet and pray there privately.
Romans 8:27, And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
~ God knows us, He sees our heart and hears our cry. ~
There are times when we bare our heart and soul before the Lord in our own prayer closets and then there are times when we need the support of our brethren to pray for us and with us. We may not be able to put our request into words for various reasons:
- they are too private
- the need to be careful because of a potentially dangerous situation
- unable to find the words to explain
And yet, according to these Bible verses above, God knows. He sees our heart and He will answer.
The Case for Spoken Prayer Requests
The Bible mentions verbal prayer in relation to “hear” quite often. For example, in 1 Kings 8:45 Then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their
And, in 2 Kings 20:5, …I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: …
Job 22:27, Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee…
Daniel 9:21, Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, …
The Old Testament is full of Bible verses that mention “spoken” prayer as “heard” prayers in heaven.
New Testament Verses on Spoken Prayer
Matthew 21:22, And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Luke 1:13, … Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard;...
Acts 10:31, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.
Philippians 4:6, Be careful
Paul is teaching us that we are to verbally make our requests known to God. When we are praying for each other, we can give general details of our request so we can pray for each other.
James 5:16, Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Discussing These Bible Verses
We could continue finding more Bible verses supporting spoken prayer but let’s look at what we have already.
Both Matthew and Luke recorded Jesus’ words when He said, And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Luke 11:9
Then James said that we have not because we ask amiss. James 4:3, Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
I would interpret that we are to ask according to God’s will and be specific in our asking. Do you agree?
Matthew 6:7, Jesus taught, But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
The Pharisees loved to be seen and heard for their wordy prayers. They loved the attention they got from it. But that’s not you and I. We do not seek attention when we are praying for ourselves or for others.
When we pray, we pray as the Spirit leads us. He inspires us to pray according to what He wants us to pray. He knows the situation, whether spoken or not and will lead our prayers. There have been many times when I think I am going to pray in one direction but the Spirit leads me to pray for something else entirely.
There are also times when I am praying with the understanding, knowing what I am praying for, that I am able to pray bold words that are Biblically sound. And then, there are times when I do not know what to pray, my understanding is null and my attempts to pray seem feeble. A little further on are some tips for praying for unspoken requests.
The Hidden Dangers of Unspoken Prayer Requests
Galatians 6:2, Bear ye one
Yet, there are some dangers of unspoken prayer requests, actually, even with spoken requests.
Unspoken Prayer Requests
Spoken Prayer Requests
- When the facts are not known, assumptions can take place and this can lead to gossip.
- The requester desires not to share intimate details of the need. Possibly he or she is not comfortable in the group to share such details. This could also be a trust level with the group members.
- By not sharing the details or even the generalities, others cannot “agree” with you in prayer as they do not know what they are agreeing to. Is the request based on sin? 1 John 5:16-17 talks about the person who is sinning a sin that leads to death and not to pray for that person.
- Sharing too much detail in prayer groups can potentially lead to gossip.
- Jesus said to “ask.” Sharing in confidence with your prayer group allows others to “ask” the Lord on your behalf for answers to your need.
- Verbalizing your request to others will allow them to know if your request is one they can agree to or not. In other words, is the request in the will of God or not? If it isn’t, then someone can ask them further questions to help direct their prayer needs.
While we all expect some level of privacy, when sharing prayer requests with brethren, we need to exercise wisdom in how much to share.
Tips to Sharing Prayer Requests
While there is always the potential for gossip, in both shared and unspoken prayer requests, we must use wisdom in sharing details.
Here are some basic tips in sharing your prayer requests:
- Know the circle of people you are sharing with. Are you confident that they will hold your request in the strictest of confidence?
- If you are new to the group or church and need prayer, ask the Lord whom you may confide in. Two or three women will suffice as a prayer group.
- Be specific but not full of detail. Jesus said to the blind man, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. Luke 18:41. He was brief and to the point.
- If your request is extremely personal or not meant for mixed company, phrase the request in such a way that indicates you are seeking God’s will for a sensitive issue.
- Sometimes a prayer request could be for an issue that may concern a dangerous situation. Wisdom to remain as an unspoken request may be the best choice.
~ Share brief, concise prayer requests. ~
God’s Sense of Humour
Let me tell you a story about the importance of praying with specifics. I had always wanted to live near the water, whether it was the ocean, a lake or even a river. I love the water. So, I asked the Lord for a home near the water. That’s all I said to Him, was “near the water.”
We bought a house in town one winter and moved in January. There was a lot of snow that year so we couldn’t see what the yard was like.
In the spring when the snow melted, on the outside of our fence on town property, was this small stream. Or maybe it’s a creek. Anyway, it is small. When I looked at the water, I began to laugh as I remembered my prayer to have a home near the water.
God answered my prayer just as I prayed! Such an awesome God! However, next time I will be more specific, like indicating a lake or the ocean. I love God’s sense of humour!
Tips for Supporting Your Friend’s Unspoken Prayer Request
If you are praying for someone’s unspoken request, you can pray in generalities. Here are two verses that support general prayers.
1 Timothy 2:1-2, I exhort
Philippians 4:6, Be careful
- peace, hope, and courage to abound unto her. Pray that she will sense His presence and know that she is not alone, that God is with her at all times.
- faith to arise and that her faith would grow strong as she draws closer to God during this trial.
- a non-judgmental support group to come around her and support her in physical needs and spiritual needs.
- that she will develop discernment in this area of her life. That she will know God’s will concerning when/if she should reveal the details.
- her release from spiritual bondage. Pray that she will be full of the Spirit and will move in His will.
- Jehovah-Jireh to provide for her needs and to give her the desires of her heart as they line up with His Word.
~ Pray the Word of God into her life! ~
That’s a Wrap
So, based on this study, we see the Bible supports both spoken, specific requests and unspoken requests as well. The thing to keep in mind is the person’s life, are they living a sin unto death? Pray for discernment as you pray for unspoken requests.
I would like to summarize that we should offer brief, concise, spoken prayer requests. When a request cannot be verbalized, then we are to use discernment in praying. We do not know the hearts and minds of others but we know Who does and can follow His leading in our prayers.
While some may say that believers shouldn’t offer unspoken prayer requests at all, that it can be dangerous to the Church, keep in mind what we learned here today. Use discernment and let
So, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please let me know what you think!
Cindy Barnes has been called by God in the early 80s to be a teacher of His Word. She is a serious student of the Word, focusing on the Inductive Bible Study Method since 2007. Her passion is to teach women how to study the Bible using this method. In addition, she desires for women to develop an intense yearning to draw closer to God through reading and writing out the Bible.
Cindy teaches hundreds of women in her private online Bible Study Group who express their joy of growing deeper in their spiritual walk.
You can stay in touch with Cindy on Facebook through Women’s Tabletop Friendship.