Parts of Prayer


John Calvin teaches about the parts of prayer in a simple and straightforward way:          

"Prayer, we think, has two parts, that is, petition and thanksgiving. . . . By petition we explain to God our heart and desire, asking from His goodness first only the things which aim at and serve His glory and then those which are also useful to us and which we need. By thanksgiving we recognize His benefits to us and acknowledge them to His praise, thanking Him for all things by giving Him generally the glory for all good things and ascribing them to His goodness. . . .

"We should continually employ both kinds of prayer. . . . All our hope and all our good lie in God. . . .

"We ought to receive everything as from His hand with continual thanksgiving. . . . There is no good way to make any use of the benefits which He continually lavishes upon us if we do not also continually praise and thank Him. . . . Without prayer and without faith none of God's good things are sanctified to us."

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion: 1541 French Edition, translated by Elsie Anne McKee (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2009), pp. 472-473, emphasis added.

It would seem that the various other categories of prayer we employ--praise, adoration, confession, supplication, intercession, dedication--could easily be subsumed under these two.

For more information about this edition of Calvin's Institutes, please click on this link and scroll down to Institutes of the Christian Religion:


Dr. James C. Goodloe IV
Grace and Peace,

Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
4103 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 678-8352