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5-Finger Prayer Explained

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Prayer changes things. That's why everybody needs to pray. Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone would begin to pray instead of doing evil?

The Bible teaches a lot about praying. The verb "to pray" is mentioned about 121 times. It is more times than that if you include the various conjugations of the verb. The past tense of pray is "prayed." It is found in the Bible 68 times. The word "prayer" is recorded 106 times. The word "prayers" is found at least 32 times. The act itself is "praying" that is listed 36 times and "prays" is found 12 times. That's a grand total of 375 times. Therefore, praying is important to God, and it should be important to every disciple of Christ. Praying is communicating with God, but there is a staggering number of Christians who confess they do not know how to pray.

Parents should pray, and they should teach their children to pray. The Five Finger Prayer was developed years ago by Cardinal Bergoglio before he became Pope Francis. The method is so simple that most people find it interesting that someone as significant as the head of the Catholic church would develop something so simple.

Below is a method to teach kids to pray using their five fingers. Adults can use the same format until they get the hang of praying without that particular method.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Different Variations

There is more than one way to use the Five Finger Prayer method. Find the one that you are comfortable with yourself before attempting to teach it to your kids or to a Sunday school class.

To begin with, tell the kids to put their hands together in a praying position. That way they can see all five fingers at once. Then tell them to look at each finger because it represents a different thing to pray for based on its length or other characteristics. Do not skip around. Use the order of your fingers as a guide for praying.

1. The Thumb

No matter which way you stand with your hands in a praying position, the thumb will always be the closest finger to you. Take that as a big clue to begin praying for those closest to you. They should be the easiest to remember.

Pray for members of your own immediate family, other relatives, your friends, and other people who are close to you. There is no need to rush through the process. When you have prayed for those close to you, move to the next finger.

2. The Pointer

The finger next to your thumb is called the pointer, the pointing finger or the index finger. That's because most people point with that finger.

Use that finger to remember to pray for those who point you in the right direction, such as your teachers, boss, pastor, and guidance counselors.

3. The Tallest Finger

No matter who it is, everybody has a tall finger on his hand. The tallest finger reminds us to pray for our leaders, our bosses, and those in authority. It includes praying for our president, government officials, administrators, and other authority figures.

Paul commanded Timothy to pray for them, according to 1 Timothy 2:1-2. We should do the same.

4. The Ring Finger

Most people know that the fourth finger on the left hand is known as the ring finger. A wedding band is placed on that finger because it is said to have a vein that goes straight to the heart.

What might also surprise you is what most pianists know. That finger is considered to be the weakest of all the fingers. Therefore, pray for those who are weak, sick, in pain, or in any kind of trouble. Those who are weak need our prayers as often as possible. Looking at your ring finger should remind you to pray for anybody who is weak.

5. The Pinky

The last finger is the smallest finger on the hand known as the pinky. That finger reminds us to pray for ourselves last after we have prayed for those in the other four groups.

This does not mean that our own needs are less important. It is merely a way to put the prayer for ourself in the proper perspective based on what we have prayed for others.

Praying Hands

Praying Hands

Closed Hand vs. Opened Hand

As stated above, there are different ways to teach the five finger prayer. Some people teach it with an open hand and some teach it with a closed one.

The groups are the same whether you demonstrate who to pray for with a closed or opened hand.

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