A definition of prayers of Mesopotamia is "praise to god followed by request" (this definition is according to T. Oshima).
According to one source (Bromiley) the form of the word, known and used to signify prayers during the Mesopotamian era, is described today as šu-il-lá. With regards to šu-il-lá, the scholars Lambert, van der Toorn and Oshima posit an alternative use for the term, which they submit is instead with reference to the way in which a prayer is to be recited, not a general signifier (rubric) for prayer itself (a notion expressed by Bromiley).
Šu-il-lá is held to refer to an act of praying, by prayer exhibited by either lifting of hands, to lift hands, or to lift the hand.
Tribal specialists in ritual were required to perform incantations to accompany the use of texts known, for example, from Ugarit which are attested to contain ways to aid in the removal of snake-venom. Ugarit is also known to have contained additional health-related incantation texts.
The term Gottesbriefe is literally, petition-prayers, or letter prayers. Gottesbriefe is a modern German word. It can be literally translated into both God´s letters or Letters for/to/about God. They were mostly in the form of pleas for relief from illness and for the deliverance of personal longevity.
These prayers were performed for the purposes of divining.
Another source shows ikribū were benedictions.
The rulers' (Kings of Babylonia) prayers were made to a variety of deities, for example Marduk (the god of Babylonia), Nabû, Ŝamaš. The kings had inscribed prayers made onto cylinders made of clay and kept within buildings, in order to fulfill this function. Prayers of this type tended to not be for reason of the seeking of mercy and salvation as is found in Šuila prayers.
By study of the prayers, it seems apparent to scholars, that these types of prayers seem to be reformations of earlier topos made, for example, in a similar vein to prayers such as the Prayer to the Gods of the Night.
Prayers of this classification were performed during namburbi rituals. These rituals were undertaken firstly if an omen announced a fate that was evil, and a person wished to counter-act the fate, and secondly to counter witchcraft.
- Review (2012) by Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (designation DOI:10.5508/jhs.2012.v12.r17) of. "Oshima, T (author) - Babylonian Prayers to Marduk". Journal of Hebrew Scriptures. doi:10.5508/jhs. ISBN 978-3-16-150831-8. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- G.W. Bromiley (1979). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A-D (p.400). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1979. ISBN 9780802837813. Retrieved 2015-05-18.(ISBN 0802837816)
- Frechett, C.G. Mesopotamian Ritual-prayers of "Hand-lifting" (Akkadian šuillas): An Investigation of Function in Light of the Idiomatic Meaning of the Rubric. Ugarit Verlag, 2012. ISBN 978-3-86835-046-3. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- edited by A. Lenzi. - READING AKKADIAN PRAYERS AND HYMNS An Introduction (PDF). The Society of Biblical Literature 2011 (copyrighted to). ISBN 978-1-58983-596-2. Retrieved 2015-05-18.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- C.O. Schroeder (2001). - History, justice, and the agency of God: a hermeneutical and exegetical investigation on Isaiah and Psalms (p.178-9). BRILL, 2001 (236 pages) Volume 52 of Biblical interpretation series Studies in Ancient Magic and Divination. ISBN 9004119914. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
- S I Johnston - Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide (p.459-460) Harvard University Press, 2004 ISBN 0674015177 (697 pages) Volume 18 of Harvard University Press reference library [Retrieved 2015-05-16]
- K Takai - Old Babylonian Letter of Petition and Later Individual Lament Prayers BiblioBazaar, 2011 ISBN 1243614951 [Retrieved 2015-05-18]
- F.H. Cryer - Divination in Ancient Israel and its Near Eastern Environment: A Socio-Historical Investigation (footnote 5 - page 197) A&C Black, 1 May 1994 ISBN 0567059634 (367 pages) The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies [Retrieved 2015-05-18]
- T Oshima - Babylonian Prayers to Marduk (p.21-22) Mohr Siebeck, 2011 ISBN 3161508319 (483 pages) Volume 7 of Orientalische Religionen in der Antike, ISSN 1869-0513 [Retrieved 2015-05-18]
- Google - search return published by Google 22:40 hrs 12-12-2015 [Retrieved 2015-12-12]
- edited by T Abusch, D Schwemer (2010-12-17). Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-witchcraft Rituals: Volume One. BRILL, December 17, 2010. ISBN 9004189130. Retrieved 2015-05-20.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Ehud Ben Zvi review of work of S.M. Maul in Perspectives on Biblical Hebrew: Comprising the Contents of Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Volumes 1-4 Gorgias Press LLC, 1 Jan 2006 (934 pages) Volume 1 of Gorgias Perspectives on Hebrew Scriptures Series ISBN 1593333102 [Retrieved 2015-05-20](namburbi ritual sourced at p.575)
- J. Hehn, Hymnen und Gebete an Marduk (published 1905) as shown here