I thought for today I’d share with you some interesting things you may have never thought about with the verses that discuss prayer. I didn’t include every verse mentioning prayer in these notes for reasons of context with some of the verses that mention prayer. For example, Mark 11:24 states “There for I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” In context, this was Jesus speaking to His primary disciples, and Scripture seems to illustrate that they needed to have all their prayers granted to illustrate the Truth of the Gospel through miracles proving that they were authentic messengers from God. This is one of the most misinterpreted verses of Scripture used to support the false teaching of “Prosperity Theology”. With that said, let’s look over these prayer verses.
■We pray for those who mistreat: Mat 5:44 states, “But I say to you, love your enemies (Greek definition – hateful people, willful sinners against God) and pray for those who persecute (mistreat) you.” Luke 6:28 also states, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
■We pray with authenticity: Mat 6:6-7 states “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition (battalogeo – to repeat the same things over and over, use many idle words, to babble) as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”
■Mat 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12 all mention Jesus praying on a mountain. It mentions he prays in the wilderness in Luke 5:16. Though not instructed of followers of Christ, perhaps there’s a certain unique quality to praying outside. Jesus is also noted to have prayed all night in Luke 6:12. It goes to show how much praying matters to God. Reading these verses made me interested in praying more often outside or on a mountain someday, and I would definitely want to pray all night someday as well. I’m sure it would be quite an authentic religious experience.
■Mark 14:35 states, “And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.” Luke 22:41 tells us that Jesus knelt to pray to God. It’s interesting how Jesus chooses to go to the ground or kneel before God in prayer in these verses. He didn’t have to, but it seems to be a great illustration of how much humility one should have in prayer to God, given that even the Son of God showed an outward expression of humility. He also prayed to God with great respect, not making these outlandish prayers where people proclaim God will do this and that in their lives. Jesus said, “if possible”, may this happen, understanding ultimately it’s God’s will that matters most. He even goes on to indicate that stating, “yet not what I will, but what You will.”
■We pray consistently: Luke 18:1 “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
■Luke 22:40, Mat 26:41, Mark 14:38 all mention a need for praying not to enter temptation.
■We pray for the cause: 2 Thessalonians 1:11 states “To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1 states “Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you”. I’m not sure if a lot of people think about this in their prayers. If you look in these verses, the apostles seem to illustrate a need to pray for the progression of living Godly and God’s Word being spread. This would arguably seem to be the most important thing to pray for in our prayers.
■We pray when suffering: James 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful, then he must sing praises”
■3 John 1:2 states, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” While this may seem like no a brainer, it’s always good to not presume anything, and have scriptural evidence backing everything. In this case, this verse seems to illustrate we can pray for others to prosper and be in good health. This is not to be equated with what prosperity theology asserts in that that’s what God always wants and delivers us. It’s just to say that this can be a part of prayer in a secondary sense, but the primary motive of prayer is to please God since this is what He instructs of us to do.
■In Acts 1:14, Acts 2:42, Acts 6:4, Rom 12:12, 1 Cor 7:5, and Col 4:2, each of these verses mention that we must devote ourselves (proskartereo – be steadfastly attentive) to prayer. It kind of goes back to Jesus illustrating that when he prayed all night in Luke 6:12. It’s not necessarily to say we should all start praying all night every single night, but that God desires for us is to make prayer a very consistent part of our lifestyle, emphasizing devotion to it time and time again throughout the Word.
■We pray our requests with thankfulness: Phil 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”
■1 Pe 3:12 “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” I think this already seems pretty self-explanatory about prayer, but just to make sure we understand, God doesn’t appear to pay attention to our prayers if we’re doing evil in our lives.
My final observation from looking closer at the facts of what Scripture states about prayer, is that I’m convinced that a lot of modern Christian culture tends to make prayer more about getting your materialistic desires than the Scripture does. These verses seem to primarily illustrate the importance of God wanting us to consistently participate in the act, and the importance of conducting the act authentically. Furthermore, most of these instructions of prayer weren’t even about praying for desires, but primarily praying for our needs and praying for other people’s needs. Prayers such as praying for good health, praying when suffering, praying for the cause of God’s will, among other things. I don’t mean to necessarily bash making requests for things, because Phil 4:6 does illustrate that’s something that can be a part of our prayers as well. Unfortunately we have a lot of these “name and claim it” false teachers out there making prayers all about that, which is quite disappointing. In the end, we should all remember that it’s God’s will being done that’s most important.
May we all pray in a way that honors God through abiding in the Scriptural statements and illustrations that we’re given about prayer. Peace to all who are in Christ.