My minister is also my Sunday School teacher.  This week, though, he’s unavailable, and has asked me to teach.  He wants me to talk on prayer, and to pick out some verses on prayer.  As I work through them, you will be the beneficiary (as well as me, for getting a blog entry out of something I had to do anyway).

The first verse is Ps. 141:2

May my prayer be set before You like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice

Our prayers are incense offered to God.  Do we want to give Him the best incense we can provide, or will we make do with what’s on sale at the dollar store, a quick prayer tossed off before falling asleep?  (I’m preaching to myself here).

The second verse is Matt 21:22

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer

This is not a “name it and claim it” dealie.  This is about aligning your wishes, wants, desires – your life – with God and his will.  Once you are totally wrapped in God, inside and out, you will be asking for His will to be done.

Next up is Acts 6:4.  This reads better in the NASB:

But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word

Devoting ourselves to prayer.  Not to work, or pursuing your first million, or that sports car, or anything else.  This verse comes as they are setting up the group of seven men to make sure all the widows were fed, so there were also people who were not totally devoted to prayer.  I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on anybody.  Some are called to the prayer ministry.

This verse, though, applies to everyone.  It comes right after the armor of God.  Eph 6:18 says:

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

  • all occasions
  • all kinds of prayers and requests
  • always keep on praying for
  • all the saints

Paul isn’t leaving us a lot of wiggle room here.  We are to lead a life of prayer.  Brother Lawrence, in his book The Practice of the Presence of God, shows how all things can be done to God’s glory.  Breathing in and out can be a prayer.  Scrubbing the kitchen floor can (and should) be done as to the Lord.

But what if we don’t get it right?  Phil 4:6 says

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I like this verse.  It comes down to (1) don’t worry, and (2) do ask.  The “don’t worry” part doesn’t mean that we should have no concerns about anything, floating through life like a jellyfish.  God cares about us, and it’s valid for us to have wants and desires, and to ask God for them.

So here’s a summation:

  1. Your prayers go to God
  2. You’ll get what you ask for if you believe (in God, not in the prayer)
  3. We can/should be devoted to prayer
  4. Always pray about everything
  5. Don’t worry about it, and do ask

Feel free to print the list out and carry it in your wallet.  It’s a reminder.  It does not replace Bible verses.  It does not replace a prayerful relationship with God.  It is not a “get into Heaven free” card.

It’s also not a bad road map for part of that journey.