Perhaps one of the most intimate means available for us to communicate with God is through prayer. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 55 percent of all Americans report that they pray each day. The same study also states that, at a rate of 14 percent, more American women pray daily compared to men. According to Todd Shupe however, a 55 percent would be a failing exam grade for us overall. That’s an F, folks.
“I think many of us have a false perception of God. We see God as Santa Claus and approach Him with our lists of requests when we are in need — but seldom go to God with prayers for others or prayers of thanksgiving for ourselves during good times,” Shupe said.
Todd Shupe believes that it is important to understand the purpose of prayer: It is not to bend the will of God to be in accordance with your desires. Rather, prayer is an important way for you to discern the will of God for you in your life. Then, you should follow God; do not attempt to get God to follow you.
According to Todd Shupe, perhaps the highest form of prayer comes in Jesus’ words in Gethsemane: “Yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus did not say, “Your will be borne,” which is how we often translate it. He said, “Your will be done,” which implies a cooperation with an outgoing, redemptive will that desires our highest good.
The Bible is full of scripture that explains the benefits of prayer. Below are seven of the favorite prayer related scriptures of Todd Shupe. You will notice a very consistent theme in them all, which is very similar to the “knock, seek, ask” scripture of Matthew 7:7. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Todd Shupe’s favorite prayer related scripture is Psalm 66:20: “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.” Be blessed and be in prayer each day!