“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.”
1 Timothy 5:5
“Time spent alone with God is not wasted. It changes us; it changes our surroundings; and every Christian who would live the life that counts, and who would have power for service must take time to pray.”
M.E. Andross – The Prayer Motivator
If I had to guess, the number one reason why many people say they don’t pray is because they don’t have time. After taking the kids to school, working all day, finding time to exercise, making dinner, cleaning up the house, and watching your favorite shows on television, there is just no time left to pray.
Now imagine for a second that you treated eating the same way you treated prayer. You knew you should do it but it was just one of those things that you couldn’t find time for. Sure you’d sneak a quick snack in here and there. But you just didn’t have any time to sit down and have a nice meal. Eventually your body would begin to deteriorate and you would die. This is exactly what’s happening to your soul when you fail to pray. You are slowly allowing the things of this world to consume you, and it causes your spiritual life to slowly deteriorate until the point of spiritual death.
If you didn’t drink water for a week, you would be dead! Not having time is really not a good excuse for not eating or drinking. If you decide you don’t have time to sleep and you go 40 days without sleep, you’ll die. Physically, you can’t live that long without sleep. It’s like saying you’re going to take a trip across country, but you don’t want to take the time to fuel up. That’s not very logical. You’re going to run out of gas. It’s like a battle that you have to fight right now, but you don’t have time to make a plan. That is also ludicrous. In the same way, we have to pray. And we have to pray effectively; going through the motions of prayer, but thinking about all of the other things we could be doing is not praying. Prayer is the work we should be doing!
Peter Kreeft says regarding prayer, “The hardest thing, and the most essential thing of all…is simply taking time to pray…It’s the most essential thing of all just because its not a matter of how you do it at all, but of whether you do it. Like being born, or cooking: How you do it is less important than whether you do it. You can find thousands of books on prayer that give you methods of praying, hundreds of ‘hows’; but they do you no good at all unless you actually pray. Otherwise, it’s just like reading a cookbook instead of cooking. You can’t eat a cookbook!”
Choose Your Words
The emphasis in Scripture is not on praying with a lot of words. Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” (Matthew 6:7) It’s not many words that make us heard. In fact it is often the opposite. Solomon put it this way, “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2) This means that when you get before God, don’t go off on a tangent and talk, talk, talk.
The emphasis is on quality, not quantity; on what you say, not how much you say. You might think you’re being nice to me by giving me an unlimited supply of red licorice. But since I hate licorice, it doesn’t matter how much you give me, I won’t eat it. I’d rather eat one piece of caramel than a hundred pieces of licorice. The same is true for prayer. God would rather hear a few words that reveal our hearts than a thousand words that merely put on a show.
Include Time for Listening
God wants to talk to you, too! Have you ever been with someone who won’t let you get a word in edgewise? Pretty soon, you just give up – talking and listening! God must feel like that with us sometimes, because we just talk. Get into His presence and let your words be few. Think about what you are going to say and listen for His voice.
There is another thing spoken of in Scripture regarding prayer – frequency. Be in God’s presence, many, many, many times during the day. The Bible says, “O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you.” (Psalm 88:1) Paul simply says, “Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
How can we accomplish this? How can you have consistency in your prayer life? Do you just say, “I’ll try to do that more often?” Is that going to work? Not really.
First, you have to go back to the Gospel. Remember what we said back in Week 1 about why we don’t pray? We don’t pray because we don’t believe God’s promise to hear us and answer our prayers. So first we have to remember that in Christ, God has demonstrated His love for us and His desire to communicate with us. It is in response to this love that we desire to pray more consistently – to make prayer an integral part of our day.
Pray With A Plan
But it’s also helpful if you see prayer like budgeting. A budget is a plan – so much for rent, so much for food, so much for clothes. If prayer is going to be a big part of your life, and if this 40 Days of Prayer is going to have any impact on your life, you have to make a plan. You need to plan times to pray, like Daniel did. The Bible says about Daniel, “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God…” (Daniel 6:10)
In other words, Daniel had a plan. Every day, without fail, he prayed – morning, noon and night. That was how he lived. It was a plan he developed. David says, “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress and he hears my voice.” (Psalm 55:17)
This is a pattern. You want to start in the morning. David says in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”
The morning is a great time to pray because you have your whole day ahead of you and you can lay before the Lord what your needs are for the day. Wherever your temptations are going to be, you can pray He will lead you out of those. You are free from the distractions of the day’s business because the day’s business hasn’t started. Pray for your daily needs. Pray His Name will be lifted high in your life and that His will be done in your life; that His kingdom will come. These are things you can pray for every day, starting in the morning. Then at noon, the whole morning has gone and a lot has happened. You can pray about what has happened and about the rest of the day to come. You take a break at midday and get back with the Lord again.
Then you also pray at the end of the day. “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.” (Psalm 63:6) Again David says,” I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night.” (Psalm 119:147-148)
So you end your day in prayer also. God wants us to be in His presence morning, noon, and night. Remember, it’s not a matter of how you do it, but rather that you do it. Begin today to plan a time and place in the morning, a time and a place in the afternoon, and a time and a place in the evening. I hope you will make this plan for your life right now.