When and Where Are Christians to Pray? (NIV)
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WHEN: There is no specific time or place in which you absolutely must or must not pray. God can hear your prayers even if you pray in the shower (see Psalm 139:7-12). However, you should make a habit of setting specific times apart for prayer. There is a scriptural precedent (Daniel 6:10) for saying you should have three times each day: in the morning before you start the day, during a break at midday, and in the evening. Overall, it is this writer’s experience that you need to spend at least a full hour a day in prayer (not necessarily all at once) to maintain a right relationship with the Lord. You should also spend extra periods in prayer on a regular basis as the Lord leads.
Pray without ceasing is a verse (1 Thessalonians 5:17) I used to hear as a child. I always understood this to mean that items of prayer come to mind while you are at work, driving, relaxing, and so forth. To me this means your mind is in an attitude of prayer as the Holy Spirit brings prayer items to mind, even from around the world, as other Christians petition God for various needs and actions. You may find yourself praying for a missionary or a certain family and sometime later hear that prayer answered in different time zones because God was calling His people to pray at 3 PM in America and another believer was realizing the answer to prayer at 3 AM in the Far East. Be available, be obedient.
Instant prayer is like anything that’s immediate. There’s instant coffee and tea, and there are instant desserts. Instant means something you don’t wait for. How many times have you told someone that you would pray for them, or for a specific prayer request they mentioned, but you never did? Paul told us to continue “ instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). The idea is that when you have something to pray for, don’t wait to do it. God is always there to hear, so when you realize that you have something to pray about, pause and pray about it right then and there. If it’s a prayer request from another person, pray with that person out loud. This is an expression of Christian love. It can also be a powerful witness if you are praying for an unsaved person.
Neglect of prayer is one of the most serious and pervasive failures in the life of the Christian. The biggest reason for unanswered prayer is not praying. You have to be a prayer warrior to be an overcomer. But we must also fast, or do something equivalent, regularly, if we are to have full power in prayer.
WHERE: Find a place to go to when you pray. Depending on your circumstances you may have to be creative about this. But do your best to find a time and place when you can be relatively free from distractions. The devil will try very hard to distract you from turning your full attention to prayer. It’s important to get yourself alone with the Lord. It is a fact that finding the time and place in this world can be difficult, but if you make up your mind to do it, with the Lord’s help, you can.
If you can, and if you need to, it may help you to pray out loud, even if you just whisper. When you pray silently, your mind may tend to wander and you may find yourself thinking or worrying, or even day-dreaming instead of really praying. Praying out loud, even in a whisper, will help you keep focused on prayer. Silent prayer is Scriptural (Samuel 1), and can be effective, but you can fall asleep while praying silently.
Kick Satan off your lap, keep your focus on Jesus, and pray in earnest. It works!