As Christ followers, we are seeking to grow in prayerfulness. So if that is our desire, how do we do that? I believe we need to grow in two streams, if you will, of prayer. Praying in blocks of time, and praying as we go. And when these streams come together, we’ll find the Lord at work in and through us.
Blocks of Time
We need to schedule times of prayer. Times that are set aside for solitude and prayer with our Father. We see the example in the life of Jesus. Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
When we looked at Daniel, we saw that his prayer life was disciplined and regular. Daniel prayed 3 times a day. And maybe we think to ourselves, well we don’t want to create a legalistic number. And I don’t believe we should take 3 times per day as THE standard for how we are to pray.
But I also think that Christians in our day are so afraid of becoming legalistic that in a sense, we create a new legalism where basically we reject anything that calls us to discipline, routine, or habits. We forget that words like train, strive, work out, are all found in the New Testament, all around the idea of us growing in godliness.
Christians are notoriously over correcting the faith. So we say, well we are to pray continually and without ceasing. But I don’t want to fall into a rut of a certain amount of time each day, and yet the very rut we fall into is prayerlessness.
John Piper said this, “discipline is not the boring substitute for spontaneity and power but the garden where it grows. You till the garden with patient discipline and suddenly God makes a plant grow with supernatural power.”
So here is one idea for tilling the garden of prayerfulness with patient discipline. Create four blocks of time, or hard stops to your day when it comes to prayer. Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night.
So first thing when we get up, before we move into the afternoon, before we move into the evening hours, and then in reflection as we go to sleep and rest. Because each of those aspects of our days have their different dynamics and challenges. So set electronic reminders, or write paper notes, or find another way of reminding your heart and mind to stop and pray. It may be 10 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes over a lunch hour, 5 as you enter the evening, and then 10 before bed. The length of time is not the point. The point is creating a rhythm and pace to our days that cultivates prayerfulness and grows it in our lives.
As You Go
Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually. Or depending on your translation: Never stop praying or pray without ceasing. As Christ followers, we’ve been given the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. The presence of God is always with us.
We see Nehemiah living this principle out in chapter 2, when in verse 4 the king asks him, what he wants, and before he responds, he prays to his God in heaven.
He is praying as he goes. He is living out Paul’s encouragement to pray continually. He is aware that God, his King is listening, not just in the mornings or evening, but all the time. So he will lay his request before Him.
Have you ever been in those moments of quietly praying in the midst of a conversation? Lord, I need your wisdom. I need your help. I don’t know what to say. Help me speak truth in love, help me be gracious, help me be quick to listen. Help me to know them the way you know them. In those ‘as you go’ moments, we are confessing our need for the Lord, and our trust in Him.
We need both the blocks of time, and we also need the ‘as you go’ prayerfulness. We need communion, quiet, solitude with our Father in Heaven, and we need to grow in our awareness of His moment by moment, daily presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit.
And as we grow in prayerfulness, let’s do it together, alongside one another as His people.