A few weeks ago, I shared with you some prayer habits and practices that I have begun using in my own prayer life. As I’ve listened in on those in the prayer study I have been leading, a number of the practices that they use have challenged me. I was also encouraged to read the feedback here on my blog and social media posts as well. One commented that he found imagining the presence of God helpful during his prayer time. Another mentioned that he frequently prayed through the Old Testament tabernacle and the A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication) method of praying. A former student where I teach at Fruitland Baptist Bible College shared how the Book of Common Prayer has been helpful to him and his wife in their prayer time. Some have committed to pray early in the day, while others have worked on the discipline of “praying continuously” (1 Thess. 5:17). A few shared how the Scriptures themselves have been integral in shaping and revitalizing their prayer lives.
In each of these comments and reflections, I was truly encouraged to note how God has made us unique even in our seeking Him through prayer. Not coincidentally, a day after posting “How Do You Pray?,” I read a powerful take on Spurgeon’s prayer life that echoed the diverse ways we can come to God in prayer.
If my study of prayer and reflection on the numerous comments are teaching me anything about strengthening my prayer life, it’s driving home these two observations:
1. The certain wrong way to pray is not to pray.
2. We can pray to God using a variety of habits, patterns, and tools.
These thoughts lead us into the heart of this post. When do you pray? The “how” of praying must the “when.” For myself, I have begun trying to pray three specific times daily: when I get up in the morning, as I drive to work, and before I go to bed. Some of these prayers (and prayer times) are shorter than others. Martin Luther suggested praying at least twice a day: in the morning and before bed (Martin Luther, “A Simple way to Pray,” referenced in Tim Keller, Prayer, p. 89). We know from Scriptures that Daniel prayed three times a day.
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
That closing phrase of Daniel 6:10, “As he had done previously,” speaks volumes. For Daniel, these times of prayer had become habitual and ingrained. Like well worn paths, the routine times of prayer had shaped Daniel’s prayer life and forged his character into one of dependence upon God, faithfulness in the midst of evil and temptation, and resilient obedience regardless of the consequence.
As I continue to reflect on the lessons I am learning on prayer from the Scriptures and others, I’m interested to hear from you again. When do you pray?
2 thoughts on “When Do You Pray?”
When I pray isn’t a difficult thing to determine. Since my family uses the BCP, we pray in the morning and the evening. The idea is rooted in the ancient tradition of the universal church, and stems from the Biblical idea of ceaseless prayer, and meditating on God’s word day and night.
These morning and evening prayers are called “offices.” In each office we confess our sins, adore/ rejoice in God, pray psalms and sing/chant canticles (if we know the tunes for them), read a “lesson” from the OT, and Epistle, and one of the gospels, confess the Apostles’ Creed, pray the Lord’s Prayer, pray for the global church, local church, foreign nations, America, our pastors, and etc.
While these prayer are written, we use them to shape our own prayer life. Since we don’t always know how to pray, or what to pray for, and are forgetful, using the BCP helps us to remember these things night and day. Toward the end of the offices, we spend time praying spontaneously, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us in our prayers. We then conclude with thanksgivings.
The reason I made note of all of that is because our prayers usually consume 45 min-1 hour of time. We don’t always have that kind of time. For that reason, the prayer book also includes short family prayers/ devotions that take around 10-15 minutes. We also have the office of compline. While it’s technically a prayer to be memorized so we can pray as we fall asleep in our bed, we often will pray the office together if we’ve had a particularly long day, and don’t feel able to make it through an hour of prayer (we sympathize with the disciples in the garden).
I’ve always been curious about what exactly Paul meant when he said to pray without ceasing. And I’ve also rushed past Paul’s words, stating he always remembered folks in prayer. I think I subconsciously ignored these things, thinking it’s impossible to pray in such a way. But Paul didn’t use “always” in the same way we do. He most likely meant that he prayed with consistency and regularity (and as I noted about ancient traditions earlier, he probably prayed morning, noon, and evening). Neither Paul, nor Jesus, prayed haphazardly. Nor did they only prayer when they were “in the right mood.”
One of the things I love about the psalms is that the authors are so honest with God. “Why do you despise me?” “How long will it take for you to do something, Lord?” Presenting ourselves to God, in whatever state we are in, in the way He has called us to give ourselves to Him, is always acceptable through our Lord Jesus. One of the greatest treasures I’ve acquired in using the BCP is learning that I don’t have to be perfect or know everything. The only thing I have to do is abide in Jesus.
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Excellent reflections Emanuel. Thank you for commenting.
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