What do you think? Once a day? Once a day plus before meals? Once a day plus meals plus emergencies? Unless you will permit the obvious answer, “much more than we are praying today,” it isn’t an easy question.
The Bible addresses this, but it doesn’t give a cut and dry number. In Romans 12:12, Paul says we should be “constant in prayer,” and in Colossians he says we should “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2). OK, but what exactly does that mean?
Well, David prayed seven times a day (Ps. 119:164), and Daniel prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10). Certainly they knew something of the best practices of prayer. Jesus is said to have prayed very often, both with the disciples and privately, but it could be argued that Jesus is an outlier in this whole prayer business being that he is the Son of God. So, what about the apostles? Well, they definitely prayed often according to Scripture, but how often is difficult to determine.
So perhaps there are some Bible principles that will guide us in the frequency and fervor of our prayer lives. Here are some I suggest:
1. Scheduled prayer. Every believer should have appointed times to pray. These are times when a Christian blocks out a part of his schedule, gets alone, prepares his heart and mind for an encounter with God and spends time in uninterrupted prayer. You choose the number, but I believe once daily would be a good starting place. Let the Lord create in you a burden and desire for prayer, and let that be the catalyst to increase the number.
2. Public prayer. I believe the practice of praying before meals and at other times to publically thank the Lord for his provision is very important. While the purpose can never be to draw attention to ourselves, these times of public prayer are modeled in Scripture and they serve as tools to both thank the Lord and declare his kindness before men.
3. Need-based prayer. In Philippians 4:6-7, a foundational verse about the importance of prayer, Paul says the believer should never be anxious about anything, but instead should pray. We learn from that admonition that we should pray about any situation, circumstance or need that rises to the level of possibly causing us anxiety or stress. If there is a need, if there is a concern, then there should be a prayer! These can be quick rocket-prayers said under one’s breath, or these can be extended times of pulling away from the situation to spend time before the Lord, or these can be a calling on others to join you in earnest prayer. But without exception every burden, every stressor, and every source of anxiety should prompt us to pray.
4. Attitude prayer. Back to Romans 12:12 and Colossians 4:2, how can we be constantly in prayer? The Bible teaches that we should have an attitude of prayer that acknowledges we are in constant fellowship and communication with the Spirit of God. We should walk with an attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude. We should be always on the lookout for reasons to praise and thank our heavenly Father. We should be moment by moment leaning upon Him for wisdom and direction.
How often do you pray? Do you hit every category? How can you make prayer a much higher priority in your life beginning today?
Prayer is the way we connect daily with our heavenly Father. Every believer should make it his life’s pursuit to be good at prayer, very good at prayer. Nothing else will make as big a difference in our lives, our families, our churches and the Kingdom of God than that!