In a previous article, “7 Steps To Pray“, we discussed the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus told us how to pray. That was somewhat of a scientific approach for how to structure a prayer. However, the structure doesn’t matter as much as the act of praying and the heart. The greater concern than what to pray is when to pray, where to pray, how long to pray, and committing to the very act of praying itself.
When you commit to praying and are genuine in your heart, the Holy Spirit will help you to know what to pray about. Concern yourself more with devoting yourself to prayer, than worrying too much about what to pray about. And if you can’t think of anything, just pray and ask God what to pray about, it’s that simple. You only need to commit the time to prayer and be true in your heart before God.
Many famous theologians would spend as many as hours each morning praying. They prayed for guidance, praised God for blessings, and built a real relationship. Many of us could never imagine spending so much time in prayer every morning. After all, there are so many things to do! But how many of those things are really more important than prayer?
How important is prayer in your life?
Communication with our heavenly Father is not a thing reserved for short prayers before bed or quickly before a meal. If you’re married, how do you think your relationship will go if every day you spent no more than 5 minutes with them, if that? It would not take long to drift apart. Or which of you has a friend that you only talk to briefly on occasion? That is not a friend, that is merely an acquaintance.
Communication with God is no different. God is a living being and wants to have a relationship with us. This relationship is built through communication and fellowship with God, as well as worship. Is God just your acquaintance, or is He your Father and friend? If you build a relationship with God by spending large amounts of time with God every day, then God will be able to lead you along the path that He has laid out for you.
If you are concerned about the future and unsure what is next or how to do it, perhaps you should ask yourself just how much time you have spent with God. If you haven’t spent much time, then perhaps your uncertainty is due to a failure to spend time with the Most High so that He can show you the way and give you the certainty you seek.
A solitary place to pray
Does this mean you should often go away into a lonely place to spend time with God for long periods of time? That’s what Jesus did. Often times Jesus would go away alone into a mountain to pray. This is especially true during difficult times, such as in the Garden of Gethsemane. After Jesus fed the 5,000, Jesus retreated to a mountain alone to pray (Mark 6:30–44). This was before He was seen walking on the water to the disciples’ boat during a storm.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus is recorded many times praying, especially before major events. Before Jesus chose His twelve disciples, He went up to a mountain to pray and spent the whole night in prayer until morning And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed all night praying about the exceedingly difficult path laid out before Him.
All night? How will you even stay awake? The disciples did fall asleep when Jesus was praying, and Satan does the same thing even today. How many times have you started praying and barely a minute passes before you’re fast asleep? Instead of praying in bed, set aside a special place to pray to God.
Setting aside dedicated daily time to prayer
How to pray is difficult because many people do not set aside dedicated time to God. You need to make it as important as eating and breathing in order to care enough to pray. But why? Why should we pray? Prayer has power, and when we appeal to God in prayer, God can help us to overcome our challenges, give us guidance, overcome sin, and use us for intercession, which means praying for others.
So how then can we pray? We pray by setting aside time for God. What to say during prayer is not as important as the simple act of setting aside the time dedicated completely and utterly to God. This means shutting off your phone. Shutting off your computer. Being completely and entirely alone with no distractions.
Follow Jesus’ example. Jesus went alone to pray. Perhaps it was because Jesus knew that the distractions of the world were inevitable unless He went into a solitary place where there would be nothing to distract Him from prayer. It was often at night, and often on a mountain. Why? At night people are sleeping and there are no other people on the quiet mountain. This makes a fantastic place to go to pray.
Setting aside a place to pray
But you do not need to go to an actual mountain, you only need to find a solitary place where you will have unrestricted time to pray to God with no distractions. Our busy schedules make it so we have no time to pray , and this is part of Satan’s trick. If we get so busy that we can’t even find the time or energy to pray, then we won’t be able to hear from God or get the guidance we desperately need.
Going without prayer is like going into battle without armor. Of course, you need a sword as well, and that is the Bible. You can read the Bible during your prayers as well. Jesus likely had the scriptures memorized, and this is something we all should do as well. But you can of course bring the Bible and read it along with prayer.
But beware, because if you use your phone Bible, if there are any distractions then you could get drawn away. You could try it, and disable your internet and put it on airplane mode and close all apps but the Bible; but if you find yourself getting drawn to other apps and cutting your Bible time short, then maybe you should stick to the physical paper Bible.
How often should you pray to God?
When do you pray? Many patriarchs of the Bible would pray three times a day. Daniel was famous for praying even when his enemies played a trick on the king to get his arrested and thrown into a lion’s den. God protected Daniel from the lions, but Daniel couldn’t have known for sure. Daniel was willing to die for his daily prayers.
Does this mean you should pray 3 times per day? Yes, you should. We should all be setting morning, afternoon, and evening to pray. But that’s not all, we should “pray without ceasing” as Paul said, and this means to always in everything pray for God in every situation. This means always have God on your mind at all times. But praying without ceasing isn’t a substitute for dedicated prayer time. You need a time every day to pray with no distractions.
It could be hard to pray 3 times per day, but you need to simply make it a priority. If you don’t make prayer a priority, you will suffer, because God will not be able to lead you because you are not listening, because you are not praying. Prayer is a time for God to help train you spiritually in the ways He wants you to be. Prayer is a spiritual discipline.
We are not only flesh, we are also spirit. Prayer is a powerful tool not to go to God as a magic genie to give us whatever we want, but to build a relationship with God and to provide a way for you to be shaped into the image of God. Prayer helps God to change you into a sanctified person and to help you put away sins.
What do you say when you pray to God?
What do you say during prayer? While Jesus provided the general structure, the most important thing is being truly honest and genuine. Talk to God like you would talk to a father or a best friend. Confess your sins, genuinely thank Him for all He has done, ask for guidance, and sometimes just sit and listen like Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1-10, where God called to him and he said, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (v.9).
And before major events, spent a lot more time in prayer. Live your life in such a way that you are following God’s will, not your own. You follow God’s Will by knowing God’s Will, and you know God’s Will by regular and intense prayer and study of the Bible. In the garden of Gethsemane, one of the most difficult time where Jesus sought God’s guidance and submitted to God’s Will, the Bible described sweat falling to the ground in huge drops because Jesus prayed so intensely. Follow this pattern.
Pray every day, and pray multiple times per day. Devote at least an hour or two to God in prayer per day. And when big events come up and you are faced with crossroads, pray even longer and more intensely and seek God’s guidance.
Commit to changing your life to be a prayer warrior, now
But don’t just say you’re going to pray. Commit to it! This means to rethink how you live your entire life and become men and women of prayer. It means restructuring your entire days. Don’t you see, it’s the very prayer that helps you to find out how to do all the important things God has planned for you, including to develop the discipline to pray. You just have to start doing it.
It means setting a schedule (NOW) and committing to wake up every morning earlier to pray, or cutting out television in the evening so you can pray. It means possibly skipping lunch at work if you have no time, so you can pray (and maybe make it a fast as well); or maybe it even means finding another job which allows you to pray devotedly, if that’s the way God leads you.
Before any major decision, there should be much prayer. Not just a simple prayer before bed, but an intense crying out to God about what you should do and spending many hours with God. Imagine if you cut out television or social media how many hours per day you could spend in prayer to God! If you think you have no time to pray, you are sorely wrong.
If you truly have no time to pray, then you need to readjust your life priorities, because you have placed things in your life before God. You do have time to pray, even if you have to rearrange your priorities and possibly make sacrifices and cut certain leisure activities out of your life. It will be worth it in the end, and there are so many great men of history that can attest to that, from Jesus the Son of God, to Daniel whom God saved from the lion’s den, to great evangelists and theologians of recent centuries.
Are you ready to build a real relationship with God? It’s time to start praying! Now go make a schedule now and commit to it! Start small and build up to it. Build a habit, and before you know it, prayer will be a new part of your life.