When to Pray?

This is the third post in a series on prayer.

As I mentioned in the first post of this series, my wife and I pray together every night before bed; we also pray before each meal and I generally try to make prayer a part of my quiet time, although I have not done as well as I would like. So in this post, I’m researching times that the Bible shows us we should pray.

The Bible says a lot about people praying. Jesus prayed in the morning (Mark 1:35) and in the evening (Matthew 14:23), and sometimes all night (Luke 6:12). Peter prayed at noon (Acts 10:9). Daniel prayed three times a day, even in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:10). What all these verses suggest to me is that prayer should be on the schedule. It should be a regular and sacred part of our daily routine.

The trouble with that is that prayer then becomes routine. One more thing to get done. Bor-ing. We need to approach prayer as if it were coffee. I’m sure you know people who can’t seem to get started right in the morning until they’ve had one (or two, or three) cups of coffee, just the way they like it. That’s the dependency we should have on prayer. We shouldn’t feel right in the morning until we’ve spent one or two or ten minutes conversing with our Lord. David does it right in his “Morning Prayer of Trust in God,” Psalm 3. Then he does it right again at the end of his day with his “Evening prayer of Trust in God,” Psalm 4. Scheduled, and still heartfelt and fervent. If only I had a heart like David!

Christ models not only a time of day for prayer, but also daily events. First, His quiet time. Mark 1:35 and Matthew 14:23, both mentioned above, are pretty similar verses - Jesus goes “to a secluded place” and is “there alone.” Jesus is modeling a quiet time for us. He goes to pray by Himself, away from crowds and disciples and pressures and life.

Jesus also prayed before meals. In Matthew 14:19, He blesses five loaves and two fish, thanks God for them, and hands them out to five thousand people. And they all eat. And they’re all filled. In I Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul tells the story of the Last Supper, and he mentions that Christ gives thanks to God before He gives out the bread and the cup to the disciples. I think that’s a pretty good indication we should be thanking God every time we partake.

There are two other, less specific times where I’ve found people in the Bible praying. The Old Testament is full of people who pray whenever they’re in trouble, whenever they need help - this is a reason to pray, but also a time. Psalm 50:15 and I Chronicles 5:20 are good examples of this. Also, the opposite is true - when something awesome and/or special happens, people prayed. I Kings 8:22-35 is Solomon’s prayer at the grand opening of his temple in Jerusalem, and it’s a big one.

Here’s a list of times to pray I’ve covered so far:

  1. In the morning
  2. At breakfast
  3. Around noontime
  4. At lunch
  5. In the evening
  6. At supper
  7. During the night
  8. During your quiet time
  9. Whenever you get in trouble
  10. Whenever something good happens

That’s ten - count ’em (oh wait it’s an ordered list so you don’t have to), ten times a day (well, assuming something good and something bad happens). Are you praying that often? I’m not - I have a lot of work to do on my prayer life.

So how do you pray that much? How do you pray enough? I Thessalonians 5:17 reads, “Pray without ceasing,” or “Pray continually,” or “Pray without intermission.” Stick’s Get-The-Point-Across Translation is “Let nothing interrupt your prayer.” There’s a great sermon from C.H. Spurgeon about this topic available online; the basic point is that we should be in constant communication with our heavenly Father. How many corporate retreats focus on communication? How many technologies like Twitter and SMS are developed solely to help us communicate? How essential to a military commander is his radio? What is more essential to a Christian than communication with the Commander?

Why PrayReasons to PraySomething About PrayerWith Whom To PrayFor Whom To PrayWhat To Pray