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?