The great souls who became mighty in prayer and rejoiced to spend three and four hours a day alone with God were once beginners.
In these days there is no time to pray; but without time, and a lot of it, we shall never learn to pray.
Self must be denied as to time and attention for prayer. All-prayer cannot be wielded without the expenditure of time. “A minute with God” seldom lays hold of Him. Sustained prayer is necessary. Such time may only be found by snatching it from personal pursuits, however legitimate they may be.
Whether or not our prayer is heard depends not on the number of our words, but on the fervor of our souls.
You do not become a master musician by playing just as you please, by imagining that learning the scales is sheer legalism and bondage! No, true freedom in any area of life is the consequence of regular discipline. It is no less true [in the spiritual realm].
A legalistic commitment to duration can kill one’s prayer life.
The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.
If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day and I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.
A man who prays much in private will make short prayers in public.
In every good work, we must depend on the Lord. If anyone rises so that he may give the time which he takes from sleep to prayer and meditation, let him be sure that Satan will try to put obstacles in the way.
After my return to London, I decided to do something to help my brothers in the seminary. I suggested we meet together every morning from six until eight to pray and read the Scriptures. After the evening prayer, my communion with God was so sweet that I would continue praying until after midnight. Then I would go to a brother’s room, and we would pray together until one or two in the morning. Even then, I was sometimes so full of joy that I could not sleep. At six in the morning, I would again call the brethren together for prayer.
Indeed, a person who lives in the exercise of faith and love, and who finds by experience that it is good for him to draw near to God, will not need to be told how often he must pray, any more than how often he must converse with an earthly friend. Those whom we love, we love to be much with. Love is the best casuist, and either resolves or prevents a thousand scruples and questions, which may perplex those who only serve God from principles of constraint and fear. A believer will account those his happiest days, when he has most leisure and most liberty of spirit for the exercise of prayer.
It is a mistake to imagine that prayers must be long in order to be effective and pleasing to God. Martin Luther said: “Look to it that you do not try to do all of it, do not try to do too much, lest your spirit grow weary. Besides a good prayer mustn’t be too long. Do not draw it out. Prayer ought to be frequent and fervent.” It is far better to have ten minutes of concentrated prayer than an hour in which one’s mind wanders from Jerusalem to Timbuktu. A legalistic commitment to duration will inevitable torpedo your prayer life (Kent and Barbara Hughes).
The time factor in prayer is very important. In the exercise of prayer God is not tied to our clocks. Neither is He at the other end of the phone to receive and answer our two-minute calls. It takes time to know the mind of God, to shut out the material things of earth and to be wholly abandoned (Hugh McCullough).
The example of Jesus and the testimony of lovers of Christ throughout the centuries points us to early morning prayer as decisively important… First, it signals to our conscience that this is of first importance in the day. Second, it strikes the first blow in the battle of the day, instead of waiting till we are besieged from all sides. Third, what we do daily and do early shapes the spirit of our minds and brings us into a disposition of humility and trust that will bear better fruit than anxiety or self-reliance. Fourth, since beginning the day with the Word of God is crucial, prayer is equally crucial since the Word will not open its best wonders to us without prayer (Psm. 119:18). Fifth, it is uncanny how Satan can use even good things to squeeze prayer out of our schedule if we miss the early-morning hour. I have seen it again and again. If I say to myself, “I will give some time to prayer later,” it generally does not happen.
Summarized from: The Practice of Prayer in the Fight for Joy by John Piper taken from When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper, copyright 2004, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org. Page 159.
Concentrated prayer at a specific time is the best fuel for continual prayer all the time.
For more than thirty-five years I have had much intercourse with dying saints and sinners of various ages and conditions. In all that time I have not heard one express regret that he had spent too much time in prayer; I have heard many mourn that they had so seldom visited a throne of grace.
I used to write in my daily calendar “7-7:30 a.m.: Prayer.” But many times I passed that up. It was one more thing to pass by that day. Now I write “7-7:30 a.m.: God.” Somehow that’s a little harder to neglect.
Are you a hypocrite? One way to tell is to compare the amount of time you spend in private prayer to the amount of time you spend in public prayer. As D. A. Carson rightly observes, “The person who prays more in public than in private reveals that he is less interested in God’s approval than in human praise. Not piety but a reputation for piety is his concern.”
Be sure no time is so well spent as that which a man spends on his knees.
What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others? I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer. I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much.
Mastering the art of prayer, like any other art, will take time, and the amount of time we allocate to it will be the true measure of our conception of its importance.
In the morning – this is the fittest time for intercourse with God. An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let grace drop upon the soul. Let us give to God the mornings of our days and the morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.
True prayer is measured by weight, not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.
Whatever is you best time in the day, give that to communion with God.
Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.
Prayer is measured, not by time, but by intensity.
No man dare prescribe for another how long a time he ought to spend in prayer, nor do we suggest that men should make a vow to pray so many minutes or hours a day.
[God] never condemns long prayers that are sincere. Let us not forget that our Lord sometimes spent long nights in prayer. We are told of one of these – we do not know how frequently they were (Luke 6:12). He would sometimes rise a “great while before day” and depart to a solitary place for prayer (Mark 1:35). The perfect Man spent more time in prayer than we do. It would seem an undoubted fact that with God’s saints in all ages nights of prayer with God have been followed by days of power with men.
The amount of time we give to prayer indicates how important prayer is to us.