If we would know the full blessing of the praying life, it is important not only that we pray in the right way, but that we pray at the right time.
In Mark 1:35, we read, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” Jesus chose the early morning hour for prayer. In the morning hour, the mind is fresh and at its very best. The first thing we do each day should be to go alone with God and face the duties, temptations and service of that day, and get strength from God for all.
In Luke 6:12, we get further insight into when to pray: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Here we see Jesus spending the entire night in prayer. We have no reason to suppose that this was the constant practice of our Lord, but there were certainly times when the whole night was given up to prayer.
Here, too, we do well to follow in the footsteps of the Master. In the night hours we can have undisturbed communion with Him. There will be time for our hearts to become quiet before God, time for the whole mind to be brought under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, plenty of time to pray things through.
Jesus also prayed before all the great crises in His earthly life. He prayed before choosing the 12 disciples; before the Sermon on The Mount; before starting out on an evangelistic tour; before His anointing with the Holy Spirit and His entrance to public ministry; before announcing His approaching death; before the cross. So ought we to do also. Whenever any crisis of life is seen to be approaching, we should prepare for it by a season of prayer.
Christ also prayed after His great achievements and crises. When He had fed the 5,000 with the five loaves and two fishes, and the multitude desired to take Him and make Him king, He went up into the mountain and spent hours there alone in prayer to God.
Jesus Christ gave time to prayer when life was unusually busy. We read in Luke 5:15-16, “However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Some people are so busy that they find no time for prayer. Apparently, the busier Christ’s life was, the more He prayed. The more the work presses on us, the more time must we spend in prayer.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we read, “Pray without ceasing.” Our whole life should be a life of prayer. We should walk in constant communion with God. We should walk so habitually in His presence that even when we awake in the night, it would be the most natural thing in the world for us to speak to Him in thanksgiving or petition.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
This article is adapted from “How to Pray,” by R.A. Torrey. Work is in the public domain.
R.A. Torrey (1856-1928) was an evangelist, pastor and educator who helped found Moody Bible Institute and Biola University.
Photo: Patrick Fore/Unsplash.com