Martin Luther once stated, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
What a statement. When you wake up in the morning with papers to write, homework to complete, classes to attend, meetings to lead, friends to visit, and social functions to enjoy, is Luther’s statement something you would ever consider doing first? Do you examine your busy work schedule and fall to your knees in prayer in response? For many, the answer is no. Further, when you wake up in the morning with absolutely nothing on your agenda, do you go to the Lord in prayer? Again, the answer is commonly no. I know I definitely struggle with committing a significant amount of time to prayer daily. Typically, we take five minutes to scribble a prayer and then move on with our day. We throw up quick prayers to God in random situations throughout the day when it suits us. However, we do not diligently commit a significant portion of our time to the act of prayer.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, praying to God throughout your day as different situations occur is good. God loves to hear from us as we go about life. However, I would propose that more than praying quick prayers when we remember to, it is very important to establish a daily routine of prayer.
The world we live in today is one that praises continual business and constant distraction. As such, I think we often forget the value of prayer and let it slip from our daily routines. We do not dedicate our time to this practice that we are called as Christians to do. Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s people cry out to him in prayer and recognize its importance; there is even a whole book dedicated to it: Psalms. The New Testament also speaks highly on practicing the discipline of prayer. One of the biggest indications of prayer’s importance is the fact that Jesus did it often.
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray.” Luke 5:15-16
Jesus, who is fully God, made a regular habit of praying, which demonstrates how valuable prayer is. It is important to remember that God gives us the opportunity to pray, not to bore us, but as a way to grow close to Him. Like musical worship and reading scripture, prayer allows us to know God better and learn His character. It draws us closer to Him and reminds us to rely on Him for everything. It also softens our hearts and allows our desires to become more in line with His will.
So, I would challenge you (and me) to set aside a certain amount of time each day dedicated to prayer. Share your heart with Him, your desires, your failures, and your questions. I’ve found that I like to write down my prayers every morning, but, you can pray however you want: out loud, in your head, or in a journal – the important part is just getting in the habit of doing it. And then, as you’re diligent with this time, expand it. It is a common saying that obedience fuels desire. I encourage you to be obedient in the discipline of prayer because the desire to know God more in this way and a heart willing to come to Him no matter what will grow from your diligence.