How often should I pray? Some people are often not sure if they pray enough in their daily journey as a follower of Christ. One may see a verse such as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which states, “pray without ceasing”, and think they should be praying as much as possible. Though if we look into other verses presented before us, perhaps we can get a better insight of how much prayer would seem desirable to God. But first, let’s see if we can dive deeper into the meaning of “praying without ceasing”.
The Greek word for without ceasing is adialeiptōs. According to the Strong’s definition, it means uninterrupted, without omission (on an appropriate occasion). Now that last part given is pretty interesting. On an appropriate occasion would seem to suggest not necessarily praying all the time, but that during your time of prayer you do so uninterrupted. Scripture would seem to back this up because we know factually speaking in Scripture no one ever prayed all the time. If people were praying all the time, we wouldn’t be able to obey all the other instructions given to us as a followers of Christ.
So if it seems evident that one doesn’t need to pray all the time, then what examples do we have how much prayer is pleasing to God. Well, when we look into Acts, we see examples of the Apostles taking an hour of time during the day to devote to prayer. Acts 3:1 states, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.” Acts 10:9 also states, “On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.” Some suggest that this was in correspondence to a Jewish observed three hours of prayer, conducted morning, evening, and noon. Looking at the verses that were cited in support of that thinking, I found myself questioning that conclusion, considering while there were statements of someone having prayed morning, noon, and evening, I couldn’t find a direct command of this stated as an observed Jewish practice in the Old Testament. There was just an example provided of Daniel praying three times a day, morning, evening, and noon (Daniel 6:10). The argument concludes that Acts 3:1 represents the Apostles observing the evening prayer, Acts 10:9 the afternoon prayer, and Acts 2:15 the morning prayer. But I challenge that, because prayer is not mentioned in Acts 2:15.All this to say I’m not quite fully convinced of this conclusion, but throwing it out there for your own pondering.
In today’s busy fast paced technological world, some might feel they don’t have this kind of time for prayer. Though certainly one could decide to try to make the time. What I’m doing in showing you the example of the Apostles is giving you something to think about with regards to how much time you conclude that you should devote in prayer. There was of course no command given by God, Jesus, or the Apostles to heed an hour of prayer as the Apostles chose to do, but it gives you an insight of what level of importance prayer should have in our lives in the amount of time that was devoted to it. In a previous post on prayer, I noted that Jesus would do all night prayers out in the wilderness or on a mountainside (Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12).
Obviously not many people have the time to do that, and even the chosen Apostles themselves fell asleep trying to stay awake with Jesus during his last night of prayer (Matthew 26:36-40). Though I will say as I believe I noted in my spiritual bucket list post, it would be a unique scriptural experience to have one day praying all night on a mountainside as Jesus did. But with the amount of time Jesus devoted to prayer, it again gives you a clue of how important prayer is to God. But going back to the Apostles example, we know they took at least two times, particularly two hours in their case, during the day to pray to God. If you can do at least two times a day as they did, or perhaps morning, noon, and evening as Daniel did, in this Christian’s conclusion at least, I think you’re in a pretty good place with your devotion to prayer.
Though of course just as if not more importantly than the time you devote to prayer is the content of your prayers. From David’s prayers in the psalms one can perhaps see an importance to open up one’s thoughts and feelings to God in prayer. We’re also instructed to come to God in prayer for our requests in times of distress or anxiety (Phil 4:6-7). Keep in mind with this being an instruction it’s something God expects Christians to obey. So a neglect of this instruction of prayer could be considered an act of disobedience, and thus sin.
I don’t make that point to guilt or scare anyone into praying. I make the point to help in further recognizing the importance of prayer from God’s perspective so that you’ll be more inclined to do it even when you don’t feel like it. Because it is a matter of obedience to God, and not just only something you do for yourself. One final point for thought, consider the early formation of the Christian church in Acts 2. There were four things that were acknowledged as what the church devoted themselves to. The apostle’s teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and last but not least of which mentioned, prayer.
As always, any thoughts, comments, or questions, feel free to share them in the comment section. I would very much appreciate you sharing this writing on any of your social media if this was insightful to you in anyway. Peace to all those who are in Christ.