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Without Guilt: When to Pray

​6. When to pray.

First, you might want to set a time (you don’t have to; a “prayer time” is not commanded in the Bible, as it is in the Koran, for instance). If you do set a time, you could say “some time in the morning,” “when I first get up before I do anything else,” “before I sit down for breakfast,” or just “some time today.” Start with (and maybe stay with forever) five minutes. Literally have a timer set (use your phone’s clock timer) and don’t allow yourself over the five minutes. When it rings at the end of five minutes, you’re done. That’s the rule.

Why five minutes? As with physical exercise, you don’t want to set such a big goal ("an hour every day”) that you do it for the first week and then drop it altogether because it’s an unsustainable, "too-much" practice. If five minutes each day is too much, then do something like five minutes, three days per week. If you do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, that’s your three times. Don’t sweat doing more. You’re done for the week. Rejoice. If you come to wanting to do more days each week, then add a day, but even if you stay at three days per week till you die, that’ll be a lot of praying over the course of your life, and probably much more prayer than most Christians (and much more than if you had set a goal of 15 minutes per day, every day, and burnt out and quit in two weeks).

Secondly, if your schedules permit it, have a Bible-reading-and-prayer time at day’s end with your family. This doesn’t have to be much, and there’s no prep required. Read a paragraph, section, or chapter of Scripture (this can vary from day to day), talk about it for a minute, then each of you pray. That’s a great way to make sure you’re praying each day.

Thirdly, when you hear something that’s prayer-worthy in the course of your day each day (much is!), just pray about it then, and be done with it in five seconds. Example: “Father, help Kaitlyn with the frustration she’s experiencing at work right now. Thanks.” Done! “Father, thanks for the great weather today, the breeze and the sunshine. Amen.” Done! “Father, You’re awesome! Your creation is spectacular.” Done!

Why five-second prayers? If you make (in your head) little prayer items here and there a big deal—something for which you need to pray a long time, or to add together with other requests for some grandiose, formal prayer time later, you won’t do it. Keep it really simple and fast, and you’ll pray much more overall.

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