“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3, NIV).
When should we pray? That might sound like a simple question with a simple answer, but if you have ever struggled to figure it out, then read on.
Most people, whether faith people or not, would probably answer the question like this; “When someone is sick, or when I need to make a big decision.” Just as some kind of good luck charm. So, we better ask for prayer in case there is really some cosmic power that can alter the events we find ourselves (or others we care about) are in. And of course those of us who are faith people and hold onto tightly and unswerving to our faith in God, knowing He does exist, would answer the question; “always”.
But, what I am really trying to find the answer to, is when, personally, should we pray? Is there really a better time to come before God with our thanksgiving and requests? Is there a better time of day to pray? Or read God’s Word?
I pose the above question because I have been struggling with it myself. And not because I do not want to, or because I believe it is unimportant (it is not unimportant!). On the contrary, it is because I know it is important, that I am struggling in the first place.
Here’s the deal; my husband recently changed shifts at his work. It has had a rippling effect on my schedule, and in particular, my devo time. (Devotional time- i.e. reading my Bible, praying, and reading a short devotional book).
I used to have a few uninterrupted minutes to read, reflect and pray as my day begun- always after my coffee though; I need my coffee before I come before the throne of God. It was a good time of day for me to focus and present all of my cares and concerns before God and lay them at His feet. The devotional book brought my worries and anxiety down as I listened to the gifted writing of a fellow minister of the Gospel.
I traded this time of quiet and pause for something as equally great; a chance to sit down at breakfast with my husband and talk before the toll of a long day at work stole the best of conversations. We found ourselves talking, eating and planning the day’s errands and chores. Before I knew it, the time had flown by and with it my devo time.
So, after all my work was done and I was completely tired from a long day, I tried to read and pray at night before I fell asleep. Let me tell you that midnight is not the best time to pray for me. But, I am sure Jesus knew what I meant as I fell asleep- note to self, avoid praying while laying down!
I also felt a bit of guilt for not praying for others earlier in the day. I wondered if my lack of interceding for them had an effect. But, I quickly corrected myself when I realized it wasn’t all up to me, but in God’s hands anyway. But, still, I felt kinda bad for falling asleep while reading the Bible and praying.
So, I am trying to be more intentional in the mornings, now that I realize how much I missed praying and reading in the morning. As much as I want to spend time with my husband and enjoy this season of second shift, I need to make time for myself; for my own spiritual growth.
Maybe you can relate to this, especially if you have children at home. There is hardly moments of peace and quiet. But, I have been there too, and I remember the struggle is real. Hang in there! Remember it is a season and it will be over before you know it. When our children started school I really found a new sense of freedom as I could pray out loud in the empty house.
And that also reminds me of a recent conversation with my brother in law and he shared about his own prayer time; while driving his truck. I had to agree with him, as I too find drive time to be one of the best times to be alone with God and pray. It might seem that it would be a distraction with all the traffic, but I have found I feel free to raise my voice and share all my concerns with God, in my private car space. Are you with me?
Whatever the time that works best for you, just keep at it, not because its an item on a to do list, but because we need to present our requests before God, and also our thanksgiving. God cares and wants this communication with us. The time of day does not matter to Him. He is always there, waiting on us.
The length of time we read and pray does not matter either. It is not a competition with fellow believers. One minute or sixty minutes does not matter. Allowing God’s Word to settle into our hearts and minds, and giving our cares to God are what matters. We might only have a short time, or maybe it is all day long in little bites, but find the time to listen and to speak to God.
If you don’t know where to start, try Psalm 5. Break it into small paragraphs and let it settle. Think of one praise, or one thing you are thankful to God for. And one worry you can cast on Him. Find a quiet place- maybe your car, or maybe even lock yourself in the bathroom- heard that idea from a mom of toddlers! Make the time that works best for you. Anytime is best for God. He’s waiting.- God Bless you – Nancy