I'm so glad so many of you felt the sense of release that I did when I read Jesus' instructions in Matthew 6 to His disciples on how to pray, and I realized it didn't require a weekly all-night prayer vigil.
While I really wanted you to get that point, I feared giving you a mistaken impression that all we ever have to do is "throw up 3 sentence prayers" here and there and call ourselves intercessors with a vibrant prayer life.
A common problem I see and have experienced myself, is we’re so busy each day that we don't pause to pray - for ourselves or others. We don't stay plugged in to God ... until a crisis happens. Even then, as Judy commented, sometimes a crisis hits and we're so used to dealing with things without praying that it can take awhile for us to remember to turn this thing over to God in prayer. So developing a pray-as-I-go-through-my-day mindset is important.
Equally as important as taking God along with me through my day and my to-do list, is to set aside and spend time with Him. To commune with Him. To read scripture. To pray, and to listen for His response. To be still in His presence and worship Him. This kind of thing can't be done on the run.
And some issues we face in life, for whatever reason in the spiritual realm, cannot be solved with one or two quick prayers. We have to persist praying with faith. We may need to gather others to join us in praying, and to intercede on our behalf. Its always necessary too, to keep in mind that God may not answer in the way we expect or desire.
EM Bounds writes, "We would not have anyone think that the value of prayer is to be measured by the clock." He also asserts, however, "The short prevailing prayer cannot be prayed by one who has not prevailed with God in a mightier struggle of long continuance." I believe what the good pastor is saying is that when we find God faithful in the issues of life that have required much prayer and faith, it provides a foundation of trust, experience and relationship on which our short daily prayers can rest.
When I look at the life of Jesus and His prayer practices, I see lots of brief prayers He prayed. But I also see instances when He spent extended time praying and communing with God. For instance, in Mark 1:35 we find Jesus alone in a solitary place, very early in the morning, praying. And in Mark 6:46, after miraculously feeding 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus leaves His disciples and goes up on a mountainside to pray. Matthew adds to Mark's account that Jesus remained there alone until evening (Matthew 14:23).
So examine your prayer life for a moment. Could you benefit from learning to pray quickly during your day as needs arise? Is a set-apart time of leaning deeper into God with focus and prayer what your soul is craving? Decide to make it happen - and start with a quick prayer for God to guide you in this.
As I promised, I'll be posting some scriptures that show Jesus in prayer in my next post so you can learn from the Master.