At lunch, a high-level American church leader explained to me (Eddie) that he and the leaders with whom he works have such
weighty and time-consuming responsibilities that they simply don’t have time to pray.
The implication was that they had less time for personal prayer than others. The truth is, every person on earth has all the time there is—twenty-four hours each day!
What we do with our time is a choice we each make. So the question isn’t really so much about having enough time as it is having the desire and making the choice to pray.
One Korean pastor suggested that if he were not able to pray ten hours a day he couldn’t effectively pastor his church. He was asked, “How can you possibly pastor a church and pray for ten hours each day?”
He explained, “I pray from 4 o’clock to 8 o’clock each morning before going to my office. I take two hours for prayer at lunch. I pray for two hours when I arrive home from the office. Then I pray two hours before retiring in the evening.”
You see, for him it was a simple matter. It is reasonable to assume that if this busy Korean pastor who has the same twenty-four-hour days that you and I have can pray ten hours each day, perhaps we too can find some time for prayer.
Many of us have very busy schedules, but to neglect prayer is like walking around on crutches. The Lord once spoke an important statement to us. He said, “You can have as much of Me as you want.”
Researcher George Barna reports that while 86 percent of Americans profess belief in a prayer-answering God, only 58 percent of them set aside time to pray each day.
Have you noticed that effective intercession doesn’t “just happen”? We must make time for it. The enemy will throw everything in the world at us to keep us from prayer. Many of us suffer from drowsiness, fatigue or wandering thoughts when we pray. Experienced intercessors have learned to set aside their best time to commune with God.
A time for prayer
A quiet time requires two things—quiet and time. Whether you are a busy person or not, we encourage you to select a time to pray that is good for you. It is important that you not pattern your life after others. You must find your own “prayer rhythm” for life.
In terms of your appointment with God, we suggest that you choose a time when you are not drowsy or exhausted, but rather alert and attentive. If you are a morning person, don’t plan to pray before you retire at night. Conversely, if you are a night person, don’t plan your prayer time early in the morning. As in all things, give God your best!
You may find it helpful to report your prayer time to a spouse or other friend so they can hold you accountable. One intercessor said she reports her prayer time to her husband so he can help hold her accountable to it. Perhaps S. D. Gordon said it best when he said, “The great people of the earth today are the people who pray—not those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor those who can explain about prayer; but those who take time to pray.”
Quiet time is the time we set aside each day to get alone and commune with God in devotional prayer. It involves praising, adoring, worshiping and blessing God. It includes confessing, repenting and receiving His cleansing from our sin. It incorporates both spoken prayer to God and listening
The Lord says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock…” When we pray, we should envision Christ at our heart’s door. After all, He is there. And He encourages us to take the time to listen for His voice. ” . . . If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him,
and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
A place for prayer
Go ahead and admit it. You would be quite impressed and excited to receive a phone call announcing that the president of the United States was on his way to your house for dinner. If you are like us, there are several things you would want to do before he arrived. You might want to put those last-used coffee cups in the dishwasher, straighten the pillows on the living room couch and give the living room carpet a light vacuuming.
In the same manner, finding and preparing a place for personal prayer should not be taken lightly. Christ’s invitation to us is of infinitely greater value than a visit from the president. The eternal God of the universe has asked for an invitation to dine at your house! When you pray, open the door and invite the Lord to sit with you in your heart and reveal His secrets to you. You are not merely finding a quiet place to pray. You are preparing a place to dialogue with almighty God, the King of kings!
Susanna Wesley had nineteen children (including Charles and John Wesley, founders of the Methodist movement). She prayed from one to two o’clock each afternoon, behind the closed bedroom door, kneeling beside her bed with her Bible open before her.
You see, a personal prayer time requires a private place, a place that is free from distractions. Jesus, the most successful intercessor of all time, prescribed a “secret place.” He said: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. —MATTHEW 6:6
Jesus not only spoke of such a place, but also He found His own “secret places.” In Matthew 14:23 we read, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” He found those “secret places” on the mountains, in the gardens and elsewhere (Luke 5:16).
Because we travel and teach, we spend much of our lives in a hotel or motel environment. Traveling can make finding a quiet, secret place a challenge. When we are on the road, I (Alice) often arise in the morning before Eddie. I “create a recliner” beside the bathtub with a couple of pillows, and with the door closed, I observe my time alone with the Lord.