Q. This question has probably been posed before, but could you advise us HOW we are supposed to pray? I hear of people saying they spent hours praying, etc. Well, I don’t have that long of an attention span. Usually my prayers are ongoing throughout the day whenever I have a moment or I am just contemplating something. I pray every night, but to be honest, I often fall asleep while praying. Is that bad? I don’t think so, but I don’t want to be rude to God!
I know that we are to have a conversation with God and that is my method. When I try to sit down or kneel down and pray for an extended period of time, I lose focus as I get too caught up in the process of praying and therefore, I always think I am doing something wrong. However, as you know, there are some that think we are supposed to dedicate an hour a day, etc. to praying. Is there a Biblical basis to this? If so, HOW are we supposed to pray? If God already knows what we need are we just supposed to spend an hour or two thanking Him over and over again? I don’t want to sound flippant, I am just trying to grow and learn where I can.
A. I go by Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” from 1 Thes. 5:17. I interpret that to be an ongoing conversation such as one would have with a constant companion/adviser. And for years, I’ve used prayers of thanksgiving to help me fall asleep. I find that it’s a good way to relax and put things that are bothering me into their proper perspective and I’m often asleep before my prayers are finished. When I was working, I also used my morning drive time to pray. It was about 30 minutes long and worked out well. It was a good way to open the day’s conversation and became an important part of my daily routine.
Years ago, I was taught an informal outline for my morning prayers that has always worked well for me. It’s an acronym based on the Book of Acts. A = adoration. I begin by reminding God just how big and wonderful I think He is. I often quote passages from Scripture I’ve memorized that help convey this idea. C = confession. I confess any thing that may have put me out of fellowship and am immediately forgiven and restored. (1 John 1:9) T = Thanksgiving. I express my gratitude for everything He’s done for me. S = supplication. Finally, I ask for the things that I want and need from Him.
Using this outline helps me maintain a proper relationship with God, instead of just running to Him every time I need something and blurting out my list.
While it’s true that God already knows what things we want, it’s also true that He commands us to pray for them. Many believe that He’s chosen prayer as His way of working through us. If so, and it seems to be, then prayer is our most important activity during the day.