A reader who had recently downloaded my book “Tips ON Prayer” asked me “How LONG do you spend on your prayer routine every morning?” At the heart of the question was a question of balancing time in prayer with the demands of delay life.
So how long do I spend in the morning in prayer?
My 7 step devotional practice can be done in 15 or 20 minutes and I would estimate this is my baseline minimum. The bulk of that time is spent in prayer, scripture reading, and journaling. It’s not unusual for me to spend 30 minutes or more; particularly, if I get caught up in journaling. So, the norm for me can be anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes.
Periodically, I adopt longer disciplines. For example, once I prayed for an hour a day for 40 days, but that isn’t my norm, and even that was often times broken into 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I have days or seasons where I get off track and fail to have morning time. I find on those days that scattered prayers on my pillow as I fall asleep aren’t a very good substitute. I have to reinitiate myself to the discipline. But what I have written above is my norm the vast majority of the time.
What other time do I spend in prayer?
These devotional practices, which I refer to as my “sacred routine”, do not include the many odds and ends of prayers I pray during the day at meals, meetings, or when I pause and lift up a short prayer for someone or something.
Last but not least, once a week, I pray with three Godly men via phone. We share what’s going on in our lives and prayer concerns. Then we pray. The call takes about an hour or more. Not all of that is spent in prayer. This weekly devotional practice has broadened and deepened my prayer life. Also, the relationship have become a great source of instruction, encouragement and accountability.
Some Guidelines Regarding Time and Prayer.
1) Prayer is as much about quality of time as quantity. What I call “checklist praying” is always a danger, particularly when you are time conscious. What I mean by “checklist praying” is getting in a mode where you become legalistic about getting in your 15 or 20 minutes and checking it off your list as done for the day. This is particularly easy to fall into if you use a particular prayer method for a long period of time. The method becomes routine and you start going through the motions.
2) Put prayer in a priority perspective. Imagine that you got a call and a famous celebrity that you adore could meet with you every morning for this next week. I doubt your response would be, “How much time is this going to take?” or “Will I have to get up a few minutes early?” Remember that time with God isn’t something you “have” to do. It is a “privilege” we get to do if we will make time for it.
3) Prayer redeem’s itself. Lastly, truth be told, I find that when I spend a good solid thirty minutes in quality morning prayer, my day and my life go far better and time is not near the issue I would like to think it is. Don’t be intimidated by that number, 30. Even just a few minutes of connecting with God can make a huge difference. If you’re not currently praying at the front end of the day, even five or ten minutes can be hugely beneficial.
The bottom line is that the rewards of even a modest morning commitment to prayer far exceed the burden or trouble it may appear to be. If you are concerned you are too busy to pray, then you are too busy. Consider one simple activity you could give up and replace with prayer.