Recently this question has been asked by one of our YouTube viewers about prayer, and I believe this is a great question and a significant one. Is there a difference between praying at night and is there an appropriate routine for praying during the day?
There are many Christians who may be struggling with deciding when and how they must pray. Are we instructed to pray at certain times of the day or how many times are we to pray to God? Are our prayers more powerful if we pray during certain times of the day?
If we are to look through the Bible, it does not explicitly state when the best time is to pray or how many times we must do it. So, let us examine what the Bible “does” say about prayer and what we can learn from it.
I believe one of the reasons why the Bible never prescribes a set of rules for when and how many times we must pray is because Christianity is about a relationship with Almighty God. Otherwise, if prayers are only heard or powerful because of praying at a particular time or specific manner, then Christianity would become religious and about works. It would be no different from any other religion.
Instead, Christianity is about a relationship with God. It is about having faith in Christ, and through the death and resurrection of Jesus, you can now freely enter into His presence at any time. You can talk to Him at all times. It is all about relationship. Amen!
Author and Theologian Richard Forster says “prayer is nothing more than an ongoing and growing love relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Just as we communicate with those we are close to and love; we grow near to God by spending time in His presence. We draw near to Christ by praising Him, giving thanks, seeking His wisdom, making petitions, meditating on his words, and listening for His commands.
Let us examine some patterns in the Bible about prayer. The scriptures reveal differences in the prayer life of the people in the Bible. Each one was different, and I believe this is because each person’s prayer life is a reflection of their relationship with Jesus Christ. Every relationship is unique, and you need to determine how you are going to commune with God daily.
Let us look at three points from scripture to help us in our personal prayer life and what the scriptures show us about when and how often to pray.
Firstly, praying at all times.
Our whole life should be a life of communion with God through prayer. It must become a part of our life, making it a habit to walk in His presence, becoming a natural part of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing,”. And again Ephesians 6:18 says “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”
Friends, this command to pray at all times is a great encouragement to all of us, because what this means is that God is always available to hear you and speak to you. You can talk to Him anytime and make God part of your everyday life. Amen, what a great blessing.
Secondly, praying at different times.
When we read through scriptures, it becomes evident that praying happens at various times and in various circumstances. What we learn from this is that the time of prayer is unique to different people. Prayer was performed according to the time that was determined by those praying. A time of prayer for one person is different from a time of prayer for somebody else. Let us look at a few examples.
- Praying in the morning. Mark 1:35 “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”
- Praying in the afternoon. Acts 10:31 “And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing”
- Praying in the evening. Matthew 14:23 “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,”
- Praying three times a day. Psalm 55:16-17 “But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.”
- Praying in bed. Psalm 63:6 says “when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;”
- Praying in private. Matthew 6:6 says “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
What these passages reveal to us is that there are no particular benefits for praying at a specific time of the day. Instead, prayer can happen at a time when you choose to set aside and come before God. Praying at any of these times are just as powerful as any other time. What matters is the heart in which you come before the Lord.
God is not looking for our ability to pray eloquent prayers, or how many words we pray, or how long we pray, or what time we pray. Instead, He wants to hear what is in our hearts and minds. God looks at the heart, and that is powerful.
It says in 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Thirdly, the benefits of a routine for prayer.
Having a structured prayer life is very important. From the last two points, I hope you have gathered the idea that you can pray at any time, and you should also be praying at all times. The time in which you pray does not make it any less significant or any more significant. The best time to pray is going to vary for everyone.
To have structured time for prayer or set-aside time in our schedules to pray and seek God is one of the essential disciplines in Christian living. Jesus instructs us to have a set-aside time to pray to Him. Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”.
Not only did Jesus command this, but we also see Jesus doing the same. Luke 5:16 says “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” When we have this set-aside time of prayer with God, in turn, it strengthens our relationship with Him. Just like in any relationship, we need to grow in our relationship with Christ. We become closest with those whom we speak the longest. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…”
Setting aside a specific time to pray to the Lord and having a routine in your prayer life means that this discipline can lead you to have a continual prayer with the Lord. That is “praying always”. Ensure that your regular prayer does not only become a discipline, in the sense of ticking off a task of religious duty instead allow prayer to become a “delight” for you.
A great example of this is the prophet, Nehemiah. Nehemiah was known for his continual prayer, but when we read scripture, we find that he also set aside time to pray to the Lord. For example, in Nehemiah 1:4 it says “As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Amen.
In conclusion, there are no exclusive benefits because you pray at a particular time of the day or for how long, rather it depends on the heart in which you enter into prayer. Prayer must be something that must be part of your every day and must become natural to you. To have a dedicated time of prayer and a routine is vital. Setting aside this time might vary from person to person, and it all depends on your particular situation and circumstance.
Again, remember that prayer is communion with God, and it is born out of a relationship with Him. Relationship means you commune with Him any time you need because, through the sacrifice of Jesus, it is now possible to come into His presence at any time.
Ephesians 3:11 says “This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.”
So I urge you to enter into His presence with all confidence and all boldness through your faith in Him. He has set us free now we can go to Him as a child of God. As a child to a Father. Anything other than this becomes a religious activity.