Praying is Not about Numbers
by Dr. Henderson Ward
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I want to discuss prayer again but from an entirely different angle and since dealing with prayer several times before I am keeping this short and pointed.
Muslims are mandated to prayer four times a day and in Muslim countries when it's time for prayers the prayer calls can be heard echoing from the minarets all across the nation.
The Jews were accustomed to praying three times a day, Daniel was a faithful observer of this practice, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." (Daniel 6:10) David, being a Jew, followed the three-times rule and he puts it like this, "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." (Psalm 55:17)
So how often should Christians pray?
Some days I pray about 50 times and other days I pray about six times, some days I may pray twice. Some Christians pray when they awake in the morning and again when they go to bed at night. 50 times, six time, twice, more times less times; who are right and who are wrong.
The truth is we are asking the wrong question because praying is never about numbers. Mankind has a fascination for ritual and numbers as if these things have an overriding significance with God. They do not. Let us see what Jesus had to say on the matter.
Jesus made it clear that prayer was not about numbers:
"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1) Note carefully "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint"
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray he never said, " X times a day pray like this..." but rather "When ye pray say..." (Luke 11:2)
The Apostle Paul put this into words that are clear and without controversy, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Now, we can do a theological explanation of these verses, and arrive at a whole lot of different answers, but the plain truth is that a honest, biblical exegesis of these verses will show very plainly that prayer is less about numbers, and more an attitude of the heart or more precisely an attitude of continual fellowship with God.
Would it not be absurd for someone to specify how often you speak to your husband or wife? It certainly would and the relationship with God is far more intimate that with your spouse.
Christians should pray to God as often as they fell the urge.
If you are sitting at your office desk and the Holy Spirit urges you to pray then just do it right there even if for a short time.
If you are in the bathroom shaving and the Holy Spirit urges you to pray, stop shaving and pray.
If you are in the bedroom powdering your nose and the Holy Spirit urges you to pray, then take a little time and pray.
If you are driving your car along the highway and the Holy Spirit urges you to pray, then pray as you drive but with your eyes open.
Remember that without the Holy Spirit prayers are meaningless and futile and may even be insulting.
We fool ourselves that we know how to pray well but we deceive ourselves; forget about all the scripted prayers, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26)
There is nothing wrong with churches having fixed times for prayers in their liturgy but believers should in no way be limited or restrained by them. Whenever the Holy Spirit urges you to pray is always the right time to pray and it does not matter where you are.
Christians should remember to:
Pray for others more than you pray for yourself
Avoid long prayers
Pray in the Spirit
Pray whenever and however the Spirit leads you (Standing up, kneeling down, sitting, etc.)
And when you pray, believe with all your heart, and see how marvellous and effective prayers to God are.
Devotional prayer: Father in heaven, teach me to pray in the Holy Spirit and with the right attitude in mind and spirit all to your glory and honour, in Jesus name. Amen.
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