I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer. – Martin Luther
Allison, my wife, was talking to a friend the other day who wanted to grow in intimacy with the Lord. As she listened, this friend shared a conversation she had with a mentor about the topic. The mentor asked her how long did she spend reading the Bible each day, which this lady responded, two hours. Where you and I would congratulate and even admire this devotion, her mentor pointed out this was the problem. She said, “if you want to grow in intimacy with the Lord, you will need to spend at least four hours each day reading your Bible.”
Like the Luther quote above, this suggestion is simply impractical for most of us. The average person works at least 40 hours a week plus a couple hours of commute time. Others have kids at home and have even less time. Spending four hours reading the Bible and three hours in prayer is practical for the monastery, but how does the average person grow in the Lord when they can’t make 7 hours of discipline time each day? How long should we pray?
How Long Should I Spend With My Wife Each Day?
God gave us the sacrament of marriage to reveal to us how He wants our relationship with Him to be like (Ephesians 5:31-32). I love spending time with my wife. I would gladly give days on end to spend alone with her, but we have kids and they need looking after. We also have work that needs to be done, so unlimited time doesn’t happen. In fact we have to structure time together to make sure we maintain our intimacy.
Every night my wife and I go to bed at the same time. We take that time together to talk, to catch up on our day, to hang out together, and to pray. We done this for 17 years now, and it has been life-giving to our marriage. But sometimes we need more time than this. Time with God is very similar.
Why Ask How Long Should You Pray?
What is the purpose of setting a pray time? Is it so you can check it off and then do what you want the rest of the day? Is it so you can feel God will bless you? The purpose of praying is spending time with God. Therefore finishing your prayers is not a form of relief to release you to your day. It was never meant to be a duty but a privilege. We have access to the throne of God by way of the cross (Hebrews 4:16). It is a precious gift.
How Long Should You Pray Each Day?
How long should we pray? It all depends. How long do you want to spend time with God? How much time does He want to spend with you (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? How much time do you need? What are you looking for from your time with Him?
Any set time we impose on other people, even as short as a few minutes, creates a trap into religion. Missing a week of prayer will not make God love you less or remove His blessings from you. It doesn’t mean you stopped loving Him. Prayer is communication with God and the source of our connection with Him. It is like any other relationship, we need to talk in order to fuel the relationship.
How Do We Maintain Intimacy With God?
Just as I set aside time each night with my wife, we can set aside some connection points with God in prayer to talk and listen. But, there may be seasons when we need something more like a “date with God”. He may call us to fast some things to give us more time with Him. Let’s be sensitive to the Spirit about what we need. We are not earning God’s favor, we are opening ourselves up to deepen our awareness of His love for us.
Spending three hours in prayer each day doesn’t necessarily make you closer to God. Spending five minutes in prayer doesn’t make you less close to God. The connection is unique to each of us. Let the Spirit guide you and let’s bask in God’s desire to spend time with us.
image courtesy by Pete Will