“The true church lives and moves and has its being in prayer.” -Leonard Ravenhill
Martin Luther would pray two hours in the morning before starting his day. He said he had too much to do that day to not pray for two hours before starting. Prayer changes my outlook on life. Prayer changes my vantage point. Prayer puts me in the shoes of God for a few moments. Prayer helps me see things from the vantage point of love, selflessness, and hope, if only for a sweet second.
I’ve been reading a book called A Year of Living Prayerfully by Jared Brock. It’s been an excellent read. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a down to Earth examination of prayer from multiple perspectives. Brock looked at the prayer lives of Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and many others to learn ways to improve his own prayer life. Probably my biggest take away from the book was learning the Pope Francis five finger prayer. I like simple and effective ways to pray. My prayers can get very jumbled up and messy. But the five finger prayer is super helpful.
All you have to do is look down at your hand. Your thumb points to you, so the first thing you pray about is the people closest to you: immediate family, grandparents, and close friends. Your pointer finger is where you pray for people who speak into your life and mentor you, like church leaders, teachers, professors, or people at work who oversee your work. The middle finger is the tallest, so for that one you pray for authorities and leaders. I tend to pray for Congress, the Supreme court, and the President. I also pray for local government, police officers, and international leaders. The ring finger is the weakest finger on the hand, so for that finger you pray for the weak and the lost. I tend to pray for those who struggle with alcoholism or drug addiction. I also pray for the poor, homeless, and those who are struggling with tragedy in their lives. The last finger is the smallest finger the pinkie, and lastly we pray for ourselves and our needs. I like that, simple yet effective.
Prayer is vital to the Christian life. So what is a good number for prayer? How many minutes a day is wise? Martin Luther prayed two hours a day as we discussed. George Whitefield (Anglican Priest famous for helping spread the great awakening in the USA) prayed three hours a day. William Bramwell (Methodist itinerant evangelist) would sometimes pray four hours a day.
I don’t try to shoot for a particular number of minutes or hours, but somewhere between 30 minutes – 1 hour would be ideal. Though I seldom hit my ideal. Today I tend to get on my knees and say a short prayer before I start my day (5-10 minutes). During the middle of the day, whether at a meeting, or standing outside, I’ll try to pray the “Our Father” slowly, focusing on meaning what I’m saying. Then at night, just before I go to bed, I’ll usually get on my knees, in the dark, usually around 11pm or 12 and pray my longest prayer where I’ll use the five finger method, then segway into some random thoughts, and close out with some praises to the Lord. The night prayer is usually my longest (7-25 min). That way I’m praying at least three times a day, a method originally used by Daniel (Daniel 6:10).
Prayer changes everything. Don’t let disgruntled skeptics tell you it’s pointless. Prayer is real, because God is real. Trust in him, keep praying, and watch the world change. Believe.