“A good prayer mustn’t be too long,” said Martin Luther. “Do not draw it out. Prayer ought to be frequent and fervent.” This is easier said than done—how do we pray frequently and fervently? The Pharisees drew pious attention to themselves through their outward acts of prayer. Not only did they dress for prayer, they prayed on street corners and in loud voices so everyone would know when and how they prayed. They prayed to draw attention to themselves, not to get God’s attention. So how do we maintain an attitude of prayer and still be engaged in life?
First, we must set our minds to prayer. We have a choice to commit our will to communion with God. Colossians 3:2 says, “Keep our minds set on things above.” It’s been said that some Christians are so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good. It takes discipline to keep the mind focused on God, meditating on His Word and choosing His ways, but when we do, we maintain an attitude of prayer. Not only can we stay connected in prayer this way, but we also abide in Christ. There are eternal benefits and huge emotional rewards. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee.” Prayerfulness equals peacefulness.
Second, we must engage ourselves in the practice of prayer. Prayer must be a priority. Priorities require sacrifice. We might need to get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later. Sometimes the practice of increased prayer might feature getting up during the middle of the night to pray. Aligning ourselves with God and prayer provides the foundation for frequent and fervent prayer.
Throughout the day and night God will burden us with requests and needs He wants us to offer up to Him. To pray all the time, it’s not only like breathing, it’s frequent and fervent communion with God. And that’s a wonderful thing.
“O my God, if people understood the great value to the soul from conversing with Thee, everyone would be diligent in it. Children are told to attain heaven and avoid hell, yet they are not taught the shortest and easiest way of arriving at it—inward prayer.” —Madam Jeanne-Marie Guyon, 1648-1717