Should We Pray by the Clock?
by Jen Cudmore
Have you ever set a time limit on your prayer life?
Some people believe praying by the clock is the proper way to talk with God. They watch the clock and pray until the time is up. A friend told me that her childhood worship service consisted of 30 minutes of continuous prayer, and they got in trouble if they stopped.
She found that during those times she never felt God’s presence.
Several years ago I scheduled 15 minutes each day for my quiet time with God. I crammed Bible reading and prayer into that allotment, sometimes stretching it to 30 minutes. I was constantly rushing through my prayer list. Eventually I realized it was foolish –
God didn’t want to be limited by my schedule.
He wanted to be my priority. Now I rise much earlier than I used to, which takes the pressure off my prayer time. I can take it slow, listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and just enjoying myself.
Here are four reasons why praying by the clock is actually a hindrance.
1) It places a limitation on God.
Sticking to a specific time limit is too restricting. What if He has more to say to you, or more He wants you to focus on? Some days He may require more of your attention than others. We must pray until we’re done, until God releases us to go on to another task.
2) It’s typically stale and forced.
Obligatory communication is uncomfortable and unproductive. Have you ever been to a dinner party where you didn’t have anything in common with the other guests and found it hard to converse? It’s similar with God.
Prayer is about connecting. We must seek God with all our hearts.
3) It causes us to become proud or shamed.
If we have to measure our prayer life to feel good about ourselves, then we have a heart problem. God doesn’t love us any more if we pray three hours a day than if we only prayed 3 minutes. He just wants us to communicate with Him. Praying a long time doesn’t make us a better Christian. It’s all about where you are on your faith journey.
Want to know how long you should pray? Ask God what He wants from you each day.
4) Praying by the clock means we are focused on the time, not God.
We become distracted, always watching the clock. Our thought process is interrupted continually, making it harder to hear when God tries to speak. He wants our full attention.
How would you feel if you were spending time with a person who kept looking at their watch?
Praying by the clock does have merit. There are times in a group situation where setting a time limit is appropriate. In college when we prayed for something important, the staff set up 30 minute time slots for students to use so there would be 72 hours of straight prayer. In your personal journey, God may require a specific commitment from you, a decision completely between you and Him.
Yet no where does the scripture state we are to set a time limit on our communication with God. We are instructed to pray without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:17)
How can that be measured?
Does God want us to pray by the clock? (tweet this)
Should we set a time limit on prayer? (tweet this)
4 reasons timed prayer may actually be a hindrance (tweet this)
Jen grew up on the Columbia River Gorge and currently lives in Alaska with her husband, two children, two boxers, and two cats. Her goal is to write novels that encourage women to look for positive qualities in a life partner, and to foster an environment of real romance, rather than fantasy, as they grow old with their spouse. For more, visit her website at http://www.jencudmore.com/. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.