Originally posted at the Young Life Leader Blog, This is part of of a series written after my summer assignment as a speaker at Young Life Adventures. During that assignment, I was offered the gift of helping teenagers at the front end of their faith process work out language they found helpful.
When Should You Pray?
You will likely hear that the be best time to pray is in the morning. There are several instances in the Gospels in which Jesus woke up really early and went out to pray. Of course, if you are like me, getting up really early is a miraculous feat and isn’t always realistic. So, here’s what I’ll suggest: pick a time that works well for you right now and stick with it for a while. Do you have a lunch hour at work? Do you have an hour-long break between classes? Do you have time before your team’s practice? What about at the end of your day? Whatever time you choose, do your best to make it a time when you have some energy and can focus. If you can pull it off in the morning before the rest of your day gets going, that’s great. If not, pick another time you can practice prayer consistently.
You can pray anywhere, but not every place is going to be helpful. The key is to set yourself up to focus. Maybe on your lunch break at work, you sit in your car. Maybe you take a walk. If you sit somewhere people can talk with you, they probably will and it might get weird.
How Long Should You Pray?
The goal is 6 hours of uninterrupted prayer…
There is no optimal time limit. The goal is relationship with Jesus and if you’re even trying to make time to pray, you are already starting to meet that goal and He is pleased. That said, see if this is helpful:
While the length of a prayer time doesn’t necessarily make it a more spiritual time, it is also true that, like any other kind of conversation, the really good ones are usually longer. Hurried conversations, with God or with anyone else, don’t help develop a deeper relationship. Giving yourself more time to pray means having the time and space to listen, reflect, respond and enjoy one another. If you have never practiced prayer before, try setting aside 15 minutes at first. If that feels good to do and seems easy, add 5 more minutes. Later on, add another 10 minutes.
The kind of prayer you’re practicing may dictate the length of time you’re praying.
A Final Word
Last thing about prayer (and it may be a bit frustrating to hear): This will very likely all change for you at some point. Your life patterns will change (school hours, work hours, etc…) and you will change (needs, dreams, etc…). And as you change, so will your prayer life and so will your relationship with Jesus. Making it a practice means you have the freedom to change things up as you need to. You may start out really liking to journal, but find that, later, it just doesn’t work for you. You may find that there is so much happening with your friends that you need to spend a lot of time praying for other people. You may be facing a lot of changes and need to just sit quietly, asking God what to do. For different seasons and circumstances, different kinds of prayer just work better. But in all of them, God is happy to meet you because He loves you… you are his kid.