Most evangelical Christians today pray the way sailors use their pumps—only when their ship is leaking. When that happens, they work at prayer furiously. The rest of the time they don't want to know about the discipline of prayer. This type of prayer is called need-driven prayer.
We must take prayer seriously. Here are a few simple directions on the "how" of praying.
We should pray in every situation because prayer is both a discipline and a lifestyle.
Give prayer adequate time. Can you imagine two people in love with each other but who talk only if they need something? No relationship will grow if you get on the phone, give the person a list of requests, then hang up. Yet five minutes is—on average—how long most evangelical Christians spend in daily prayer. Five minutes! Be warned: you will reap exactly what you sow.
Give prayer adequate space. To pray properly, we need to go into a place where we can concentrate without being disturbed. You may think you are the kind of person who can pray at the ironing board, with the television and stereo going, and with a telephone jammed against one ear, but that's not likely true. When Jesus advised, "When you pray, go into your room" (Matthew 6:6), He meant for us to find a place where we can focus on God and not be distracted.
Give prayer adequate attention. To pray effectively, you will have to prioritize your prayer time. This does not tend to be welcome news to people with demanding jobs and small children, but there is no way around it. Prayer should be marked on your calendar.
Consider following Jesus' example of rising early in the morning for prayer. There is no Scriptural command for this, but it will allow you to offer the firstfruits of your day to God. Of course, early morning prayer does not allow us to switch off afterward. We should pray in every situation because prayer is both a discipline and a lifestyle. It is the most important part of every day.
Prayer: Father, help me to take prayer seriously and to give You the time, space, and attention You deserve. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:6).