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 When Should We Pray?

John Hoole June 20, 2004



DOES THE BIBLE TELL US WHEN WE ARE TO PRAY?

1. Three times a day - evening, morning and at noon

Daniel 6:10 NKJV

10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

The righteous men of the Bible prayed three times each day.

Psalms 55:16 NKJV

16 As for me, I will call upon God, And the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice

2. In the morning

Psalms 5:3 NIV

>3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Mark 1:35 NKJV

35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

Jesus chose the early morning hours.

Oswald Chambers

"If in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door back and let God in, every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God."

Acts 2:1 NKJV

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Although it doesn't mention praying in this verse, they were all there in one place to pray.

In verse 15 of the same chapter, says:

These are not drunk as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

The third hour is at 9 o'clock in the morning. The 120 people assembled there were praying in the morning.

John Bunyan

"He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day."

Psalms 119:146-147 NKJV

146 I cry out to You; Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.

George Mueller

"For more than half a century, I have never known one day when I had not more business than I could get through. For 40 years, I have handled annually about 30,000 letters, and most of these have passed through my own hands. I have nine assistants always at work corresponding in German, French, English, Danish, Italian, Russian and other languages. Then, as pastor of a church with 1200 believers, great has been my care. I have had charge of five orphanages; also at my publishing depot, the printing and circulation of millions of tracts, books and Bibles. But I have always made it a rule never to begin work till I have had a good season with God."

3. Morning, noon and night

Psalms 55:17 NKJV

17 Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.

4. All Night

Luke 6:12 NKJV

12 Now it came to pass in those days that He (Christ) went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

This took place the night prior to selecting his 12 disciples. Jesus is our example.

5. Day and Night

Psalms 88:1 NIV

1 O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you.

At all times, our heart should be looking up to God.

6. Every day of the week

Psalms 86:3 KJV

3 Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.

Robert E. Lee

"Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray - to really pray. Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown - all through the day. Let us all pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for our churches. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word 'concern' out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice."

Are you seeing that God is "on duty" to hear our prayers 24/7/365. You will never be put on hold.

What have we learned thus far. We can pray...

1. Three times a day.
2. In the morning
3. Morning, noon and night
4. All night
5. Day and night
6. Every day of the week

What does this tell us? We can pray anytime and at all times.

In addition to a specific times of the day or day of the week, the Bible speak of other times to pray as well.

7. Before making important decisions

James 1:5 NKJV

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Just a few paragraphs above, we noted that Jesus prayed all night prior to deciding who his disciples would be.

Here is a rather humorous illustration of this point. A young boy went to the local store with his mother. The shop owner, a kindly man, passed him a large jar of suckers and invited him to help himself to a handful. Uncharacteristically, the boy held back. So the shop owner pulled out a handful for him. When outside the store, the boy's mother asked why he had suddenly been so shy and wouldn't take a handful of suckers when offered. The boy replied, "because his hand is much bigger than mine." That, my friends, is why we pray: because His hand is much bigger than ours. When we are about to make a big decision, remember that his arm is not short. His big hands can handle the task you turn over to him.

8. When under pressure (When unusually busy)

When great multitudes gathered to hear Jesus, and be healed of their infirmities, we read, in Luke 5:16, that "He withdrew himself to the wilderness to pray."

Most Christian work is draining, and we need to replenish our inner fountain of joy. Apparently the busier Christ's life was, the more He prayed.

Sometimes Christ had no time to eat (Mark 3:20). Sometimes He had no time for needed rest and sleep (Mark 6:31, 33, 46). But He always took time apart for prayer. And the more his work crowded the more He prayed.

Many mighty men or women of God have learned this secret from Christ. When the work has crowded more than usual, they have set more time to pray. But, unfortunately, many believers have not yet learned this secret, and allow increased work to crowd out prayer.

9. When in distress

Psalms 18:6 NKJV

6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Psalms 120:1 NKJV

In my distress I cried to the LORD, And He heard me.

When distress comes upon you, call to the Lord. He wants to hear from you.

Psalms 118:5 NIV

5 In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.

10. In the day of trouble

Psalms 50:15 NIV

Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

Psalms 81:7 NKJV

7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.

Psalms 86:7 NKJV

7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me.

D. L. Moody

In his biography of evangelist D. L. Moody, author Lyle Dorsett relates the following story of God's amazing faithfulness.

It was the spring of 1863 and the Civil War had taken its toll on troops and citizens alike. Evangelist D. L. Moody was frequently seen on the battlefields, ministering to soldiers on the frontlines. During one instance, late at night after a weary day at war, the party of Christian workers was walking among the body strewn fields searching for survivors.

The hundreds of men they came upon were wounded and famished, and a search of the area produced little nourishment for the weary men. Desperate, the small band of workers gathered together asking God to provide the needed supplies. "Later," tells Dorsett, "some workers admitted that they were doubtful God would respond.

As the first gleam of morning light rose above the battlefield, a wagon appeared on the horizon. As it approached the workers, they realized it was a large farm wagon piled high with loaves of bread. God had provided: manna from heaven!

The driver approached the man and told the following story: "When I went to bed last night, I knew the army was gone and I could not sleep for thinking of the poor fellows who were wounded and would have to stay behind. Something seemed to whisper in my ear, 'What will those poor fellows do for something to eat?'. I could not get rid of this voice.

That faithful servant of God could not sleep, so he woke his wife and she began baking as much bread as possible. Meanwhile, he hitched up his wagon and called on his neighbors to gather addition food. Said the man: "I felt just as if I was being sent by our Lord Himself."

11. In the day of battle

1 Chronicles 5:20 NIV

20 They were helped in fighting them, and God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.

Are you going through a battle too big for you to handle? Cry out to the Lord - He is able.

D. L. Moody once entered a tavern in order to ask the bartender if his two little girls might attend Sunday School. He was told that an atheist club met in the tavern every Thursday night, and the owner of the bar was in no mood to offend them. Moody looked into the face of this man and pleaded with him on behalf of his girls. Finally the man's heart was touched and said, "Preacher, I'll tell you what I'll do. If you will come down here Thursday night and meet with the boys in a joint discussion, and win, you shall have the children. But if not, it's all off."

Moody agreed and went right out and looked up a crippled newsboy who really knew how to pray. He said to him, "Tommy, I need you next Thursday night." When the hour of the meeting arrived, Tommy and the evangelist entered the saloon. It was full of men sitting on whiskey barrels, beer kegs, and even on the bar. They were eagerly waiting the coming debate.

Moody began by saying, "Gentlemen, it is our custom to open our meeting with prayer. Tommy, jump up on that barrel and lead us in prayer." Tommy began to beseech the Lord for the souls of all present. As the tears began to roll down the little fellow's cheeks, the more tenderhearted of the men began to retreat. Finally, even the hardest men present began to leave until there was no one left except the bartender, Moody and the boy.

Moody turned to the father and said, "I claim your girls for my Sunday School." The bartender answered, "All right, you win. But it's a strange way to fight." And Moody answered, "It's the way I win many a battle."

12. When you are overwhelmed

Psalms 61:2 NKJV

2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Do you identify with these biblical situations? Are things overwhelming you? We can bring them to God. Let Him lift you to the Rock.

13. When concerned about others.

Luke 22:31-32 NIV

31 Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

It is so easy to find the faults of our brothers in the Lord, and point our their areas of weaknesses. We ought to be praying for them. When the angel fetched Peter out of prison, remember it was prayer that fetched the angel.

14. When tempted

Four times, the gospels quote Jesus as saying "Pray that you enter not into temptation." (Matt. 26:42; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46) He is not saying for us to pray that there is no temptation. We will all be tempted in may ways. He is saying, that when temptation comes, pray that you will not succumb and enter into that temptation.

John Bunyan

"Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer."

15. When all human help has failed

Psalms 60:11 NIV

11 Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless.

Have you ever had situations when all human effort did not bring the desired result. Let me give you another illustration of why we need to take such situations to God.

Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary was founded in 1924, it almost came to the point of bankruptcy. All the creditors were going to foreclose at noon on a particular day. That morning the leaders of the school met in the president's office for prayer. They were going to take this situation to the Lord and let Him provide the answer. In the prayer meeting was a godly man named Harry Ironside. I have several of his books When it was his turn to pray, he said, "Lord, we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine. Please sell some of them and send us the money."

While they continued to pray, a tall Texan stepped up to the business office and said, "I just sold two carloads of cattle in Fort Worth. I've been trying to make a business deal but it fell through, and I feel compelled to give the money to the seminary. I don't know if you need it or not, but here's the check. The secretary took the check and knowing how critical things were financially, she went to the door of the prayer meeting and timidly tapped. When she finally got a response, the president took the check out of her hand. It was exactly the amount of the debt! When he looked at the name, he recognized the cattleman and turning to Dr. Ironside said, "Harry, God sold the cattle."

God is not limited to human resources. He has resources beyond what we would even imagine.

16. Before eating a meal

Matthew 14:19 NIV

19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

In Acts 27:35 (NKJV), we read:

35 And when he (Paul) had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat.

We should pray before each meal we eat, thanking Him for his provision.

17. Before important events in your life

Earlier we read Luke 6:12-13, which says Christ prayed all night before selecting his disciples. He also prayed before preaching the Sermon on the Mount. He prayed before His anointing with the Holy Spirit, at the baptism by John. And He prayed before He entered public ministry.

This pattern in the life of Christ was also true prior to:

o announcing his approaching death to the disciples

o His crucifixion on the cross.

o He also prayed while on the cross.

He prepared for every important event in His life by having a season of prayer. Should we not do the same. We should take plenty of time to pray.

18. After important achievements in your life

Matthew 14:21-23 NIV

21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.
23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

It is probably more common for us to pray before the great events of our life than it is to pray after those events. But I think the latter is just as important. If we would pray after an achievement, we might not get so puffed up by the things we do for the Lord.

Many a person who prayed before entering an event, has been endued with power by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God. But, instead of getting alone with God and humbling himself before Him, and giving Him all the glory has instead congratulated himself and has become puffed up.

19. At all times.

Luke 18:1 NKJV

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart

Ephesians 6:18 NIV

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray continually!

A Christian should breathe an atmosphere of prayer. Faith in God always has an upward look. True trust in God is constantly crystallized into definite prayer to God.

   
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