In the Gospel according to St. Mark, we read this: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35, ESV). Prayer was a very important part of life for Jesus. He is portrayed as being in a very close relationship with the Father through prayer, and it was a priority for him.
The disciples asked Jesus if he would teach them to pray. They probably were very fascinated with Jesus’ deep prayer life and wanted to know how they, too, could make it a part of their lives. Jesus gives them what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer.
So without listing all of the places where we find prayer in the New Testament, nevermind the Old, it is simply a fact that Christians are to pray. The form has been given to us in its most basic structure in the Lord’s Prayer. The example of Jesus and others praying in the New Testament shows us that it was a part of their lives. So, why do we find so many reasons and even sometimes excuses for why we don't pray…or don’t pray as much as we should?
There is no set amount of prayer that we must engage in, but so many Christians I talk to complain that their prayer life is sparse or almost nonexistent except when they are in Church.
I think it comes down to priority. I recently heard another talk given on prayer and how to do it and how to do it more often, etc. Much of it I had heard before. One thing stood out about this specific presentation, which got me thinking. So many times we are told how to pray when life gets busy. There are books on “the spiritual life for the overly busy.” “How to pray when you don't have much time.” “How to pray while driving the kids to school or on your way to work.”
These are simply not times for deep, intimate prayer with God. Of course, praying while driving is something we can do. Traffic on California roads demands it. But I get very frustrated at our excuses for not praying, and it always comes down to time. I understand that it is time, but the true answer is priorities. We simply don't set aside the time for prayer because we don't make it a priority. It was a priority for Jesus.
We make sure we get the kids to school on time. We make sure we get to work on time, or almost on time. We make sure we are on time to get to the airport for that flight. But do we make time for a more important thing, which is a quiet, undisturbed time—longer than five minutes—to pray to God? I know people reading this will be saying, “You don't know my busy schedule.” I'm sure I don't. But it still comes down to priority. Prioritize your schedule.
I know you have to get to work, but God has given you your night’s rest. He has protected you in your sleep. He has awakened you to a new day, and he has called you to the vocation you are currently in. So why not wake up earlier to give thanks to God for all of that and ask him for grace for the day ahead? Maybe even end the day on the same note.
Don't settle for the answers you tell yourself. Make the time. Pray to God. No excuses. Learning tricks and tips to pray while “on the go” is not how we are to live as Christians, and that kind of shallow prayer will not do much to deepen your relationship with God. Find time. Rearrange your schedule. Turn off all electronic devices.
We should not have to be sold on gimmicks for prayer. We should recognize to whom we are to be praying and why, and that just might move us to make the time to pray.