Sadly, there are many children in the world who have neither father or mother to whom they can turn for love, support, and guidance. Those of us who have enjoyed the blessing of having loving parents know how important it is to have mothers and fathers. How comforting it is for a child to know that, whenever they feel confused, distressed, or in need of any of life’s basic necessities, they have a mother or father on whom they can rely. The child with thoughtful, attentive, and loving parents is blessed indeed, especially if those parents are always most concerned with the child’s spiritual well-being.
Most of us with loving and attentive parents growing up learned that our parents were always there. We learned that when times were good, perhaps when we achieved some great accomplishment, our parents were there to congratulate us. When times were bad, our parents were there to console and encourage us. When there didn’t seem to be any significant events going on in our lives, our parents were there, supplying our basic needs and always ready to lend a listening ear.
Like the good Father that He is, God is always there for us. One significant blessing we enjoy as the people of God is that any one of us can speak to God in prayer and know that the Lord will listen and react according to His divine will (Jas. 5:16, John 14:13,14, Phil. 4:6). Any child of God who has fallen into the pit of despair, feeling that there is nowhere to turn in hours of darkest distress and suffering, does not understand the infinite depths and lengths into which God’s loving ear extends. No child of God should ever feel utterly helpless.
But prayer is not just a tool or a medication we pull out when things are going poorly in our lives. How often do we find ourselves going through long stretches of time without praying to God, then, after disaster strikes, pray continually until things get better again. Good parents know how important it is to communicate with their children, how important it is that they maintain a constant dialogue with their children, rain or shine, day or night. The child of God can only fully enjoy the benefits of prayer by maintaining ongoing conversation with the Lord, speaking to God at every reasonable opportunity, diligently seeking to strengthen the spiritual bond with the Lord.
David certainly was no stranger to hardship. Frequently he found himself in situations where he was oppressed and assailed by enemies. In Psalm 55, verses 1-3 he asks the Lord to hear his prayer, to attend to him and listen to his mourning and complaint, “because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked” (v.3). In the same passage, he says in verse 17, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray”, indicating that his prayer was indeed ceaseless (I Thess. 5:17).
We can learn from the good example of David that prayer is NOT just for hard times (though it certainly helps!). David prayed when he was distressed or suffering (Psa. 88), but he also prayed to give thanksgiving to the Lord (Psa. 50:14). He prayed for guidance (Psa. 5:8, Psa. 17:5). He prayed for the Lord’s favor and protection (Psa. 5:12). He prayed for godliness (Psa.17:15). He prayed for strength (Psa. 39:12,13). And would we deny that the thoughts of the many rapturous victory songs that David sang in his military and personal triumphs were not also reflected in his prayers (Psa. 46, Psa. 66)? When times were good, David was
praying to the Lord, thanking Him, giving Him praise, acknowledging Him as the Almighty, and ever seeking counsel and guidance.
Scripture does not establish any magic number of times that we should pray. In Psalm 55 David says he prayed evening, morning, and noon, but how many times during each of those periods of the day is not mentioned. In Psalm 119:164 the psalmist writes that he praised the Lord seven times a day. The prophet Daniel is mentioned as having prayed three times a day (Dan. 6:10), and Paul, seeking understanding in a particular issue says he “besought the Lord thrice” (II Cor. 12:8), but disciples of Christ are not commanded to pray a specific number of times a day. In the New Testament, Jesus and His disciples are found praying in practically every conceivable circumstance. Prayer is mentioned or demonstrated as a means of communicating with God the Father in almost every book, and the disciples were found praying when they were happy, sad, up, down, here and there. As individuals and in assemblies, they prayed without ceasing.
Prayer is a wonderful blessing. To be able to have a personal line of communication with the Creator and Lord of the cosmos is indeed something special. Continual prayer leads to a sustained peace in our hearts and mind (Phil. 4:6,7), and coupled with continual study of God’s word (Acts 17:11) leads to wisdom and spiritual strength.
Do we pray to God in the morning, as He blesses us to see another day in this life? Do we pray to God in the noontime, as He sustains us in our daily interactions with the world? Do we pray to God in the evening, when He has blessed us to endure another day on this side of life and we lay our heads to rest? The prayers of the righteous are a delight to the Lord (Pr. 15:8), and He is at every moment of our lives ready and delighted to listen and respond according to His will.
– Jeremy Koontz