My rGroup leader texted each of us a question that was an intriguing one: What is the most important thing about prayer—to pray long, or to offer short prayers of intensity? Are two minutes of impassioned prayer better than 20 minutes of casual talking to God?
It was an interesting idea to consider, the quality versus quantity question to which I really didn’t have a good answer. A few days later I took a vacation to New York City with my family, and among our many sightseeing stops, we visited Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue. As I was staring at the spectacular stained-glass windows, I was moved by their beauty and the role they played in telling the story of Jesus. I decided to give myself a closer view of all those beautiful but far-away windows and look them up online. Amazingly, my answer to my Bible study’s question began to come into view. There were lots of stained glass windows at St. Patrick’s and cathedrals all over the world that depicted Jesus ascending with the angels, or on the cross between the thieves, or with disciples or among sheep or talking before great crowds. But if Jesus was shown to be alone, he was praying.
But if Jesus was shown to be alone, he was praying.
Jesus is constantly praying. If you search Scripture you’ll see He prays alone and in public, before meals, before important decisions, before healing, after healing, to do the Father’s will, at His baptism, before heading out to Galilee, all night before choosing His disciples, before feeding the 5000, while speaking to Jewish leaders, and the list goes on and on. Notice how many times Jesus goes away to pray—how intentional His prayer time was.
Of course, length-of-prayer was probably not on His mind. Instead, the posture of Jesus’ life was one of continual communion with the Father, always, always, always seeking His presence and power and wisdom.
Short and intense prayers are not the answer, but neither is length for length sake. If Jesus is our model, it’s a matter of life posture.
Pastor Miles may have said it best when he recently reminded us: Pray more.
To sign up for the next WePray San Diego event, click here.