Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Some religions are more legalistic and require their members to pray at certain times of the day. So, when are the best times for disciples of Christ to pray? According to 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells us to "pray without ceasing." So, what does that mean?
Paul knew the power of prayer. Therefore, he encouraged others to pray to God (Romans 12:12, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2, 1 Timothy 5:5). In other words, there is no limitation on the times we should pray to our Heavenly Father because God hears us every single time.
The Greek word for “without ceasing” is adialeiptos, and it doesn’t mean nonstop. Instead, it actually means constantly recurring. In other words, it doesn't mean to pray around the clock. Instead, your life should be one of prayer.
The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson lived from May 25, 1803 to April 27, 1882. He clarified the scripture in his sermon “Pray Without Ceasing.” He said, “It is not only when we audibly and in form address our petitions to the Deity that we pray. Every secret wish is a prayer. Every house is a church, and the corner of every street is a closet of devotion."
R. A. Toney, whose real name was Reuben Archer Torrey, was an American evangelist, pastor, educator, and writer who lived from January 28, 1856 to October 26, 1928. He said, "Our whole life should be a life of prayer. We should walk in constant communion with God. There should be a constant upward looking of the soul to God. We should walk so habitually in His presence that even when we awake in the night it would be the most natural thing in the world for us to speak to Him in thanksgiving or in petition."
When Are the Best Times to Pray?
The Bible does not specifically state the best times to pray. However, there are many scriptures with examples of biblical people who prayed at certain times and received results from God.
For example, the prophet Daniel made it a habit to pray three times a day, according to Daniel 6:10. King David also pray three times a day. He prayed in the morning, at noon and in the evening (Psalm 5:3, 55:17, 88:13, 143:8). Sometimes he would awake early and pray several hours before sunrise (Psalm 119:147). Sometimes when David felt the trials and troubles of life were pressing hard against him, he cried out to the Lord both during the day and night (Psalm 88:1). According to 2 Kings 20:2, Hezekiah was on his sickbed when he turned his face to the wall and prayed. God healed him and added 15 more years to his life.
Jesus took time to pray all night before he selected twelve men to follow him (Luke 6:12) and prayed to His Father on the night He was arrested (Matthew 26:36). According to Mark 1:35, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."
The early church was devoted to praying regularly (Acts 2:42). The apostle Paul and Silas prayed at midnight while in a Philippian jail cell (Acts 16:25). Paul stated he remembered to pray for Timothy in all his petitions night and day (2 Timothy 1:3).
Times to Pray
Based on biblical examples and our specific needs, here are some times that disciples of Christ have made it a habit to pray.
- Early in the morning upon arising
- Pray at night before going to bed
- Bless food before eating
- When trouble comes
- When you and others are sick
- Pray for traveling mercies
- When being thankful
- Pray for protection over your family
- Pray for fellow Christians
- Pray for those in authority over you
- Pray for enemies who hurt and harm you
- Pray when depressed
- Pray before making major decisions
- Pray to intercede for others
The best time to pray is anytime you feel there is a need to pray. Remember also, that praying is simply communicating with God. You can pray without requesting anything. You can pray to thank God for who He is and for what He has already done for you.
The beauty of "praying without ceasing" is that you are always in the habit of praying to a God who wants to hear your voice.
Scriptures Suggesting Times to Pray
When you love and adore God, you can be continuously aware of His presence which gives you the desire to pray without ceasing. You are propelled to fill your time with prayers by keeping your mind on God and enjoying His presence. This is perhaps what the prophet Isaiah meant when he said, “God will keep them in perfect peace whose minds focus on Him” (Isaiah 26:3).
Pray all the time.
- Pray without ceasing. —1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Jesus taught His disciples to always pray and not give up. — Luke 18:1
Pray in the morning.
- In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. — Psalm 5:3
- Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. — Mark 1:35
Pray in the afternoon.
- One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. — Acts 3:1
- Cornelius answered: “Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon.” — Acts 10:30
Pray in the evening.
- And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. — Luke 1:10
- After [Jesus] had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. — Matthew 14:23
Pray three times a day.
- Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. —Daniel 6:10
- But I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. — Psalm 55:16-17
- Three-Part Prayer of Jesus in John 17
John 17 includes the three-part prayer of Jesus. Perhaps this can be the format for our own prayers.
- Prayer: Communication With God
Some people say they don't know how to pray. Prayer is simply communicating with God. If people can talk, then they can talk to God.
- What is the Perfect Prayer?
Jesus prayed the perfect prayer. We should learn to do the same.