“I pray all the time.” The first time I heard this, I wanted to say, “Define ‘all.’”
Since then, I’ve heard this a number of times, almost always in emphatic tones and usually in a context of a question about salvation. The most recent was in a one-minute interchange with a man in a check-out line at a store, in response to my suggestion that we need to have faith in Jesus.
“Oh, I pray all the time.” … “And what is the purpose for revealing that information?”
I have other questions, too:
“I pray all the time.” … “To whom?”
“I pray all the time.” … “Why?”
My impression is that people who say this are trying to convey some evidence of faith. Perhaps they don’t know how else to do so. I understand. I get tongue-tied, too. But amount of prayer is not the public badge of faith in Christ like it is in other religions. And for those who profess Christ and live in ways that produce problems while they are unwilling to repent, the lifestyle contradicts the profession of uninterrupted prayer to the God of the Bible. Nor is such prayer going to solve the problems.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against praying. If the prayer is to God Almighty in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, may He be praised. If the prayer is according to the will of God and not for selfish gain, it is biblical. If the prayer is made while willing to submit to God’s “No,” this indicates humility. If praying “all the time” is not a substitute for obedience but is in accord with all of God’s commands, then it will be prayer that pleases the Lord.
I think that the real issue is what constitutes evidence of right relationship with God, of biblical faith. “Prayer” can be a cop-out, avoidance of the repentance and hard work that the obedience of faith demands. Telling someone else how much you pray is what the Pharisees loved to do, to receive praise from men (Matt. 6:5-6). It replaces the conviction of the Spirit for lack of obedience with the false comfort of the affirmation of man for the appearance of spirituality.
What indicates your walk with the Lord is not whether others know that you pray “all the time.” Any monk can do that. What matters is whether you obey. John said, “Whoever says, ‘I know Him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not him” (1 John 2:4). James said, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22).
To obey God Almighty, you have to be born again and filled with the Spirit because the only acceptable obedience is that which Christ does in someone. He said that a person can do nothing unless he abides in Christ (John 15:5). Also, He demands that good works be carried out in dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s power, not our own (Gal. 5:16-24; Eph. 5:18). This way, it is Christ and not ourselves who receives all the glory.
To obey God Almighty, you have to know what His orders are. To know His orders, you have to know His Word where those orders are recorded. That means that you have to read it. Better yet, study it. And you have to apply what it says. Read and heed. Prayer is important in this process as it is the means to enjoy fellowship with the Lord by His Word and expresses dependence upon the Spirit to guide your understanding through study, to confirm and/or convict you as to your application, and to grant you the faith to believe it and power to obey it.
Don’t tell others how much you pray. Obey the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ.