This first Thursday in May is America’s National Day of Prayer. Thank God that our country has a day set aside for prayer. As we pray today, let’s also examine ourselves with God’s command in Romans 12:12, “Be constant in prayer.”Are you “constant in prayer?”
What does it mean to be “constant in prayer?”
We understand what it means to be “constant in prayer” by the example of Paul and other Christians in New Testament times. The first Christians in Jerusalem had two set times of prayer every day, at a minimum. They prayed at 9:00 am and 3:00 pm every day as we learn from Acts 2:42, 46, and from historical writings. For example, “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1). The ninth hour was 3:00 pm, which was one of the regular times for prayer for Christians (and Jews) in the first century.
Praying twice each day was not just the practice of some leaders in the church or of Christians in Jerusalem only. We see another example of this constancy in prayer in Cornelius in Acts 10:30, “And Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour.”
When Paul urged Christians to “be constant in prayer,” he likely referred to this pattern of daily prayer in the morning and afternoon. After all, this pattern of prayer was based on the daily morning and evening sacrifice that God required in the Old Testament (Numbers 28:1-8). We are no longer under the Old Covenant, and Jesus is now our once-for-all sacrifice for sin. But part of the way that we “present your bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1) is through times of prayer in the morning and evening of each day.
With the New Testament practice in mind, now ask yourself again, “Am I constant in prayer?” We can also compare our constancy in prayer to our commitment to other things in life. Are you constant in social media? Are you constant on Netflix? Are you constant in exercise? Are you constant in personal hygiene? Are you constantly at work? What about prayer?
Prayer is not only a necessary personal commitment; it is incredibly impactful. Prayerlessness is largely to blame for the spiritual decay around us in the churches and the problems in our society. Let’s restore the level of prayer to its proper place in our lives and our churches, and our Father will surely pour out His Spirit on us (Luke 11:13).
Our Father, thank You for this day of prayer. Now, inspire Your church in the US to be constant in prayer. Lead us to true and lasting repentance, that we would no longer seek other things above You. Heal our hearts and convict our minds with the light of Your word and the power of the Holy Spirit. Give us the desire to draw near to You so that You would draw near to us. We ask in Jesus’ name, amen.
~Rev. Dr. Mary Miller