A child of God should most definitely be setting aside regular, purposed, and focused times of prayer. We see that kind of prayer modeled all throughout the Bible—even by Christ Himself. But there is also value in the immediate response, when praising, crying out, confession, or seeking wisdom in prayer is a key part of our immediate reaction to an event, thought, or feeling. Combining these two ways of praying—both the set-aside and immediate response—will work to accomplish the “pray without ceasing” goal laid out for us by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 and Ephesians 6:18.
I have not always had the good habit of stopping and praying, and I’m still developing it. But over the years—as effective and powerful prayer has been modeled to me—I have seen and experienced the discipline of stopping and praying. I’ve watched as one person prays for another after a prayer request is shared. Right there, out loud.
There are all sorts of opportunities to stop and pray where you are:
- When someone asks you to pray for them, do it right then with them and later on your own.
- As someone is telling you about a difficult or painful situation, ask him/her to stop at a few different points and pray for that specific part of the situation before they go on.
- When you hear an emergency vehicle, pray for everyone involved—the first responders and those they’ll be helping.
- When you see or read something that causes joy, thankfulness, or praise, stop and speak that praise and thankfulness to God.
- When you see or read something that causes anger, disgust, or sadness, stop and tell God your response. Ask for His perspective.
Prayer, like so many parts of the Christian life, is a process. It is not a box-checked, accomplished sort of thing. So if you seek to grow in the depth and breadth of prayer, consider the value of stopping and praying. Look for moments and opportunities to make prayer your immediate response. Take these small, intentional steps to seek the Lord.