Read Luke 18:1
1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. (NRSV)
At first glance, Jesus’ introduction to his parable seems to be an invitation to do lots and lots of praying. Indeed we are to pray consistently, “without ceasing”. Which reminds us that prayer is not to be confined to set times and places or to words spoken out loud. Prayer is so often silent, an inner attitude of communion with God.
But there is a danger in this teaching about praying without ceasing. We may tend to ‘quantify’ prayer, measuring effective prayer by the number of words we use or the time it occupies. Sometimes we hear people suggesting we haven’t prayed ‘enough’ when an individual or church encounters hard times.
Adopting this sort of approach is self-defeating. How do we measure ‘enough’? Do we ever pray ‘enough’? So we end up beating ourselves up because we figure we need to do more praying. As if God is monitoring some cosmic stopwatch and turning his back on us if we don’t satisfy our quota. As if an hour or two more praying is going to persuade him to come to our aid. As if our church won’t grow unless we have two prayer meetings a week rather than just one.
Of course we are to pray as frequently as possible. It expresses our constant dependence on God after all. It is our means of communing with God which is vital. But let’s not make prayer a burden, feeling as if we have never prayed enough. We will never pray enough, but God does not deal with us on such a basis—thank God!