The Spirituality and Practice of Scheduled Prayer

Basic to spirituality is prayer. There are many who recommend scheduled prayer in their spirituality and practice. The Muslims pray five times on specific hours of the day. The monks have their own schedule of prayers. So it is presumed that scheduled prayer is better than unscheduled prayer. Rev. Jim Stephens recommends scheduled prayer in his very helpful booklet “The All-Time 10 Best Tips on Prayer for Beginners That I Have Ever Heard”. K. W. Leslie recommends scheduled and unscheduled prayer in his blogpost “Prayer times: Early-morning, late at night, or whenever.”

Has Scheduled Prayer Improved Our World?

After years of scheduled prayer I began to ask: Has scheduled prayer improved our world? And I asked another question similar to this: Has scheduled prayer improved the lives of those who practice it? My answer to both questions is in the negative. It is a big NO. I notice that scheduled prayer has not improved the lives of those who do have scheduled prayer life, like the seminarians, the priests, the monks, the religious Sisters and others. They are just as unloving and as un-compassionate as those who do not practice prayer at all. At least that is what I observe. Two world wars and a host of national and regional wars have been fought while men and women of all religions were practicing scheduled prayer. So I concluded that scheduled prayer has not changed our world.

Basic Flaw in Scheduled Prayer

The basic flaw in scheduled prayer is that we make God listen to us on our own terms. Imagine telling a person, “I cannot talk to you right now. I have five times to talk to you during the day and this time is not one of those five times. Talk to me during one of those five times. Here they are: from 5:00 to 5:30 in the morning, etc.”. This sounds very rude but this is what happens when we schedule our prayer time with God.

The argument for scheduled prayer is that by scheduling it we give it the necessary priority and we perform it above all our other activities. Most of us do not realize that by doing so we put prayer on the level of our other activities, only it is a top priority activity. We forget a very simple truth: Prayer is not so much our activity as it is God's activity on us. It is God's time of taking us by his hand and telling us about himself and telling us about ourselves and thus transforming us.

True Spirituality and Practice of Prayer

Real prayer is not so much we talking to God as we listening to God. It is not taking up a prayer book and begin reading it. Nor is it making some gestures and then addressing God, even praising and thanking him.

Genuine prayer is getting to a place and time when we can simply listen to God. He speaks to us all the time. It is for us to pause and listen to him. Only this kind of prayer is life changing. All others are just babbling of words and exercises of our imagination and reasoning.

If we practice this kind of prayer the time will come when we will keep on listening to God amidst all our activities and the Spirit will describe us as walking with God as Enoch walked with God.

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