Developing the habit of praying throughout the day can begin well, and be encouraged by scheduling appointments with God, but to maintain an attitude and spiritual posture of prayer throughout the day also requires that we pray spontaneously as the opportunities arise. I think many of us are uncomfortable with spontaneous prayer because it is so unfamiliar to us. Prayer most often is relegated to formal expressions or predetermined situations. But praying, right now-- off the cuff? Should we find a quiet place? Do we pray out loud? Is it prayer if my eyes are open and my lips aren't moving? This might sound silly, but praying in the moment, when the need arises, simply feels awkward to many.
The key to praying spontaneously is seeing the need (when it arises) and our God (who is always present). When does the need to pray arise? When you, or someone you know are personally confronted with something big, scary, or exciting. This is a manifestation of crisis, or change, and it calls for you to pray (for yourself or someone else) for protection, wisdom, discerment, strength, perseverence, or success.
You should pray when someone else is hurting or scared-- that they would find comfort from God who guards our hearts and minds, and watches over his people, ruling over the world and all the affairs of men.
You should pray for those who are encountering the gospel, and do not yet know Jesus, asking God to do what only he can.
Opportunities to pray are genuinely everywhere! You only need to pay attention to both your circumstances and your God. He is there. The real questions is why would we not pray? In every day are both crises and blessings to which we should be responding in prayers of supplication and praise.
When you see the opportunity, take time to pray immediately. Sooner is better than later. Why would you delay seeking God's grace when there is a need? Immediate prayer does not have to be long, nor does it have to be overtly public. You may pray silently where you are, or even quickly return to your cubicle, kitchen, or car to entreat God. I say pray immediately because many situations require it, but also because in many circumstances the person you need to pray for would also greatly benefit from you praying over them. I know, this is even more awkward, but that's only because it has unfortunately become such a rare and specialized kind of prayer performed only by some pastors. I'll be writing on praying together as a means for praying throughout the day in the next blogpost, so we'll unpack this idea more tomorrow.