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How Long Should a Prayer Be?

By Jacqui – One of God’s Intercessors


I just came out of my prayer closet where I went to pray for the leaders of OMS. I looked at the clock as I came out and realized that I’d been in there for 90 minutes. Where did the time go?

I’ve prayed many a quick prayer as I’ve walked from one place to another, and I’ve prayed the better part of two days alone on a prayer retreat. How long should a prayer be?


Can we talk too long to God? Does he ever turn away a prayer because it’s too short? I somehow don’t think so. Scripture says Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Psalm 116:2 NLT That’s a pretty long prayer!


In Matthew, we read this about prayer. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matt 6:5-7


Hmmm…So, we are to pray without ceasing 1 Thes 5:17 but not babble on like pagans Matt 6:7 Dear friend, to avoid long ‘babbling prayers’ we are first of all to be sure that we’re really praying to God and not just praying so others around us will hear what we’re saying. Sadly, you may have experienced this ‘babbling’ as the Bible refers to it. It often happens when someone in a group really wants to share all that they know about a situation and may choose to share it in the form of a prayer. I often wonder if they think God really didn’t know the “scoop” or if they just want to make sure I do. If you find yourself tempted to do this, perhaps it is better to take a moment to share briefly what has happened and then go to a time of sincere prayer for the person.


Also, it’s OK if your prayer is short and to the point, especially if you’re praying in a group. It can be intimidating to pray after someone else when they have prayed for quite a long time. If two or more in your group have prayed lengthy prayers, you may find yourself feeling compelled to pray as long as possible when it’s your turn; attempting to think of everything you possibly can to pray for that situation. Please don’t. Remember the “babbling”?


How long should a prayer be? A prayer may last as long as you are sincerely talking to God. It doesn’t have to be short or long. Our conversations with others vary in length. Our prayers will, too. When we’re talking privately to a close friend, we may open up and talk more. So, it is with prayer when we are alone with God. When we’re talking in a group, it is often wise to limit our own dialogue and take turns in the conversation. So, it is with prayer.


What is much more important than the length of the prayer is simply that we pray.


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