The Progression of Prayer in Society
Season—an indefinite period of time
Time—a measured or measurable period
Word—a brief remark or conversation
Would it ever end? I was certain I felt myself aging. There I was, waiting for it to be over and waiting for the Lord to return—wondering which would happen first.
The place? Prayer meeting!
I was seven. At that time, prayer was probably around number 208 on my list of priorities. I mean, after all God already knew our needs. He also already knew the future. So in my highly educated and intelligent seven-year-old mind, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t understand. If God knew what we needed and knew what we were going to ask for when we prayed, then locking ourselves in the church for what seemed to be an endless period of time to tell God what He already knew, seemed to me like a great big waste of time.
During those days, over forty years ago, the saints met frequently for what they called a “season” of prayer. In the little church where I grew up in Green Pond, Alabama, they were serious about it. They met with the intent and purpose to pray until something happened. If it took 30 minutes, fine. If it took five hours, that was fine too.
Jump forward a few years and more and more you began to hear the phrase “a time of prayer.” Oh yes, make no mistake, there was still prayer meeting—it just didn’t last quite as long. No more meeting to pray until you hear from heaven, now we were more on a time schedule. Okay God, you have from 7:00 – 8:00 pm on Monday night to show up, or we’ll have to catch you next week. A “season” had somehow evolved to “a time.”
Jump forward a few more years to our fast-paced, push-button society where we’ve become accustomed to getting everything in a hurry. No more taking days or weeks to travel across country by horse or train admiring the beauty of the landscape that God created. Now we get on a plane and in two hours or less we can get 1,000 miles in any direction. No more taking hours to thaw something. Just pop it in the microwave and the same result is accomplished in mere minutes.
Wouldn’t you know it? The church has also progressed. How many times in your local service or at larger events do we pause now to have a “word” of prayer?
How interesting. We have gone from a season, to a time, to a word. To borrow wisdom from Webster’s dictionary, it would seem we have gone from “an indefinite period of prayer, to a measured or measurable period of prayer, to a brief remark or conversation with God.”
It would almost seem that with all of our computers, gadgets and modern-day conveniences to help us save time, we have gotten so busy that we have almost phased prayer out completely. Makes me wonder about scriptures like:
I Thessalonians 5:17, the apostle Paul tells believers to “pray without ceasing.”
Luke 21:36 says, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the son of man.”
While I know that we can’t pray non-stop due to work schedules and the need for sleep, we could definitely dedicate more time to prayer. There are times when all we have time to do is utter a “word” of prayer. Other times our schedule may be a little more flexible, allowing us to devote a little “time” to prayer. But let us not forget that periodically, we must not neglect having a “season” of prayer. No matter how busy, periodically we must give ourselves to an extended period of seeking God. We need that!
I was at a church not too long ago and someone told the congregation to just “breathe a prayer.”
Lord, help us!