How long should our prayers last? The Bible seems to say we should not pray very long: "When you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7).
Heathen prayers always use vain repetitions. The mob at Ephesus cried for two solid hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians! Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" (Acts 19:34.) In the Old Testament, the priests of Baal pleaded, cajoled, screamed, and whined for the entire day to no avail (I Kings 18:26-29). Even today, the millions in Asia and Africa pray this way. Monks of India have been known to repeat a single "holy" word until their strength was exhausted and they could no longer speak. Every false religion has its endless repetitions that are supposed to buy God's attention. The God of your Bible does not want to hear a broken record! God wants "effectual, fervent prayer" (James 5:16). But does that mean prayers should be "short and sweet," a short rhyme before going to sleep or eating a meal? Are we really close to God with a thirty-second ritual per day? And more important, is God satisfied? Jesus Christ set us an example that we should follow it point by point (I Peter 2:21). "He that saith he abideth in Him [Christ] ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6). How long did Christ pray? In public, Christ prayed only a few seconds (John 11:41, 42). But in daily, private prayer between Himself and His Father, Christ prayed for long intervals, but without vain repetition. At one time of extreme urgency, Christ prayed ALL NIGHT LONG (Luke 6:12). At other times, Christ's standard for prayer was about an hour per day. "Sit ye here while I go and pray yonder... and He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, 'WHAT! Could you not watch with me ONE HOUR?" (Mat. 26:36, 40.) Christ got INVOLVED in His prayers. It was never a matter of length, though-it was a matter of heart. We, too, should never pray by the clock, rather by the heart. But Biblical example and practical experience have shown Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong and all God's ministers that an average of a half-hour per day is certainly a minimum if we want to really walk with God. "Where do I find the time," people will ask? Christ found the time, and He was busier than any of us. "IN THE MORNING, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). Where there is a will, there IS a way. Christ taught "to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). "Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him?" (Verse 7.) God wants His people to "get involved" in prayer.