One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. —Acts 3:1
Disciplined prayer arises from two things: first, a good general knowledge of God’s Word; second, a strong desire to please Him. In other words, I am talking here about praying as an act of sheer obedience whether we feel like it or not. And it is the mature Christian who follows this way.
You may decide to spend more time in prayer, but then you find that everything seems to militate against it. So you think, These things that are stopping me praying are providential. So don’t be surprised if, when you commit yourself to prayer, everything seems to be hindering you. There must be discipline.
One of the forgotten verses in the Book of Acts is the opening verse of chapter 3. The chapter goes on to describe how Peter and John healed the crippled man, but what is interesting is that it happened when they were on their way to the temple to pray. We see that even when the Spirit was present in great power, these early disciples were not afraid to go by a schedule. At this high peak in the history of the church it would seem that the first Christians still observed set times of prayer.
The principle is that if you live by the disciplined impulse, you will get the spontaneous impulse as well, and this is why I urge each Christian to pray for thirty minutes a day and to attend the weekly church prayer meetings. Here were Peter and John on their way to the temple, when the lame beggar held out his hand to them, expecting to receive some money. But Peter just turned to him and said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (v. 6, KJV). And the man was healed.
You never outgrow the need to pray. It is my job, not only as a Christian minister but also as a child of God, never to excuse myself again for what I haven’t done regarding time spent in prayer.
Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).