Jesus prayed all night before appointing the twelve apostles. (Lk. 6:12) Could you do that? He must have planned that into His schedule. In Acts 12 the church had gathered to pray through the night when the Angel delivered Peter from prison where he was to be executed in the morning. That could not have been planned, although it may have lasted several nights. In the garden before the cross Jesus was surprised that His disciples couldn’t even pray with Him for one hour. I think we can draw from our Lord’s response that praying for an hour or more, maybe all day or all night, should be a regular practice for people entering into extraordinary prayer.
You can begin praying in activities that do not take all of your mind. These require little adjustment of your schedule. Do you ever wait in the bank or in a doctor’s office? Start praying for everyone around you. You can also carry a written prayer list with you for times when you are forced to wait. You will also need to memorize a prayer list or two for times when your hands are not free. Do you ever mow the lawn or wash dishes? You could pray for a list of family members or neighbors, church friends or missionaries on the field.
It is good to pray through prayers from the Bible or other Scripture passages. If you use The Lord’s Prayer, for instance, you can expand on every word praying for everything that comes to your mind. If you do not have another prayer or passage memorized yet, pray The Lord’s Prayer through again.
When you have begun working on these disciplines it is time to start adjusting your schedule. Do you start your day with prayer? Jesus did. In Mark 1:35 He turned it into extended prayer that changed His pattern of ministry. Other times of the day are often easier to turn into or even schedule extended prayer. You can start on evenings when you don’t want to watch what is on TV. But if spiritual awakening is important to you, you will have to sacrifice some of your chosen entertainment for prayer.
And be ready for God to prompt you to pray in ways and lengths and times that surprise you. He will encourage and strengthen you as you seek to give more and more time to prayer. There is absolutely no limit to what God will do in you and through you as you pray.