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"I can’t pray for one hour."


Some Christians seem to be intimidated by Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 26:40: "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" They reason, “If the disciples were rebuffed because of their inability to pray for one hour, and effective prayer requires praying for that length of time, then I’ll never be effective. So why should I pray at all? I mean—isn’t prayer supposed to be difficult?” Some say, “I’m not the emotional type, but what about words like labor and travail that I read in Scripture?”


As far as we know, at no other time did Jesus bring up the issue of praying for an hour. To pray for one hour was not a commandment to anyone—not even to Peter and the disciples! Peter was questioned, not commanded. Yet, unfortunately, some teaching and preaching has left us to conclude that if we can’t pray for at least one hour, we may as well not pray at all. Let’s not fall into legalism or condemnation of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Prayer is a love relationship between you and Jesus. It’s to be unique, personal, and relational!


Eddie and I are actually moved with the tenderness with which Jesus rebuffed Peter. You will recall that as Jesus prayed in the garden that night, He was facing His betrayal, arrest, trial, and cruel death on the cross. He was suffering great agony of soul while His exhausted disciples were fast asleep. Awaking them, He asked, "Can’t you guys pray just one hour?" Lovingly He added, "Your spirit is ready, but your flesh is weak."


Besides, would it surprise you to know that most of the prayers recorded in Scripture can be read in one minute or less? This includes those prayers that raised the dead and those that called down fire from heaven! (2 Kings 4:33–35; 1 Kings 18:36–38)


Perhaps you are thinking, Are you saying, then, that spending long periods of time before the Lord in prayer is of no value?... Not at all. However, it is important that we see the apostle Paul, who "travail[ed] in birth" at times for some of his friends (Gal. 4:19, KJV, emphasis added), said on four other occasions, "I mention you in my prayers." (Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:15–16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 4.)


After all, it doesn’t often require as much time presenting our prayer requests as it does preparing our hearts to make them. God can release His blessings to people simply when we mention their names to Him!


  • Should you spend long periods of time in prayer? Sure… go for it! Jesus often prayed all night. However, don’t forget that it was one brief prayer that Jesus prayed at His baptism that caused the heavens to be opened! (Luke 3:21.)


  • "Won’t God do what He wants to do—with or without our prayers?"


In Eddie’s book Intercessors: How to Understand and Unleash Them for God’s Glory, he tells the following story about prayer:


“One morning my wife, Alice, went shopping for building supplies for a project. Alice, being an intercessor and not a construction worker, was unfamiliar with most of the items and spent a considerable amount of time in the hardware store looking for them. Finally, Alice found the items and was standing in the checkout line when, suddenly, she had a brief vision. In her mind’s eye–what we call a ‘closed vision’–she saw a man standing in my office pointing a gun at me.


Immediately she grabbed her purse, abandoned her shopping cart, and ran to the car. Alice began to intercede, even as she drove home. Once home, she rushed inside to her prayer closet, where she began crying out to the Lord.


Alice prayed for forty-five minutes until the burden and the sense of urgency subsided. Only then did she call the office and ask, ‘Eddie, are you OK?’


‘Yeah, I’m fine,’ I answered. ‘Why do you ask?’


She told me about her vision and how she had entered into prayer.

‘Oh that,’ I explained. ‘He just got saved.’”

That morning Eddie had had a counseling session with a medical doctor who was in ill health, separated from his wife, addicted to narcotics, and suicidal. After Eddie led him to Christ–and through some significant deliverance–the man explained how he had loaded a pistol that morning and placed it on his kitchen counter, intending to bring it to Eddie’s office and first kill him, then himself. For some "unexplained reason," he absentmindedly left his pistol on his kitchen counter. 

Since that incident, I’ve been asked, "Alice, why didn’t you first call the office and ask if Eddie was all right?" “Why?” I replied. "It was time to pray, not take a survey.”

Yes. There are times when praying for an hour or more is in order. In fact, they are sometimes the assignment. However, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are commanded to “pray without ceasing.” Our precious Lord should remain “top of mind” throughout the day. He is to be our first consideration, not our last resort. We are to continually commune with Him, in community with each other.

Gratefully secure in Him!

Alice and Eddie

Ps. 25:14

U.S. Prayer Center
Eddie & Alice Smith Ministries

7710-T Cherry Park Dr, Ste 224
Houston, TX 77095

[NOTE: We are grateful to Eddies & Alice Smith for their long obedience in mobilizing prayer and permission to post this letter - please contact or contribute to them at >>

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Congratulations, Phil!

"Prayer is a love relationship between you and Jesus. It’s to be unique, personal, and relational!"

Praise the Lord!


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