The apostle Paul gave the following instruction to men. 1 Timothy 2:8 “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” While it is an exhortation to men, I see no reason it should not apply to women as well. Perhaps men need this more.
“I desire that men pray everywhere.” It was the custom during the time of Jesus for people to go to the temple or the synagogue to pray. Perhaps you wait until you go to a church building to pray. People sometimes go to a church building to pray because they think they are closer to God there. But God is everywhere. Psalms 139:7-12 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.” Anywhere you go in the world, you are close to God. Acts 17:27b-28a “He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being.”
There are many locations where you can pray. Jesus went upon a mountain to pray. Matthew 14:23a “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.” Luke 5:16 “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). Peter prayed on the rooftop of the house (Acts 10:9-16). Jesus encouraged you to go into your room and shut your door. Matthew 6:6 “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” You can pray anytime you are going to eat; Jesus gave you the example of praying and giving thanks before eating when he fed the multitudes and when he instituted the Lords’ Supper. 1 Corinthians 14 addresses prayer in the church assembly. I like to pray to God when I am in my bed before I go to sleep or before I arise in the morning. When you travel may be a good time to pray, whether that is in a boat, an airplane, a bus, a train, a motorcycle or a car. I don’t like to stop at red traffic lights because they delay me in getting to my destination; my wife constantly reminds me that when I am stopped at a traffic light is an excellent time to pray. The point is that wherever you are and whenever you have the opportunity, pray. Pray everywhere. 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
“Lifting up holy hands.” I am reminded of a young child with his father. The child reaches up with his hands to indicate that he wants to be lifted and held. You too can lift up your hands to God your Father as an indication that you desire His mercy and grace or that you worship and praise Him. But your hands should be holy hands that you raise. They should not be hands stained with sins you are holding onto. It was common in the time of Jesus for people to stand praying (Matthew 6:5). But it is also appropriate to bow or kneel when you pray; the apostle Paul did that as recorded in Ephesians 3:14 “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus fell on His face when He prayed. Matthew 26:39 “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” The position you assume when you pray is not dictated; I believe that the position you take should be based upon what your heart feels. If you are seeking mercy for your sin or feeling humble before your great Heavenly Father, perhaps you wish to bow or kneel. If you are extremely troubled in spirit as Jesus was in the garden, perhaps you want to fall on your face before God. You can pray as you lie on your bed at night. When you are in the midst of a task, you can pray as you work. I believe that the physical position you take when you pray is not as important as the condition of your heart. God knows your heart.
“Without wrath.” When you pray, there should not be any vindictive feeling or lack of forgiveness in your heart. Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” “Without doubting.” Pray in faith. James 5:14-18 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
How long should you pray? Jesus likely prayed many hours when He went off by Himself to pray. But prayers can also be short; the tax collector prayed “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). The length of pray is however long you take to communicate with God what is on your heart.
My encouragement to you is that you pray everywhere, at all times, with all kinds of prayers. Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”