What Does the Bible Teach about Making Time for Personal Prayer?

By Clement Harrold

Sacred Scripture frequently underscores the central role which daily prayer ought to occupy in the life of the Christian. First and foremost, the Gospels offer us the example of Our Lord. Prayerful relationship with the Father was the hallmark of Jesus’s earthly life. Repeatedly, the Gospels highlight His decision to carve out spaces of silence and solitude so as to enter into more intimate dialogue with the Father.

A striking example of this comes in Mark 1:35: “And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.” Jesus Himself made a point of rising in the early hours of the morning—likely sleepy-eyed and a little groggy!—in order to make time for the Father.

Not only did Jesus get up early to pray, He also sought out a “lonely place” where He wouldn’t be disturbed. This theme is repeated throughout the Gospels:

  • And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. (Mt 14:23)
  • And after he had taken leave of them, he went up into the hills to pray. (Mk 6:46)
  • But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. (Lk 5:16)
  • In these days he went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. (Lk 6:12)

The simple beauty of these verses should not be lost on us. In our own day-to-day lives, we should ask ourselves whether we do a good job of making God our priority. This needn’t consist of all-night vigils or hours of mental prayer, but it should consist of something.

Perhaps our vocational responsibilities mean our time is scarce and our energy levels constantly depleted, meaning 10 or 15 minutes is all we can offer the Lord each day. If that is the case, then we should have confidence in our loving Father who sees our efforts and who delights in turning our meager loaves and fish into a spiritual banquet.

Elsewhere in Sacred Scripture, we are exhorted to “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). For those of us who feel perpetually busy and overwhelmed, this may sound like a daunting prospect! But in fact it should come as a consolation, for it is a reminder that even the menial and humdrum dimensions of life can be turned into a sacrifice of praise to the Father.

In those seasons of life where we feel tempted to doubt the efficacy of our prayers of petition, we should remember how emphatic God’s Word is about the immense power that prayer contains. As St. Paul reminds the Philippians, “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).

This point is taken even further in the Epistle of St. James, which leaves no doubt as to the importance of asking God for good things and trusting that He hears our requests:

Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any 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 man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. (James 5:13-16)

God has commanded us to ask good things of Him. We can therefore approach His Throne of Mercy with supreme confidence. Petition and intercession should form a part of our daily prayer routine—together with praise, thanksgiving, and contrition.

The Bible stresses the power of personal prayer, and Jesus Christ provides us the model for implementing this in our day-to-day lives. The more we pray, the more we realize the ways in which God is subtly pruning our hearts to be free of the things that hold us back from discovering peace and rest in Him.

Clement Harrold is a graduate student in theology at the University of Notre Dame. His writings have appeared in First Things, Church Life Journal, Crisis Magazine, and the Washington Examiner. He earned his bachelor's degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2021.

You Might Also Like


Prayer is at the heart of the Christian life. Given that we are weak and even sinful human beings, how can it be that God has anything to do with us? What does it mean to have a personal relationship with God? Why is God so silent and hidden? How do we grow in prayer?

Personal Prayer: A Guide for Receiving the Father’s Love brings the depth of human experience together with the Catholic tradition of prayer to present the path to an intimate and vulnerable relationship with God.