Man has many opportunities to pray. To name some of the appropriate times for prayer may help us.
1. When we are sad. Dark hours come to all of us, whether through sickness, death, marital conflict, conflict with children, loneliness, or whatever. When our hearts are heavy, we should lift them in prayer to God. Don't forget to pray.
2. When we are happy. Few of us forget to pray during adversity, but many of us are like the nine lepers whom Jesus healed. They forgot to return and thank him for his blessings. When things are going well in life, we should praise God for answered prayers and his providential guidance in our lives.
3. When we are tempted. None of us is so perfect that we are not tempted to sin. The desires of the flesh reside in our body and through them Satan tempts us. When sore temptations come to us, we should pause to pray. Jesus taught us to pray that we not enter into temptation. When he taught his disciples to pray, he said, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt. 6:13). Not only will the Lord lead us from temptation, he also has promised to help us with a way of escape when the temptation comes. Paul wrote, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
4. When we are worried. Christians have been taught to cast their burdens on the Lord. Paul wrote, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6). When we are worrying about a problem, let us pause to analyze and evaluate the situation. If there is something we can do to solve the problem, let us be busy doing it. If there is nothing we can do to solve the problem, let us lay it before God in prayer and be ready to accept whatever his providence gives to us in answer to that prayer. Someone has said that worry is like a rocking chair – you move a lot, but you don't go anywhere. Rather than allowing worrying and fretting about the possible problems we may face tomorrow to ruin today, let us live today to its fullest and cast our burdens on the Lord.
5. When we have a great decision to make or problem to solve. The day before Jesus chose his twelve apostles, he spent the entire night in prayer (Lk. 6:12,13). There are times when we must make momentous decisions which will affect the rest of our lives. In such hours, we need divine guidance. We should turn to God's word to see what it speaks on the subject, seek out the best counsel you can find (Prov. 11:14 – "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety") and then ask God's direction in our lives. James said, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (Jas. 1:5). The Lord will help us make these decisions when we ask for his guidance.
6. When we become discouraged in living the Christian life, We should not quit. We need to turn to God in prayer. Jesus said, "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Lk. 18:1). Paul said, "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Eph. 6:18). When we are discouraged, let us ask God to send us some help in the form of other Christians.
7. When we have evil thoughts. Sometimes circumstances fill our minds with evil thoughts, even without our premeditation. When we find that occurring, we can either allow those thoughts to stay in our minds which will likely lead us to sin or we can drive them out through prayer and meditation upon God's word. We cannot keep birds from flying over our heads, but we can prevent them from nesting in our hair. In the same way, we cannot prevent every temptation, but we can keep ourselves from dwelling on these evil thoughts.
8. When we have sinned. John instructed us to pray for forgiveness of our sins. He said, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn. 1:7-9). God has made forgiveness of sins conditional to his erring children. They must repent of them and pray that both their deeds and their intention to commit them might be forgiven (Acts 8:22).
Here are some times that we should especially be taking our requests to God in prayer. Remember the words of Paul when he wrote that we should "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). We all can do better in prayer.