The 10,000 Hour Rule of Prayer

Jesus at the age of 12:

Why is it that you are looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?  Luke 2:49

Jesus toward the end of His life:

He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’, but you are making it a robber’s den.”  Matthew 21:13

Malcolm Gladwell made popular the “10,000 hour” rule of effort in his book Outliers. Using the Beatles and Bill Gates as examples, Gladwell suggests that to become an expert you need to put in at least 10,000 hours of practice.

Achievement is talent plus preparation. The problem with this view is that the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play.  Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule has been debated, but let’s accept it as true and adopt this principle to effective praying.

Studying engineering is easy. Forty hours a week for a year equals 2,000 hours, so you are an expert engineer in five years. However, no one prays 40 hours a week. Let’s be generous and say one hour a day every day. That’s 365 hours a year – making you a prayer expert in 30 years.

I’ve believed a person should get better at praying as they prayed. That saints retired, or at home, or in Florida can be prayer warriors who are changing the world!

I get a sense while reading books or listening to sermons on prayer, that the speakers or writers, while placing content within a motivational context, are not praying that often.

Oops, a little negative there, Pastor Grant!

Okay, reading Frank Laubach, A.W. Tozer, or about Susanna Wesley, I get a different sense of “deep calling to deep” in prayer. A modern author would be Paul Miller in his book, A Praying Life.

What happens after 10,000 hours of praying?

I’m hitting that number now after 38 years, being a Christian who has prayed regularly. I’ve needed an extra 8 years over the “hour a day for 30 years” formula because I’ve missed a few days, and some days, only prayed for 15 minutes!

I’ve read great prayer people saying their prayers become more silent. Mine are more vocal. I’ve read other great prayer people commenting that they pray for Jesus to return. I’m asking Jesus to wait awhile; instead, bringing the greatest revival in the history of the world.

Jesus probably hit the 10,000 hours when he was 30 years old or about the time that he entered public ministry. He didn’t need 38 years and was well advanced in prayer by the time He was 12, knowing that His Father’s house was a house of prayer!

How did Jesus end His prayer life on earth? With the greatest prayer ever:

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.  Luke 22:41-44

A 10,000-hour prayer life included intensity with blood, angels strengthening alongside, facing fear, and walking into obedience that brought salvation to every generation.

Perhaps we live in the last generation. I think all of us agree, even hope, that many 10,000-hour prayer warriors are praying now.

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