We know that prayer is important and Jesus taught us how to pray as He recited the Lord’s prayer.  Thus we know what to pray, but the challenge comes in knowing how to keep praying.  According to I Thessalonians 5:17, we are to pray without ceasing, but do you realize that the longest prayer in the Bible- found in Nehemiah 9- is only about 7 minutes long.
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I believe one of the keys to a consistent prayer life is thankfulness rather than the length of the prayer.  Paul said in Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”  Notice that every time Paul thinks of them he thanks God.  Do you realize that just a thought of thankfulness toward God is a prayer?  That is why we can pray without ceasing.
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    But let us focus a bit more on thankfulness in prayer.  When you pray for other people, do you just bring requests to God concerning them, or do you thank God for them? 
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   According to Colossians 3:17, whatever we are doing, we should be giving thanks to God through Jesus Christ.  “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”  If we should be thankful no matter what we are doing, we should especially be thankful as we pray.
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Going back to Paul‘s example of thankfulness for the Philippians, we see that his thankfulness for them in prayer actually brings joy.  “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,” (Philippians 1:3-4)”
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   I must say that I am more joyful when I remember to be thankful.  Do you think that could have an effect on our prayer lives?   If you are not finding joy in your prayer life, perhaps it is due in part to forgetting to be thankful as you pray.
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   I fear too many Christians pray out of drudgery rather than out of joy or thankfulness.  Our prayer life should me more than just praying through a list of requests.  It should be a time of thankfulness and joy.
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    If you want a joyful prayer life, I would NOT suggest setting a timer so that you get in what you think should be your minimum amount of prayer for the day.  A vibrant prayer life is not about meeting a prayer quota.  Remember the longest prayer in the Bible is only about 7 minutes long. 
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    You might go a whole day and never even pray for 5 minutes straight and still have a great prayer life because you have been constantly talking to God for a few seconds at a time all day long.  If you were to add up that time it might amount to hours, and you never even set a prayer quota and the whole time was filled with joy and thanksgiving.  That is what I believe praying without ceasing is all about as we realize that prayer is about constant fellowship with God.  That fellowship must include thankfulness toward Him.
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   Imagine if I get up 3hrs earlier every morning and set a timer to pray for 3 hrs straight and then I cease to pray as soon as that timer goes off, because “I’ve put in my time.”  That is not a good prayer life.  Now if you do pray for such a long time and find joy and thankfulness in it, that is a good thing, but it is not a requirement from God.
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    Prayer should not be a ritual, it should be a time of joyful thanksgiving as we cast our dependence on God, bringing our requests, confessing our sins, and adoring Him.