I believe having a good structure and a regular schedule are beneficial in every area of life. Prayer should certainly be a firm habit.
When I lived in Illinois one of the Elders of the church I attended once shared a prayer request with me. He called me a man of prayer. Immediately I was convicted that my prayer life was not what it should be. That was a small turning point. I began to pray more.
I believed that what God has to say is more important than what I have to say. Therefore I thought I should read the Bible a lot and just pray a little. You have probably all heard the analogy that we all have two ears and one mouth therefore we should listen more than we speak. We SHOULD listen to God more than we speak to Him. The Bible teaches that we should pray always but it does not say we should study always.
Luke 18:1: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Acts 6:4: But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
I don*t in any way mean to imply that we should sacrifice Bible Study for prayer. We need both. I believe we should strive for the right balance among prayer, studying the Word and giving out the Word.
J. Vernon McGee has said more than once that in order to get the most out of the Bible and to get what God wants to give us from it we should pray before we study. And if we have questions or things we don*t understand, pray again.
The church that I attended before I moved to Arizona was at the first a wonderful church. It was a very Biblical church. It was an IFCA church. (Independent Fundamental Churches of America) Doctrinally it was very sound. But that church has now become modern and liberal. It has become almost a social club. I believe the reason is directly related to a de-emphasis on prayer.
We had three teams of at least two men and a pianist and held up to 17 services per month in Nursing Homes and Retirement Centers. As best I know, that activity has all ceased. Other things have gone wrong there as well.
Numerically and financially the church is still doing well. I know some people there still pray. God is gracious.
The first Pastor when I went there led a prayer meeting every Sunday morning before the Sunday school. When he resigned, the pastor that was called led the Prayer meeting sometimes. Other times he designated an Elder to do that. When the second pastor resigned and the third one was called, He stopped leading the prayer meeting altogether. The last couple of years I was there, he didn*t even attend the prayer meeting.
Worship services are important but I believe the prayer meeting is more important. The prayer meeting is more personal. The prayer meeting is central to a church like the Bible is central. The prayer meeting supports and empowers all the other ministries of the church.
My heart is always touched more deeply and I am moved to tears more often at the prayer meeting when I hear others unburdening their hearts than at the other services.
The other services are an acquiring of blessings from the Lord. The prayer meeting is an unloading of burdens. The other services are a listening to God. The prayer meeting is speaking to a listening God. Without prayer, God goes into low gear if He moves at all. Without the prayer, men*s hearts are unmoved. Sometimes we are changed more at a prayer meeting than at a worship service.
False, liberal and weak churches that I have attended have worship services, but they don*t have a prayer meeting.
A Christian who is praying is not straying.