Almost a decade ago, when online streaming services started to broadcast movies and TV shows and create their own content, America coined a new phrase: binge-watching.
Before binge-watching, there was binge-gaming. In the late 1980s, my next-door neighbor got a Nintendo and spent hours on it until he beat Super Mario Brothers. My brother and I were envious of him and frustrated that our parents never let us own a Nintendo. (Now, as a parent, I understand why.)
I think there is a common reason many people enjoy binge-watching, binge-gaming, and, for some, still, binge-reading: it immerses us in another world.
Do we ever "binge-pray"?
A Google search for "binge-watching" yields over 6.5 million hits. On a hunch, I Googled the term "binge-praying" and got 117 hits. My best guess is there isn't much binge-praying going on.
The difference between the two is this: extended prayer-time draws on the power of God to bring us into his will; extended screen-time depends on human ingenuity to distract us. One can lead to puffy eyes, missed deadlines, or short tempers. The other, done from a pure heart, leads to maturity and peace.
The Bible's list of those who binge-prayed is noteworthy: Moses, David, Solomon, Elijah, Daniel, Ezra, Jesus, and many others.
Each of these men already had a pattern of daily prayer. For instance, almost in passing, Daniel 6:10 records that Daniel prayed three times every day. The reason for the mention of this pattern was that the king's edict interrupted it. This pattern was the norm for observant Jews then and today.
But, in special cases, these men abandoned their normal routine and prayed the entire "morning" or "evening" (Matt 14:28; Mark 1:35), "all night" (2 Sam 12:16; Ezra 10:6; Luke 6:12), or even "days" (Deut. 9:18; Esther 4:16). I encourage you to look up the circumstances of these extended prayers. You will find a number of different reasons; but each person prayed out of a deep regard for God and depended on his sovereign power.
Remember, these were people with normal lives like ours. They needed to earn money, eat, sleep, and do all the daily tasks people do. But, from time to time, they isolated themselves in order to pray for hours without interruption. This was not a cultural norm during Bible times and it is equally unusual today.
Some sad examples show what others did while these godly people prayed. When Moses was "delayed" as he prayed on Mount Sinai, Genesis 32 records that the people made themselves an idol and committed sexual immorality. When Jesus asked his disciples to "keep watch" during his prayer before his death, he also commanded, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation" (Mark 14:38). But they fell asleep instead and, consequently, fell into temptation during the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.
We can observe a pattern in these failures: fleshly desires often distract your best spiritual intentions. Once you make time to isolate yourself in prayer, you will likely struggle with flesh-based distractions.
Just remember the pattern that the Bible teaches: those who seek out God in extended prayer become more effective for God over time; those who refrain from prayer become disengaged from God and, thus, vulnerable to sin. Growing in this area is a process of discovering God's power and your dependance on him. And, as with any process, it takes time.
The first step you can take is to ask yourself a few questions.
What is a major issue or concern that you need to take to God?
When is a time during your week when you can plan some extended prayer?
What is a reasonable way you can have this time of uninterrupted prayer?
Some may find a place in their home where they can be alone. A long walk will work for others. Some who can't have either may simply need to sacrifice time early in the morning or late at night.
Each person will need to find a unique way to make themselves available to God for an extended period. There is no formula. But there is a promise of peace for those who do it.