Explicit time-marching finite-difference stencils have been extensively used for simulating seismic wave propagation, and they are the most computationally intensive part of seismic forward modeling, reverse time migration, and full-waveform inversion. The time-marching step, determined by both the stability condition and numerical dispersion, is a key factor in the computational cost. In contrast with the widely used second-order temporal stencil, the Lax-Wendroff stencil is more cost effective because the time-marching step can be much larger. It can be proved, using theory and numerical tests, that the Lax-Wendroff stencil does enable larger time steps. In terms of numerical dispersion, the time steps for second-order and Lax-Wendroff stencils are functions of the number of shortest wavelengths away from the source location. These functions are derived by evaluating the relative L2-norm of the differences between the analytical and numerical solutions. The method for determining the time-marching step is model adaptive and easy to implement. We use the pseudo spectral method for the computation of spatial derivatives, and the wave equations that we solved are for isotropic media only, but the described principles can be easily implemented for more complicated types of media.