Just wanted to jot down some thoughts before our prayer meeting tonight. Since we began our college and young adult ministry, we have always tried to keep prayer at the center of everything we do. It has come in many different forms through the years but one of our favorites is our monthly all night prayer chain. Many people have the bleh memories of getting up in the middle of the night during the winter. Alarm Clock. Drag self out of bed. Warm up the car. Drive to a cold, dark, desolate church and try not to fall asleep for the assigned hour.
We tried to mix it up. I decided to ask our college students to stay at our facility all night. They would sign up for multiple shifts and when they weren’t praying they’d do homework or find a dark corner of the church to sleep. But the more time they spent in God’s Presence, they decided to keep on praying, many times throughout the entire night.
People ask me why? Why all night? And why every month? In return, I ask why not? This is nowhere near our goal of 24/7 prayer at the University of Illinois among the 35 campus ministries. Out students look forward to this evening. They sometimes wish it was every week. It’s a transformative time. There is great need on our campus, in our nation, and the world. We are not lacking for requests: Hurricane Sandy victims, violence in the Middle East, famine, sex trafficking, how about the Presidential Election? But isn’t God worthy of it? To be honored around the clock?
In times of national crisis or to fulfill sacred duties, God’s people pursued Him way beyond the time of simple devotions. It was not intended to be an appointment but a lifestyle. God’s people and those entrusted to them are constantly under spiritual attack much like the walled city. “O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray to the LORD day and night for the fulfillment of his promises. Take no rest, all you who pray” (Isaiah 62:6). It is a constant battle for our families, our cities, our schools, our nation, etc. As the Body of Christ, we must be constantly vigilant in our prayers. Prayer chains are a constant assault against the enemy, breaking loose his hold over territories, and recovering lost ground.
When we are weak, He is strong
Obviously, the longer we remain awake during the night, our physical bodies begin to grow weary. We’re not used to being up this late. Provided we can stay awake, I believe His Presence and His desires are made more manifest in our please. “’My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We enter a new threshold of the supernatural when we’re not praying according to our flesh. Often times, our exhaustion fuels the passion in our cries. Many times, we add a season of fasting prior to the prayer chain. What a privilege to sense God’s love and urgency for hurting people.
God honors sacrifice
“With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of his name” (Hebrews 13:16). Some times it’s a sacrifice, because in our flesh, we’d rather be doing something else. Hanging out with friends and family, relaxing after a long week, watching a movie…sleeping. But we make volitional decision…God, I’m going to spend this time worshipping you and in intercession. Please come and meet with me. As we follow the example of the psalmist in commanding our souls to Bless the Lord, He will show up. And when He does, get ready!
God deserves it
There is no sacrifice that compares to that of our Lord Jesus. While we have responsibilities and live our lives, we are only preparing for the coming Kingdom where will have no other desire than to bow before God’s throne. This is simply a small window where we join with the host of heaven who “day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty — the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (Revelation 4:8). I tell our students constantly “there is no better way to spend a Friday night than in the presence of the Almighty.” He is our Creator, Father, Savior, Lord, and Friend. No place I’d rather be!