“Why am I going to bed at 10:30 p.m. only to get up at 11:45 p.m. for a two-hour time of prayer?”
These were my thoughts as I joined six of my friends in getting into our sleeping bags on a hard church basement floor.
The others didn’t share my reservation, I suppose, although they were as tired as I was.
My friends are Korean Christian Reformed Church pastors, and prayer seems to be part of the Korean spiritual DNA. Tired as we were from a rigorous travel and prayer schedule, the idea of a late night (early morning?) prayer vigil was not so strange to them.
I was with them in Canterbury, England, on an event called the “UK Prayer Mission 2014.” Our team was one of 30 teams, numbering 450 people, gathered in 30 different communities across England to pray for revival.
One hundred years ago the churches of this nation so blessed the world, and the Korean church in particular, as they sent missionaries around the globe.
And now the churches in the UK are emptying, closing, being sold into use as nightclubs and mosques.
Rev. Nam So Choi, a visionary pastor in Korea, worked with other globally focused Christian leaders to plan this Prayer Mission, held from Sept 11-17, 2014.
We, as seven pastors from the Christian Reformed Church, were among the few from America that were present. Most of the participants were from Korea, praying for Great Britain, their spiritual grandmother.
All of us were committed to looking to the God who can move mountains, who can bring light to the deepest darkness, who can literally raise the dead.
But why should I get up at 11:45 p.m.? Midnight seems to be an inconvenient and unconventional time for two hours of prayer?
Isn’t sleeping on a hard church floor enough to show my devotion? I thought of this as I tried to sneak in a few minutes of sleep before waking for midnight prayer.
I remembered times in my life when it seemed the night was just starting at midnight: those late night hours with the one who became my wife are still among the most precious hours of my life.
Love changes our body clock. I remembered times when each of my children, now adults, faced adolescent challenges and temptations that made my sleep at midnight an occasional impossibility. The need for prayer at that hour was much more of a priority than the need for sleep.
Finally, I brought to mind the numerous times as a pastor when I would leave the house at midnight, bound to come alongside of a parishioner or a community friend in crisis. I felt honored to miss my appointed sleep time and to be on the front lines representing God and his people.
So, could I re-frame this midnight call? Could I discover in the dark hours of night a love for God similar to my love for my wife, my children, and God’s people?
Would I remove any sense of martyrdom and, rather, embrace the privilege of joining with 449 others who were going to combine voices in prayer? Could I express a passion for the people of the UK through two hours of midnight prayer?
Rather than tell you about it, I invite you to consider the challenge yourself. Find something worth praying for, and find some people who believe in a God who answers prayer, and plan a midnight prayer vigil.
Let me know if you need a Korean companion to help you find the way. Our denomination is blessed with many who will come alongside of you.