I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
- 1 John 5:13-14
“God has said, ‘If my people … pray … then will I hear from heaven.’ Before three thousand people were brought into the Church on the day of Pentecost, the disciples had spent ten days in prayer, fasting, and spiritual travail. God desires that Christians be concerned and burdened for a lost world. If we pray this kind of prayer, an era of peace may come to the world and the hordes of wickedness may be turned back.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham (December 14)
Have you ever been involved in a prayer vigil? They should be done often, but they are hard to set up and if you are the organizer and you insist that there are two people in the church praying for a full 24 hours, guess who is pulling the majority of the graveyard shift? Off about midnight no one will want any time slots for the next six hours. After you organize one, you will not wish to do it again. I have not organized one, but I knew two organizers well.
What is a prayer vigil? What I have been involved in is a church with some important decisions to make will ask the congregation to have one or two people praying for an hour, but overall, from one point in time to a point 24 hours later, there will be someone praying constantly. With two people, they usually rotate one every half hour. Invariably, one person packs up to leave a little early and the next person barely gets there on time and takes 5-10 minutes to get started. Thus, at least one person is praying, and usually for a specific topic.
If you have done that, how long did it take you to run out of things to say? But Scripture says that we should pray continually, 1 Thessalonians 5:17. How can we do as God commands us to do when we cannot pray continually for 30 minutes? Of course, if you are on our church’s prayer team, reading the list takes about an hour, and that is just reading it, not earnestly praying for the roughly 500 people, families or institutions.
In the case of a well-organized prayer vigil, the organizers instruct each prayer warrior to either go on their own or follow a guide. The guide will approach the same subject from a variety of angles, praying for ten minutes on six ways of looking at the same subject. Then the organizers have several Scripture references for each angle of looking at the subject. Thus, if necessary, you read each Scripture and pray over that Scripture.
One of the Honor Books Publishing Devotions on Prayer (that I have used a couple of times) has at least one concept on why we pray continually. The longer we pray does not affect God as much as it draws us closer to God. We learn from the process. I have learned a lot from the two prayer vigils that I have participated in. And sadly, the church that hosted both of them has made many more than two big decisions. Sure, there are a variety of techniques and methods.
I have noticed that Satan stands at the door, and as soon as I take my focus off Jesus, thus an interruption in my praying, Satan is right there, ready to pounce. You would think that I had run him off by now, but God has more for me to learn. I may stumble. I may resist temptation, but I always learn from the experience. And if I stumble, I get back up.
And God teaches us a lot about Himself when we pray. We get closer to Him when we pray more. And it gives us ample time to hear His voice speaking to us.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.