So I’m back on social media. First time in years. I’ve been praying and asking God that whatever is to come up next in my life is all for Him. Before you continue reading – say a quick prayer that this #1thingisneeded effort works for His glory. Nothing else.
There are very few things I pick over sleep. I’m one of those guys that loves to nap, enjoys sleeping in till 1 pm, and has to set 6 alarms to ring before getting up. Probably, like most guys.
There’s just something about having the AC at 72 degrees, with the fan on, under the covers, three pillows (for the Trinity, of course. Kidding.) that make you never want to leave. I mean, I could lounge in bed day and night without a problem. I’d get up to eat something and head back to my cocoon, ready to hibernate in the cold.
This got me thinking – what is the connection between sleep, and my relationship with heaven? Is there one at all?
This question comes to mind when we pray Psalm 1 –
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
If I’m gonna be honest (here and in my prayer)…I definitely didn’t meditate over night yesterday. Is this even possible? How?! Joshua advises us:
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8, NKJV)
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34b, NKJV)
In The Way of the Pilgrim, (if you haven’t read it – do it) a man repeats the ‘Jesus Prayer’ during his travels. It takes him practice, but eventually gets to saying it 10,000 times each day. That’s 416 times an hour. Almost 7 times a minute. 1 time every 8.5 seconds!
My Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Now you know I enjoy arithmetic – but it was inspiring to read that his tongue was so used to praying these words, it would continue automatically, even in his sleep. He basically said nothing else – try praying it aloud. Takes only a few seconds. Ahh, the beauty of praising Him! Can you imagine how nice it would be to pray every eight seconds? How smooth would our day go!? And if it was not smooth – how much more equipped we’d be to handle its difficulties, and fight our battles!
So – I have a question for you: what is your default setting? If you haven’t been praying throughout this reading, take a second and dig deep. Is it my default to pray? Or is prayer something I need to ‘be in the mood’ for? Is it difficult, or is it the want of my heart? Is it something I squeeze in? Have you ever devoted a night for God? I plan so many other types of nights.
Lord, change my heart to pray by default. To seek you day and night. This will need You to ‘create in me a clean heart, O God’.
But let’s be real. To praise Him day and night…even while writing this, I struggle with it. King David did it so often though! And mentioned it in his writings –
My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?” (Psalms 42:3, NKJV)
Here, he’s weeping to the Lord. He’s confident, day and night, in his Creator, in spite of the disbelief of those around him. Just like Job, who wept in his difficult times to God even though he heard negativity –
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9, NKJV)
Comfort? None. They had security though. Their efforts day and night brought them to know themselves more, spending time alone with Him, thereby knowing God more. So may our meditation on spending day and night for Him teach us persistence in our pursuit. Hold strong. Prayer of the night is different. That’s when its inconvenient. When I have to give up my precious sleep for it. My rest. My comfort. Give it up for what? Isn’t it enough to just do whats simple? Cool, comfortable blankets. Snooze buttons. Gotta get out of my comfort zone.
Prayer: the key of the day, and the lock of the night (Thomas Fuller)
Lets take an example. One of my favorite people in the Bible is Nehemiah. He certainly makes my top 10. Prayerful, brave, honest, firm, faithful. He got things done; a doer. He built others up. He knew 1thingisneeded. I admire it. Lord, give me some of that in my character.
He lived to serve. His heart went out to his people who were struggling, when he heard about the broken-ness of the people of Jerusalem. Check this:
And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. (Nehemiah 1:3-6, NKJV)
I can’t get enough of this passage. Its a fiery prayer – read the chapter people! He was praying and repenting on their behalf, asking forgiveness for their sins. How beautiful it is to repent for myself and my brother! That 1thingis(definitely)needed in my life. How selfless of Nehemiah! His plea before the Throne of Grace was heard, Jerusalem’s wall and the temple were rebuilt. Above that, the people of Israel restored their relationship with God. Day and night gets results.
Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night. (Nehemiah 4:9, NKJV)
This spirit of prayer he spread was contagious. While the children of God were rebuilding the wall, there was an alertness about their life that was not there before. They kept the enemy of the enemy out of the city. Staying in a prayerful stance day and night will keep destruction out. Defense – always ready. Day and night is the struggle for watchfulness. Girding yourself and staying prepared at all times.
Christ told the disciples in all 4 gospels –
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41, NKJV)
This is what the desert fathers struggle towards, keeping their wakefulness even when resting. Indeed, I am weak. But am I allowing my spirit to act? Or, do I suppress my spirit with my flesh. This is the constant struggle. St Symeon the New Theologian says:
Whoever fears the Lord will not fear the sickly attacks of demons or the threats of evil people. Like a flame or a burning fire, he goes about day and night through dark and hidden places, and instead of fleeing from the demons he makes them flee from him, so as not to be scorched by the flaming rays of divine fire that pour from him.
This gave me a new take on being ‘the light of the world’. Bring on the darkness. I will pray day and night. Bring on the fight – I can pour forth the Divine Fire when I pursue unity with God, relentlessly.
But not alone. WE shall pray. WE shall pour out. WE shall light up the world. We can bring change to this generation by straining. By weeping. By repenting. By being fires in the day and night. Let us set the world on fire with His love (love that song…)
This post wouldn’t be complete without bringing St Paul into it. This is from the 1st letter he wrote, and the 1st thing written in our New Testament –
For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? (1 Thessalonians 3:9-10, NKJV)
He thanked and prayed day and night. We too can be like him. Lord, strengthen us to imitate him. Thereby imitating You as well, Who prayed through the night at Gethsemane.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
Day and night is what will happen in heaven. Non-stop we will be in awe of an Awesome God. Day and night we will worship. How perfect? This is what we’ve got to look towards. This is our hope.
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lam who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:13-15, NKJV)
So I’ve resolved to try a change in my life, and I hope you can join me. At least 1 night this week, we will spend completely with the Lord. Phone off, focused on Him. 1 morning this week, I will rise earlier than normal and meet Him. We will pray the ‘Jesus Prayer’ daily. It will neither be comfortable, nor convenient. But we will plan for it and pursue His commandment and example.
My Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Guys and gals, 1thingisneeded (or 1verseisneeded here) –
And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require (1 Kings 8:59, NKJV)
Be well. Stand firm.
P.S. Please pray for 1thingisneeded! We’ve got plans coming up. Use the #1thingisneeded in your posts so we can spread the news. Go like our fb page too!