What is the Prayer Vigil?
We started an annual prayer vigil in the mid 1960s beginning with 24 hours, then expanded it to 40 hours to equal the time between Jesus death and resurrection. The following are some thoughts to ponder regarding joining in to spend one hour in God’s house in heart-felt prayer.
1. GOD DESERVES IT
God has blessed us so richly. He DESERVES our time in prayer. First and foremost, He created us and He loves us with an amazing, indescribable love; so much that He sacrificed what was nearest and dearest to His heart on our behalf: to save us wretched sinners from eternal death. He has bestowed on us blessing after blessing, meeting our every need. We will never be able to thank, praise, and worship Him adequately for all of His blessings to us. We could (should) spend much time in thanksgiving each day.
2. GOD DESIRES IT
When God created Adam and Eve, He walked and talked with them on a daily basis until they separated themselves from Him by sinning. However, His DESIRE to be in relationship did not end. He revealed Himself to Noah, the patriarchs, to Israel in the tabernacle, then the temple, and finally to us in sending Jesus: Immanuel…God with us. If the King and creator of the universe wants to spend time with us, shouldn’t we desire that too?
He desires our time with Him, but also our dependence on Him. Even Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing” (John 5:30). If Jesus needed God’s power to do His work, you can be sure we do. Surrendering our will to God’s will ensures power in prayer, in obedience, in service.
3. GOD DELIGHTS IN IT
Our desire and effort to spend time with Him also DELIGHTS His heart. Those of you with children, don’t you find it delightful when they actually desire to spend time with you? We all like to spend time with those we love. If we say we love Jesus, then the desire of our hearts will be to spend time with Him.
4. GOD’S WORK IN OUR WORLD DEPENDS ON IT
God pours out His storehouse of blessings only when we ask. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you ” (Matt. 7:7). God wants to hear our requests. When we ask and He gives, we are more aware that He indeed hearts and answers our prayers. His giving is also tied to our obedience. God doesn’t reward His children for disobedience.
Exactly how our prayers affect God’s answers will always be a mystery in some ways. He will not say yes if it would hurt us or others. Sometimes our waiting for the answer grows our relationship with him, changes us into more of what He wants us to be.
Our world is filled with dire needs. People are dying without knowing Jesus; people are starving to death, living in ignorance and poverty. Many are persecuted and/or oppressed. We have no power to fix the world. But…God does. If we care for others, we need to be praying to the One who can and will answer, fix, save.
I too am in dire need. I have no power to fix myself, let alone the world. I need His power every moment of every day to live a life of obedience. You do too.
Now all of this talks about why we need to pray. The next question is why we need to pray at the church for this prayer vigil. First of all, we need to be praying day by day, keeping the lines of communication open between us and God. The prayer vigil is an act of obedience, watching for an hour with the Savior during this time. It is good spiritual preparation, preparing our hearts with a time of remembrance of all that He suffered and sacrificed on our behalf. It is a time to join as a whole church to beg God to intervene in our lives, the lives of our children, our church, our nation, our world. An hour of concentrated prayer brings us closer to our Lord. In the quietness of the prayer room, it gives us an opportunity to ask God, as David did in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me…” Now this is risky, because He is sure to find something offensive there. The good news is that we can bring it out and with His power, deal with it.
Everyone I have talked with who has participated in the prayer vigil has found it to be a blessing to them. I would encourage you to try it and see if it might be a blessing to your as well. It will also be a blessing to God’s heart to spend that time with you.