Yesterday, my church started a 24-hour prayer marathon. The idea is that people sign up to pray for 1 hour at the church creating a constant stream of prayers offered over the course of the 24 hours. To prepare for this event, prayer cards were submitted listing people or things that needed prayer. We’ve had these events before and honestly I didn’t make enough effort to participate. The idea of praying for 1 solid hour seemed a little overwhelming. This year, I decided I was going to participate, and I signed up for a late shift, 11 p.m. – 12 p.m. Staying up late is a challenge for me. I really like my sleep. I really, really like my sleep. To make this more impactful to me personally, I decided to sign up for a late shift.
As the day and hour got closer, I’ll admit that part of me was dreading the thought of leaving the house at 10:45 and not getting home until after midnight. I started coming down with a sinus infection and the thought of curling up on the couch with a warm blanket was very appealing. I had some coffee at 10:15 p.m. and even set an alarm in case I fell asleep ahead of time because I knew I couldn’t miss my shift. I arrived a few minutes early, got my prayer cards, and found my spot on a pew to start my hour of prayer. Each prayer card had a handwritten prayer request as well as the following verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “pray without ceasing”. How appropriate as I was about to pray without ceasing for 1 hour.
To my surprise, the hour went by fast. I barely made it through the stack of cards I had in front of me. I was able to weave in some of my own prayer requests as well as prayers of thanks along the way. Who knew that praying for 1 hour could be so “easy”? I knew I would leave feeling rewarded but honestly the reward was bigger than I could ever imagine. Then a little guilt began to sit in. Why have I never sat down and truly prayed for a long period of time. Sure, I pray and talk to God frequently but sadly, my talks and prayers have never been for a solid hour in length. How many things do I choose to do in my personal life on a daily basis that take 1 hour or more of my time that I don’t have to psych myself up for? Why have I never put as much emphasis on my prayer life?
In my stack of cards, I saw things and people that either I didn’t know to pray for or have forgotten to keep praying for. The funny thing about all of this is I am a true list person. Lists are my go to way to make sure I get done what I need to and remember things that do not need to be forgotten. Why have I never taken the time to put my prayers on a list to remind me of what I need to pray for or who I’ve promised I will pray for? Why have I never carved out time to pray and talk to God for an extended period of time?
With the hustle & bustle of life, I think we make time for what we want to make priorities. If you ever get the opportunity to participate in a prayer marathon, sign up! Or, don’t wait for it, make a list of things and people to pray for and set aside 1 hour of devoted, distraction free time to pray and talk to God. My one hour of prayer was truly an eye opening experience for me. When I left the church to drive home, the song “Sweet Hour of Prayer” was in my head. It’s funny how those words never really touched me until now. What a sweet hour my 11 p.m. prayer shift was! I think I was rewarded as much as those I was praying for!