An hour can pass in a flash if am watching an interesting programme; reading, doing a jigsaw maybe, or even chatting on the phone, but ask me to pray for an hour? That is a different story.
In our fellowship we begin the year with a special week of prayer. Monday we met as ladies, Tuesday was our usual church prayer meeting. Wednesday we were asked to meet up with a friend. Thursday was a special service of prayer and praise, but Friday over Saturday was supposed to be a very special 24 hours of continuous prayer, when we individually signed up to pray for a specific hour.
Some wonderful people signed up for an hour in the small hours of the morning, but I thought I was choosing an easy option. 6 o’clock in the morning. I am usually awake before then.
Then of course, my habits changed. Now I was afraid of over sleeping, and also daunted by the prospect of a lonely hour just praying.
It is many years ago that we were challenged to commit to an hour of prayer each day. I felt as if I was the only one among the thousand or so present, who did not stand; but I was not prepared to put myself under condemnation if I failed, even one day. I knew that this is no easy commitment.
I explained to my heavenly Father that I really wanted to spend an hour with him, but I could only do it if he helped me.
After that I found a quiet hour passed easily, filled with my daily Bible Study and my ‘wave offerings’ as I call the various prayer letters and photos which remind me of special needs. Sometimes I felt the Holy Spirit coming on me in special times of intercession, but I never had that experience when I found that I had forgotten time. I had a friend who would sit all morning in the presence of the Lord until a neighbour might come to remind her it was time to fetch her son from school. Somehow I was always conscious of the clock.
I asked the Lord, ‘How is it I never get lost in prayer in this way?’ As my heavenly Father, he answered me – ‘Because I have called you to write.’ His answer was such a comfort to me. I have joy in my writing, even as I do in prayer.
But still I was anxious about this special hour, for it was not for Bible Study, or even my ‘Wave Offerings’ but for special intercession for our local church, community and reaching out to our nation.
Five am came and I seemed to have already been awake for ages. I might as well get up. Showered and dressed I staggered about, in no way feeling fit for this special hour.
‘I’ll have to tell our pastor that this is too much for me.’ I grumbled.
Of course it was too much for me. Prayer is a battle field. I remember C.S. Lewis wrote in his book on prayer, ‘Letters to Malcolm,’ something to the effect that however much blessing we have had the last time, that there is always a battle to come to God because we are engaging in spiritual warfare.
Yes! I think we all had a special blessing as we filled our own hour. The Holy Spirit was there. The person filling the previous hour had prayed for me and I was blessed and amazed at how swiftly the hour passed. Yes, sweet hour of prayer indeed, but not because we are good pray-ers, but because the Comforter had come to enable and pray through us.