As I sit here today, I am coming off of about four hours sleep following one of the worst three-week stretches I’ve ever had with my neighbors. This place has always classified as the “Cary hood” as I call it, but these new neighbors of mine are a real mess. Every night for the past three weeks, they have managed to keep me up. One night their windshield got smashed because they owed someone money, another their tires were slashed, still others fighting in the parking lot or loudly revving engines and radios at all hours of the night, loud and obnoxious, keeping the whole neighborhood up. So when God told me to re-start our prayer line and have it at midnight, I figured I’d just be awake by default since I’ve been awake the past three weeks in a row, every night, at least part of the night. Thus I was rather surprised when I found myself drifting off around 11:30 PM because, lo and behold, there was no noise whatsoever in the neighborhood last night.
Drifting off or not, I shook it off and restarted our prayer line, at midnight, in obedience to God. We’re calling it “Midnight Manifestation.” Many of our prayers seem to be answered, figured out, or properly understood in the “midnight hour,” thus the connection with “midnight manifestation.” But I’ll openly admit that while I understood that my apartment’s noise was enough to keep me up all night, I did wonder why God was instructing this as a mandate to involve other people. One of the main reasons I stopped hosting my prayer call before was due to lack of participation. Originally the prayer call met on Fridays, then Mondays and Fridays, then we went to Fridays, then Sundays, until it reached a point where hosting it seemed like a waste because we weren’t getting enough people interested in it to come on regularly, thus the line went on hiatus. Even though I did try to get it up again at different points, it wound up on a looonnnggg hiatus because nothing seemed to motivate participation. So imagine my logic, thinking it seemed difficult to get people on the call at a civilized hour, let alone in the middle of the night, during the workweek.
When we got on last night, I was already tired. I could hear the tired in the voices of the others who made the commitment to be on and who came on regardless of how tired they were, how many hours it was going to be before they had to get up to go to work, or how long ago they’d gotten off work. When it was time, we came together in accordance with the verse I read when we started, Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) We prayed and supported each other, and the longer the call went on, I started to realize all the reasons why God requires the new call, the new line, the new hour for the call to be at midnight.
The call is new, and we do it at the literal hour of the new day – Midnight is the time of day when days change. We don’t tend to think of it in this way because we think of day as being our workday or the time from the coming of the sun to its setting. And, in a certain sense, I understand where we get this from: Biblical days run from sunset to sunset. The catch to this is that we don’t live in Biblical times anymore and we live on a steady, universal schedule where each literal 24-hour day starts at midnight and ends right before midnight. When we start talking about God coming through in the “midnight hour,” we’re referring to our current understanding of time running out, of a day having only a few minutes left before the next begins. The midnight hour represents newness, a new start even though it is dark and no one is awake, and a passing of things from one to another, even though it is missed by so many people so often.
We’re going to avoid the temptation to be all “deep” and “super spiritual” at midnight – If God wants to reveal something to us or we truly desire to receive from Him, we need to empty ourselves of ourselves. All our brilliant-sounding spirituality sounds like nothing before God, and all the complex theologies and theories we form to sound smarter than we are don’t hold up in the presence of the Divine, the Almighty. Too often, we approach things like prayer lines or calls with the intent to dazzle others on the line with what we perceive to be brilliant spiritual thoughts, only to confuse others and sound stupid in the long-run. If we are tired from the day, we aren’t going to be as apt to try and impress everyone else, and this gives the line the perfect opportunity to be about whatever God wants it to be about. Being on late at night takes the desire to be noted as the best pray-er and word-giver out of the equation.
Along the same lines, midnight prayer opens us up to both pray honestly and receive honestly – If there is one thing I can’t stand, that sends me into head-banging-against-the-wall mode every time, it is people who ask for prayer and then argue the prayer or argue the word you give them in response to their request. If your heart is genuine, then you are seeking prayer for an answer from God, not to dictate the request and the answer all-in-one. If we are standing still and waiting for God late at night, the temptation to be argumentative is not going to be so tempting.
It forces us to be less selfish and more thoughtful in our prayers – I reached a point with our old prayer line where I just couldn’t pray for one more person’s finances. Even now, I refuse to pray for people to find spouses or dates. When it comes down to it, I believe that one of the best things we can pray for is God’s will in someone’s life. The problem comes in when someone has their own will in mind and starts praying for that specific thing to manifest within the will of God, whether it is God’s will, or not. If you start to break down the prayer lives of many Christians, there’s a mighty fine line between what they decree and declare and witchcraft because they have never learned the proper way to pray and the proper way to approach prayer. If we are praying late at night and we handle requests along with prayer for one another, it is going to force all of us to be more careful and interested about what we genuinely want prayer for and what we desire others to agree with us to change or come to pass.
We need to learn how to pray – Prayer is one of the most forgotten aspects of Christianity today and it disturbs me that we have done away with the concept of prayer in favor of “decreeing and declaring.” Some people are so disrespectful in what they claim to be prayer that they sound as if they are barking at God, circumstances, and people to “line up” with whatever it is they want. This has taught us that communication with God is a demand rather than a petition and we’re missing the point that our relationship with God, our prayer with God, is a part of becoming one with Him and with His will. If we force true prayer – not endless preaching, not giving endless word, not calling things out on a prayer line, not even using a prayer line for an altar call, but focusing on the point of a prayer line as just that – prayer – it makes us all look at prayer and change our interaction with God for the better.
God is requiring us to “press through” – Having a prayer call at midnight is not a convenient time for most people. It’s an hour when most are either sleeping, getting ready for bed, kicking back and relaxing, or doing something else unrelated to prayer. That means those who make the commitment to come on are pressing their way to believe for God’s manifestation in the midnight hour. Too much of what we do in church revolves around people’s convenience and availability. Before we do anything, we ask everyone when they can be on, and yes, we think we’re doing a good thing. We think we are going to get everyone’s available times and coordinate it into a time when everyone is available. What we are doing, in actuality, is finding out when people will not be available. The odds of everyone in a group (even if it is small) coordinating one scheduled time to be available is unlikely, and when people tell us when they ARE best available, they are also telling us that if we don’t have it at that specific time, they won’t be there. Giving people too much input in when we do things has led to us cancelling events and projects time and time again because we are giving people too wide a door to be uninvolved. If you make something inconvenient on purpose, picking a time when it seems no one will be reasonable available, that shows who is really with you and who is not, who is serious and who is just along for show. Doing things at midnight: the hour of darkness, the hour of secret things of God teaches us about manifestation, and how it comes forth. Manifestation comes when we seek His face and seek Him in the secret place, the secret hour, more than when it’s easy to do so. Anyone can show up at church, fresh-scrubbed and bright-eyed, ready to show off their incredible spiritual thoughts with their gigantic Bible in hand. It’s a lot harder to lie or pretend to be something you’re not when it’s time for the secret place to emerge. God calls us to be press-through-ers, not people who dance during the dawn and sleep through the secret places.
We’re on the call every Wednesday night/Thursday morning at 12 AM (EST). If you’re ready to press and manifest, then be sure to call in and join us, because we will be there. (218) 548-0975 code 955321#. See you in the midnight hour.
© 2016 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.