8:45 A.M. When you’re a Night Watcher, this is a frightening time to set your alarm. I had to do it Sunday morning, and as I flipped the switch to activate my alarm, I have to admit I was pained on the inside. What on earth am I doing…?
It all began yesterday with The Call Nashville, 07-07-07. IHOP was showing the GOD TV simulcast at FSM from 10am-10pm, in order that we could maintain our intercession here in Kansas City, but at the same time join in with the work of the Lord in Nashville. My roommate Wendy and I both wanted to be to the solemn assembly at noon.
Now, that doesn’t leave much room for sleep for a Night Watcher under any conditions, but we got caught up in conversation that night (early morning) and did not get to bed in good time. All in all it resulted in us getting about 4 hours of sleep, heading into nine to ten hours of intercession.
The solemn assembly was amazing. It was so encouraging to see the FSM building packed out with IHOP family, joining with a gigantic crowd in Nashville to pray. It was wonderful to see the corporate body that God is raising up, and the prayer movement that truly is not limited to our little house of prayer. There was also a very unique grace to fast and pray; I’ve been to a couple of Call gatherings in the past, and usually for me there were sweet spots of prayer with some difficult, dry times of plowing in between. However, I only looked at my watch a couple times through the entire 9+ hours I was there, and I never felt bored or distracted. Even watching the event via the projectors, and not being able to be there live, it was incredibly easy to engage in prayer. Short story: it was definitley worth getting up for.
But it also made the next day look really, really “exciting”…
Stuart Greaves was going to be preaching at FCF that day, in the morning and evening sessions both. He does this occasionally — which amazes me every time that he is able to stand in front of a room full of people at (gasp) 10:00 A.M., and manage to be not only coherent, but alert and preaching with energy. However, while I marveled at Stuart’s schedule flexibility, I never once was tempted to go to the morning session to hear him. I simply blessed the Lord for sleep and took a good full eight hours to enjoy that blessing.
This Sunday, however, was different. Stuart gave the NightWatch leadership teams about a week’s notice that he would be preaching about the importance of the NightWatch. And he wanted us to be there to pray for people. At both services.
My first thought was, Are you nuts? But then I immediately realized that if he was going to the morning service, he knew fully what that entailed and what it would mean for us to go there. It’s not like we could gripe, “But Stuart, we’re on the NightWatch” (which is usually enough to get out of an early appointment when some well meaning day person doesn’t understand why we don’t want to get up at 10:00 A.M.).
My second thought was, Why not? It’s just one day. This will be fun. In fact, for me, it was kind of nostalgic, because in my second track of FITN, they made us go to the morning service every week. Yeah. That was kind of a mess. There’s a reason the interns don’t have to do that any more. But anyway.
So I had already purposed in my heart to go to the early service, and was actually really enjoying the idea of pulling an all-nighter (or maybe in my case, an “all-dayer”). I then found out that Wendy wanted to go, too, and we planned on making a fun day out of it by showing up to the service on time and then going out to eat afterwards. It occurred to us that it was the day after the solemn assembly, and it occurred to us that it would be pretty intense, but it still sounded fun.
And then we got four hours of sleep the night before the solemn assembly.
After a full day of prayer (the solemn assembly plus normal NightWatch), Wendy got to turn in a little bit early (5:30 A.M.), but I was on duty until 6:00. And then I came back home after my debriefing, and had to set my alarm for 8:45… A.M. Ouch.
Which brings us to where we began this blog post…
The alarm went off, and it was definitely difficult to get out of bed. However, once I got moving, I felt better than I would have expected. Basically I had what amounted to a two hour nap. I got dressed, hit Higher Grounds for some espresso, and we went to FCF.
We got there at 9:30, per Stuart’s request, so we could sit together towards the front of the room. All in all, thirty to forty of us night owls showed up. We were all a little loopy — some of us had napped, some of us had just stayed up all morning — but it was so good to all team up and do something extreme together. On the spur of the moment, we piled up on the bleachers at the back of the room to take a group picture (as if we look any different at 9:45 A.M. than we do in the afernoons…). It made me love my co-laborers in the night all the more. I work with some great people.
Then the service began, and can I just say that Stuart absolutely hit that message out of the park. He spoke very clearly about the call of the NightWatch and its place in the prayer movement. I know it was touching people in the room, but I also found my own heart being tremendously encouraged as I was reminded of what I do and why I do it. That alone was worth sacrificing some sleep for.
The best part for me, though, was the ministry time. Normally, working the prayer lines for me feels a lot less like a privelege than it does a sacrificial service. But this morning, as I was praying for people who had a heart to someday stand and intercede in the night, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was so much grace there to pray for people. I was hearing the Lord on a level that is rare for me. Every person I prayed for confirmed what I was hearing about them, one in particular in a very clear, direct way. I was almost disappointed when we ran out of people to pray for, because I was excited that it was actually working. This is admittedly not a great statement about my normal level of faith, but praise God, He’s gracious and patient as He keeps working on me.
Wendy and I then went out for lunch (Mexican food… yum). It was a little weird to be eating lunch at noon for the first time in years. We returned home for another two-ish hours of sleep, and then turned right back around for the evening FCF.
Even though it was the same message, the atmosphere was so different. It had been very sweet and powerful in the morning, and now in the evening, it was very fiery and urgent. Stuart hit a couple of really intense points in the message that made me want to sign up for NightWatch all over again. I loved hearing the same sermon from two quite different angles.
Now it’s a bit after 1:00 A.M. Sunday night/Monday morning. And I’m a complete space cadet. But I am so glad we took these two days to put sleep on the sidelines and go after God. He has met us with such wonderful grace and strength that I find my heart quite overwhelmed with gratitude. He is so kind to us and so good at leading us into love and fascination! Now to finish out the NightWatch and take my place as a watchman on the wall…