''Lord, If you will let me live, if I am not to come home after all, then
Lord, use my life to bring the maximum number of people to come to know Jesus''
said the young man while walking that dark winter's night in 1981.
As that young man at the age of 23, I had begun to make a habit to go for a
walk at night. This was my assured way of getting time with my God. The
alternative, normal to other folk, to pray in my own room, had proved
impossible. I had woken so many times at 2 or 3 in the morning fully clothed, on
my knees, having fallen fast asleep. My desire for spending time with the Lord
began to be met only as I would go for a walk into the night. I would slip out
quietly so no one would notice and sometimes on returning, obtain only a few
hours sleep. The rest spent walking country lanes and in parks singing and
There was the time as I walked back through Sevenoaks, on my way back home
at about 3 in the morning, that as I went down the hill past the Vine cricket
pitch I noticed a fox casually walking across the main road. When it heard me,
it looked at me as if to say 'what on earth are you doing up at this time; this
is my time of night!' and moved on as if annoyed and bemused at seeing a man at
On one of the first nights attempts at this prayer walking I found myself
burdened with so many things to pray for. However, as soon as I was into my
stride the first thing that came to mind was to begin by singing a song or two
to the Lord. They each began by either the words or the tune first in my mind
prior to starting them. Then, as soon as I had finished one song another had
popped into my head and, dutifully I enjoined in the next one. Singing with
gusto and a loud voice whenever I was out of earshot in the country lanes and a
bit more muffled in other parts. Raising my hands on occasion when out of sight
and 'more controlled' when elsewhere. This particular night I don't recall
actually making one prayer at all. But, as I sang, my thoughts went from one
need to the next. And since there was a constant stream of songs one after the
other I did not want to stop the flow. What I did find is that the very words of
the songs spoke into those prayer needs to the Lord, as if in prayer or, to me.
Sometimes the next song answered the need as if the Lord had heard and was
telling me so. This particular night, to my recollection, has proved to be one
of the most powerful I have ever experienced in terms of seeing answers to
prayer. And yet on that occasion I did not utter a word of prayer.
Making yourself watch in the night by prayer-walking is a form of fasting.
It is giving up on needed sleep. Just as food fasting is giving up on needed
food. As a car mechanic in a full time job at a local garage and working on
Fellowship cars in the evenings for the sake of 'the Ministry', sleep is one
thing I needed. But time with my Lord had proved so difficult since my eyes had
not been able to stay open in my attempts at prayer by my bedside. So into the
night I walked. When at work the next day I would sometimes get a headache and,
as soon as I mentioned the fact that it was there to the Lord, it went. Not
forgetting that for me, this was a season when I had no other serious means of
spending personal time with the Lord.
On another night I was walking and singing in this wooded country lane and I
heard the sound of a car approaching in the distance from behind. I felt the
sense of needing to be non visible and, as I made to make a slight jump into the
trees I felt like all the muscles in my body had been activated by the Spirit
and a mighty leap sideways ensued. As the car went speeding by I saw that it was
a Police car. I suppose the Lord did not want me at that time to explain what I
was doing in the middle of the night 'walking for a bit of fresh air (-Officer)'
miles from anywhere. It is as if the Lord was protecting me from the
misunderstanding of others.
Rain was another thing I found protection from. It was as if it would rain
around me or, after me when I had passed a certain point. I went through Knole
Park one night and as I passed under this tree, the heavens opened with a
downpour. I waited a bit and as I left the tree's covering there was no more
rain for the rest of the next part of the walk until I was under cover again.
This was quite a wet night, but I did not end up wet. There was no 'tell-tale'
about the night's walk when I returned home; no sign that I had been out. I
lived in this Fellowship home with a couple and their two sons and to this day I
don't know if they knew of my night activities. Just as Jesus taught to fast in
secret, so I was walking in secret (Matthew 6:18). As I would return to my small
corner room, even for a few small hours, sleep was sweet. It was at this time
that I learned to trust to be woken up.
I made an attempt, me being 'the mechanic', at fixing my alarm clock. Only
to find myself with a big unwound spring and bits everywhere. This was one of my
definite failures. But what was I going to do about waking up in the morning. I
deliberated as to whether I could ask the Lord and trust him to wake me up. Was
this a bit presumpteous of me? Sure, he could wake me up, but what about the
time I wanted waking up? I still had a watch to tell me the time, but what if I
woke up late and got late for work? Well, I reasoned with myself. I only need to
try it once. And, if I am late, then I know I should not rely on this idea again
even if that does mean I will be late this one time. Was I prepared to do that?
I made the jump. I asked the Lord If I could be, if He would, wake me up at a
certain time the next morning. He did.
I found him faithful, so faithful, that for many years I have not used an
alarm clock. Sometimes I do not ask. And he does not wake me, but he always has
when I have asked. Sometimes he has woken me and it was earlier, or in the
night, and these when I have been faithful have been used and needed for prayer.
One thing is clear and I must emphasise it, though he has used many means to
wake me, in perfect time, the responsibility, and the doing of, the actual
getting up - with a few extreme exceptions - is always on my own
head to do. And there have been times when I have not, and have gone back to
sleep. The Christian life is a partnership, a joint yoke. He does one bit, we do
the other (Matthew 11:29). There is no more progress for us if only he does his
The need to find another means to spend time with the Lord was more as a
result of my knees and falling asleep on them than anything else. I had found
them to ache so much that when walking past The Vine one day on the way to a
Bible study night meeting in Sevenoaks, I asked the Lord how could I spend time
in prayer when my knees ached so much? Since the time I had come to know the
Lord, I had developed the habit of always spending my personal time with him as
a time on my knees, particularly by my bed. So spending time with him had to me
become synonymous to spending it on my knees where such sweet fellowship I had
often found. So it was a distressing thing for me to find I could not
physically, because of aching knees, spend this 'traditional' time. He replied
in a short sentence which opened up for me a release to spend different ways
with the Lord. It set me free from the 'religious' mindset of particular
methodology. These were thoughts in my mind, which I recognised as not my own,
and 'fresh', speaking into the need as a direct result of the request. He said,
'Sit, walk, stand'.
As I walked on a bit further I recalled, having been in charge of a small
Christian library for the local Christian Youth Fellowship Association group in
Westerham, where I used to live, that this was also the title of a book. The
author I recalled was Watchman Nee, a Chinese. As I remembered this, I then
burst out laughing. The Lord had not just met my need in reply to my question,
but he had also shared a joke with me. This was all in reply to my need to
'Watch - ma - knee'.