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RECOLLECTIONS OF PRAYER-WALKING and NIGHT WATCHING


by Jacques More

''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 praying.

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 this time.

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 bit.

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'.



Ref. S.041

© copyright Jacques More 1995. All Rights Reserved.

 
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