If you missed it, this week I’m posting about my experience with seven days observing the seven sacred pauses. Today I’m writing about my experience with the night watch – or the midnight pause. I may or may not have a chance to experience the night watch every day, but last night was perfect since I knew I would be up running through final edits of my book manuscript due today.
This is how Jen Hatmaker describes the prayer of the night watch, “This is a deep, even dark prayer of waiting and interceding, keeping vigil with Christ who never sleeps and guards us in our darkest hours (Isa. 40:28). The Night Watch advocates for others in a dark night of the soul: the suffering, abandoned, oppressed, lonely.”
This is a time when I have the honor of standing side by side those suffering in this moment. The mother in the cancer ward. The prostitute on the street corner. The child planning his parent’s funeral. The drug addict in the alleyway. The impoverished, enslaved, encumbered, downtrodden, broken, anguished, and alone. This is when I silently intercede on their behalf.
The scripture guiding the night watch is: My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. (Psalm 119: 148)
My prayer this midnight was Romans 8:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death….I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us….We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose….What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I set out with my Bible open but I ended up not reading it. I sat with the heaviest of hearts. I felt as if a rock was sitting on it. After I offered some confessions of my own, I had not been an example of what God is all about, I prayed for those in need. I felt so confounded by so much of what could be happening, marital abuse, intoxicated drivers, emergency room vigils, and on and on. I did feel a sense of solidarity in standing with those in the midst of a struggle. I stayed on my knees in the silence and prayed and listened and searched for God in the middle of it all.