The All-Nighter’s Hangover
Just before prayer, the fire alarm went off. We were wrapping up the end of our weekly Adventist Youth (A.Y.) program, when the loud noise flooded the church. Israel jokingly remarked, “The church is on fire with the Holy Spirit.” I knew then, I could not go home just yet. Still under the influence of HISDA’s Prayer Vigil, my conglomerated thoughts are as follows:
It was a night no emotional prostitute could outdo. (Quick definition, emotional prostitute: one used to fulfill my personal crave for positive affirmation.) So, I spent it with Him – intensifying as the night stretched on growing sweeter and sweeter with each passing hour.
We often settle our insecurities with the flattery of friendship, or the temporary pain relievers of one-liner clichés from church “family”. Hearing, “Oh, I’ll pray for you sister,” we walk away thinking, “Yeah, sure you will.” It’s one of the things I love about my church. Walk through the door with a problem, and someone will take you to a corner room to connect with the Master Physician. It’s a priceless referral extended free of charge. Take for example, just that night a close friend of mine had experienced that offer after missing A.Y. due to car trouble. Strangers become blood relatives just by talking to God together about real personal issues.
As I sat there I prayed, “I’m tired of medication, Lord. I need a cure.” Never before did the thought of sitting in a metal folder chair in a room with blank white walls, white tile, and white table tops seem so inviting. I’d been patching the bleeding for weeks with mere over-the-counter drugs: weary relationships, diluted Bible study, & the busyness of church “work”. Between the pressures of school and extracurricular responsibilities, I’d been slacking on our relationship. Cheating on God by seeking the counsel of others (my emotional prostitutes) rather than relying fully on Him, I became desperate for Water. So I decided, I needed to play catch-up and reconnect with God through prayer. The bulletin announcement offered my last resort – a prayer vigil…tonight.
My home church is in the process of 1A) planting another church, 1B) building a new facility for our current congregation, and 1C) heading to Colombia to do missionary work. Huge projects demand radical prayer, and yeah I cared about their success – but, I had my own selfish needs to think about. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to spend 12 hours in prayer with those older, wiser, or stronger than me, because I knew He’d be there. And that was ok… Pastor Goodridge began right where I was. Before we could get to intercession, we had to grapple with the “Me”. We spent the first couple hours focusing on the desires of our personal hearts. Through confession we found healing. Oh, the relief. Now I could pray for my church. Now I could truly pray for my brothers and sisters surrounding me at that table. I had dealt with me. No, We had dealt with me.
We went on to read scriptures concerning what prayer is and what it is not. We sang hymns. I loved the hymns. We wrote prayers of Psalms, and shared testimonies. We reflected on Peter as the final hour approached, and then we sang, prayed, sang and prayed and the morning was finally here. Rounding 8AM we broke the fast with bagels & croissants.
I’m not a morning person. I’m not an all-nighter kind of college student (never been). I’m certainly no prayer warrior. I am simply an unworthy stressed out student, fed up with the “disgustingly inactive” stench protruding from far too many a church wall. I shared at the prayer vigil how this frustration has worn on me. They prayed for me. 60 seconds or less of a roomful of individuals (not, just individuals…they’d become my family by this point) praying just for my petty drama. Amazing. And then to pray for each and every other issue in the room. Ironically, I can’t sleep after being deprived, because I’m anxiously thinking about the miraculous petitions and prayers answered just last night.
And so while I’m home today and neeing to go get a few more hours of sleep, I teared up from feeling both exhausted and sick with what I believe to be strep throat. But I suppose the effects of the all-nighter’s hangover kept me from stressing as usual about the mound of books to be read this afternoon before my week begins. He’s going to take care of me. We hooked up last night like never before, and there’s no doubt about it – this is “Change We [Do] Believe In.” The effects of the prayer vigil remind me of how I began this year, but more importantly how I know God will be with me through the remainder of this year. While the forecast for my social environment is likely to remain predictable, I know God’s promises are undeniable.
Sleep deprivation in exchange for movie marathons, late night phone calls to emotional prostitutes, or even to makeup for academic procrastination seems to me, a waste of time. But I’ll gladly give up 24 hours without sleep for a prayer vigil again (just, not tonight). A desire I never had until the point of spiritual desperation, now becomes a 1 Thessalonians 5:17 experience to live for, “Pray without ceasing.” That my friends, is the all-nighter’s hangover.