Last Wednesday at 6am I gathered at our church with about 20 other guys to pray. You heard me right, to pray. The average age is about 23, and as they walk into the building, the anticipation and excitement is more akin to what you'd expect if it was a night at the pub watching a foot-ball game. We gather towards the front of the main auditorium, just the spot lights are on, creating a warm atmosphere. Music plays softly in the background.
After everyone's arrived, I share a five minute thought that encompasses some aspect of prayer. This time I talk about the non-verbal aspect of prayer which includes body language, movement, and vocal inflection among other things. I'm not trying to get them to be more dynamic in their prayers, because they already are. This is more of an affirmation. They eat it up, some deep in thought, others voicing heartfelt agreement, and still others adding an impression of their own.
At about 6:10 we're ready to go. An energetic "prayer" playlist is started at a room-shaking volume, and guys step right into it - literally. Several begin walking in a clockwise circle around the auditorium, others find spots to sit, kneel, or lie prostrate. Some crack their Bibles to a particular text that they will pray through, and still others open a journal and begin writing. Everyone is praying out-loud, some at conversational volume, others at singing volume, and occasionally even shouting volume. The place is abuzz, you'd hardly believe we are three hours from sunrise at this point (it's winter :-).
The prayer time seems to go kind of like waves crashing on the shore, with rhythms of volume and passion, often rising to a crescendo, then tapering off to a reverent silence, then climbing to a crescendo again. As I look around, you can see that some of the young guys are doing flat out warfare. Are they battling a spirit of pornography, some giant of addiction, or fighting their way into the Refuge of Safety? Others are almost meditative, focusing with utter precision on Who God is, letting His majesty overwhelm them. Some are in a spirit of intercession praying for family, spouses, and children. At any given time you'll hear the sounds of praise, confession, thanks-giving, and supplication - often at the same time from different parts of the room.
In a heartbeat (or so it seems), it is 6:55 and time to wind it down. We always pull together at the end and decide to be creative this particular Wednesday, putting all of our names into a bucket. I tell the guys that rather than taking prayer requests, we'll simply leave it up to the Holy Spirit and draw three names out of the bucket to pray for today. You can tell everyone's psyched about the idea. First name out, and all the guys gather around him. It's a rough, totally masculine hallowing as the weight of 40 hands descend on one guy. The prayers are refreshing and prophetic as one after another prays with Divine authority. Powerful, encouraging, and accurate are good words to describe the flow. This continues on for two more guys. Some of those in the circle have never prayed for someone out loud like this before.
When the last prayer is finished there's not one guy that doesn't feel like he just got over the hump of "hump-day". Everyone is feeling the fresh air of the mountain top and eager to venture into the day, whether deep valley, or rocky precipice. But first, we all converge on the local A&W where the stares are priceless when 20 happy dudes come crashing in at 7:10am, talking about how good God is, what the Spirit is doing in our time and place, and how big the fish was that so-and-so caught last Friday on the Graham River.
Two hours from the time we arrived at the church, we are nourished both body and soul and ready for anything!