For the past 9 years, I’ve been blessed to be a part of missional communities of prayer, seeking to establish a culture of unceasing prayer and worship that extols the greatness and worth of the Godhead 24/7. Like David, we believe that “God is great and greatly to be praised” (Ps. 145:3) and that His promises are still alive and powerful and waiting to be fulfilled at the end of the age. These promises warrant the Church’s response of contending intercession, “reminding” God of His promises until He sends them like fire upon the earth (Is. 62:6-7).
Just as it was in the early church, many young adults today are committing themselves to serve God in prayer rooms across the earth. Primarily, they are committing to standing before the Lord in worship, to gazing upon His beauty and contending in intercession for the burdens of God’s heart, and to laying down their lives in simple obedience that Jesus would receive the reward of His suffering in all nations.
Ministering to the Lord
The apostles and disciples of the early church called this “ministering to the Lord” (Acts 13:2). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was their holy preoccupation and calling. They lived out the First Commandment as they ministered before Him with prayer, fasting and worship. As a result, the Second Commandment became anointed with power. Christianity exploded across the earth and the fame of Jesus shook many cities and villages, birthing revival or riots, (and often both simultaneously).
Today in the West we find a generation with a multitude of options, choices, freedoms, opinions, technologies. Almost anything can communicated, bought, or discovered at the click of a button or swipe of the finger. Ironically, we are being entertained by more and more of less and less. And many of today’s young church planters are being churned out across America, taught that if you want to truly impact this generation, you must make the gospel relevant to where they are at. However, if this generation is perishing, I can assure you it is not perishing for a lack of novel methodologies and relevant presentation.
Is it possible for the Word to be glorified and run swiftly (2 Thess. 3:1) in the midst of our cities and regions setting demoniacs free, breaking chains of oppression and wickedness, and establishing righteousness like that of the early Church in the book of Acts?
Are we so bound to our ecclesiastical structures and traditions that we might never even consider the question: does Jesus desire the body of Christ to operate in this kind of ministry on earth today like the early Church in Jerusalem and Antioch did?
Night and Day Prayer in Scripture
While this expression of Christianity might be unfamiliar to many believers, it is not better than other expressions. Simply, our core conviction is that the greatness of God’s glory warrants the response of unceasing praise in the earth, and we are joining with many throughout the earth who believe the same.
Night and day prayer and worship is not a new idea, unique only to the generation of the Lord’s return. On the contrary, the motivation and biblical support for it is seen all throughout the pages of scripture:
- Mary of Bethany in Matthew 26:6-13 saw the worth of Jesus and responded with extravagant devotion, to which Jesus forever linked her example to the preaching of the gospel in the nations of the earth.
- In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus exhorts the righteous to cry out in prayer day and night as the primary means for releasing justice on earth unto the Christ’s Second Coming.
- In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus exhorts believers to “pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into the harvest”, connecting prayer to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the release of witnesses who proclaim Jesus, His Kingdom and the coming Day of the Lord in all nations.
- Anna in Luke 2:36-38, fasted and prayed in the Temple, day and night, for decades preparing the way before Jesus First Coming and standing as one of the first evangelists in the New Testament.
- John the Baptist was a messenger of repentance who “prepared the way of the Lord” through prayer, fasting, and bold preaching (John 1:19-36).
- The early church in the book of Acts was birthed, sustained, and advanced by prayer, fasting, and worship (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4; 2:42-47; 3:1-6; 4:23-31; 6:1-7; 10:1-10; 13:1-4).
The Commandment of the Lord
King David facilitated and even financially released 38,000 full-time staff to worship and pray in Jerusalem (1 Chron. 23-25).
This commandment was “from the Lord” (2 Chron. 29:25), not just from David’s mind.
In fact, although the Tabernacle was replaced by the Temple, the Davidic order of worship was embraced and re-instituted by six subsequent leaders in the history of Israel and Judah between David and the birth of Christ “according to the command of David” (see Nehemiah 12:45, Ezra 3:10-11, 2 Chr. 23:18, 2 Chr. 35:3-15 and many other places) who was following the “commandment…from the Lord”.
Each time this order of worship was reintroduced, spiritual breakthrough, deliverance and military victory followed. This a key reality, albeit secondary, to the establishing of night and day prayer in a region (see Luke 18:1-8). The primary reality is the convicting truth that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be loved, adored and cherished forever and ever. It is for this reason that worship is not just a means to an end, but an end in itself.
“God is great and greatly to be praised.”
David understood this (Ps. 145:3). So what was David’s inspiration for such a radical idea?
The Heavenly Model
While David pioneered this ministry, it was in no way unique to David. Rather, David based the model for this ministry upon the heavenly model that surrounds God’s throne. Accordingly, night and day prayer and worship is not an idea conjured up in the minds of men. It actually finds it’s inception in the heart of God and its clearest expression around His throne.
God is the starting point and ultimate reality.
It is not about a schedule, a room, or meetings. It’s solely about God and His glory. As Jesus revealed through His earthly ministry, He is forever committed to glorifying and revealing the Father.
As we lift our eyes to heavens scenery (see Ezek. 1; Is. 6:1-7; Rev. 4-5) we behold that something astonishing has been unfolding ever since God created it, even though it is rarely talked about in our churches. From eternity past, to eternity future, angels, elders and living creatures have been gazing on and adoring the “holy” and “worthy” One and responding to what they behold. Knees bow, crowns come crashing down, and cries resound, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”. And it goes on and on. The song never ends because the revelation of the Godhead never ends.
Worship is the only logical response to what they are beholding.
“…day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
It is in the midst of this heavenly symphony that we behold Scriptures witness: God is the starting point and ultimate reality. It is not about a schedule, a room, or meetings. It’s solely about the Godhead and Their glory.
The chief desire in God’s heart is not just for humanities needs to be met, but that the nations would sing of His glory and revere His name throughout the earth. Jesus hung upon that jagged Cross so that weak and broken humanity might be redeemed to experience this. John Piper put it this way, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”
The chief end in God’s heart is that a people from every tribe, language, people group and nation would be redeemed to glorify God by worshipping Him forever.
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.
As we see what they see, (that is God’s unending glory), then the response of unceasing praise makes more and more sense. King David was radically gripped by this vision of night and day prayer solely because he was radically gripped by a vision of God (Ps. 145:3; Ps. 132).
All of this finds it’s inception in God’s heart, simply because He desires it. Remember, God did not stumble upon it, He actually created it.
Imagine then the implications of Jesus’ declaration when He taught the disciples to pray for the Father’s “will to be done and Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven” (Luke 11:1-4). Clearly, Jesus desires for the Father’s Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven and bring with it all of the realities that it contains. Jesus called this “speedy justice” (Luke 18:1-8)
What would it look like if the body of Christ began invoking God’s strategy to manifest the worth of His Son on earth and cause the atmosphere of heaven to invade cities and neighborhoods, communities and villages across the earth?
This model is not reserved for those who call themselves “houses of prayer” but for the entirety of the Body of Christ.
“My House shall be called a house of prayer for all nations…”
God is instilling this identity in His church “until”. Until the fame of Jesus reaches every “ethnos” (Mt. 24:14; Rev. 5:9); until the nations sing of His worth (Mal. 1:11); until Israel blesses and receives Jesus the Messiah; until the knowledge of the glory of the Lord fills the earth as the waters cover the sea.