He Was Right to Worry?
Matthew 6v27 ‘Who of you worrying can add a single hour to his life?…
v34 ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough of its own.’
The church was full. No one was expecting this kind of turnout for a Monday night prayer meeting, especially an all-nighter.
Adam was on edge. Earlier, before the church meeting had started filling up, he meticulously checked all the exits, fire doors and the alarm systems, and still he felt nervous; every noise or hand clap gave his heart a workout. His heart rate jumped from a relative 55bpm which was more than proof of a good fitness level, to an alarming 148bpm within seconds; he feared a heart attack if he didn’t get it under control.
Adam gave a quick glance over to Milo to see how he was coping.
He was deep in prayer, even though he seemed fully focused on Jason. Adam had seen this look a million times and never let on to it. Milo had a glazed look towards his subject but his mind was elsewhere. And Adam knew exactly where.
Jason stood up and addressed the congregation by first announcing a wedding for the following weekend of Charlotte and Adam.
Adam heard his own name read out and panicked, then the whole congregation clapped, which unnerved him further. He quickly got up to look around and then was pulled down by the edge of his jacket by Paul, who quickly gave him the conformation that he so desperately needed. ‘Mate, I thought it was you as well,’ he said and gave Adam the reassuring wink he always gave when he was nervous.
The prayer service started and Jason lead the first session. The whole emphasis of the night was to raise the profile of prayer. His exact words were, ‘We must be a praying people. Praying must be one of our primary focuses as believers.’ He went on to say that the communication between his church and their Lord was the ‘key’ to knowing Him better. ‘Better talkers meant better listeners.’ It was an amazing way to communicate to people on a grand scale and it also meant that he didn’t need to explain the main objective of the evening.
So he indicated to the worship leader to start to play.
With that the band struck up, the drums seemed louder to Adam, but it was understandable under the circumstances – he was a bag of nerves. He had to put it behind him and try to focus on the meeting. After all, he could get a lot out it if he was just to let his mind concentrate on what Jason was saying and not what his mind was shouting.
Adam remained seated whilst the rest of the congregation stood to sing. He lent forward and rested his elbows on his knees and started to pray. ‘Oh, Lord. Help me to listen to that calm, still voice tonight and not the raging violent inner-me, shouting to leave my seat and check the exits and windows for a fourth time. Please, Lord. I am leaving it all tonight in Your capable hands. Amen.’
The worship was intense and vibrant and was lead by Jason’s words of encouragement that, at times, were as powerful as a full length sermon. He was on great form and the two hours he lead his session were over in what seemed like moments.
Then it was Pastor Miles’ turn and he was to lead session two. Again, he too had put his worries to one side and he was on great form, also starting this session with a sermon-like introduction. Milo went on for what seemed a few minutes.
Adam gave a quick look at his watch to check the time – 2.30am. He shook his head in disbelief. No way was it that time! Had he missed two hours? The meeting did start a little after its planned time but that was normal for a prayer meeting with all the people excited just to be there. Adam looked again; it really was 2.30am. His Breitling watch never missed a stroke.
Adam went outside; the bitter cold of that time of the early hours was enough to confirm the time. But he had to ask for a second opinion; he called Malcolm. ‘Have you the correct time, Malc?’
He too rolled up his sleeve, after reluctantly taking off his extra think ski gloves, and gave Adam the time. ‘2.32am precisely, Adam,’ He shouted back.
What had happened to the time? Where had it gone? Maybe it was one of the ways God was using to help Adam cope. After all, he did pray for help in the prayer meeting.
Again Adam shook his head to re-focus and went back into the meeting. Pastor Miles’ session was coming to a close and, like all the other session before; they had a coffee break and quick biscuit to reenergise the lagging congregation.
But, strangely, the congregation wasn’t lagging and, unlike prayer meetings of the past, when a session finished and people inevitably snuck away and left (at least to say they went to one of the sessions, so not to feel so guilty when asked later), no one left. Amazingly, people had called others during the first interval on their mobile phones, telling them of the amazing prayer and worship that they were missing out on. And more people were on their way.
What happened next, shook Adam to his very core.
Pastor Miles session went amazingly due to his honesty. He went on to talk openly about planning Paul’s funeral and that, whilst doing so, he still persevered with Prayer, continuing in faith whilst, at the same time, planning for the practicalities of his death. Milo was so transparent and honesty to the point that members of the church started to weep for him.
Pastor Miles went on to say, with a huge lump in his throat, the emotion of it all was too much to bear.
‘I shouldn’t have planned for Paul’s funeral. It was a lack of faith on my part and please, church, can you forgive my lack, my doubt in faith at that time?’
But that wasn’t the thing that shook Adam the most; it was the presence of his wife, Rachel, sitting beside him. Adam turned to her and gave a smile – a smile of ‘yes, you should be here and it’s cool. God’s peace is here.’
Rachel reached down, held her husband’s hand so tightly and leant in towards him. ‘Grace is fine. Julie is house-sitting.’
Adam let out a little snigger at Rachel’s comment about the ‘house-sitting’. The three of them lived in an old, open plan studio loft in a rest home for the elderly. Adam, however, felt the richer man for it. He was humbled by the way life had shaped itself and the outcome that was about to unfold before them. He was more convinced than ever that God was going to bring them out of this mission, to the other side, safe and with a deeper love and understanding of their faith.
The penultimate session was Paul’s, and the whole church cheered him, as he rose to the lectern to start.
After a good forty seconds of cheers and applause, Paul brought the whole proceedings back to focus on the task at hand. ‘I hope that was for His Glory,’ he said, pointing up towards the heavens. Again, the church cheered and let out their thanks for his healing and it was very apt.
Paul’s session was all on thanksgiving for answered prayers and for the congregation to start practicing; thanking for prayers that hadn’t been answered yet.
But then some of the main leadership came forward. Rachel, one of them, spoke:
‘Church, please stand with me. We feel, as a church leadership team, that we should stand with our elite: the leaders, Pastor Paul, Pastor Jason and Pastor Miles. And lay hands on them and pray for this next phase of church life and for their health and the health of their families.’
Adam felt awkward because he needed to be up there as well, receiving prayer, and Rachel knew it also. Pastor Miles looked up as Adam thought it, and caught his eye; Pastor Miles nodded to him to come over and join them.
The prayer time was powerful, and Adam finally felt part of a team, even though no one could ever know his real position in the church and what risks it carried. He was the appointed ‘Guardian of the church’; the ‘Master Disciple’; the fighter and defender of evil.
All these titles and many more were going through his mind, but the main one now was ‘team player’. He couldn’t do anything without Milo, Paul and Jason; all had a part to play, none more important than anyone else, but everyone vital to the mission.
Adam knew he would never stand in church to receive gratitude or applause from anyone for his mission. But he was soon enwrapped in a vivid vision, standing in heaven, receiving the recognition that he desired so much and for so long. He was there in the Almighty’s presence, kneeling down before Him and being knighted with the Word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword.
Adam came to and was sitting back down next to Rachel, drinking a cup of strong coffee and eating a biscuit.
‘What happened?’ Adam thought. One minute he was in a prayer meeting, seeing an amazing vision, then he was sitting down drinking a cup of coffee and nibbling on a chocolate biscuit.
All the leaders and their wife’s and partners had gathered in a circle in the main fellowship meeting hall. They were discussing the prayer meeting and having a time of reflection. Whilst the others carried on talking, Adam shook his head again; had he missed a session? He quickly gave his watch a glance; it was 5.30am.
He gave a look over to a nearby window and saw the morning sunrise, which gave an orange glow across the floor of the hall; it was beautiful to see ‘His Glory’ in such a tangible and real way. A sun rise, he’d seen thousands before but this one had significance – a clear sign; someone had been watching over the whole evening.
Adam sat there imaging God sending angels from heaven to guard the church grounds, like sentries in a Holy army, several on each of the corners of the Temple – a real bible moment for Adam in the twenty-first century.
Adam turned to Rachel, whilst she was taking a sip of coffee, to ask the obvious question. ‘What happened to me this morning?’
Rachel put her coffee cup down. ‘Well, where do I start, eh? You have been on the floor for the past two, well nearly three, hours.’
‘Amazing!’ was all Adam could muster.
There worries were dumbfounding. Nothing happened and nothing could. After all, they were in church with hundreds of believers. Who and what could break through that wall of faith?