Pray at All Hours


If it be enquired why I held a Watch-night, let the answer be—because I hoped that the Lord would own the service, and thus souls might be saved. I have preached at all hours the gospel of Jesus, and I see no reason why I may not preach at midnight, if I can obtain hearers. I have not done it from imitation, but for the best of reasons—the hope of doing good, and the wish to be the means of gathering in the outcasts of Israel.

These are the words of Charles Spurgeon, a notable 19th century preacher. I wish I had had them when I led our New Year’s Eve Watchnight service this past weekend, for his words remind us of the importance of God’s words to us at all hours of the day.

While we have come to expect a twenty-four-hour news cycle and, if we could, we’d stare at our social media feeds for just as long, the idea that God speaks at times and days other than at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings continues to be a stretch for many people. Unlike us, God is not time sensitive but time tested. Though we understand God as eternal, we still believe and behave in ways that suggest God’s presence with us can be scheduled in one-hour increments.

“Thank you, God, for a lovely visit. I’ll see you next week. Same time, same place?” Our weekly worship services can become nothing more than commercial breaks from our busy and very important lives. We sit on the pew, waiting for the service to be over so that we can return to our regularly scheduled program.

But, so often, it seems that God catches us by surprise. Though God’s presence in the earth was prophesied years before, the unsuspecting Savior, Jesus in a manger still came as a shock to most. “So, God is with us now? I thought he was Joseph’s boy?”

New Year’s Eve makes this compartmentalization of the gospel, our spiritual relationship, and our conversations with God obvious, at least to me. Persons find it strange and just don’t see why they should go to church on December 31. “Can’t we just watch the ball drop in New York?”

They have gone from Santa’s naughty and nice list to their own New Year’s Resolutions. We plan for self-improvement, for better health and new relationships, but what of God’s resolve for us? It is no mystery that God loves to talk. Pray without ceasing, without interruption, without taking a breath or a break (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:17) because God is not looking for one or a way out of the conversation. Instead, God wants your words.

Prayer is the invitation to be open and accessible to God at all hours of the night and day. When facing a trial or enduring the test of suffering, we cry out in the midnight hour. We pace the floor when worried or uncertain. Why not rejoice at midnight when times are good, shouting your praises at the top of your lungs and jumping up and down with joy? Talk to God not only when things with bad but share your good news with the Good news.

Whatever the hour and however you are feeling, God is open to your prayers at all hours.

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is an associate pastor at Village Baptist Church in Bowie, Maryland and the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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