I’ve long been a ‘night owl.’ At first, I thought it was a college phase that would eventually fade. I thought ‘real adults’ become early birds like my dad when they grow up and get real jobs.
Nope. Not the case with me.
My brain seems to be just getting fired up and inspired around 11 p.m. most nights. I have formed the habit of taking prayer walks about the town around midnight lately. I’ve noticed some things on these walks.
1. I am apparently in the extreme minority of people who take walks around midnight. Most ‘normal’ people are fast asleep. I often feel very alone in my conversations with God. I often ask myself, “Am I the only person walking the streets and praying for revival in this little town?” I hope not. But maybe the other prayers get offered up during regular business hours.
2. The few people I occasionally encounter are usually up to no good. Drunkards, revelers, late night partiers, thugs and ruffians. These are the kinds of folks who yell profanities at me as they drive by, or I’ll run into at the Super America station where I occasionally stop to visit our friendly overnight cashier, Richard.
As I reflected on the kinds of people who characterize the “night life” I was reminded of the warnings in the New Testament about living as children of the day and avoiding a life characterized by darkness. Here’s one such passage:
“You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (1 Thess 5:5-8).
As I walk under dark skies, and wonder what dark acts are being committed by people living in the shadows, I thought perhaps I should hurry home and go to bed. For, according to this passage, “We do not belong to the night.” However, this passage and others in the New Testament do not tell us to run away from the darkness and hide our heads under our spiritual covers in fear.
Rather, as Jesus made abundantly clear (as well as our favorite Sunday School song) the assignment of Kingdom people is to let our lights shine brightly into the darkness, so that those living in darkness might see our good works and praise our Father who is in Heaven (Matt 5:16). The worst thing to do is put our light under a bowl — or, in my case, under the covers.
So, this reflection has fueled my prayer walks even more. I now view these strolls throughout the streets of town as an act of spiritual warfare. I am doing battle as I lift up prayers on house after house as I pass by. I am confronting spiritual strongholds as I pray for the people who yell profanities out their windows at me. I am trying to bring some light where ever I go and to whomever I meet.
No, I am not afraid of the darkness, or the people of the night. I might be the only light out and about at that hour. That is reason enough to keep walking while all others sleep. Somebody’s got to take the graveyard shift. Every city needs a night watchman while we await the dawn of God’s redeeming grace.
“Night watchman! How long till daybreak?
How long will this night last?”
The night watchman calls back,
But for now it’s still night.