According to a note I've scribbled on a piece of paper and stuck between the pages where this verse if found in my bible, it first caught my attention back in July of 2003. Even back then I was sent away wrestling with the question that it seems to yell out at me:
When was the last time that your soul was so troubled by something that you spent an entire night crying out to the Lord about it?!?
My feeble answer is simply one word: Never.
But I'm so not satisfied with that answer. You see, I've often been troubled by "stuff". I've just never gone to the trouble of crying out for an entire night to the Lord about it. Hey, I'm sure that I'd probably fall asleep at 2 or 3 am even if I tried (isn't there a quote by Martin Luther about trying to stay up all night to pray and only having sore knees to show for it when he woke up the next morning??), so the lack of sleep might not even be a cost to pay. I've simply not ever jumped into God's invitation to do it ...
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."[*]
And that's it, isn't it? It's not so much the fact that I haven't prayed all night (there is nothing super-spiritual about it after all), but that I haven't embraced the Lord's invitation to pray all night.
And I guess that's what these 24-7 prayer weekends each month that some friends and I participate in are all about: obedience. It's not about duty or obligation (although we have committed to each other to work at building regular rhythms of prayer into our lives) as much as it's about responding to the invitation of the Lord of the universe to come near, be still, wait, listen, and find the real and eternal life in Christ ... the more and better life than we've ever dreamed of. [*]