by Stephen Venable
No matter what time of day you happen to read this article, there are people singing to Jesus and praying — a lot of people. When you go to bed tonight, they will still be singing and praying. About a mile off the highway at the southern end of Kansas City, there sits a small building where the door is always open and the lights are always on; that is where you will find them. At the front is a small platform where roughly ten people, most of whom haven’t yet reached twenty-five years, play instruments and lift their voices in a ﬂowing dance of structure and spontaneity, mingled with interjections of spoken prayers. Were you to linger long enough you would see those on the stage quietly exit one by one, replaced every two hours by another group of musicians, singers, and intercessors.
And so it goes on again and again through the sunrises and sunsets of sweltering summers and windswept winters without ever ceasing. This relentless rhythm has been perpetuated for over twelve years. This is staggering, but it is neither original historically nor unique in modernity. Throughout past centuries, there have been instances of unceasing devotion that utterly dwarf IHOP–KC’s decade of ministry to the Lord. Bangor, Ireland is known for its perpetual choirs that began in the sixth century and continued for longer than the United States has been in existence. The Moravians initiated a prayer meeting that lasted an entire century without interruption.
Throughout the nations today you can witness the unprecedented sight of ceaseless praise beginning to rise not from just one isolated locale, but from cities across the earth. This is apart from any united effort or centralized organization whatsoever. What in the past was something that could be dismissed as an historical oddity due to zeal is now a sovereign movement that must be reckoned with. The phenomenon of incessant worship and prayer should be provocative enough to force us to ask some very penetrating questions — namely, what is the point? The Bible has much to say in response, but it boils down to two critical intents of God’s heart: intercession that releases justice in the earth, and adoration that declares His glory.
Beyond the walls of the house of prayer and far removed from the relentless songs of worship, humanity languishes in a pit of darkness and confusion. The eyes of the majestic King are upon the harassed and helpless of the earth, and He is filled with compassion for them (Mt. 9:36). Jesus yearns for His enemies to become His friends and for justice to ﬁll the nations. In this gap between the way things are and the way the Lord wants them to be, we take our place, standing night and day on behalf of a world estranged from its Maker (Ezek. 22:30). Thus, in this present evil age, our songs must be coupled with fervent, unending intercession for God’s purposes to be accomplished. It is this relentless cry that Jesus Himself promised would result in speedy justice (Lk. 18:1–8). This is why incessant devotion is not merely an act of love for God but also a profound expression of love for men. Intercession is a ministry which draws us into the servanthood of Christ as hours are spent lifting our voices and shedding tears for people in need of His mercy, most of whom will never know our name or give a moment of thought to our existence.
These hidden groans and petitions coming from houses of prayer all over the earth will be a dynamic part of a global prayer movement used of the Lord to release an outpouring of His Spirit that will touch the most destitute generation in history with unprecedented salvation, healing, deliverance, and restoration (Joel 2:12–17, 28–29). And those who were formerly his enemies, the ones lost and broken and bound, will begin to declare the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). In that day they will sing of Him—even night and day.
As crucial as this first pillar of the house of prayer is, we must not allow the vision of unstoppable revival on the horizon to overshadow the second purpose stated above. For what precisely do we envision as the ultimate end of revival, if not worship? And what more outrageous injustice exists than the fact that the One who created all things is blasphemed and reviled by the nations even after He took on flesh to redeem humanity through the cross? If viewed correctly, the instances of unceasing worship, whether ancient or modern, should be to us as a telescope. Our eye draws near to something very small and in doing so it is suddenly enraptured by a vision of immense grandeur. When we behold these little enclaves of perpetual devotion where the distinctions between morning and evening have dissolved and holidays no longer exist, our gaze should be redirected to One whose beauty is so vast and consuming that men and women feel compelled to give Him their undivided, unbroken attention.
Night-and-day prayer is not a testimony to human dedication but rather to the power of Jesus Christ to capture weak hearts and hold them fast in unending preoccupation. That His indescribable glory would be seen and His matchless worth treasured above all else is the cornerstone upon which night-and-day prayer must be founded and the reason it continues each passing moment. A house of prayer has its inception when someone beholds the majesty of Jesus and in wisdom concludes that the only reasonable response is for men to laud Him ceaselessly.
Of course, all of this sounds very familiar to a man who wrote three thousand years ago on Mt. Zion: “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple” (Ps. 27:4). David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, was the king who organized and provided for musicians, singers, and those making petition before the Lord to persist perpetually in his own day. He did this under the direction of God Himself, who had given him a very specific pattern for the worship that was to surround the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chr. 28:19; 2 Chr. 29:25). This last point is quite crucial, for unceasing worship and prayer must never be construed as a noble idea of man that God merely permitted; it is an idea from God which He then commanded. It has always been first and foremost God’s desire, with which men and women throughout the ages have happily agreed, when seeing His surpassing worth.
From the dawn of creation, seraphim have surrounded His heavenly throne, never resting and always saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (cf. Isa. 6:1–3 and Rev. 4:8). The sight of these burning ones and their singular occupation has much to tell us. They have never had a single sin forgiven, never an ailment healed, and never a financial need met, yet their testimony is that His unending glory warrants their unending praise. In other words, the necessity of night-and-day worship is derived not from what the Lord has done or what He will do, but from who Jesus is and the honor that His immeasurable worth demands. Millions of years from now, long after the last soul has been saved and all injustice has been eradicated, the seraphim will still be singing—and we will all be singing with them.