Until Dawn - Seeking God in the Night Hours
The Glory and Power of Seeking God at Night
- Seeking God when no one else does – Most people sleep at night. This simple opportunity to be one of the few who are still awake, and that we belong to the very small percentage of those who consecrate this time to Him does a lot in our soul and especially in His heart. It is a special time to Him and can become the same to us.
- When there is less distraction – Night is the time when activities and business almost stop and when we are a lot less prone to distractions. It is much easier to focus when there are less alternatives to spend our time.
- When there is more temptation – The night hours are strongly associated with increase of sin, particularly immorality, violence and drunkenness. Moral barriers vanish for the sake of fleshly desires as darkness increases the hope that immoral behavior might remain unrecognized. Actively pursuing God in this period will not only strengthen our love for righteousness and ability to walk in it, we are also empowered to wage war against those forces of darkness that are active at night. Jesus highlighted the concept of watching especially in times of trials (Mk 14:38; Lk 21:36).
- Building a secret history with God – Seeking Him at night alone is a powerful way to seek Him in secret, when there is no one watching, no one noticing your consecration, love and fervency, the sacrifices you make – where there is simply no reward by human beings. You build a secret history with Him that only you and God know of. He looks in secret because He loves it when things are done only for Him and only because of Him. He's searching throughout the world to find people who are after Him.
6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Mt 6:6)
- A form of fasting – Sacrificing hours of sleep is a form of fasting and has similar effects on our soul and spirit: As we trade our (physical) strength for His, we become tenderized to the presence, voice and movement of God and position us to receive more from God.
- Impacting circumstances in a powerful way – Extraordinary means have extraordinary results. Seeking God at night can have extreme effects concerning breakthroughs we fight for.
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. (Acts 16:25-26)
- Loving God in an extraordinary way – The most important reason and motivation for seeking God at night and what all the effort eventually is about is to experience his love and to love God more. It will radically deepen our relationship with Jesus, our love for Him as well as our confidence in our walk before Him.
- Because He is worth it – We seek God at night because He is worth it. He deserves all of our time, not only the day hours but also those in the night. Even if there was no reward for us, He would still deserve all of our effort to draw near to Him at night.
- Because we long for Him – We extend our pursuit of Him to the night hours because of a deep hunger for more of Him, knowing that He is the only one who can really satisfy. Hunger for more of Him is both the motivation and result of seeking Him at night. The hungry will become more. There are things reserved for those who seek extraordinarily, those who are desperate for Him.
7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Mt 7:7)
- Because He longs for us – Eventually we draw near to Him at night because He longs for us to be with Him. We seek Him as a response to His yearning desire for us, even at night.
24 Father, I desire that they also … be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me … (John 17:24)
37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said … Could you not keep watch for one hour? (Mk 14:37)
Various Types of Seeking God at Night
- All-nighter – Staying up the whole night in order to seek Him. Normally a once in a while activity since we have to sleep sometime. It was a common practice of Jesus. - There is also the option to shift your whole lifestyle so that you sleep during the day and seek Him at night. Many people all over the world do that today. They devoted their whole lives to seek and serve God at night. They are commonly called “night watches”.
36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying … 37 Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. (Luke 21:36-37)
- Staying up longer – Getting to bed later while spending more time with God at the end of the day.
1 On my bed night after night I sought Him whom my soul loves … (SoS 3:1)
- Getting up earlier – Rising up before sunrise to spend the first hours of the day with God. This can be done on a daily basis and is easily made a worthwhile habit. The morning hours are crucial for the quality of the entire day and the time of the day when we are most refreshed. Furthermore, the earlier you set this time for God the less likely it is to be occupied by other appointments. Being satisfied with the presence and love of God right at the beginning of your day will significantly change your life. The morning hours can become your most precious hours of the day. Jesus often arose before dawn to spend time in prayer. Many Godly people throughout history found it to be one of the most important and powerful habits of their life.
147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. (Ps 119:147)
35 In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. (Mark 1:35)
- Waking up in the middle of the night – Rising up in the middle of the night to spend an hour with Him or two. This might be done by setting an alarm. But often we also wake up on our own in the middle of the night (with or without dream) and it's actually God desiring to hear our voice in the middle of the night, calling us to seek Him. Especially if we feel wide awake, it's most likely that God woke us up because He wants us to spend time with Him. Few notice that reality and yield to the temptation to turn around and continue sleeping. He has all right to wake us up when He desires to spend time with Him us. We are His!
62 At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances. (Ps 119:62)
9 And Eli said to Samuel, Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, Speak, for Your servant is listening. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, Samuel! Samuel! And Samuel said, Speak, for your servant is listening. (1 Sam 3:9-10)
- Contending for Godly dreams – Contending that God would visit us in the night through God-inspired dreams. It's a passive way, but still important and powerful reality. Encountering God in dreams goes way beyond receiving instruction from Him. The most powerful dreams we can get and contend for are divine encounters in which He thrills us with His glory. We do good in habitually praying that God would visit us in dreams every night (see also: Encountering God In Dreams).
How to Seek God at Night?
- Seeking God at night does not primarily mean trading sleep for praying and reading the Word but trading sleep for encounter. Though we do those things, eventually it's not about spiritual activities but about being touched by Him and about touching His heart in response. If it's not about encounter, our pursuit will become hard, wearing and more a pain than a pleasure. This is true for all activities in the secret place regardless of the time of the day.
- Actually everything you do in your secret time with God can also be applied to the night hours. But there are certain activities that the Bible highlights in a special way for the night (see also: What to Do in Your Time With God?).
- Praying – The command to pray at all times (1 Thess 5:17) is equally true for the night. It is valid for all kinds of prayer.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. (Eph 6:18)
- Fellowshipping with God – Seeking God just to be with Him and to dwell in His presence and talk to Him. It's searching Him for the knowledge of God, to know Him more intimately.
11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young assistant Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. (Ex 33:11)
6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. (Ps 63:6)
- Meditation on the Word – Several verses of the Bible exhort us to meditate (think upon) the Word of God day and night and underline the immense blessings that go along with that.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. (Ps 1:2)
4 … Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. … (Ps 4:4)
148 My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word. (Ps 119:148)
- Seeking Him for instruction – As we extend our seeking and knocking into the night hours and participate in a form of fasting, we get more sensitive to God's voice and His revelation of wisdom and purpose to us. I believe the night hours are crucial in getting insight into His will and purposes.
7 I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; indeed, my mind instructs me in the night. (Ps 16:7)
- Seeking Him for breakthroughs – Night hours are hours of powerful breakthroughs.
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, ... 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. (Acts 16:25-26)
- Night watch – Prayer with a focus on intercession (against the work of the enemy in the night, for specific ministries, regions, the Body of Christ, Israel, other concerns).
3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. (2 Tim 1:3)
8 Now, will not God bring about justice for His elct who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? (Luke 18:8)
- Worshiping and serving God – Staying up just to bless and serve God through worship and ministry (1 Chr 9:33).
1 Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord, who serve by night in the house of the Lord! 2 Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the Lord. (Ps 134:1-2)
- Bright light – Avoid dim light even though it might create a comfortable atmosphere. It is important to use as much light as possible to prevent sleepiness from setting in. The brighter the light, the more awake we feel.
- Stay engaged – Idleness and boredom are major reasons for falling asleep while seeking God at night. Try to stay focused in prayer, meditation, worship and so on.
- Worship Music – Some cannot sleep when it's not completely quiet, others sleep better with music. Either way, I would recommend to create a prayer setting that includes worship music. It can help you to stay awake and engaged. And even if you happen to fall asleep, it's more likely to wake up in God's tangible presence when there's worship music playing.
- Don't lie down – Don't get too comfortable, or you are more prone to fall asleep.
- Coffee – This may sounds a bit unspiritual but it actually works for many to stay awake or to get you started when getting up early.
- Keep moving – Instead of sitting it can be helpful to walk around from time to time. It makes it easier to stay engaged in prayer and you might also find it hard to fall asleep while walking.
- Join others – Certainly seeking God at night is more than a corporate reality, but doing it together can be very powerful and even helpful when approaching this concept for the first time. You can encourage one another and help to stay awake. In addition, Jesus promises a special level of His presence to Godly fellowship.
20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Mt 18:20)
- Love your neighbors – To be taken literally. Depending on your housing conditions you might not be able to do things at loud volume like worshiping with guitar or loudly proclaiming the Word of God. As God is love and love is the highest goal of God's command, we should never ignore those who want to sleep – for their sake and for our own.