Is it scriptural to hold vigils? Is anything particularly more spiritual about praying at night than at any other time? Were nightly prayers and meditations a pattern in the life of Bible-time saints?
1. Prophet Samuel’s Vigil of Tears
The great prophet Samuel had a vigil; an “all night” vigil, with the specific purpose of praying for his king. That night, God said to him,
“I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king…And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night (1 Samuel 15:11, NKJV).
This was a prayer vigil, during which the prophet heard God speak plainly to him about the crucial national issue of the kingship that had burdened him, and about the tenure of the incumbent. The voice he heard that night did not make him dance. It brought him grief and tears. It was an “all night” vigil of tearful prayers. By the next day, he had had a clear word from God for his king: “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night…” (v.16, NKJV)
2. The Transfiguration Vigil of Jesus
Vigils are usually times of potent spiritual activity. Jesus Himself had a few vigils, particularly prayer vigils, at crucial moments in His life. He had a vigil on the Mount of Transfiguration, during which Moses and Elijah appeared and “talked with him” (Luke 9:30). The appearance of and discussion “with” those two might suggest that it had been a vigil of study and meditation on the word of God; on the Law (represented by Moses) and the Prophets (represented by Elijah); a vigil during which He received revelations from the Law and from the Prophets.
It was not only a study vigil but also a prayer vigil, because the account in Luke 9 further states that He went up that mountain “to pray” (v,28), and that “as he prayed” was when “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning” (v,29, KJV, NIV).
Meanwhile, the majority (which means every other person who had been at that vigil – the three disciples) had been sleeping while Heaven had thus been gloriously at work. Can flesh truly get so drowsy in the face of such intense spiritual activity? Is the weariness of the flesh always a reliable veto on the vigil that may not hold?
From The Preacher's diary.
culled from one of our little books, Why Vigils?