I was sitting in an elder’s training course that the Southern Union was offering. The instructor, Ron Halvorsen Sr., was sharing one of his sermons as our devotional that Sunday morning. To say that my mind was a little distracted during this worship would be an understatement. I was undergoing huge turmoil in my life, but one thing was clear. I needed God. Not I wanted God, no I needed God. There was a deepening hunger for more of God’s presence in my life. Pastor Halvorsen Sr. had us turn to Matthew 26:40 and I read Jesus’ words to Peter, ““Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?”.
Pastor Halvorsen Sr. kept on preaching, but I stopped listening. My eyes were fixed on that question, ““Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?”. I felt as if God was talking to me personally. He was asking me if I could give Him one hour to pray with Him. I just kept staring at that question and thinking of its implications. What does it mean, “keep watch with me”? Why an hour? The next verse makes it clear that the keeping watch was a call to prayer, but one hour. How could this be? And why did God want me to spend one hour in prayer?
At that time, I was a supervisor at Florida Hospital, now known as Advent Health, for their Phlebotomy department. I was to be at work the very next day at 7:00 a.m. Where would I find time to pray for an hour? Sitting there in that conference room I prayed as the sermon kept on going. I said, “Lord, You know that the only way I can give you an hour is to wake up early. I don’t like waking up early. So, You have to wake me up. If You truly want me to spend an hour with you, then You need to wake me up at 5:00 am so that I can still make it to work on time.”
All through the day’s training, I was troubled at the thought that God might just do it. He might just wake me up at 5:00 a.m., and then what? Providentially, I was reading a book on prayer. And in the book, I was encouraged to not just speak during my personal prayer time, but to also listen to God speak and the only safe way to know that it is He speaking is to use the Bible in my time of prayer. So now I had a plan, I would pray and then I would let God speak to me through His word.
The next day, I woke up at 5:00 a.m.! I did not have the alarm on as usual for me because I didn't want to bother my wife and I wanted to know if it truly was God waking me up. I went to our spare bedroom in awe that God wanted to spend time with me. I knelt down and prayed. I poured my heart out to God and then I sat down and truly felt God’s presence there in that little room. I had just prayed and told God all of my fears. I then opened my Bible and it randomly opened to Joshua 1:9 where God said to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”. I closed my Bible in fear. Was God, the one who created to universe, listening to me? I open my Bible again and again and throughout that morning God spoke to me with similar language. Every verse that I opened the Bible to kept telling me to not be afraid and that His presence would be with me.
That hour flew by that Monday morning, and it even did not seem long enough. But God kept waking me up at 5:00 am morning by morning as long as I asked Him to. I had other questions and every time I would open my Bible, I would find the answers. Prior to this experience, I was not a “morning” guy. It did not matter what time I went to bed; however, God woke me up at the same time each day to speak to me. 5:00 am became my most favorite time of the day. That was the time that God became my friend and would just talk, God used these appointments to confirm His call to ministry, but far more than that, He confirmed His love for me.
I did not seek to change, but change came. My wife noticed a difference in me. People I had worked with for two years noticed a change in me. Even strangers came up to me because, “I was a Christian!” How did they know? All I know is that I had a peace within me that I had never had before. I truly believed that I belonged to God and that He was with me. I long for each of you to have this experience. I especially want for our young people to know God in a deep and personal way. There is only one way to come to this type of relationship. We must spend time with God. Why not take God at His word? He wants to spend time with you! Will you give Him an hour of your day? It may mean waking up a little early, but if you ask, He will wake you up because He is eager to spend time with you. - Pastor Danny