Prayer (Part 1)

Have you ever read the book 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper? If not, I highly recommend it. It’s the story of a man who was in a terrible car accident and was actually considered dead for 90 minutes, but by a true miracle from God, he came back. Perhaps the even bigger miracle is that during those 90 minutes he got to experience the true joy of being in Heaven. My favorite part of the book when I read it – and one of the only parts I still distinctly remember several years later – was when he described the music he heard.

“If we played three CDs of praise at the same time, we’d have a cacophony of noise that would drive us crazy. This was totally different. Every sound blended, and each voice or instrument enhanced the others. As strange as it may seem, I could clearly distinguish each song. It sounded as if each hymn of praise was meant for me to hear as I moved inside the gates.”

The idea of hundreds or maybe even thousands of different praise songs all at once was something that really intrigued me when I first read this book. I even remember writing in my journal that evening that I couldn’t wait to be able to experience this myself one day when I finally go to my heavenly home. I never thought I would get to experience anything like that on this side of Heaven…until I went to Haiti.

While we were there, we had the incredible opportunity to partake in several different worship services, and during each one I was in awe when they would come to their time of prayer. Similar to a lot of our churches, the pastor would begin the prayer and then give the congregation a chance to lift up their own prayers. What shocked me though, was that they didn’t quietly bow their heads and seemingly wait in silence until the pastor picked back up to finish his prayer. They all shouted their prayers out to God at once.

Even though I couldn’t distinguish each individual prayer – I wouldn’t have understood them even if I could – I could still appreciate the beauty of the moment. Each one of these people poured their heart and soul out to God in that moment. It didn’t matter to them that they were surrounded by others crying out to God. They didn’t even seem to hear anyone else. It was as if each and every one of them had a direct connection to God that couldn’t be broken.

This was an incredible sight the first time we witnessed it during a service of all the local pastors, but to me, it was even more inspiring when we kept seeing it over and over again in the village churches.

It made me wonder why we don’t do the same thing in America. Is it because we think it would be distracting to others praying? I’ve witnessed it firsthand and I can tell you with certainty that when those people were truly deep in prayer, nothing could have distracted them. I think that maybe we are unintentionally trying to project our human limitations onto God. Just because we can’t handle a church full of people shouting requests at us, doesn’t mean God can’t.

In the same moment that Don Piper was experiencing the heavenly praise he described in his book, there were people all over the world lifting prayers up to God. If we have confidence that He can hear all of that at once – even the silent, wordless prayers – why are we afraid to cry out to Him in unison like the people in Haiti?

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