February 12, 2006.
I’m posting on the 14th anniversary of this date. Why do I bring it up? Not because I was a fashion-challenged, hopelessly nerdy high school junior at the time! It’s the day that International House of Prayer-Atlanta began its 24/7 worship. Since then, thousands of musicians and prayer warriors alike have joined to keep the flame of adoration and intercession burning over the city of Atlanta.
It’s a precious dynamic and a unique place to visit, a place where the Father’s voice seems crystal clear.
How has it been able to keep going that long? What does it take to sustain over 120,000 hours of worship? What conviction has to grip a community to continue prayer even when it’s 3:30 AM and no one feels any special inspiration?
Furthermore, kind of man would it take to lead such a company?
What is the well from which he draws his sermons? What fuels him as he leads God’s fervent yet fickle flock? How can he spend so much time with the Lord in prayer? When dry times inevitably come, what does he fall back on?
This past fall, as my wife and I did an internship at IHOP-ATL, we had the privilege of spending some time in a small group with the man who had pastored this community long before it was 24/7. It turns out Billy Humphrey, the man who spends his time so focused on heaven, is quite approachable. He spent some time with us interns in a question-answer session.
I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to learn from this man God has used to shepherd this movement of unmatched perseverance.
My question, however, wasn’t about his organizational strategy or cascading leadership structure. I was interested in other aspects of his life.
In short, what inspires the man that inspires the community?
I’ve spoken, preached, and written on prayer, but I feel like a consistent weak point in my prayer life is meditation, an area that many of us need to grow in and one that I can see Billy Humphrey has great insight into.
When it came my turn, I posed my question. “During your personal time with the Lord, how do you meditate?”
He responded by giving the four main biblical realities on which he meditates.
I’ve been chewing on his answer for months. I will call them his “4 meditation keys.”
1. The Word
I personally believe in the power of the Word to give direction to our prayers. I’ve written on it and feel not much convincing needs to be done here.
Billy began by talking about taking a phrase from Scripture that stand out and taking time to concentrate our minds on it. Sometimes it’s best not to rush through Bible reading.
I remember him vividly illustrating how to keep the Word in the forefront of your thoughts. Ever the consummate communicator, he took his hand, joined all his fingers to a focal point and put it right above the bridge of his nose. “Keep that one phrase at the forefront of your thoughts.” (If I remember correctly, he actually wasn’t a theology or philosophy major in college, but a communications major.)
What he was describing was a conscious staying of the mind. Though our thoughts constantly race like sports cars and change lanes like impatient taxi drivers, what he was describing was a mindful parking on a single thought from Scripture.
Let’s try it.
2 Peter 1:3-4
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Let’s think about this one moment…
Let’s isolate the phrase everything we need.
Consider that phrase. Everything we need. All that we require. The totality of our necessities, the sum of our wants, the fullness, the completion.
Everything we need… Nothing lacking, nothing off-limits, nothing withheld.
Now allow that idea to take root in your mind. Let the roots spread. Allow the idea to flower and fill your mind.
Be patient as it grows organically among your neurons.
Everything we need. Every. Single. Thing.
This comes from the God who is all sufficient, the one who owns the cattle on 1000 hills, the master Author of the book of our lives, the divine Scientist who knows the answer to every equation.
This is the One whose divine power has given us everything we need.