Prayer a la Korea?

Image by TheUjulala from Pixabay

A Korean pastor tells me that it’s quite usual for Korean churches to hold daily prayer meetings, Monday through Friday, at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning—not for a special week of prayer meetings, but as their regular practice.  I think of myself as a morning person, but even that would be too early for me day after day! And even if I were ready for a prayer meeting at that time in the morning, I suspect that it would be a meeting of one.

And yet, I was curious. “What do you do at your morning prayer meetings?” I asked.

The pastor reads a part of Scripture, shares from the Word, and then there is prayer for the country and for the world and any prayer requests. I recognized the format of the prayer meeting as a kind of daily devotional—only instead of reading Rejoice! or The Upper Room or some other devotional book, the pastor offers the Scripture reading and explains the text; instead of praying on one’s own or with spouse and family, this is a corporate discipline where the church gathers together for daily prayer.

Maybe it would be easier to read Scripture and pray daily if we did it together, to practice any spiritual discipline more regularly if we were part of a group doing it together. I think that’s part of the beauty and benefit of the monastic tradition, and perhaps part of the reason that Korean Christians might gather so early for prayer day after day.  Instead of a prayer space for one, it’s a prayer space for many that can support and encourage regular prayer.

4:30 in the morning may seem like the middle of the night to some, but part of me understands why that might be a good time to meet—after all, what else would any of us be doing at that time? And it’s not too early for the God who “neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

Writing/Reflection Prompt: Is it easier for you to pray when you’re alone, or when you’re with others? If you wanted to meet together with others to read Scripture and pray, what time of the day or night would you choose?


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