The bells rang, signaling that it was time to arise and pray. It was 3 a.m. I was in the middle of England staying with a monastic community for a conference on leading organizations in prayerful community.
As I read the conference literature months in advance, the idea of 3 a.m. prayer seemed exciting, even romantic. Now it was different. The air was piercing, the kind of cold you only find in heavy stone buildings. It was the middle of the night, and the idea of leaving my comforter for the 200-yard walk in driving wind and rain to the chapel, another stone building lacking central heat, seemed much less appealing.
Like the religious I stayed with that cold British weekend, the early church was also a community that found their identity in and through prayer. As Luke describes it in Acts, "They all joined together constantly in prayer."
Today such prayer is harder to find on the church landscape. I am not saying that churches don't pray. They do. But for many of us, prayer ...1