Midnight Message

(given during the night of prayer at 12:00 AM)

In this midnight message, Brother Peter Hoover shares several experiences of God speaking to him and challenges especially the youth to listen carefully for the voice of God. Are you truly connected with God? Does God speak to you? Do you listen? Do you take the time to listen?

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Father God, just bless Brother Peter right now as he shares a message. Lord, anoint him with Your Spirit. Just bless him abundantly for his courage to come out tonight and share a message. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Peter Hoover:

So I guess we are already into the new day, so I’m very glad that we can be here together. I must say that I was very blessed already by being with the people that are here, and particularly this last prayer and the last things that were talked about – about unity. That has been my theme for quite a while, and I’ve been trying to write about it and to talk about it. And the very thing about one church, one baptism, one truth, one way to go, in order to live with Christ in new heavens and new earth where righteousness will dwell. So hopefully tonight, even though we might think it’s a big crowd – well, actually it’s a small crowd. We are only a few people here tonight, but at least if we are together, and we are in unity, and we are connected with our Lord Jesus Christ, and He is the One working through us, the sky is the limit! There’s no end as to what can happen out of these kinds of things. So I’m just very very grateful to be with you.

I would like to have a Scripture read here.  [Curtis here] is going to be doing my readings because I don’t read that well anymore. Maybe the first thing I have to admit is that I am to be talking about the Midnight Call, or whatever it is. So maybe we could see if we could sing a song. (By the way, do you all know Curtis? Curtis Martin lives here close to where we now live in Waynesboro, PA.)

Can we stand and sing this song? This is the beginning of the midnight – Do you know this song? “Time is gliding like the shuttle of the weaver.” How many of you know it?”

Time is gliding like the shuttle of the weaver
And the day is swiftly passing by,
If tonight should be the coming of the Bridegroom,
Are you ready for the midnight cry?

Oh, behold the Bridegroom cometh,
What if now it sounded from the sky?
Would to meet Him bring you joy or sorrow?
Are you ready for the midnight cry?

Now you may sit down. “Are you ready for the ‘Midnight Cry’?” And you know where this comes from? It comes from all those virgins that were out there, and they were supposed to get ready for the Bridegroom. Well, half of them never got ready, and they had a sad experience at the end. So anyway, that’s a bit of the context of what we are going to be talking about here tonight at midnight. (And if you ever get tired or bored or whatever, we will see if we can sort of wake you up, but I’m not sure exactly how, because I don’t see very well, which is my biggest problem at this moment in time.)

But the Kingdom of God is something that I want to talk about, and particularly about a part of the Kingdom of God. If somebody asks you, “What is the Kingdom of God?” how would you describe it? Do you know when there were people that showed up with Jesus, and Jesus talked to them about the secret of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes He talked about the secret of the Kingdom of the heavens. (Now you think I said that wrong. I didn’t.) It was the Kingdom of the heavens. But whatever the case, it is the Kingdom of God, and it was the secret of the Kingdom of God.

So I want you to read that first Scripture right there.

The Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables.”

Mark 4:10-11 NIV

All right. “The secret of the kingdom of God.” By the time we’re done with this in an hour, I hope that we have a very clear understanding of what the Kingdom of God actually is. There are two parts of the Kingdom of God. And there’s a bit of a mystery about it. Many of us have not either thought about it, or maybe even discovered it. So that’s a little bit of what I want to talk about behind this midnight thing that we’re talking about.

Now I would like to read a little more Scriptures, but before that we are having some heroes of faith to talk about. I’d like to talk about two young men. There were two young men that I knew about. They were before my time, but this was in the early 1700’s in Germany. One of the young men was called Leonhard Dober. He came from Mönchsroth in Bavaria and was a potter. He made clay pots in the southern part of Germany in the Hamburg area. Many of our people here actually have ancestors that at one point in time lived in that area. It’s in the southern part of Germany. After he turned to the Lord, he found his way into the Herrnhut Moravian community in Lausitz, Sachsen, which is up in the far northeastern part of Germany, which is right next to the Polish border. So anyway, he went up there, and started working in that Christian community at Herrnhut, and things went very well for him. During that time, they had a big revival. During that time, they got really interested in praying. Praying during the night. They went out there on top of a hill, that they called it the Hutberg. It was right beside Herrnhut itself – the village of Herrnhut. In the Herrnhut Christian community Leonard Dober loved to spend time up at the Hutberg, “the hill of the watch,” where the believers constantly gathered to pray.

I hope that many of you young men will eventually find your way to that place. It is still a very fascinating place. There are still many young people from all around the world, many of them African or whoever, and they’re coming together, and they still get there early in the morning to pray.

Just not that long ago, I was up there, and I saw some boys out there praying amongst the trees. There’s also a graveyard back in there. There are lots of people that are buried up there. But whatever the case, they were up there, and I started talking to them eventually, and here they looked a little bit stumped by it and didn’t exactly know what to say. Then all of the sudden I realized they were not even speaking German. This is in Germany. All of the sudden they talked to me in English, and they said they come from America. “Oh!” I said, “I can speak English, too.” So I started talking to them in English, and here we had some beautiful time there praying together.

And up on top of that hill they have a little round thing that you can crawl up into, and then you can walk around, and you see all the country far and wide, from the top of the mountain, and there you can be praying in every direction in the whole wide world. (And that is what I often do in my mind still. I’m on top of this Hutberg, and I’m looking out over the whole wide world, looking at all these different things.)

But this Leonhard Dober was a man that went up there, and they started praying out there in the middle of the night, exactly what you’re doing now. Now, you’re not on top of a big hill, and you’re not doing fancy stuff as far as outlooks, and all that, but you are here, and we are praying during the night, and that’s a wonderful thing.

There’s another young man that came as a refugee from Bohemia which is next to Moravia. He was a teenager, and they went up there, and they started praying together. And you know what? They couldn’t stop. They prayed, and they prayed more, and more, and more. And more people showed up. And it was one night after the next. It was during the night in the summertime, and they came up, and they couldn’t get stopped. And so here they were praying. Sometimes they just kept on praying all night long. (This is the kind of prayer – don’t think of all kinds of fancy elaborate things to say.) It was just – they were there. They were in the presence of the Lord. And during that time, things started to happen. All night long! Then it got to the place where it went day and night, and then it went into week after week, month after month, and do you know how long it lasted? Can anybody tell me? 100 years! There it was. It went on and on.

And during that time, around 100 years, it got a bit more organized over time, and so on. And Leonhard Dober and this other young man, Tobias Leupold (he was like a teenager) came together, and they learned about the black people down in Saint Thomas in the West Indies during that time. They met a black man from there and started talking about it, and here one thing led to another, and they packed them off. Just like we were talking earlier this morning about planting churches and so on, well, guess what, back in those days they made it very simple. They put people out; they gave them a couple of coins. They probably had $2-3 each between the two of them. They had no money! And they went out there, and they said, “You go out there, and see if you can find yourself halfway around the world, over to the West Indies.” So they went out there to Denmark, and it took about half a year until anybody got them into a boat, because they said, “It’s crazy.” The [young men] said, “We’re going to go down there and we’re going to work with the slaves.” They said, “Well, no, you can’t do that. You’re white. You can’t go down there and work with slaves.” 

Well, Dober knew how to make pottery, and the other guy was a carpenter, and they said, “Well, we’ll go down there, and we’ll work as carpenters or whatever we do, we’ll get there. So eventually, the Lord helped them down there. (Well, actually, there was another boy that came first. His name was David Nitschmann who came first, and then Tobias came a little bit later on.)  But whatever, they went down there.

One thing led to another, and here eventually Tobias came down. He lasted about half a year, about six months, and he died. And many of their people just died like flies all over the place. They came over there. Families came down there, and they didn’t last long at all. They got sick. It was hot. It was terrible. They got strange diseases. People came in there and burnt their place down, one after the next. It was a very very tough time!

By the time that Leonhard Dober died, a good number of years ago, can you give me a guess as to how many black African people were converted and found their way to the Lord – not just halfway, not just partially, not just doing silly things, but doing very important work amongst them? I have a number. I’m bad with numbers. But I have it right here. Can you give me a guess?

(Someone in the audience says a guess.)

Peter Hoover:  Way more!  13,000 ! Thirteen thousand Afro-American slaves were a part of the Church at this moment in time. And I am talking about the kind of people that were roundly converted. They were people that were working as slaves out there in the middle of nowhere in the hot. You know how it is hot down there in the West Indies. By the time it was done, it was a thorough ongoing church! And I know many of those people at this moment in time. I’ve been there many times, right in that area. And 100% of them are Afro-Americans, and all the way down into Guyana and Suriname, and so on. Things are still happening. Now, it’s not quite like it used to be anymore, but anyway. So I’ll just give that as a story that is an example.

So don’t think that just because you have few people, you can’t do many things, and not much can happen. Out of a very few, just a handful of people – the whole wide world has always been changed by just a few people! So don’t worry about numbers. Just do faithfully what you can do, and things will go well.

Now, I would like to share a few of the other Scriptures that come along with it. This is all about the Kingdom, and how all that went. But before that, I’ll have to tell you a few more stories that go along with it.

My name is Peter Hoover. My great-grandfather was also called Peter Hoover and I’m named after him. Of course, our family lived on just the north shore of Lake Erie, [in Ontario, Canada]. This was a good number of years ago. And my great-grandfather as a young man, went out there with his fiddle. He liked to play the fiddle very well, and he was also a sailor, because our congregation which was the Rainham Mennonite Church was right on the north shore of Lake Erie, and I would say right smack down on the north shore! (chuckle) It is so close that on the place where my great-grandpa lived and so on, you could sit on the porch and take an apple core and throw it into Lake Erie. There you go. So it was like smack-down beside the water. In fact, it was so close, the Hoover graveyard is so close on the water, that eventually it washed out so bad that they even had to take the road from one side of the graveyard to the other side because the road washed into the lake. And even the graves themselves, probably some of them are gone, too, and the meetinghouse was burnt down, but then they put it a quarter mile in, on my grandparents’ place, which is a little bit it. So that’s the Rainham Mennonite Church. It possibly is the oldest one in Canada. That congregation would have been founded in the late 1790’s. So that gives you a bit of an idea. Some of the people actually came from here, this Cumberland Valley.

So here was my great-grandpa Peter Hoover, but he had his fiddle, and he liked to dance. So one night he was going over there to the neighbors, and he was going to see if somehow or another if he could just have a jolly time over there with his neighbors. A lot of them were Irish and English and whatever they were in that area. So he went over there, but for some reason or another, the Lord inspired him that he should go and check the thing out and look into the window first. So he went over there; it was dark already; it was in the winter time. He went over there, and peaked into the window, and here what he saw was a vision. A very strange vision. All these people that were dancing it looked like they were devils dancing around. It was horrible. It was so bad. Everybody was dancing around, and it just looked like a wicked, wicked, wicked situation, and it looked like they were all getting ready to be destroyed. So he rushed back home, took his fiddle, and smashed it. That was the end of the fiddle!

And here he was a part of a large large family. He and one sister were the only ones that stayed in sort of a conservative place. And he took a very serious approach. He learned – he became a very old man. He was almost 90 years old when he died. He was a faithful person. It was through my great-grandpa that I had this little link into something that happened many years ago.

Later on, he got married, and he had a boy. His first boy he called John. John died very quickly. Then he had a couple of girls. They had a girl called Charity, and another one Elizabeth, and another Maryann, and so on. But down the road at the very end, they were going to have a little child; they didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or a girl, but they were going to have a child. My great-grandpa Peter Hoover was out in the barn, and he was working. And all of the sudden the Spirit told him, “Go! Immediately! Go somewhere, I’ll show you.” (The reason I’m telling you these things is because, don’t get rid of the idea that the Spirit will show you things. The Spirit will show you if you are willing to listen.)

So he rushed out of the barn. What was happening? He couldn’t see anything. What’s going on? And right away the Spirit told him, “Down to the springhouse! Go down to the springhouse.” Now, this is a very sad story. He went down there. He ran down to the springhouse to see what was going on. He looked in the door, and do you know what he saw? It was a horrible sight. He saw his wife hanging from a rope from a beam in the springhouse. He took his jackknife and quickly cut the cord, and she fell off, and he saved his wife. And here, what was happening is that she was just about to have the baby, and she was scared, and somehow or another, the devil had convinced her that she’s not going to make it anyway. And so she thought she’s not going to even go through all that pain of this childbirth, and so she’s just going to get rid of herself before it even happens. And so here my great-grandpa was there, and so he saved her. And out of that, three days later, my grandfather was born. They called him Menno. Menno Hoover – that was the only boy they ever had that survived. And out of that family came an ocean of people that kept the family name (chuckle), and my grandfather when he died had around 300 descendants. It was late in the 90’s when he died. Now I don’t know how many of the family is left, and they’re all my grandpa’s descendants down from there. So that’s what happened.

Later on, my family that was working in that area – Menno Hoover grew up and he was converted at a Mennonite Church sometime, with some Conference Mennonite folk, but then somewhere along the line, they were looking for an ordination, and he was the only one that was a candidate to do it, and everybody expected that Menno Hoover, a young man, is going to be the new preacher there at this place. Everybody sort of accepted that this is how it is. That’s fine. The bishops thought so, too. A couple of bishops came in; one was Ezra Martin who came from further north from the Waterloo area, which would be up in the Kitchener area, and the other one was Freeman Rittenhouse, and he came from the Hamilton area, close to Niagara Falls, actually. So he came over there, and these bishops were coming over, and all of the sudden my grandfather Menno Hoover –  (I worked with him so much when he was an older man. He worked in a pallet shop, and I was a boy. As soon as I was out of school, I was helping at the pallet shop. And he told me stories. He was a great story-teller. I don’t remember much about the pallet shop, but I do remember very much about the stories.)

One of the things he liked to talk about was – he said he was coming down from the upstairs of the barn, right before his ordination, and everybody expected Menno is going to be the ordained man. He was halfway down the stairs. All of the sudden the Lord told him, “Don’t have a thing to do with this!” What was that all about? He was completely mystified. But he told the people later on, “I can’t go along with this. I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m not supposed to be going there.” So anyway, he didn’t.

And everything changed!  All the people at that area, that whole church died rather promptly, and everything went cock-eyed, and they had all manner of problems, and he was out of it. Even though he lived on a very beautiful farm – it’s the old Hoover farm right beside the lake, and so on. And he took that, and went somewhere else, and started somewhere else. If it wouldn’t have been for that decision of my grandfather, have you any clue who I would be?! You wouldn’t have a clue! You know, most of our relatives, when we went to the last reunion about ten years ago, most of the people have not even a clue as to what Anabaptism is or anything of this nature. They’re from all over the place, and of course, they’re divorced and remarried; they’re Catholics; they’re all manner of stuff. And here they always ask me about some historical things about our background. Well, whatever all that means, the fact of the matter is our family was completely utterly changed.

The reason I’m telling you these stories, is, I’m talking my story. You have your story, and you are going to have your story by the time you’re done. So that’s what the whole thing’s all about.

So anyway, my grandpa went to another place, and so on. My dad was exactly that same kind of a person. One day he was going to go down to a congregation that at that moment in time was functioning at a place called Muddy Pond, Tennessee. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that place. It’s a curious place. There are a lot of very zealous people there. They had all sorts of ideas. I had two uncles living down in there, and they called on my dad. My dad was a church leader in the Orthodox Mennonite church in Canada. They wanted my dad to come down there. So I travelled with my dad, and my uncle Daniel Martin, and there was another man called John Shirk, and he was now the bishop up at Gorrie, Ontario, amongst the Orthodox Mennonites. He’s an old man by now.

But this was the summer of 1970. Dad was out in the barn. He walked into the horse stall. (Of course, we had horses and buggies, and so on.) My dad was out there, and halfway through putting the harness onto the horse, the Lord spoke to him, and said, “You take your son Peter along.” (Well, that’s unreasonable. You don’t take three preachers and go down to Muddy Pond, TN, and try to fix a church problem and bring a 10-year-old boy along. What’s that all about?) So my dad was so dumbfounded about it that he actually gave the Lord a test. He said, “All right then, Lord, I will take Peter along (which is me) providing I’m going to find him on the yard.” Well, the weird part of it is, I was away for holidays. It was during the summer and I was with my twin friends and we were probably close to 20 kilometers away. It was on the other side of St. Jacobs, Ontario. So I was going to be gone for a week. And my dad had to drive all the way down there to pick me up and see if he could take me down to Tennessee. Well, the last thing I was going to be doing would be in the yard.

All right, while that happened, he was there putting the harness on the horse, and at the same time, I was down east of Conestogo, Ontario, and I was there staying with some twin boys, and that morning, we all decided, “All right, well, we’re going to go and visit another boy which is a couple of kilometers east of our place, also close to the town of Conestogo, and this was a Brubacher farm, and this was right past – we were going down that road, and it was in the summer time. It was actually through the bush lane. We were going down there, and it was hot already in the morning, sort of. We were all walking barefoot – of course, we were little boys.

All of the sudden, we were halfway down there, and we were out in the bush lane, and here all of the sudden, I had this thing happening. Somebody told me somehow – I was ten years old at the time. And he said, “Stop. Don’t go down there. Turn around.” Well, I was mystified! How in the world? What’s this all about? So I told the other boys, “Let’s stop. Let’s go back home. Let’s not go there after all.” They said, “What’s wrong? Do you feel sick?” I said, “No, I don’t feel sick.” They said, “What’s going on?” I said, “Well, my feet are wet, and my pants are getting wet.” They said, “Well, that’s silly. We go swimming all the time. We get wet all the time. And you’re barefooted. What’s the difference?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know, but let’s just go back.” And so we turned around and we walked back to where these folks came from, and I was on the yard! Barely on that yard. Then here comes my dad with his horse and his buggy, and he comes in there with a big smile, and there I am standing on the yard, exactly the test that he had given to the Lord. So here my dad immediately said, “You go get your clothes. Wash up your face a little bit. We’re going to Tennessee right now.” And this was the first time I was ever going to USA. We crossed over at Detroit, and whatever, and went down there.

Anyway, the only reason I’m telling you these stories, is, be ready when He comes! However, it comes, listen! There is a world of a difference whether you are a person that grabs the Bible and takes it as a book and all you see it as a rule book like “Do, do, do,” and “Don’t, don’t, don’t.” If that’s all you’re doing, you are using your Bible in abuse. You’re actually using something that is never going to work for you. You may actually wreck what you’ve learned from the Bible.

So the moral of the story, what I’m telling you as young people, the thing is,

Get tuned in! Listen! Learn how to listen! The Lord will tell you. And I’m not saying that all of the time it will be miraculously, and strangely, and unusually, but the thing is you need to be tuned in. That is the main thing, probably, that I want to tell you tonight. That has much to do with the kingdom – the secret of the kingdom of God. But there’s much more about it.

Ok, now we want to read a few of the Scriptures that go along with it. So now we have “The kingdom of God is here.” Let me see. Read this scripture right here (John 3:2-7).

Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can perform the miraculous signs You are doing if God is not with him.”

In reply, Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth. No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

“How can a man be born again when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely, he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God, unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at My saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:2-7

All right, the Spirit is what you need! You need it. Otherwise, you are stumbling around. You are falling and whatever, in the dark! If you will find the Light, the Way to go, you will need to find the Spirit somehow. And it’s there for you! Don’t ever think it’s not for you. It is for you! For you! — in person! Don’t wait! Don’t give up on it. Stay there, and hang on, and the Lord will show you how to go.

I will tell you another little description a little bit how it all goes. There are two ways of kind of working it out with our understanding of God and the Scriptures and the truth and eternity and everything. In German, we have two terms for this. One of them is called the Gehorsamsglauben, which is the kind of faith based on obedience. Gehorsamsglauben is based on rules: “Do this!” or “Don’t do that!” Well, we are only way too familiar with that kind of stuff amongst Anabaptist folk, and many of the people here are of Anabaptist background. So if all that you can think about is doing all the right things, do you know what? You probably haven’t caught the real thing at all.

Now on the other side we face the other ditch along the road. This is the Herzensglauben which is the faith that is built on experience, totally geared by what people feel. The Herzensglauben, the experience of the heart, and so on. Well, if that’s all that you’ve got, and if all that you have is this wonderful thing that happened like five years ago in July or whatever, if all you can talk about is how it went when you got born again, you’re also not catching it.

There are two things. We need to be both obedient and also we need to have an experience. But we have to walk with the Lord.

It’s a bit like walking on the railroad. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried doing railroads, but if you ever walk on the railroad, you’re not going to be looking at your feet and think you’re going to stay on the rail. If you’re walking on top of the rail, you have to be looking far ahead. You have to have a vision. You have to walk forwards, and then you can walk on the rail quite successfully. Well, that’s a bit how it is with being a Christian. You have to not fall into this ditch or that ditch. You have to keep walking, walking, walking with your eyes fixed on Jesus! That’s how it works. And out of that, your spirit and your life, everything will come together.

Now, I will have to tell you another sad story. A very, very sad story.

Some while ago, there was an Anabaptist man. I don’t even know him personally; it’s probably good. But I do know his brother-in-law and others who know him quite well. This man apparently, from what they’re telling me, for about a year and a half —  This man was in a conservative Mennonite congregation, and he of course was wearing his plain coat, and wearing all the good stuff and right kind of shirt and whatever. He was a Sunday School teacher. Apparently, for the last year and a half, that man was visiting a lady, a prostitute, night after night, or many times. Just night after night after night. And then he went to the Mennonite congregation, and was able to stand up on a Sunday morning and teach Sunday School. And he was able to pray, and so on, and be just as religious as can be. After all this came into the clear, and was discovered and so on, his brother-in-law asked him, “How in the world could you do that? How could you do that, and at the same time, preach and pretend that you were all these things?” And this man said something that was very profound. It’s probably the most profound thing he ever said. He said, “The two things were just not connected.”

Well, do you know what? That was the problem! He identified correctly. It wasn’t connected.

Is your life connected? That’s my question to you?  Is it connected in my life? That is the issue. Our life, our belief, our current direction – is it all the same thing? Or is it just a couple of things, bits and pieces here, and we have it side by side, and we have an idea how to work it? It’s not going to work!

When I was in Canada, I was teaching school. This was back in the 1970’s, and of course, I had a good number of First Nations children. Well, a number of these First Nations folk had joined our church. And this was a Mennonite church up there close to the Ottawa Valley. It was up in the northeastern part of Ontario. Actually, I don’t know if there’s somebody here from there or not, but it is now a church that is called Fort Stewart. I think they changed it somewhat, but it’s at Fort Stewart, Ontario. Anyway, there was a First Nation guy who was from the Ojibwe tribe who had gotten converted and was part of the church. He was a very earnest and interesting person to know.

But whatever the case, he fell back, very sadly. And one night, while this man was down at Curve Lake in a pub.  He was in the pub, sadly, and he went up front and was getting lots of things to drink, and somehow or another, he had gotten too much, and he choked and whatever, and he fell over, and he choked himself actually and died! It was a horrible, horrible ending.

But then, we, of all things, were called on to come down there and have the funeral. So we went down there. I was a school teacher then at that time. We went down there, and it was like 30 below zero, (and don’t worry, if it’s Canada or America, it was about the same temperature on both sides.) But it was brilliantly sunny. It was in the middle of the winter, and there was lots and lots of snow, and I was really really surprised that the First Nation folks had actually dug a grave, but here they did. And so here we were, and we were trying to get him buried.

Somewhere along the line, they said, his favorite song was, “Ere You Left Your Room This Morning.” (We’ll see if we can sing that song. Do you know that song?) Well, anyway, that was his favorite song. So now they asked us if we could sing that song at the funeral. We said, “My oh me, what are we going to do with this? Because it just doesn’t sound like it fits what we were doing, and here we were trying to bury this person. And here on the top of it, like of all the First Nations people that came, I would say 95% of the men that were there were either quite drunk or half-ways drunk. Here they were. It was just a weird weird situation. But we sang this song, nevertheless, and we tried to do as best as we could with the funeral. It was quite a strange funeral!

But here is the song. Let’s see if we can stand and sing this song, because I want you to be thinking about that particular song.

Ere you left your room this morning,
Did you think to pray?
In the name of Christ, our Savior,
Did you sue for loving favor
As a shield today?

Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day.
So, when life gets dark and dreary,
Don’t forget to pray.

If there’s anything that you should remember, don’t forget to pray! Don’t forget to pray!  (Now you may sit down again, if you want to.)

Short prayers.

The thing about prayer is, don’t even worry about making long elaborate prayers.

Actually, very recently, I had a very strange vision. I don’t know if you like having visions. I was never quite sure as to what all comes, but every once in a while I just have them. Either I’m sleeping or I’m awake; many times it’s right before I go to sleep or whatever, and all of the sudden I see stuff. And this particular time, it was a very weird one. I was there, and all of the sudden I was on the other end of the prayers. It was really weird. I was there with the Lord right beside me, and here these prayers were coming from all over the place, from all over the world, and here people came up and they shared their prayers. And I was so flabbergasted, just listening to them. They were weird prayers. Do you know what they were? People came in there, and they started talking this direction (because I was on the other end of the prayers), and so here these things came, and they were like lo-o-ong-worded things, and they had, Lord this, and Lord that, and Lord the other, and it was kind of a sing-song little thing. And there was all this hub-hub going on. And on top of that it was all these clichés, like old things that everybody always says all the time when they pray, and a lot of it was sort of King James [sort of talk] half-way through. So here I was listening to all this kind of stuff. And it was so bizarre! And I thought, “And Jesus has to be there listening to all that kind of stuff?” And I thought, “Well, I feel sorry for Him!” And I thought, well, do you know what we should do? We should try that on one another, and see how it actually sounds. I mean, you try it with your dad, and see how he’s going to look at you. I mean, you’ll get some very strange looks if you start talking to people like you – Why on earth would you talk like that when we’re praying? Why don’t we just pray like we talk, and just say what we want to say? And on top of that, we don’t have to make a long spiel about what we’re praying about. We can just pray, and we can say these kinds of things. Then we can move on.

As far as prayer goes – we’re talking about prayer tonight, and my feeling about prayer is –

Actually, recently, a friend of mine was talking with his brother, so it was not exactly directed to me, but he was talking to another brother in the church. This was over in England, in northern England. And I don’t know if you ever heard of Tom Reich, but he wrote a number of books and little YouTubes and whatever, about things. He’s an insightful kind of a person. But anyway, he was talking with his friend, and asked him, “So how did it go with your prayers this morning?” He said, “Oh, well, I prayed about five minutes.”

He said, “Well, that’s strange. Five minutes?” He said, “Well, I was trying to pray for over half an hour, but it finally started working when the time was almost done, and so I had about five minutes left.”

And do you know what? That is very honest. Very honest. While we are praying, we may as well be honest. Do you know what? Most of you people, certainly me, and most all of us around, we can’t just sit there and speak things, just talk and talk and talk while we’re praying. It’s not even necessary. The Lord already knows all these kinds of things anyway. But one thing we do need is to be in the presence of the Lord. And even in the presence of the Lord, maybe it’s not even going to be five minutes. In fact, if you are serious about it, I would say, (you push it when you’re young, and you’re starting all of this with your prayers), you will be well off, if you are actually a complete minute in the presence of the Lord in your heart. Try it. Just try it. For a whole minute, you’re not thinking of anything other than just the Lord.

As a school teacher, I sometimes would talk with my children, and I would say, “All right, so now we are going to be just totally quiet now for a whole minute. But there’s only one thing I’m going to tell you. While we are on this whole minute of being totally quiet, the only thing I’m going to ask you is don’t think of any pink alligators.” [Audience chuckles.]  And we would sit there for a while, and then I’d say, “Were you managing?” Do you know what everybody did?

Well, that’s how it works. Our brains are very strange things. Very very strange things. They often times do exactly what we don’t want them to do. So when it comes to prayer, and there we are, and we’re trying to keep focused on prayers and so on, but so-o-o-o easily, we wander and we wander and we wander. But don’t be too stressed by it. Even when you’re starting as a young person or recently converted, don’t worry about it. Just pray! Think. Don’t say a whole lot to the Lord. You don’t have to say anything out loud, necessarily, but just be there, and be present in the Lord, and then present what you have or just listen. Just listen. When that slides off, then ok we do something for a little while, and five minutes later or ten minutes later or whatever, then get connected again. Connected. It’s reconnecting, reconnecting all the way through the day.

Now, I’m getting back into this whole thing about the secret of the kingdom of God. It’s constant returnings to the Lord. Constant, all day long! And the more that you do this, the more that you learn about that, the more beautiful this becomes. It doesn’t matter, like even while I’m here speaking, am I always conscious the whole way through with the presence of the Lord? You know what? It’s exactly the same as anything else. I have to continually return. Return, return, return, return, all day long. And once you have not done it for like half an hour, or like an hour and a half a day or whatever, you’re in trouble. That’s how it works.

The thing about early in the morning spending a whole hour, well, that’s very easy for me, because I’m there and I wake up anyway, so I have time there, and so I do pray on and off all the way through there, but I think of lots of other things. I think of other people. I think of needs. I think of all sorts of stuff. That’s all fine. But the thing is, when you are praying, don’t be too focused on how you actually pray, like all long sentences. The thing is, just keep on going. Always return to prayer. Return, return, return, return – the rest of your life, the easier it gets.

I think if I’m not mistaken, I came walking in here tonight or somewhere along the line, and I think I’ve heard someone talk about the Jesus’ prayer. I’ll get to that later on. That’s a very interesting one.

Let’s see. Are there any scriptures here that I would like to share a little bit about? By the way, what’s the time? 

(Someone answers, “It is 1:00.”)

So we’re done? 

(Someone says, “Keep going.”)

Well, I don’t want to – uh, well, I’ll just quickly finish a few things here.

So, otherwise, prayer becomes a fanciful imaginary thing.

Recently, I was just reading a book called “The Doctrines of the Bible,” and it’s done by Daniel Kauffman, who was a Mennonite bishop, and one thing that he was describing in this book was about heaven. And do you know what? There’s something that’s a very very serious problem about that whole thing. He was saying that heaven is FAR away! (And he had a weird scripture that is not even connected with heaven. It comes from Isaiah or somewhere, and he said it’s far far away. And it only comes in the King James, by the way. In any other English or German translation, the words are not even there.) But whatever the case, he had this idea that somehow it’s far away.

And now also recently, I saw another article online where somebody asked about heaven or God, and this religious scholar wrote back that God is not on earth, and God is not in the heavens that we can see, as far as the actual physical heavens, and so there must be a third heaven, which Paul talks about, and so He must be like – who knows where? Like, way out there somewhere.

Do you know what that idea is? That idea is absolutely false! False doctrine. Number 1. (Now don’t be too upset.) The word “heaven” is not in the Bible. It will never be there. The concept of heaven being a place in that sense is just not even there. It always – everything, consistently, both in Greek and in Hebrew, it’s always plural. It’s always “the heavens” every single time. The three heavens that we’re talking about is indeed the first visible heavens, and then the second part of it is beyond this where the stars and all that are there. And then the third heavens that you can connect with, and so on – do you know where that is? It’s right here! The only thing that you’re not getting into it is that you’re not seeing it; it’s invisible. It’s the invisible version of it.

Every so often, the Lord allows that to be shown. You have lots of evidence of this in the Scriptures, that all of the sudden – like, do you remember when Elisha was out there with his young man, and he was very very worried about all these enemies that were coming, and he said, “What are we going to do now? So here they all come, and we’re all going to be destroyed.” And then Elisha went and prayed, and he said, “Just open this man’s eyes.” And so all of the sudden, he opened his eyes, and the first thing he knew, there was an ocean of angels that were all around him. So here everything turned out completely different. He had seen something that he had never seen before. (See 2 Kings 6:17).

We need to look at a few more things. Do you know that Nathanael when he started seeing the Lord, he was very impressed, and then Jesus turns around and He said this:

Truly you will see the heavens opening and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

John 1:51 NIV

Ok, what I want you to know before I close is, I want you to have your heart open to the heavens. The heavens are here. Now, you may think about Enoch and Moses and Elijah. They were people that just whooshed out; they never even died. So they just all of the sudden – where were they? Where did Elijah go? Where did Enoch go? Well, they just went into the invisible part of it. That is “the heavens” on the other side.

Ok, here is Paul talking to all those Greeks up there in Mars’ Hill.

From one Man, God made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth. God did this so that they would seek Him, and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far away from any one of us. For in Him, we live, and move, and have our being.

The thing about it is the heavens are here. God is here in your prayers! So that’s why we’re talking about prayer. Don’t think that you’re talking about some kind of an imaginary God far far off. Do you know what you’re actually thinking with that? That’s a completely gnostic [idea]. The Gnostics had the idea that the heaven that we talk about is not geographical; it’s just an idea; it’s just in your brain. That is totally wrong. Many many people when you ask them, “Where is heaven?” [they say,] “Well, you know where the clouds are and all that, but we don’t know where heaven is. Heaven is way out there somewhere.” Don’t think that way! How in the world can you pray that way? If it’s out there, and if it’s only in your brain, if it’s all imaginary, well, then you may as well just quit it.

Ok, here’s the next one.

Once when being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is’ or ‘There it is’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

Luke 17:20-21

It’s within you! That’s where you find it. You find Him right here!

Ok, this next Scripture is Ezekiel.

In my thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel 1:1 NIV

The heavens are opened! Boys, girls, brothers, everybody – this is the thing I most want for you, that the heavens will be opened to you. Somehow, somewhere it will happen.

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:21, 22 NIV

Nobody went to heaven. The heaven was there. All of the sudden it was visible. That’s the only difference.

Ok, the next one is Jesus.

Father, glorify your name!

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to Him.

John 12:28-29 NIV

That’s smack down right in the middle of Jerusalem. Heaven was there. So what else would you expect?

The next one is about the Transfiguration. So here they were, and what happens there? Well, everything changes drastically. Peter said all sorts of things that he probably shouldn’t have said, just exactly as I would do. (It’s very interesting that I’ve got that name.) But here he was, and he said, “Well, let’s build three sheds. Well, what’s that going to do? But here, they were looking out there, and the first thing they knew, they saw who else with Jesus? Moses and Elijah. Is there anything significant about that? How did Moses get to where he went? Nobody knows. What about Elijah? Nobody knows where he went. So all of the sudden they showed up on top of this mountain which was Mount Tabor in Israel. That’s the first time they could see things. Why in the world could they see Moses? How could you see Elijah? Well, here it was. All of the sudden they could see them, because all of the sudden they reappeared.

Well, that is exactly how it is. The heavens are right here. So when you are praying, and you are praying some imaginary gnostic kind of a thing way out there in the never-never land, like Alice in Wonderland, or something like that, well, no wonder you can’t pray! No wonder! Get real. Recognize that the Lord is right here.

The reason you aren’t seeing Him is because He has a human flesh after His resurrection. Remember that the Israelites were all in this room, and the first thing they knew, Jesus showed up! And the door was locked. How did He get in? He showed what? He showed His scars. He was wearing the same body. What did He do? He asked for fish, and He ate! And how did He get in? He got in through the walls? How did He get in? This is the mystery between the earth reality and spirit reality. The spirit and the earth are connected. It’s from God. We are in the midst of this. We are going to be there. We are earth people. We are not heaven people.

By the way, we also need to read this Scripture. I’m so sorry, but I just have to say this Scripture: God is Spirit (John 4:24).

God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

That’s the only way we’re going to ever get to God. It’s through the Spirit.

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known.

John 1:8 NIV

How did Jesus ever say that, that nobody has ever seen God? What about Adam and Eve walking around in the bush, and God was walking with them? Well, God – do you know what He does? He is Spirit! But He can show up anywhere. He can show up in a human body if He wants to, and He does.

And sometimes, like with Abraham, three men came in. One of them seems to have been God, but He came in there and ate with Abraham. How did that happen? Well, it’s because God can do that kind of a thing.

What about Moses when he saw the “backside of God” or something like that? Well, God allowed him to do that, but it’s also just one of those miracles. But God is a Spirit. Jesus Himself said nobody ever saw God, and you never will either. And you’re not going to be in heaven, because Jesus said nobody has ever been up there – well, not so far. But you will eventually. But whatever, it’s going to come altogether anyway – whatever the case.

So now we have this one. What about this donkey, and Balaam was sitting on top of it. And the first thing you know, God is talking out of a donkey’s mouth! Where was God now? In a donkey?

Where was God when Jonah was down there in the whale, underneath the waves. All of the sudden, he was hearing what God was telling him – at the bottom of the ocean in the middle of a whale. Well, that’s a very strange place to be. But God can be anywhere! He is a Spirit.

At the same time, what about God being in a burning bush? How is that possible? Is that even  Scriptural? He was there!

What about the winds of the storm? How can God be in the storm? Very strange!

Or from the hills?

We can talk about all sorts of things about God. God is everywhere! But God is Spirit! So don’t expect God sitting on the throne as an old man with a beard, like Michelangelo – that’s an absolute caricature. I mean, don’t even look at it. Don’t even go to the Sistine Chapel. I don’t even like it! So whatever the case, the real God that we’re dealing with is a Spirit. And the only one that comes in the flesh is the Lord Jesus.

But now we have to finish this up a little bit. I want you all to discover this thing about the opening of the heavens.

So we have talked about that it’s good to keep prayers short.

Now we go with the prayer points. Good places to go to pray. So since God is around –

As a young boy, I was out there out beside the river. There were two rivers coming together, and there was sort of a little hill up on the side, and I had a regular spot. It was only one of them. All over the world, I have found spots there where I discover God. All over the place, in South America, in Europe, in Asia, wherever I’ve been in my life, I’ve found spots where all of the sudden I connect with God. And once I’ve connected, I can go back to those places over and over and over, and just one thing leads to another. It is such a wonderful thing. Come back! Come back! Come back to the place.

You do it. Find you a place and connect with God, and you will have a wonderful time with it.

Now we go into love and power. (I won’t get into that one.)

So now we get into fear and barriers.

There are many things that people, (especially Anabaptists) have a hard time getting along with God because they don’t even think that God even loves them. They’re scared of God. God is just an old man that says, “You’d better do this, and better do that, and better not do the other or you’ll get in trouble.” Well, that is just not God! It’s just not the Lord Jesus! If you want to pray, if you want to get along with Him, you will need to discover how much He loves you! And you start loving Him in return, and all of the sudden everything comes together, and you will have enjoyable times with the Lord (chuckle). And you can have it every single day, no matter what is happening all around you. If everything goes wrong, that never will go wrong. The Lord will love you anyway.

The tax collectors – they were very very humble people. So he had this thing about, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.” Well, that’s the “Jesus Prayer.” I could preach a whole message about it. I love the “Jesus’ Prayer.” If you don’t know anything about it, check it out. It’s just a way of prayer. Don’t make complicated prayers. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Let’s all stand and let’s do this together, and we’ll do it out loud. This is the story of the man that was the tax collector, and the Phoenician lady out there at the river somewhere, and we have a number of cases like that. It talks about that four or five times in the New Testament. So let’s pray all together: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” When you just sit and think about the Jesus Prayer – the early Christians had much to say about that.

Now we go with how to pray – well, we talked about that.

A prayer project – I would love to get into that, but I can’t.

So now we go with Prayer Tools.

One thing I just have to show you. I just have to do this one. I have three things here. This is our funny unusual electronic world that we’re living in. Have you ever seen these kinds of things? These are MP3 players. I think two of them are MP4’s and one is an MP3 on what you should do. I do it, and I just really like it! One of them is for the Bible, and someone put some messages on there as well. But it’s full of Bible in there. And it has it in all sorts of languages like German which is my favorite language, and then of course, I have the Spanish, and I have the English, and I have the Portuguese, and I have the French pieces in there. What else? Maybe Italian, I think I have in there. A whole bunch of different little things. It’s very very nice to listen to Scriptures in the middle of the night. I wake up early. My wife is there still sleeping, and I don’t want to bang the place around, and so on. So I just reach out onto my cupboard right beside there, and pick up one of these things and start listening. And you know what? It is so enriching!

If you are young people, young men – by the way, if you have problems with bad thoughts or something like that, do you know what? Turn that around, inside out, and it will be your best advantage right there! Why? Because if you’re always tempted – say, you’re tempted like 15 times a day or something like that, or maybe oftener, who knows? But every time that dirty word or dirty something of this or that comes around, or just somehow wicked things about it. I don’t know how it goes with girls, but I do know how it goes with boys. And of course, now I’m a little older, so my kind of temptations is different than yours who are younger. Nevertheless, we get tempted all the time. But here we are, and these temptations come around, the thing to do is to flip around and say, “All right, here they come again. Let’s go to the Lord.” And if you do it every single time, and you turn to the Lord, that is a great motivation to get back connected with the Lord. See! So if you just keep doing it, well all of the sudden hey, it’s almost neat. So every time comes, well here we go again. So that’s how it goes.

So here I have my Bible thing. And then I have another one which is my Gospel one. It’s just all full of Gospels, all different languages and so on. All I do is I just put it in there. And here I have one Gospel coming in this language, and if you don’t know different languages, well do it with different versions or something like that. So don’t listen to all the same thing all the time, but just listen to that Gospel over and over and over.

Then this other one here, this black one is the one about songs. So I have maybe a thousand or more of old beautiful old hymns with all sorts of beautiful things in there. So if I’m just going to sleep or whatever, I put this on. So I have it every night. And then all day long. So I carry these things around with me in the car or whatever. It’s a great thing to do. It’s an electronic thing. I grew up completely without electronic things and all that. But if it works, it works. So I just recommend that you do this.

Now, let me just see if I can finish this off.  So the last thing – I’ll just have to finish with this one. But the thing that I want to tell you is one more thing. And if you forget everything else that I said, don’t forget this one. We need to do something, and we’re not doing it yet. By the time this all gets done, I want this to be working. Before I die, I hope. It’s a thing about sending people out like Jesus said.

Jesus’ mission.

This morning we were together, and we had a long story about how to start new churches. We talked about all sorts of practical things. Well, I’m not the most practical thing you’ve ever met in your life (chuckle). I dream of all sorts of things. Usually, it’s a jump ahead of everybody else, and it doesn’t work, and people think it’s silly, and so on, and it probably is. But once in a while things come out of it. But my thing about that one is, well, this is not me. This is not Peter Hoover at all! This is the Lord Jesus.

What did He do? He took His disciples and He sent them out two by two. Simple as that. And without money, without anything (just like we talked about with those Moravians at the beginning). He sent them out for the kingdom of God. “You go and you present the kingdom of God. Come to this village, come to this family, come to this house. Be there, work there for a while. Do your thing. And if it works, it works. Great! Praise God you can start something. And if not, you walk off, and you dust off your shoes, and then you move on somewhere else, and you find another place. But two by two, you go, you go, you go. You find the seekers, and out of that comes simple little fellowships. And it works.

Do you know what? There’s an example right here. It’s Christian Newcomer. I could tell a whole message about that one, or I could write a book about it if I wanted to. He was a Mennonite preacher from Groffdale congregation in Lancaster County, if you ever heard of that place. He came over there. He had huge problems personally. He had all kinds of personal problems, and whew! He was a very disturbed kind of a younger man. Later on, he got soundly converted, and you know what he did? He went on his horse with a brother. Just any brother. Often times it was a young boy or whatever who went along with him. And he went all over the place – into the East, into the West, into Ohio. This is 1700’s. Ohio was just barely even settled by white people. Then he got into Canada. And he went down to Virginia. He went regular, regular, regular, all the time. They have a calculation. I can’t even give you the number, of the many many many many thousands of miles that he went with his horse. Wherever he went – every week he went there, and he went to the same people. He went over and over, and he went around a circle. In later months he would come back and then he would stop in there. He would stop every single time, and he preached the Gospel, and got people to the Lord, and then he had communion. And he always had bread and wine. Then he would get together a little meeting, and then they did their thing, and then he went on to the next one. And then came back again.

Out of that came hundreds of congregations that started around him. It was simple! There was no money involved. No property. No five families selling a farm and buying a house or whatever. That is way too slow! Way too complicated! By the time they get this done, you’ll be as old as a grandpa. The thing is, do it while you’re young. Do it while you’re capable. And that was him.

But there were many other people that went all the way through. There’s another group that sent them out with no money. We often call them the Cooneyites. They send them out two by two, two by two, two by two. In fact, they call themselves the “Two By Two’s” up in Canada. And they go all over the world, and they just go out there, and just two by two.

Well, what I so-o-o-o much hope – you boys in particular, you’re young. Do it for at least half a year! Or maybe one year or five years, something like that. Just start going out two by two and meet the seekers. Don’t make it complicated. Don’t think that people don’t even want you or whatever. Just go there and find people here and find people there. And once you have them together, then you have little meetings in people’s homes. Don’t try to make it complicated. Just have like two or three families or something like that. And then come regularly. Don’t just do a wonderful thing, and then never come back. Just do that. Come around and around and around. And then have your communion. Have your bread and your wine, and your little message that goes along with it, and so one. And then they’re expecting you to come back. And out of that, the exact same thing that happened with Christian Newcomer or that happened with the Cooneyites, or with the early Christians or whatever, that can happen again. It happened with the early Anabaptists. So why in the world would we make it complicated?

So if you want to do that, I want you to get connected somehow, and I would desperately want to do that! And if nothing else, you let me know about it, and I will help you. My email address is peterhoover.tas@gmail.com  (tas stands for Tasmania; we lived there for many years.) And if you write to me there, and if you are interested with another single person or something of that nature, and if you can go around as two by two, and your church blesses you, and sends you off with a blessing and so on, I expect many many things can happen. And if you want some ideas, I can get you connected all over Europe, into Africa, into Asia, into Australia, into New Zealand, and all those little islands all over the place, Canada or wherever. I mean, the sky is the limit!

And the other thing is, the end of it. Don’t think that this earth is all going to be destroyed and that’s the end of it. That is not how it is. In the end, there’s no such thing as floating off into some imaginary heaven. You are going to be here. This earth is for us. It’s the heavens and the earth of the new righteousness that is coming together at the end of our journey. And this will be restored. Everything will be restored. It’s in Acts 3:21. What do you think? Do you think that God made a mistake, that He tried this thing with earth and it didn’t work, and so He just trashed it, and so now He’s going to take you off into never-never land?  No! That’s not how it’s going to be. He’s going to come back. You’re going to come back. It’s going to be new heavens and a new earth. And we are earth people. We are here to work one with another to get that all accomplished.

May the Lord help us. There’s much more we could say about that, but may the Lord help us.

Let’s stand, and then we will pray.

Lord, there are many things we could talk about tonight. We don’t have the time. We don’t have the way put together yet that we can do this. But one thing we do want. We want these young people that are here, that they would catch the vision! That somehow or another, this would come together in such a way that real church communities would happen, with hearts, lives, women, men, children, everything would come together. And in that, You will be in the presence of it all. In the Spirit, and in the flesh, on this earth, and in the heavens around us. We just pray that that will be accomplished in our time! It’s not unreasonable, Lord! You can help us. You would be more than ready to help us! We know it so well, and the only thing is for us to wake up and get it done. So may the Lord be praised.