I had never heard the phrase before receiving it through prayer. It took me on a profound journey to align reality with vision.
In September of 1999 something happened which change the course of my life. For two or three years I had been crying out to God, asking Him to use me, I wanted to do something useful for His Kingdom, no matter the outcome. It was one of those very rare times for me, when I'm sure I heard God audibly - He said 'One Million hours of Prayer for Wales', and that was that.
To be honest I was bit flummoxed - how do you do that?, was He asking me to do that personally ? Questions flooded my mind. The New Year was coming and I was busy preparing to take a group of Pastors to South Africa on a Missions Trip. The whole time away, I became quite obsessed with this challenge. I got home, contacted God TV, also arranged for leaflets to be given out at a Song's of Praise event at the Millennium Stadium and sent an email invite to my very small contact list. On the 1st January 2000 it began.
This is not the point of this particular Blog, this September (20 years on), I'll give a much fuller account. Needless to say, back then, God did more than any of us imagined and by November of 2000, more than 10 million hours of prayer had been counted from 125,000 people in 70+ countries. It was crazy, but good.
The following few years, opened up for me lots of projects, opportunities and travel. I felt useful and really had to juggle how to fit everything in. More invites than space in the diary and more opportunity than I could cope with.
By 2005 I was quite over stretched, working with a small team on numerous projects, small businesses and a vision I had of desiring to see 100 million people come to Christ was being clouded over by the reality of the work I was engaged in.
My biggest single problem for the five years following the 'Million hours of Prayer for Wales' is I couldn't say NO. I found myself doing work for ministries, promoting their vision often for free, while the thing I should have been working on was suffering neglect to the extreme.
That autumn, I went away for a Prayer retreat to Donegal in Northern Ireland with a couple of dear friends from Belfast. It had gone dark early that day and the rain was coming down so hard it was difficult to hold a conversation as we drove.
I said to my friends, I'm going to start praying now if that is OK. Almost as soon as I started that inner voice, that whisper of God happened, 'Do a Life Audit'. A phrase I had never heard before. With diary and laptop to hand, I wrote a list of all the things going on, all the projects, all the commitments, all the trusteeships and the speaking engagements.
Initially feeling quite invigorated listing some fairly big projects, concern stepped in as I went through my diary in particular, I started to add things to the list, which made me start to question how anyone could do or manage to engage in so much stuff.
By the time I reach 84 individual things, I felt throughly depressed ! I closed my laptop and diary and started to cry before God.
One simple phrase from Him, brough to me the reality that I was too busy to work on the Vision He had given me. How often is this true in life ? To be honest for me its a constant battle to stay focussed on the Vision He's given me and not be distracted by other things - many of which are really cool projects in their own right.
After the weekend was over, I started to un-wind myself from engaging in so many things, some people understood, others were offended, many asked me to reach a point in the project where I could do a good hand over. It took a full year to get to a better place.
During this last week I was reminded in my Prayer time of that whole period, where after going through that chaotic time, I had clarity to think clearly, the rest enabled energy to abound.
It took God speaking in a way that He knew He would get through to me, and internally when He spoke I immediately knew the point He was driving at - and I knew He was right.
Keeping our eyes firmly fixed on the vision God has given us, is much harder than we think. Life happens, situations change, people come and people go.
Persistence is probably the biggest asset we have to help Vision become reality, so take a weekend off, go pray somewhere, reset the grey matter and focus on what He has said to do. You'll come out of that respite of Prayer and you will make some changes, getting back to what God called you to do.