“Then men began to call on the name of the LORD.” Why not before? Why did the prayer hour only begin the days of Enoch? Obviously, Enoch’s days were degenerate and depraved days. To use Milton, they were days of “Paradise Lost.” So, why was it “then” that “men began to call on the name of the LORD”? Why didn’t prayer begin in Paradise? Surely God was nearer to man before the Fall than after. Surely the presence of the LORD enveloped Eden. It did. That’s why in Eden there was the presence of praise and the absence of prayer. That’s always the way that it is. You can only see the stars at night. To be sure you can see a great many gorgeous sights in the light of day, but it is only against the black backdrop of night that the shimmer and sparkle of the stars may be seen.
It is the same way with the soul. Eden was a day in which the fullness of God was felt, the enjoyment of God was experienced and the person of God was seen. It is for these very reasons that prayer was not needed. Prayer only came with the night of need. You see, prayer is incompatible with His fullness, His enjoyment and His presence. It needs something of the shadow to make it shimmer and sparkle. It’s night’s silence that brings its singing – its need that brings its cry. Remember God set the rainbow in a cloud – He could set it nowhere else.
Thus, there is a certain compensation for the dark night of the soul. Yes, we have been driven out of Eden into a wicked wasteland. But there in the swamps of our sinful state we have found something never seen in Eden – the gate of prayer. Eden had no such gate – there was no need for it. Eden was open all around. There were no prisons to break out of, no shackles to be let loose from. But in this land outside of Eden we have been given a gate because we have also been given a wall. Sin has separated us from Him. There is now a barrier between us. It has caused us to miss Him, to want Him, to cry out for Him. Our Lord has gone into a far country and we reach out for Him. There is beauty – the stretching of our hands, the calling of His name in the middle of the night. It is the beauty of starlight. Yet there is a beauty to this starlight that cannot be seen or sensed in the light of day. It is one thing to see Him when He passes, but the cry for Him when He has already past has a music all of its own. It is love lost – the absence of Eden. It is the refusal of the soul to be separated from Him by disaster or distance. It is the Prodigal’s protest against the slop of the pig pen. That is why we ought to be thankful that the absence of Eden has given to us the hour of prayer.
“God thank you for the privilege of prayer. Thank you that even here in the wasteland my own wickedness you have given me a gate in which to come into your presence. Help me to linger more and more by this gate every day. Amen.”