REVIVAL AND THE NEED FOR PRAYER
Prayer is, perhaps, the most important element for those seeking a great awakening.Â A lot of things happen when we spend time with God in prayer.Â God has chosen that the mechanism of prayer to be his way of allowing us to participate in the ruling of his world.Â God chooses to do something only when we pray and only when we pray according to his will.Â This fact struck me some time back when I was doing a study in the Book of Revelation.Â Notice what these verses say.
Revelation 8:1 When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.
3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.
4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.
5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake. (Rev 8:1-5 NASB)
The action of heaven stops for about an hour so that the angels could collect the prayers of the saints and add them to the smoke of the incense.Â Then and only then did he cast it to the earth as an act of judgment.
If we do not pray, we do not hear God.Â Even reading his Word will not penetrate our hearts if we do not practice the art of conversation with God.Â We become like the fool of the book of Proverbs who refuses to listen to Wisdom:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.
24 “Because I called and you refused, I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof;
26 I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD.
30 “They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices.
32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil.” (Pro 1:22-33 NASB)
Godâ€™s judgment on those who do not hear is to abandon them to themselves. Romans 1 confirms that this is the worst kind of judgment is this life.Â But those who listen to God shall be secure.
How does one pray for revival?Â One prays with brokenness and honesty.Â We may not know how far from God we truly are until we make prayer for revival a regular part of our lives. Too often our prayer lives are justÂ slight glances at God with a few words that we really have not thought though.Â When we finally become aware of our sin before God, it should shake us up.Â And when we realize that God has not been listening to us because of our sin, then it should cause us to cry out for mercy.Â There are several Psalms that serve as an example of when God stopped listening to the nation or to the one praying.Â Psalm 51 is, of course, a Psalm of Contrition.Â There David begs God to restore to him the joy of his salvation.Â That sounds like revival to me.Â Psalm 80 implores God to rescue his people.Â But there is more than that.Â He asks, â€œO LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people?â€Â The people have so sinned that God was angry even with their prayers. All one can do is ask God to forgive us and move beyond this impasse.Â And only God can remove the barrier.Â The Psalmist is persistent in his prayer to God.
Psalm 80:1 For the choir director; set to El Shoshannim; Eduth. A Psalm of Asaph. Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your power And come to save us!
3 O God, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
4 O LORD God of hosts, How long will You be angry with the prayer of Your people?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears, And You have made them to drink tears in large measure.
6 You make us an object of contention to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 O God of hosts, restore us And cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
8 You removed a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground before it, And it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shadow, And the cedars of God with its boughs.
11 It was sending out its branches to the sea And its shoots to the River.
12 Why have You broken down its hedges, So that all who pass that way pick its fruit?
13 A boar from the forest eats it away And whatever moves in the field feeds on it.
14 O God of hosts, turn again now, we beseech You; Look down from heaven and see, and take care of this vine,
15 Even the shoot which Your right hand has planted, And on the son whom You have strengthened for Yourself.
16 It is burned with fire, it is cut down; They perish at the rebuke of Your countenance.
17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.
18 Then we shall not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
19 O LORD God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved. (Psa 80:1-19 NASB)
Again this sounds like a request for revival, for a great awakening among the people.Â If we want Godâ€™s face to shine on us, I think we too must become men and women of consistent prayer, asking, even begging if need be that God will cleanse us, make us holy and most of all, send a great revival upon us and upon the land.
I closing I recommend that the reader check these articles on prayer and revival.Â The first is by the old Scotsman, Robert Murray Mâ€™Cheyne.Â http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/ref-rev/01-4/1-4_mccheyne.pdf
The second article is by Roger NicoleÂ http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/ref-rev/01-3/1-3_nicole.pdf