a publication of Life Action Ministries
Can You Hear Me? renew your faith in breakthrough prayer
Summer 2010 Volume 41, Issue 2 www.LifeAction.org/revive
CONTENTS COLUMNS 3
Spirit of Revival
Let's Raise the Level of Prayer by Byron Paulus
Have You Told God That? by Del Fehsenfeld
13 From the Heart
It Shall Be Granted by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
31 Next Step
We Could Set a Date by Daniel W. Jarvis
4 Interact Reader feedback and more
Where Is the Passion? by Leonard Ravenhill
21 Looking Back
The Poetry of Revival Prayer
22 Hard Questions
24 Real World
Can I Pray with Faith for Revival?
A student struggles with distraction and
discouragement in prayer
No More Sleepy Prayer Meetings!
10 The Explosive Power of Prayer
Tools to help you go deeper
28 Making It Personal
Apply the principles discussed in this issue
14 If God Knows, Why Pray? David Jeremiah
18 The Birthplace of Revival E. M. Bounds
Executive Director: Byron Paulus Senior Editor: Del Fehsenfeld III Managing Editor: Daniel W. Jarvis Assistant Editor: Kim Gwin Creative Director: Aaron Paulus Art Director: Tim Ritter Senior Designer: Thomas A. Jones Production: Wayne Lake Volume 41, Issue 2 Copyright © 2010 by Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved.
Revive magazine is published quarterly as God provides and made available at no cost to those who express a genuine burden for revival. It is financially supported by the gifts of God’s people as they respond to the promptings of His Spirit. Its mission is to ignite movements of revival and authentic Christianity. Life Action does not necessarily endorse the entire philosophy and ministry of all its contributing writers. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or pay our authors for content. We grant permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or group setting, provided copies are unchanged, are distributed free, and indicate Life Action Ministries as the source. Many Revive articles are also available online. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. We do not share subscriber information with other organizations. To purchase additional copies of this issue, to be placed on our free mailing list, or to contact the editors with feedback or questions: Life Action Ministries • P.O. Box 31 • Buchanan, MI 49107 • 269-697-8600 • info@LifeAction.org • www.LifeAction.org/revive
SPIRIT OF REVIVAL
Let’s Raise the Level of Prayer
s a child, I remember my pastor regularly calling our congregation to “extended seasons of prayer.” Then, during my teenage years, our church transitioned to an “evening of prayer” on Wednesday nights. By the time I was an adult, prayer meeting night had largely transitioned to a Bible study. And before long, the prayer meeting vanished altogether. At the same time, another dynamic was at work in Sunday worship services across the country. Most services gradually changed from including an ardent “pastoral prayer” to simply pausing for a “moment of prayer.” A recent national conference designed to ignite and foster movements of Christianity featured 73 widely recognized speakers and boasted over 60 workshops . . . but none were focused on prayer. None of this is news to you, I’m sure. As a rule, techniques and tactics routinely receive far greater emphasis in evangelical circles than prayer. It’s been this way for so long that it seems normal. Of course, there’s nothing sacred in themselves about prayer meeting nights or pastoral prayers; but let me ask you what I have had to ask myself in recent days: “Do my actions reflect that prayer is the most powerful force for change in the Christian life?” For those of us longing for revival and spiritual awakening, this question is absolutely crucial. Church history demonstrates that there have been revivals without much preaching, but there has never been a revival without much praying. Revival and the practice of passionate, persistent prayer are inseparable. It’s one thing to know that this is true, and another to base our life and ministry on the power of prayer. Who are we spending time praying for revival with? I will never forget the most fervent prayer meeting for God to revive America that I have ever attended. About fifty people gathered at 10:00 on a Friday evening and didn’t finish until 7:00 in the morning. And
they had been doing this every Friday night for fifteen years! But here’s what astonished me even more— the prayer meeting was in Singapore! Half-way around the world, a group of precious believers had more passion for prayer and more vision for what God could do through the spiritual renewal of our country than I did. And that, in a nutshell, is a sobering picture of the real obstacle standing between the church in America and the revival we so desperately need: We are not yet desperate enough to cry out to God in fervent prayer, nor are we convinced enough that God alone is the only answer. Exactly 150 years ago, C. H. Spurgeon heard that revival winds were blowing here in America. With hope that revival might come to his congregation as well, he urged his people to redouble their intensity in prayer. His words serve as a timeless exhortation for believers everywhere who long for revival in their time:
the practice of passionate,
persistent prayer are inseparable.
To your knees, you believers, to your knees. Will you lose the opportunity, Christians? Will you let men be lost for want of effort? Let us spend this week in special prayer. Let us meet together as often as we can, and plead the throne; and each of you in private be mighty with your God, and in public be diligent in your efforts. We stand at a precipice in our culture and in the church that can only be crossed through prayer. May God use this issue of Revive magazine to raise the level of prayer for an outpouring of the Spirit and the manifest presence of God!. n
Byron Paulus Executive Director
.com Resource To read more from Byron Paulus, connect to his blog at LifeAction.org/blog.
INTERACT “For many years I have thoroughly enjoyed your magazine and share it with friends. I especially like one subject explored by several writers. You are filling a need for Christians today in understanding Scripture and living it.” (Mary, Kentucky)
Learning to Be Helpless by Paul Miller God wants us to come to him empty-handed, weary, and heavy laden. Instinctively, we want to get rid of our helplessness before we come to God. But prayer is bringing your helplessness to Jesus. The very thing we are allergic to—our helplessness—is what makes prayer work. It works because we are helpless. Prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers. We tell ourselves, “Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I’d pray more.” Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. Weakness is the channel that allows them to access grace.
From A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller, NavPress, 2009, pp. 54–59.
Do you have any comments or questions about this issue of Revive? Has God changed your life as a result of the truth presented? We enjoy publishing questions, responses, encouraging stories, and even critiques from our readers. Send us your thoughts. Write to Revive Editor, Life Action Ministries, P.O. Box 31, Buchanan, MI 49107, or e-mail us at revive@LifeAction.org. (We do edit letters for length and clarity. Please include your city and state.) If you missed our last issue of Revive magazine, you can purchase a back copy from our online store or freely print off the articles from our website at your convenience. Just log on to www.LifeAction.org/Revive or call 800-321-1538.
Have You Told God That?
all me crazy, but I’m the kind of guy who likes to talk with people about their struggles. It’s not that I relish pathology, but I guess raw conversations make me feel that the relationship is honest—like I’m being given the privilege of looking through a window into the person’s soul, into the real subject matter of their heart. It’s generally true that the closer we feel to someone, the more willing we are to open up with our true thoughts, feelings, questions, and dreams. The opposite is also generally true—the less we trust someone, the more we hide our pain, our brokenness, our vulnerability. And most of us hide a lot. Even though we know in our heads that it’s silly to pretend we can hide things from an all-knowing God, if you’re like me, that doesn’t keep you from feeling like there are so many things you can’t really tell Him. I often ask people who have shared a piece of their heart with me, “Have you told God about that?” It’s interesting how many times the answer is, “Not yet.” I wonder why? Maybe we believe that the things that matter so much to us must surely be utterly insignificant to God— He couldn’t possibly want to be bothered. Or perhaps we are dealing with failures we’re so ashamed of that the last person we want to address is a holy God. Or maybe it just doesn’t seem “appropriate” to spew the rawness of our thoughts and feelings directly on God. Could it be that when it comes right down to it, we don’t think God can handle our prayers without a filter? Have you ever found yourself instinctively picking up the phone to call a friend or counselor for advice without having first stopped to ask the Lord for help and wisdom? For some reason, it’s more natural and comfortable for us to turn to people as a “first line of defense” than it is to turn to God.
The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg, Zondervan, 2010, pp. 134, 136. Ibid, pp. 174-175.
But I suspect that God actually appreciates it when one of His children simply tells Him what’s on their heart. After all, when we’re honest with God, it’s a sign that we trust Him. As John Ortberg says, “Prayer becomes real when we grasp the reality and goodness of God’s constant presence with ‘the real me.’ . . . I must pray what is in me, not what I wish were in me.”1 It’s instructive to consider the kinds of situations and feelings Jesus thought were conducive for prayer.2 prayed when His life was crowded and draining (Luke 5:15-16). • Jesus prayed when He faced important choices (Luke 6:12). • Jesus prayed when He was sad or burdened (Matt. 14:13). • Jesus prayed when He needed strength for His work (Mark 1:35, 38). • Jesus prayed when He was concerned about people He loved (Luke 22:31). • Jesus prayed when He faced an insurmountable problem (Luke 22:39-24).
When we’re honest with God, it’s a sign that we trust Him.
Clearly, Jesus believed that prayer included everything He experienced in life—no exceptions. Our prayer lives will never become relevant or transformational until we include God in the nitty-gritty details of our everyday lives. The practice of telling God everything is not selfish preoccupation, but in fact a sign that we have begun to grasp His nearness and His love. And I mean everything! n
Del Fehsenfeld III Senior Editor
et me be the first to admit that I have the problem. I have fallen
asleep in my share of prayer meetings. Sadly, I have even led some of these supplication siestas. My problem started as a child. It was complicated by a serious drug issue. My parents drug me to church several times a week. The Wednesday evening prayer time provided a special occasion for napping. After a few hymns, the group commenced a long litany of boring, gossip-laden, and seemingly tedious prayer requests. My eyes grew heavy. By the time the people gathered in huddles, sluggishly recounting the lists of names and problems, I was out like a light. Over the decades, I have been in prayer meetings where participants drooled, fell over, snored, and even snorted. You have probably seen it—and done it. Somehow, I do not think God had this in mind when He commanded us to “pray in the Spirit” (Jude 20).
Traditions Do you remember the details of the all-time low moment in the history of intercession? Jesus told His inner circle of stalwart supporters to wait in the garden while He went a little farther to pour out His soul before the Father as He paced to His agonizing death. Within minutes, the three disciples were sawing logs. He said to them, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41 nkjv). The Greek term for watch literally refers to staying awake. In essence, Jesus said, “Couldn’t you even stay awake with Me one hour? Wake up and pray!” I cannot imagine the disappointment the Lord must have felt. As for the disciples, they were missing the real action at one of the most important moments in biblical history. I wonder how many times I have missed what God was doing because I retreated to slumberland when I should have advanced on my knees to the front lines of battle.
Declaring War As a pastor, I have been exasperated with lethargic, dozy prayer gatherings. I do not want to attend, and I certainly do not want to lead these dead-in-the-water prayer times. It’s time to declare war on sleepy prayer meetings! When Paul wrote to the young New Testament churches, he said much about prayer. He commanded the saints to gather collectively in passionate, Spirit-guided, energized prayer. He also challenged them to stay awake! Colossians 4:2 tells us, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving” (nasb). “Keeping alert” means “to stay awake.” A more literal reading of Colossians 4:2 says, “Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving” (amp). Eugene Peterson’s rendering says, “Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude” (msg). The Holy Spirit certainly had us in mind when He inspired this command. In fact, this issue is so important, it is included in the great spiritual warfare passage of Ephesians 6,
appearing as an exclamation point on Paul’s instructions for overcoming the devil. Paul tells us that we should be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18, emphasis added). The Message renders this imperative point as, “Prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out” (emphasis added). The idea is clear. Stay awake and alert! Encourage one another to wakefulness at all times and in every prayer meeting.
A Creative Pattern Over the years, I have discovered an approach I call worship-based prayer. These prayer times are participatory, encouraging, God-centered, and biblical. Instead of an hour of drowsy requests and pitiful pleading, fresh doses of Scripture reading and Spirit-led worship invigorate these gatherings. The foundation of these experiences is the character and Word of God, followed by spontaneous, Spirit-led surrender, intercession, and participation. Worship-based prayer incorporates a balanced, biblical pattern for prayer, based on the model Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 (commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer). An understanding of this pattern provides a valuable grid for facilitating creative prayer. This pattern is similar to the 4/4 musical beat of a conductor. As a prayer tool, it is an effective way by which the Holy Spirit can direct our hearts with fresh creativity in our prayer times.
Reverence The conductor raises a hand and fixes it at a point in the air to capture the attention of the musicians. Everyone gets ready to begin. In the prayer pattern Jesus gave His disciples, He instructs us to begin with a focus of worship (“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name”). We call this upward focus the “Reverence” stroke. This is the concept I call worship-based, rather than need-based, prayer. It begins with
the character of God as we take time to focus our entire beings on the wonders of who God is.
Response The conductor gives the downbeat, and the music begins. Jesus taught a second element of biblical prayer when He said, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This stroke is our response to God’s character in prayer. This involves yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit and recommitting to God’s kingdom purposes. Introspection and surrender mark this time of response. It is a season of pledged obedience to the will and Word of God, desiring the accomplishment of His will in our lives.
As you look for creative entry points in prayer, insight from the Word and illumination by the Spirit will be sufficient in any occasion to provide the inspiration and innovation you need to stay awake in prayer.
Requests From the downbeat, the conductor now moves the baton to the left, setting the tempo for the music. “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” This is the next element Christ teaches in His model prayer. This involves a period of heartfelt requests with the themes of provision and purity. This is not a time of informing God of our needs as much as it is a conscious trust in God as the perfect definer and provider of our needs. It involves prayer about personal requests and the concerns of others. Not only is God’s provision a key concern during this stroke, but so is purity. As we willingly enter the forgiveness process—in both directions—we commit ourselves to lives of purity, living with a clear conscience before God and others. We pledge to seek and extend forgiveness daily. Purity is the key to harmony and unity in the body of Christ and must not be neglected in our daily time with the Lord.
Readiness The conductor moves the beat to the right, keeping tempo. The outward stroke reminds us of the spiritual contest before us and, more importantly, reassures us of
the spiritual resources within us. When we pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” we recognize our own inability to overcome the temptations and attacks of daily life. We entrust our welfare for the warfare to the delivering force of our Divine Enabler, often through the power of His promises.
Reverence With an upward motion, the conductor returns the beat to the starting point. The traditional version we recite of this model prayer concludes on a high note of praise: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Consistent with the pattern of the traditional Lord’s Prayer, seasons of prayer should end with praise and declarations of God’s power and rule. Often a closing song can accomplish this purpose.
Key Questions Let’s take the 4/4 pattern one more step to clarify practical handles for praying more innovatively. I call these the who, how, what, and where of creative prayer. Here are four basic questions that stimulate Spirit-given insight that can be useful to prompt responsive prayer: • Who is God? • How should we respond? • What should we pray about?
Second, notice insights about “How should we respond?” Again, the passage will often give direct clues of expressions of surrender to the will and kingdom of God. Look for such terminology as “I will” or “I have.” Take note of positive action verbs such as trust, praise, worship, or cry out. Observe willful declarations such as “I will not be afraid,” “I will walk,” or “I will not turn away.” Third, consider the question, “What should we pray about?” Often a passage will contain specific requests or express certain desires that can form a basis of our own prayers. Look for fears, struggles, needs, decisions, challenges, and longings. Again, these observations foster creative ways to invite participants to pray in similar practical fashion. The fourth area of discovery involves the question, “Where do we go from here?” Most texts will speak of some challenge or spiritual enemy to overcome. Often these ideas will guide the participants in identifying and anticipating practical spiritual battles. With the Spirit’s insight, you can use these themes to guide others into meaningful prayer. As you look for creative entry points in prayer, insight from the Word and illumination by the Spirit will be sufficient in any occasion to provide the inspiration and innovation you need to stay awake in prayer. n
Adapted from PRAYzing!, © 2007 by Daniel Henderson. Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. For copies of the book, call 800-366-7788 (or online at www.navpress.com). The editors heartily recommend Fresh Encounters and PRAYzing! to equip the church for vibrant, worship-based prayer.
• Where do we go from here? As you look at any passage of Scripture, first ask, “Who is God?” Invite the Holy Spirit to give you understanding of what the text tells you about the character of God. Assuming you are in a group prayer time, ask others to contribute their insights from the text. It is truly astonishing to discover so many truths about God’s nature, names, and person in the texts of the Bible.
.com Resource To see an example of how the 4/4 prayer works with a passage of Scripture, visit www.LifeAction.org/Prayer.
X E PL O SIV E
Power of Prayer
by Jim Cymbala
All revivals down through history have begun by people, even five or six gathering together, saying, “God, we’re not satisfied with the status quo.”
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith” (2 Thess. 1:11 niv).
e live in a day where all the attention and emphasis is on the cleverness and skill of the speaker. Yet at the same time, all the statistics show that the average American Christian’s spiritual health is going down in every category measured.
One of the reasons for this problem is that we’re putting all of our eggs in the basket of oratory and worship songs. There’s a precious time for all of that, but there’s also a time to get alone with God and say, “God, I can’t make it without You! God, You have to come and help!” Paul, the greatest apostle—maybe the greatest Christian—ever known, reminded the believers in every letter he wrote, “I pray for you.” Why? Paul knew that his preaching alone wasn’t enough, but that teaching and prayer have to go together. In particular, notice that Paul prayed for believers to be recipients of something called dunamis, or “power,” as it is translated in our Bibles. This is the Greek word from which we get the word dynamite. It is the explosive power of God in our lives. Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). In other words, we will receive the ability and might to do things we can’t do in our own strength. Some people say, “But I’m a Christian. I’m a child of God; Christ lives inside of me. I already have all the power I need.” But Paul prayed for these believers, that “by his power [God] may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” So even though Christ lives in us, we need to pray for God’s power every single day. In fact, I’m feeling more and more as I walk with the Lord that I don’t just need it day by day—I need it hour by hour. I need God to impart fresh power, fresh wind, fresh fire.
Caught, Not Taught Here’s the reality we have to come to grips with—power cannot be taught; it can only be received. This is the limitation of preaching. You can point people to Jesus. You can tell them about the Holy Spirit. But you cannot take the Holy Spirit and impart power to them. Only God can do that. That’s why the end of instruction is not to have people jump up and shout, “Amen, that was good!” or talk about how clever and funny the speaker was. The goal is to get people to God. He alone imparts power to His people, and power comes in answer to prayer. We long to overcome, but we are being beaten by the world, the flesh, and the devil. Don’t you think God would be pleased, brothers and sisters, if we would come to Him and keep asking for dunamis— the dynamite power of the Holy Spirit? n
Jim Cymbala is the pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, NY, and is the author of several books, including Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.
.com Resource Listen to an interview with someone who has discovered the power of prayer, at LifeAction.org/Prayer.
Meet Pastor Scott He has the same challenges other pastors do . . . How can I relieve the stress of ministry on my family? What can be done to stop or slow the moral decay in our church and community? What can be done for our church families that are falling apart? How can I develop a culture of intentional unity in our church? How can I increase giving in our church? How can I deepen staff relationships?
Pastor Scott still thinks about all these things, just not as much. Thatâ€™s because he scheduled a Life Action summit in his church, and their gospel-driven message resulted in reconciled relationships, healed marriages, increased giving and volunteering, a spirit of love and unity, moral purity, forgiveness, and Spirit-filled evangelism.
To read Pastor Scottâ€™s testimony or to learn more about Life Action summits, visit www.LifeAction.org/summit or call 800-321-1538.
FROM THE HEART you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” (Esther 5:2-3, esv, emphasis added).
It Shall Be Granted
he book of Esther is one of my favorites for many reasons. But one of the most meaningful personal applications I have found in that book is the insight it provides on prayer. Totally apart from any initiative or effort on Esther’s part, God sovereignly arranged for her to be placed in a position of great influence at a crucial moment in Israel’s history. Esther couldn’t see the script God had written in heaven and was carrying out on earth. The entire Jewish nation stood in the balance as wicked Haman set out to destroy the chosen people of God. You know the story. When Mordecai, Esther’s cousin and the object of Haman’s hatred, discovered the insidious plot to annihilate the Jews, he immediately appealed to Queen Esther to exercise her royal position by interceding before King Artaxerxes on behalf of her people. Esther’s initial hesitation stemmed from one important fact. She knew that no one dared approach the king without being invited. To do so was to risk death—unless the king were to show mercy and extend his golden scepter in welcome. She knew her life would be in jeopardy if she were to initiate an audience with the king. Mordecai finally persuaded Esther that she had been placed in this position for a purpose greater than herself and that she simply must get involved. After three days of fasting, Esther put on her royal robes and went into the inner court of the palace where the king sat on his throne. I love those next two verses: So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What do
Here we have a glimpse into the incredible relationship between an all-powerful God who sits on His throne in heaven, and believers who approach His throne from their position on earth to intercede on behalf of His people. (The analogy falls short, of course, because Artaxerxes, being a pagan king, cannot possibly represent God accurately.) When we, like Queen Esther, become aware of a need here on earth, we may be reluctant to approach the King of the universe with our puny needs and burdens. But we forget that this King loves us, He has chosen us, He delights in us, and, inexplicably, He has determined to accomplish His purposes on earth in union with the prayers of His people. In fact, He is waiting for us to come and ask. I often wonder what supernatural acts God would perform in our world—things He is ready, willing, eager, and able to do—if we would just approach Him and make our requests known. Years ago, a friend raised this question, which has stayed in my mind: If God only did that in my life and the lives of others which I asked Him to do, how much would He do? And how much more might we receive from His hand, if only we prayed more? O God, make us desperate, and grant us faith and boldness to approach Your throne and make our petitions known, knowing that in so doing we link arms with Omnipotence and become instruments of Your eternal purposes being fulfilled on this earth. n
O God, make us desperate, and grant us faith and boldness.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss Revive Our Hearts radio host
Adapted from A Place of Quiet Rest, © 2000 by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Used by permission of Moody Publishers.
If God Knows,
Why Pray? In your own journey of discovery about prayer, somewhere along the way I’m sure you’ve wondered the same thing I have: Why do we have to pray— since God already knows what we need?
There are several reasons, I think. I’ve discovered, for example, that when I’m able to tell God about a need I’m sensing so deeply in my heart, then no matter how difficult and challenging that need may be, I gain a renewed confidence that God will be at work on my behalf to meet it. At the same time, I begin to understand my own situation in greater detail and with much more clarity—all because I consciously bring that need before Him in prayer. But the biggest reason for why God asks us to pray—a reason we can’t avoid— is this: Scripture insists that God has hard-wired the universe in such a way that He works primarily through prayer. And when we don’t pray, we short-circuit what God wants to do. When we fail to pray, we cuff God’s hand. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way, because God can do anything He wants. But I know from my study of the Word of God that He has ordained the processes of the world in such a manner that He accomplishes His will through the requests offered up by His people. When we neglect prayer, we actually limit what God might do in our lives and in the lives of others. You may be a little hesitant to accept the truth of that statement. But if it weren’t true, what could James mean when he writes, “Yet you do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2)? I scoured the New Testament some time ago, looking for things God does in ministry that are not prompted by prayer. Do you know what I found? Nothing. Everything God does in the work of ministry, He does through prayer.
Prayer is: n n n n n n n n
the way we defeat the devil (Luke 22:32; James 4:7). the way we help to save the lost (Luke 18:13). the way we acquire wisdom (James 1:5). the way a backslider gets restored (James 5:16-20). how the saints get strengthened (Jude 1:20; Matthew 26:41). the way we get laborers out to the mission field (Matthew 9:38). how we cure the sick (James 5:13-15). how we accomplish the impossible (Mark 11:23-24).
Everything we do that’s worth doing, everything God wants to do in the church, everything God wants to do in your life—all of this He has subjugated to one thing: prayer. That’s why prayer is the greatest and best thing for God you’ll ever do. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works,” writes Oswald Chambers; “prayer is the greater work.” You can commit your life to a ministry of prayer, and thereby touch the world. But you must pray. n
Condensed from The Prayer Matrix, © 2004 by David P. Jeremiah. Published by Multnomah Books, a division of Random House.
ViewPoint Where Is the Passion? For perspective on the desperate need for committed prayer, we turn to a voice that has been known for passionate and fiery truth-telling. Leonard Ravenhill has been home with the Lord since 1994, following his faithful ministry of sharing Christ, praying earnestly, and calling churches to revival. 1907-1994
Leonard Ravenhill No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off. Poverty-stricken as the church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere. The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion, both of which are born in and maintained by prayer. The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer—the highest ministry of all human offices—is open to all. Spiritual adolescents say, “I’ll not go tonight, it’s only the prayer meeting.” It may be that Satan has little cause to fear most preaching. Yet past experi-
ences sting him to rally all his infernal army to fight against God’s people praying. Modern Christians know little of “binding and loosing,” though the onus is on us: “Whatsoever ye shall bind . . .” (Matt. 18:18). Have you done any of this lately? God is not prodigal with His power, but to be much for God, we must be much with God. This world hits the trail for hell with a speed that makes our fastest plane look like a tortoise; yet alas, few of us can remember the last time we missed our bed for a night of waiting on God for a world-shaking revival. Our compassions are not moved. Present-day preaching, with its pale interpretation of divine truths, causes us to mistake action for unction, commotion for creation, and rattles for revivals. We mistake the scaffolding for the building. The secret of praying is praying in secret. A sinning man will stop praying, and a praying man will stop sinning. We are beggared and bankrupt, but not broken, nor even bent.
Prayer is profoundly simple and simply profound. “Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try,” and yet so sublime that it outranges all speech and exhausts man’s vocabulary. A Niagara of burning words does not mean that God is either impressed or moved. One of the most profound of Old Testament intercessors had no language—“Her lips moved, but her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13). No linguist here! There are “groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26).
Can any deny that in the modern church setup, the main cause of anxiety is money? Yet that which tries the modern churches the most, troubled the New Testament church the least. Our accent is on paying; theirs was on praying. When we have paid, the place is taken; when they had prayed, the place was shaken!
Have we become so substandard to New Testament Christianity that we know not the historical faith of our fathers (with its implications and operations), but only the hysterical faith of our fellows? Prayer is to the believer what capital is to the businessman.
For this kind of prayer there is no substitute. We do it—or die! n
In the matter of New Testament, Spirit-inspired, hell-shaking, world-changing prayer, never has so much been left by so many to so few.
Taken from Why Revival Tarries, © copyright 1959 by Leonard Ravenhill.
Anguish by David Wilkerson Whatever happened to anguish in the house of God? Whatever happened to anguish in the ministry? It’s a word you don’t hear in this pampered age. Anguish means “extreme pain and distress; the emotions so stirred that it becomes painful; acute, deeply felt inner pain because of conditions about you, in you, or around you.” Anguish. Deep pain. Deep sorrow. Agony of God’s heart. All true passion is born out of anguish. Search the Scriptures, and you’ll find that when God determined to recover a ruined situation, He would share His own anguish for what He saw happening to His church and to His people. He would find a praying man, and He would literally baptize that man in anguish. All the devil wants to do is to get the fight out of you and kill it, so you won’t labor in prayer anymore. You won’t weep before God anymore. You see, a true prayer life begins at the place of anguish. If you set your heart to pray, God is going to come and start sharing His heart with you. Your heart begins to cry out, “Oh, God, Your name is being blasphemed. The Holy Spirit is being mocked. The enemy is trying to destroy the testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness, and something has to be done!” There will be no renewal, no revival, no awakening until we are willing to let Him once again break us. Folks, it’s getting late, and it’s getting serious. There are some who need to confess: “I am not what I was. I am not where I am supposed to be. God, I don’t have Your heart or Your burden. I’ve wanted it easy. I just wanted to be happy. But, Lord, true joy comes out of anguish.” There is nothing of the flesh that will give you joy. I don’t care how much money, I don’t care what kind of new house . . . there is absolutely nothing physical that can give you joy. True joy comes only through what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when you obey Him and take on His heart.
.com Resource Adapted from “Anguish” by David Wilkerson. We encourage you to watch the full video at LifeAction.org/Prayer.
E. M. Bounds “Revivals,” as Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman reminds us, “are born in prayer. When Wesley prayed, England was revived; when Knox prayed, Scotland was refreshed; when the Sunday School teachers of Tannybrook prayed, 11,000 young people were added to the Church in a year.”
The Birthplace W
hen D. L. Moody’s church in Chicago lay in ashes, he
went over to England, in 1872, not to preach, but to listen to others preach while his new church was being built. One Sunday morning he was prevailed upon to preach in a London pulpit. But somehow the spiritual atmosphere was lacking. He confessed afterward that he never had such a hard time preaching in his life. Everything was perfectly dead, and, as he vainly tried to preach, he said to himself, “What a fool I was to consent to preach! I came here to listen, and here I am preaching.” Then the awful thought came to him that he had to preach again that night, and only the fact that he had given the promise to do so kept him faithful to the engagement. But when Mr. Moody entered the pulpit that night and faced the crowded congregation, he was conscious of a new atmosphere. “The powers of an unseen world seemed to have fallen upon the audience.” As he drew toward the close of his sermon,
he became emboldened to give out an invitation, and as he concluded he said, “If there is a man or woman here who will tonight accept Jesus Christ, please stand up.” At once about 500 people rose to their feet. Thinking that there must be some mistake, he asked the people to be seated; and then, in order that there might be no possible misunderstanding, he repeated the invitation, couching it in even more definite and
and to our church. If I had known he was going to preach this morning, I would have eaten no breakfast. I would have spent the whole time in prayer. Now, sister, go out of the room, lock the door, send me no dinner; no matter who comes, don’t let them see me. I am going to spend the whole afternoon in prayer.” And so while Mr. Moody stood in the pulpit that had been like an ice chamber in the morning, the bedrid-
of Revival difficult terms. Again the same number rose. Still thinking that something must be wrong, Mr. Moody, for the second time, asked the standing men and women to be seated, and then he invited all who really meant to accept Christ to pass into the vestry. Fully 500 people did as requested! The sequel, however, must be given. When Mr. Moody preached at the morning service, there was a woman in the congregation who had an invalid sister. On her return home she told the invalid that the preacher had been a Mr. Moody, and on hearing this the sister turned pale. “What,” she said, “Mr. Moody from Chicago! I read about him some time ago in an American paper, and I have been praying God to send him to London,
den saint was holding him up before God; and God, who ever delights to answer prayer, poured out His Spirit in mighty power. The God who answered the prayer of His child for Mr. Moody is willing to answer the faithful, believing prayers of His people today. When God’s people become so concerned about the state of religion that they lie on their faces day and night in earnest supplication, revival will fall!
meeting and make a confession. “Brethren,” he said, “I have been long in the habit of praying every Saturday night till after midnight for the descent of the Holy Ghost among us. And now, brethren (and he began to weep), I confess that I have neglected it for two or three weeks.” The secret was out. That minister had a praying church. We could go on with illustration upon illustration to show the place of prayer in revival, and to demonstrate that every mighty movement of the Spirit of God had its source in the prayer chamber. The lesson of it all is this: As workers together with God, we are in part responsible for the conditions which prevail around us today. Are we concerned about the coldness of the Church? Do we grieve over the lack of conversions? Do our souls go out to God in midnight cries for the outpouring of His Spirit? If not, part of the blame lies at our door. If we do our part, God will do His. Around us is a world lost in sin; above us is a God willing and able to save. It is ours to build the bridge that links heaven and earth, and prayer is the mighty instrument that does the work. Pray, brethren, pray. n Adapted from Purpose in Prayer.
Charles Finney reported: I once knew a minister who had a revival fourteen winters in succession. I did not know how to account for it till I saw one of his members get up in a prayer
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www.RetreatAtTheLodge.org The Lodge is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
The Poetry of Revival Prayer He called prayer “the church’s banquet,” “the soul in paraphrase,” and “the heart in pilgrimage.” An intellectual, born into an upper-class family that had strong links with the King of England (James I), George Herbert seemed to be doing very well for himself—he was successful at Cambridge University, where he gained a B.A. in 1611; he was an accomplished linguist and musician; he even served as a Member of Parliament. Yet it’s not for these accomplishments that Herbert is remembered. Rather, it’s as a poet, specifically of the spiritual life. His work influenced many poets among his contemporaries, including John Donne. At the age of 36, Herbert entered the Anglican ministry and found himself pastoring a rural church about a mile from Salisbury. Within three years (until his early death in 1633), he had become one of the most loved, respected, and faithful pastors of his day. His nearly two hundred poems, two short works on pastoral ministry, and the biography by his friend Izaak Walton, leave us a picture of a pastor who took prayer seriously. His vision was to see his rural church revived and renewed—its buildings, its services, and its people—and he sought to accomplish this with an increased emphasis both on private and public prayer. Although an able preacher, he refused to let prayer become a mere prelude to the sermon. Resort to sermons, but to prayers most; Praying’s the end of preaching. Meaningful, reverent, and sincere public prayer, both by pastor and congregation, were aimed at creating a warm “greenhouse” atmosphere in which spiritual growth would be quickened.
Public expressions of praise, confession, adoration, and intercession began, Herbert believed, with a private, individual willingness to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Listen, sweet Dove, unto my song, And spread thy golden wings in me, Hatching my tender heart so long Till it get wing and fly away with Thee. He longed for God’s presence in his own heart and in his congregation. He sought to battle against the “Sin still hammering his heart unto a hardness void of Love,” calling on God to revive his “unturned and unstrung” soul, “Drooping and dull as if I were all earth.” Herbert’s prayer life also led him to get practically involved in the lives of those he was praying for, underlining his philosophy of “practicing what you pray for.” He didn’t just wait—he acted. Reflecting on the passion of this young praying pastor, Puritan Richard Baxter said of George Herbert, “He speaks to God like one that really believeth in a God.” n Go to LifeAction.org/Prayer to read more of George Herbert’s poetry. Kevin Adams was born in South Wales and has authored two books and a film on Welsh revival history. He is the senior pastor of East Baptist Church in Lynn, MA. Bibliography The Lives of John Donne and George Herbert, Izaak Walton, 1639, Harvard Classics The Works of George Herbert, 1994, Wordsworth Poetry Library
We all are but cold suitors: Let us move Where it is warmest: Leave thy six and seven. Pray with the most, for where most pray, is heaven.
? ? ?
Hard Questions Can I pray with faith for revival?
Is there hope for revival in a nation that has rejected God, pursued its own way, and come under judgment?
Dr. Richard Fisher
here is nothing more heartbreaking to
godly parents than to see our sons and daughters reject the truth and pursue a destructive lifestyle. We yearn for their presence, the joy of fellowship, the bond of unity, the stability of restored peace. And until our wayward children return, we hope and wait, longing for their homecoming. So does God, our Creator and Father. Jesus Christ gives us insight into the heart of God toward His wayward children by telling the story of the prodigal son, recorded in Luke 15:11-32. In this parable, the younger son rejects his father’s love and pursues riotous living in the world. He squanders his inheritance funding his vain pursuits, and eventually finds himself in the company of pigs—tending them and even longing to eat their food! Wasting away in the squalor of the world, the younger son comes to his senses. He remembers the love and joy of his father’s home—the love he spurned. He realizes what a foolish thing he has done. He knows he will surely die if he remains in his pigsty. He repents and resolves to return to his father. On his return, his father rushes to receive and embrace him. The prodigal confesses his sin and, being ashamed, asks only to be considered a servant. The father will hear none of it. He is so excited his son has returned that he announces a feast and a celebration, for his son was lost and now is found; he was dead and is alive again.
The lesson of this parable is that God’s heart yearns for His beloved to return—the problem is not with God but with the unrepentant heart. When one comes to the end of himself, it’s time to turn to God and begin again. The story illustrates a lesson that is taught throughout the Old Testament and summarized in Psalm 85, Israel’s heart cry from the pigsty of captivity. This wonderful psalm gives us reasons to believe God for revival, as well as direction as we pray. (Psalm 85 inspired the famous nineteenthcentury hymn written by William Mackay entitled “Revive Us Again.”)
Reasons to Pray with Faith Read Psalm 85. It will help you appreciate the following observations: 1. Revival is God’s gracious gift (vv. 1-3, 5-6). The psalmist refers exclusively to the actions of God when recalling past revival: God showed favor, restored, forgave, covered, set aside, turned. The Israelites acted also, in repentance, in returning with contrite hearts, and in vows of obedience; but man cannot revive himself.
Man can humble himself and plead for God to forgive, but only God can revive the soul and restore broken fellowship. And since the wages of sin is death (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 6:23), restoration and revival from God is always an act of grace and mercy. 2. Revival is evidence of God’s faithfulness and covenant loyalty (vv. 1-3, 7-8). The psalmist draws from the Mosaic Covenant, which God made with Israel. (Deuteronomy 30:1-3 uses the same concepts and phrases, e.g. “restore your fortunes,” as are found here.) God made a promise in the covenant to restore His people when they returned to Him and obeyed Him with all their heart. God’s gracious act of revival is also motivated by His loyalty to His covenant. 3. Revival is based on God’s Word (vv. 7-8). This concept flows from God’s faithfulness to His Word. Therefore, we should read and know God’s Word. Psalm 81 emphasizes listen, learn, live, and God will satisfy you with “honey from the rock” (v. 16).
How We Should Pray 1. Ask God (vv. 4-7). James 4:2 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Do you want to be re- vived and restored by God? Ask God to revive you today, as He has done for His people in the past. 2. Desire God (v. 6). Not only does a son or daughter miss the joy of interacting and fellowshipping with their father, but the father also misses the relationship with his children. Let God know that you wish to have the fullness of life together with Him restored. 3. Be honest (vv. 8-9). These verses deal with the promises of faithfulness the repentant soul offers to God. Mean it when you say, “I will listen,” “I will not return to folly,” “I will fear God and obey His Word,” and, “I desire revival with all my heart.”
4. Rid yourself of idols (v. 9). Revival is not a works/ self- help issue; it is a heart/faith issue. Who sits on the throne of your heart? Deuteronomy 30:11-15 presents the choice between life and death, the choice between the true God and the man-made gods. Salvation is always within reach, and it begins with the choice to believe God and call on His name (cf. Romans 10). 5. Focus on Jesus Christ (vv. 10, 13). Jesus Christ is God’s provision for revival in our hearts and in our land. It is at the cross that God’s righteousness and His peace “kiss” (v. 10). Jesus alone expresses and accomplishes the righteousness of God.
Personal Precedes National Finally, Psalm 85 teaches us that revival begins with personal deliverance, but its goal is national redemption (vv. 9-13). We want the glory of God to dispel the darkness and shine throughout our land. Psalm 85 consistently refers to revival as a national phenomenon. The despair and pain of life apart from God has been felt by all; thus all need the transforming power of God’s revival. In Romans 10:6-13, Paul also refers to Deuteronomy 30:11-15 and applies the message of revival to the whole world, including the Gentile nations. It seems that God has worldwide revival in mind. But revival starts among His people. Revival causes God’s people to catch His vision, exude His love, and preach to the lost and dying world. In revival, the graces of eternal life will embrace and fill the land— loving kindness, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace. The fruit of revival is a harvest of goodness and righteousness (James 3:17-18). God yearns for His wayward children to repent and return home so they can be restored and enter fullness of life and joy with Him. Oh, God, revive us again! n Dr. Richard Fisher has served as a professor and regional director with Moody Bible Institute.
Real World What should I pray?
A student with a burden for revival runs into a familiar challenge: filling his prayer time without becoming distracted or discouraged.
Fight Spiritual ADD
The Scenario My campus group has been encouraging us to pray for revival in our personal lives and at our school. I even read an interesting biography about someone who did this. But for some reason, I haven’t figured out what I’m supposed to do. I know I should pray, a lot . . . even a few hours at a time? It all sounds great to me—the call to prayer, the joy of prayer, the results of prayer . . . So I set my alarm clock and drag out of bed a few minutes early, kneel down with an open Bible, and . . . well, that’s about where I get stuck. My mind is all over the place—homework, temptation, breakfast, vacation, going back to sleep—and then I feel even worse. I can’t even pay attention to God for five minutes? I really need some help with specifics.
Well, here’s a little help from an unexpected source—my deceased dad. Like you, he had a real desire to pray, but distractibility was a problem for him too. Part of the problem was that he had a very active mind. But he believed that another part of the problem was actually spiritual. In other words, he believed that the devil knew the power of prayer and so was shooting fiery darts of distraction when he tried to pray. His advice for fighting this spiritual ADD? A blank sheet of paper and a pen. Every time a distracting thought would come, about what needed to be done or something he’d forgotten or even a new idea, he would simply jot it down on the paper and return his mind to prayer, secure in the knowledge that nothing would be lost or forgotten now that it was in writing. This technique can keep you from becoming overly frustrated by your wandering mind, allowing you to return your attention to prayer. A secondary benefit is that you can close your prayer time by asking God which things on your new “To Do” list should be priority for the day. In this way your distractibility can actually become an aid to your spiritual life.
Del Fehsenfeld was trained as a family counselor and is the Senior Editor for Life Action Ministries.
Use God’s Gifts Perhaps I can help you with two practical ideas. I have a friend who faithfully walks outside during his time of prayer. Of course, the energy expended is a benefit physically, but it also helps in staying awake and communing with God. There are few things more inspiring than being surrounded by God’s wonderful creation. Allow nature to provide “prayer prompters” for God’s blessings, goodness, power, etc. Secondly, many people know that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. But I’ve also found it to be one of the best places to meditate and pray for revival. For instance, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way” (v. 37 nkjv). That verse alone could prompt us to pray for a whole host of things in our personal lives: use of time, use of money, focus, dreams, etc. Praying God’s Word back to Him is a powerful prayer technique. Keep on asking, seeking, and knocking (Matt. 7:7), and do not lose heart in the good discipline of prayer (Gal. 6:9).
Are you tempted? Talk with Him about it. Are you distracted by worries? Tell Him. Do you long for your campus to be revived? Tell Him so, and rest in this beautiful assurance—even if your prayer is off-balance, ill-conceived, or sleepy-eyed, the Holy Spirit transforms it, and your Savior presents it before the Father! So relax, and enjoy your conversations with God.
Elyse Fitzpatrick has been a counselor since 1989. She is the author of over a dozen books, including Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety (Harvest House, 2001).
Advice 1. Head over to LifeAction.org/Prayer and read the arti-
Wilson Green pastored for 21 years in Virginia and Illinois before joining Life Action in 1999. He currently co-leads a Life Action summit team.
cle by Tom Nesbitt, who teaches us how we can use the Bible itself as our guide to prayer. To pray specifically about revival, use Pastor Tom’s method for passages like James 4:4-10, Psalm 85, or Psalm 51.
2. Walk in the park. Most communities have beautiful
Make It Personal We don’t really need any more formulas to help us order our prayer “properly,” because prayer is, at heart, simply communication with a Person. (Yes, He is invisible, but He is still a real Person!) This Person isn’t like a professor, looking for correct grammar and construction, “grading” you along the way. He is your loving Father. He hasn’t simply invited you to pray—He loves you and delights in your dependence on Him. This perspective changes everything about prayer. When you go home on Christmas break, you don’t monitor your speech as you sit with your family, being sure you’re staying on topic and presenting your requests in the right order. No, you pull your car into the driveway and dump out all your laundry. You can’t wait to hug your family and tell them everything you’re thinking! The same can be true in our times of prayer with the heavenly Father.
trails at local parks—perfect places to quietly commune with the Lord. Start by simply thanking Him for the beauty you see, and praying about whatever comes to mind along the way.
3. Tell a Christian friend that you want to be faithful in
prayer each morning. If you’re trying to get up early to pray, find someone else with the same intention. Commit to call one another as a backup to your alarm clocks, and encourage each other to get up, get ready, and get praying!
4. Start a student revival prayer group. Pick a time and place on campus you could meet with others interested in seeing revival. Whether you have 3 or 300 in attendance, you’ll discover new power and joy in prayer.
5. In the “Making It Personal” section on p. 28, you’ll find some helpful patterns and ideas for prayer. These may help you get started until you are comfortable conversing with God more naturally.
Prayers for Change Clothed with Power by John Piper God gives special, extraordinary power for the extraordinary challenges of an expanding witness to Christ. This power fell on the Christians at Pentecost and then repeatedly throughout the book of Acts. And not only the book of Acts; the letters of Paul talk of this same power available to Christians (Eph. 3:16). It is the very fullness of God, as unimaginable as that sounds. When God sovereignly pours that kind of power out on a church, we call it revival. And God’s purpose in revival is that our witness to Christ will have more conviction, more courage, more wisdom, and more effect, so that God is greatly glorified and people are reached.
Four ways to seek this power: 1. Immerse yourself in the Word of God. It is almost certain that you will not be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit if you are not filled with the Word of God (1 John 2:14; Heb. 4:12; Jer. 23:29). If you want the power of the Holy Spirit in your life—if you are tired of being a weak replica of ordinary non-Christians—then change your routine and immerse yourself in the Bible. Read it, think about it, memorize it, use it.
2. Believe the Word of God. Trust that God intends to do wonderful things for his glory through you, because that is what the Bible teaches. Be expectant that the Holy Spirit within you will give you power according to God’s Word. In Romans 15:13, Paul says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (emphasis added). In other words, the power of the Spirit is the result of the believing, and it begets joy and peace.
3. Pray earnestly for power, and fast. We should ask God for the power of his Spirit. And sometimes we should do this with fasting. Luke 4:14 says that Jesus came from his 40-day fast full of the Holy Spirit. It may be that God reserves his extraordinary power for those who long for it in extraordinary ways—and show that longing by extended fasting and prayer.
4. Obey the Holy Spirit. Obey the Holy Spirit even before you feel his power. Many of us have resisted the Holy Spirit so often that we are unfit for the flow of his power. The channels have become so clogged with fear and self-consciousness and doubt and rationalization and worldly preoccupation that what we allow through is a barely discernible trickle of God’s love. As we begin to immerse ourselves in God’s Word, battle the unbelief of our hearts, pray and fast for power, and do what we know what we ought to do, little by little the old, clogged channels are cleared, and we begin to feel the power flow again. Adapted from “How to Be Clothed with Power” by John Piper. Find it at DesiringGod.org.
Making It Prayers That Birth Revival In 2 Chronicles 7:14, we learn two important things about God. First, God is merciful and loving, even when His people have sinned. Second, Godâ€™s overriding desire is to forgive and restore His people as they seek Him in humility, repentance, and faith. These great truths, repeated many times in both the Old and New Testaments, underpin all biblical and historical revivals. The following prayer guide, based on these themes, will give you direction and focus as you cry out to God for a wide-spread movement of authentic Christianity today.
â€œIf my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.â€?
humble themselves 1. Pray that we as Christians will bow before the Lord each day, so that we may receive His grace daily to live as we should (Jas. 4:6-10). 2. Pray that all those who have a personal relationship with the Lord will walk in a spirit of humility, as Jesus walked, living in recognition of the fact that pride leads to destruction, but humility precedes honor (Mic. 6:8; Prov. 18:12). 3. Pray that Christian husbands and wives will be humble in spirit, in order that their prayers may be answered (1 Pet. 3:7-15). 4. Pray that young Christians will be clothed with humility, respecting their elders, lifting all their concerns to God, and trusting God to exalt them at the proper time (1 Pet. 5:5-10).
5. Pray that times of crisis would be tangible reminders of what we deserve apart from the mercy of God (1 Pet. 3:13-17; Tit. 3:1-8; Ps. 40:1-3; 68:19-20; 103:1-5; Rom. 6:23). 6. Pray that God’s people would assume responsibility for the moral and spiritual erosion of our nation and our world (Ezra 9:6; Dan. 9:9-19).
pray and seek My face 7. Pray that God’s people would unite in praying for all who are in authority, that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives in godliness and holiness (1 Tim. 2:1-4). 8. Pray that Christians will seek God before getting physically involved in His work for the day (Mt. 6:6-8, 33; Ps. 32:6). 9. Pray that urgency and fervency would characterize our prayers (Isa. 64:9). 10. Pray that our first response as Christians will be to pray when we become anxious about any circumstance (Mt. 6:25-32; Phil. 4:6-7; Jer. 33:3). 11. Pray that God would raise up an army of prayer warriors who are willing to persevere in prayer and wage war on their knees (Lk. 18:1-8). 12. Pray for a spirit of prayer to spread like a wildfire across our land and world, until every church becomes a house of prayer (Mt. 21:13; Lk. 18:1; Phil. 4:6-7). 13. Pray that adult Christians will set a pattern of seeking the Lord in all things, so that younger generations may find their strength and hope in the Lord (Ps. 145:4; Josh. 24:14-15; Tit. 2:1-8). 14. Pray that God would increase our belief in His ability to supernaturally intervene and do the impossible. Pray for a desire to fast as we seek the face of God (Heb. 11:6; Mk. 9:23; Jas. 5:16-18; Isa. 58:6-12). 15. Pray that we would not trust in military strength, financial might, or political power to solve our difficulties, but that Scripture would guide all our decision making (Zech. 4:6; Jer. 9:23-24; Ps. 147:10-11; Prov. 21:30-31). 16. Pray that God’s people would not be self-sufficient. May we see our dire need for help from God and others (Jn. 15:5; 2 Cor. 3:5; Neh. 6:16; Jer. 2:31-32). 17. Pray that God’s people would lay aside their differences in order to unite behind the desperate need for an outpouring of God’s Spirit in revival (Ps. 133:1-3; Eph. 4:1-6). 18. Pray that a healthy fear of God would permeate our hearts and minds. Ask God to deliver us from the fear of man (Prov. 1:7, 9:10, 29:25).
turn from their wicked ways 19. Pray that Christians will meditate daily on the Word of God, allowing God to conform them to the image of Christ (Ps. 119:9-11; 1 Pet. 1:13–2:3; Rom. 8:29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Cor. 7:1). 20. Pray that God’s people will honestly acknowledge their sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and expose all sin appropriately (Jas. 4:8-10; Rom. 2:1-2; Gal. 6:1). 21. Pray that believers will seek and accept accountability from godly people (Jas. 5:16). 22. Pray that genuine repentance would characterize our response to sin, and that the lordship of Jesus Christ would rule our lives (2 Cor. 7:9-10; Mt. 7:21).
hear from heaven, forgive their sin, heal their land 23. Praise God that His hand is not too short to save. Claim the promise that the Lord draws near to all those who call on Him in truth (Isa. 59:1; Ps. 145:18). 24. Thank the Lord for His promise to extend mercy to those who confess and forsake their sin, and that He is faithful and just to forgive sin and cleanse from all unrighteousness (Prov. 28:13; 1 Jn. 1:9). 25. Praise the Lord that He promises to heal those who have fallen away, bind up the wounds of the torn and bruised, and restore the years the locusts have eaten (Jer. 3:22; 18:7-8; Hos. 6:1).
Hindrances to effective prayer • Unconfessed sin (Psalm 66:18) • Selfishness (James 4:3) • Praying for show (Matthew 6:5-7) • Proud spirit (Luke 18:9-14) • Unresolved conflicts (Matthew 5:23-24)
• Unforgiving spirit (Mark 11:25-26) • Lack of compassion (Proverbs 21:13) • Giving up too soon (Luke 11:5-10; 18:1) • Lack of fervency (James 5:16) • Unbelief (Mark 11:22-24)
We Could Set a Date
anuary 25, 1992. That date taught me the meaning of revival and the power of prayer. It was the date that charted the course for the rest of my life. Every ministry opportunity the Lord has given me (including being involved with Revive), I can trace directly to that Saturday. I was twelve years old. A few months prior, I heard about revival and asked my mom why we didn’t have it. She said she wasn’t sure, but that it required prayer. She helped me read up on what revival meant—stories from the past of thousands coming to Christ, whole towns repenting of sins, bars closing, police being laid off due to lack of crime—and as a faith-filled twelve-year-old, I couldn’t get enough of it. “Why couldn’t God do that today?” I asked. I decided we should call a prayer meeting, and started sending out simple, text-only flyers to every Christian I knew. They said, “Pass the Word, Pray for Revival,” with the date and 2 Chronicles 7:14. That really captured people’s attention. A twelve-year-old calling for a day of revival prayer? It wasn’t long before I had radio stations from Cleveland to Seattle to Houston calling for interviews, and letters of encouragement flooded us from families the world over. I remember one day when a man called from Australia to let us know he was planning to pray with us on January 25th. He had read about it in a local newspaper! January 25th arrived, and Christians across the world were praying with us. We knew of countless meetings in churches, on campuses, among missionaries in faraway lands . . . it was overwhelming. Somehow, God had used a few loaves and fishes to multiply a miracle that no one, especially me, would ever have expected. Did revival result from the many prayers uttered? It did for me. I saw the power of God in more ways than I
could describe here. I learned that God can use anyone. That’s not just a cliché—He really will use anyone. Faith, prayer, and a little initiative are all that He requires. Perhaps someday I’ll publish the full story of what happened that winter . . . how every time the phone rang, I’d jump at the thought of what new miracle was being reported . . . how Ephesians 3:20-21 came to life for me. But history can only take us so far. What must we do today? Well, we could set a date. We could invite our friends to pray, confess, plead, and seek God as never before for revival in our midst, for awakening in the world. We could start small and unsophisticated: “2 Chronicles 7:14—Let’s meet to pray.” It could be anywhere, with anyone, at any time, as God leads. If every Revive reader accepted this challenge and encouraged others to do so, more than 50,000 revival prayer meetings would result. That would be a healthy start! Then, behold the power of God. n
We could invite our friends to pray, confess, plead, and seek God as never before for revival.
Daniel W. Jarvis Managing Editor
P.O. Box 31, Buchanan, MI 49107 269-697-8600 • www.LifeAction.org
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Igniting Movements of Authentic Christianity Since 1971, Life Action Ministries has been calling God’s people to God’s presence. Our family of outreaches is igniting movements of Christ-centered revival among God’s people in innovative, life-changing ways: •
Summits and THIRST conferences for local churches
Revive Our Hearts publishing, conferences, and daily radio for women
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Collegiate Impact for universities
Cutting-edge resources, such as Seeking Him for small groups, Revive magazine and the Infuse podcast for personal renewal, and Heartcry Journal for pastors
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