Study 7 REVIVAL COMES WHEN CHRISTIANS PRAY
PRAYING ALWAYS WITH ALL PRAYER
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Psalm 85:1-13)
The Church’s greatest need today is for revival! Charles Finney said, ‘A revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat. In any community a revival can be secured from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die, or if needs be to win and die …’ (Matthew 11:12). In a very real sense revival is always the sovereign work of God and He either gives it or He does not give it; but it is also true that wherever God’s people are prepared to really pray, then revival will be the result. Prayer is not the only condition, as 2 Chronicles 7:14 makes clear. Failure to meet any of the conditions outlined in this key-verse would be an obstacle, but if there is one human condition more important than another, and which in a very real way includes the other conditions, it is that of prayer; God’s people have never really prayed without experiencing some measure of revival.
- Years ago Dr R. A. Torrey made this statement: “I have a theory, and I believe it to be true, that there is not a church, chapel or mission on earth where you cannot have a revival, provided there is a nucleus of faithful people who will hold on to God until it comes.”
1. REVIVAL COMES WHEN CHRISTIANS PRAY
Let us begin this study by a simple demonstration of the fact that God sends gracious times of refreshing in answer to the prayers of His people. He never fails to do this.
- 1. The divine promises in the Bible prove it. Look up 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jeremiah 29:12-13; 33:3; Zechariah 12:10; Malachi 3:10; 1 John 5:14-15. These references show that God is willing to send revival and will do so in answer to the prayers of His people.
- 2. The historic examples of revival recorded in the Old Testament prove it. For instance, compare 1 Samuel 7:1-14; 2 Chronicles 29:3-36; Nehemiah 1:5-11. In the Book of Judges we notice that time and time again the people turned to God in prayer, and each time He graciously answered them.
- 3. The historic accounts of revival recorded in the New Testament prove it. The great revival at Jerusalem was preceded and followed by much prayer, as Acts 1:13-14, 2:1-4, 2:37-47 tell us. Look up Acts 4:23-31 and notice that it was prayer that immediately preceded this wonderful outpouring of blessing. The revivals at Samaria (Acts 8:5-8), Antioch (Acts 11:19-26), Philippi (Acts 16:25-34) and Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7 and 18-20) were all preceded by prayer.
- 4. The inspiring records of revivals that have occurred in more recent times prove it. The Moravian revival; the revival under David Brainerd, Whitefield, and the Wesleys; the revivals in 1857 and 1859, the revivals under Moody and Sankey, and under Torrey and Alexander, the awakening in Wales in 1904, and the undoubted (though possibly restricted) movement of the Holy Spirit in more recent times in the Hebrides, in London and in Scotland, where there have most certainly been times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord - all these were preceded by much prayer. As the result of prayer God answered by pouring out a great blessing.
- 5. The personal experience of many of us proves it. Have we not prayed and seen the Lord working mightily in answer to our prayers? We have prayed for personal revival (Psalm 138:7); we have prayed for the revival of the work God has committed to our hands (Psalm 85:6); and we have prayed for a revival in the work of God generally (Habakkuk 3:2); and as we have prayed, always God has sent revival, in some measure, in answer to our prayers.
2. THE KIND OF PRAYER THAT PROMOTES REVIVAL
What kind of prayer is it that precedes and promotes the outpouring of divine blessing upon our lives or upon the work of God generally? Here are some answers to this vital question:-
- 1. Prayer that has come as the result of a deeply-felt need. Have you ever read Nehemiah 1:3-11? If not, please do so now and see how the need in Jerusalem drove Nehemiah to his knees to seek the Lord in prayer. How burdened this man was! As he heard of the state of Jerusalem he wept over it - and so did the Lord Jesus (Luke 19:41). Have we any tears?
- 2. Prayer that is marked by a Spirit-born intensity. Look up Isaiah 44:3; 66:8; Daniel 9:3-22. In biblical days, when the need was very urgent, the people of God would fast as well as pray - compare 2 Chronicles 20:2-30; Ezra 8:21-23; Nehemiah 1:3-4 - and they held on to the Lord until the blessing came - compare 1 Samuel 15:11; Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8. What sacrifices are we willing to make in order that we may experience revival, either in our own lives or in our church?
- 3. Prayer that is linked with wholehearted obedience. Read Joshua chapter 7, particularly noting verses 6-9. As surely as we begin really to pray the Lord will reveal those things in our lives that need to be removed before revival can come. Instant obedience is what the Lord wants - look up Acts 5:32.
- 4. Prayer that is accompanied by a child-like faith. Compare Genesis 18:14; Matthew 13:58; 17:20; 21:22; Mark 9:23; 11:24; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 5:14-15. Just think what faith Elijah had! - James 5:16-18. How we need to pray the prayer of Luke 17:5!
- 5. Prayer that is offered with a God-glorifying motive. James 4:3 is our guide. What is our motive for wanting revival? It should be that our Lord Jesus Christ may see of the suffering of His soul and be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11).