By Richard Owen Roberts
Prayerlessness must be linked with carelessness. According to James, we "have not" either because we ask not or because we ask amiss (4:2-3). No greater hindrance to revival could possibly be pinpointed than the almost unbelievable prayerlessness that exists.
The vast majority of Christians seem never to pray for revival at all. Of the handful who pray for it, only a small percentage pray with regularity. Among those who pray with regularity, a minority pray as if they were desperately in earnest. And unfortunately, even some among this slim number are growing weary of asking and are abandoning their divinely appointed task while the hand of God is still preparing the blessing.
This is strange conduct in view of the fact that there is little else, besides praying, men can do to bring revival. Prayer is the single most important task God has assigned men in their earthly pilgrimage.
Prayer is so vital to the human walk that Jesus Himself devoted extended periods (as much as forty days and nights at one time) to it. The Scriptures abound with commands, encouragements, and invitations to pray as well as with illustrations of prayer.
The very heart of the biblical teaching on prayer is fervency and consistency. When men are so earnest that they cannot live without a desired blessing, God is pleased with their attitude and takes delight in their petitions.
Halfhearted praying doesn’t even produce halfhearted results. It is worse than nothing. In fact, it is an affront against a gracious God. God Himself is earnest. He deals earnestly with people and requires people to deal earnestly with Him.
Personal Revival First
Secret prayer for revival is absolutely essential. Men must begin with prayer for the revival of their own souls. They must wrestle with God in their own closets for this needed blessing. When it comes, there will come with it a burden for a larger awakening affecting the whole church.
This prayer for revival must go on unceasingly. It must shape and affect all of life. It must become a burden of major proportions. It is a duty and a privilege not to be abandoned.
Prayer for revival must also become a major part of the prayer life of the local church. It ought to find its way into the public services of worship. It ought to dominate the prayer meetings of the congregation.
Prayer for revival in the local church must begin with a focus on the spiritual needs of that fellowship and must include a willingness, even a heartfelt desire, to be "broken" before the Lord. As the Lord begins to stir and move, this prayer for revival must be extended to include the entire Body of Christ.
Such prayer, if it is to be effective, cannot be occasional or insipid. Energy and enthusiasm must be poured into this God-appointed work. Failure to do so is a monstrous hindrance to revival.
A Mighty Concert of Prayer Is Needed!
Prayer meetings for revival should spring up in offices, homes, factories, and schools across the nation. All sectarian interests should be abandoned for the great cause of revival prayer. Men and women of various persuasions and backgrounds must agree on earth as touching this one thing – that they cannot and will not live without revival. The God of all mercies cannot and will not resist such prayer.
The Hindrance of Faithlessness
God hears the prayer of faith. No prayer prevails that comes from the faithless heart. Jesus said, "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:22-24).
Which is harder – for God to move an entire mountain from its place on land and cast it into the sea or for God to revive His work? Neither! God has no difficulty with either one. We are the ones with the difficulties. We find it almost impossible to truly believe that God will do remarkable things for us. In consequence, much of our praying is as nothing. The prayer of faith is linked with the knowledge of the will of God. If you do not know that revival is God’s will you may pray with the feeble hope God will be merciful enough to revive His people again, but your prayers will lack the confidence necessary for success.
Two Faith-Inspiring Questions
Two questions must be asked concerning revival. First, will revival be to the glory of God? If revival cannot enhance that glory, then it is of a doubtful nature. But, can you imagine anything that would bring more glory to God than a wonderful, deep, wide, and glorious revival that would turn millions of backsliders into fervent Christians and bring countless unbelievers into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?
The psalmist’s often repeated prayer reflects this truth: "Revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee" (Psa. 85:6). The glory of God will be wonderfully increased by revival, so from this standpoint, at least, we can pray with confidence.
Second, will revival genuinely advance the work of Christ on earth? Will it significantly help to accomplish the petition, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven"? Again we might ask, "Can anything other than revival do so much to accomplish God’s will and purpose?
I am personally unaware of anything more nearly in line with the heart and purpose of God than the revival of His work. Surely prayer for revival is within the will of God and can be lifted heavenward with great confidence and faith.
Do you pray in faith for revival? The failure to do so is a shameful hindrance to the work of God on earth. How can you justify it?
Taken from Revival by Richard Owen Roberts. Copyright © 1982 by Richard Owen Roberts. Used by permission.
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