Here of late, God has been stirring me—I think I could go further than 'stirring', and even say 'convicting' me—of the need for a revival of prayer.
I am concerned that we, as the people of God, as those who profess to have "Truth", as men of God, we have tried to escape the necessity of heartfelt, urgent prayer, and we are trying to "build" churches on something less than prayer.
We have "churches" turning into "coffee clubs"; we have men who once "had church" who no longer promote "service times" for fear of offending or driving potential visitors away; instead, they are now promoting "gatherings" or "social meetings". Their idea of "church" is having a social club, where an open Q & A forum has replaced anointed preaching, where having a good time of food and fellowship, and discussing scriptural principles has pre-empted the impassioned, fiery, leave-your-guts-on-the-pulpit preaching that used to call sinners to repentance, and bring the church to their knees.
I feel that God literally has awakened my soul with an anguished cry for His People to begin to pray. Heaven stands at attention when a man or woman of God begins to pray; God waits at the ready to unleash our cities, to shatter the chains that have held our communities captive, yet we continue to miss the one thing that will bring all of God's Glory to our rescue: Prayer.
We must pray. We simply must pray. We want revival; we want a sovereign move of God; we want the Holy Ghost to sweep across our churches, our congregations, our communities, yet we cannot expect it to happen with little or no effort on our part. All of our programs—as brilliant as some of them may be—will not replace a move of the Spirit across the face of our nation that will happen when God's people begin to pray.
There is power in prayer; the great revivals of yesteryear began when men and women began to call on the name of the Lord. Azusa Street happened when a group met, and began to pray. The Day of Pentecost—upon which our very doctrine is founded—was fulfilled when a group of believers joined together and began to pray. The scriptures abound with stories of what happened when God's people, His prophets, His preachers, His Church began to pray.
I still believe in miracles. I still believe in blind eyes being opened during service; I still believe the deaf can miraculously have their hearing restored to them; I believe the hopeless, the unloved, the broken, the tragic, the vile, the filthy, the unreachable, can still be reached, changed, cleansed, restored, healed through the power of fervent prayer.
I was having this discussion a few days ago with a man of God who has become a dear friend to me in just a short time; I told him how God had began almost-urgently impressing on my heart that passage that states, "...the effectual FERVENT prayer of a righteous man availeth much." As I told this man of God: "We pray, but we no longer pray fervently."
The mindset of our society has permeated our churches, and our prayer life: We expect an immediate response from God when we throw up a little "text-message prayer", and when God doesn't respond right away, we become disgruntled, disappointed, questioning why He continues to allow things to happen. Daniel prayed earnestly three times a day, yet his answer took a long time in coming. Why should we expect immediate gratification from God when we say, "Oh, by the way, Lord, I need You to move on my behalf..."
Interesting question: The same passage in James that refers to the "effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man" also makes reference to Elijah by saying he was a "man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not by the space of three years and six months." My question: Did it not rain for 3-1/2 years because Elijah prayed ONCE? Or did it not rain for 3-1/2 years because Elijah prayed EVERY DAY for 3-1/2 years that it wouldn't rain? We don't really know the answer, but isn't it worth pondering?
2 Chron. 7:14 promises a response from God ONLY "If my people...will humble themselves and PRAY..."
We need a revival of prayer. I don't feel I'm alone in this, but I genuinely want to see what will happen across our churches, across our nation, across this perverse generation, across our world, if God's people will return to a season of earnest, heartfelt repentance, humility, and prayer for a move of God.
Thanks for allowing me to bare my soul. This was purely spontaneous, and I'm sitting in my cubicle at work on my lunch break, fighting back tears, but felt an urgency to share that with you.
And pastors, I specifically prayed for you this morning. I will continue to lift you up in prayer; you are more needed in this day and hour than you could ever imagine.