The Place of Prayer in Revival
Prayer Precedes Revival: Everywhere revival happened, prayer preceded revival. Before God poured out His Spirit, before everything took place, prayer took place. You can see that in all revivals down through history. There was a movement of prayer in anticipation of the work of God.
What kind of prayers precedes revival? There may be others, but there are two kinds of prayers that take place that need to happen right now. First is the prayer of repentance. In Second Chronicles 14 when Asa commanded Judah to seek the Lord, immediately they began to tear down all of the foreign altars. Those are acts of repentance, acts based on their prayers in which they sought the Lord and they realized they could not seek the Lord and have idols. We need to focus more of our teaching on repentance.
There is also the prayer of desperation. Jehoshaphat in a sense prayed that kind of prayer: "God, I have no Plan B. There is only Plan A and it is whatever You are going to do. We are desperate, Lord, for You to move." In the life of the church today we have not yet come to the point of desperation. We still have plans and programs; we are still going to this conference and that conference trying to find the right sort of thing that will get our people going again. We have not yet reached a place of desperation. Prayers of repentance and desperation are the sort of prayers that precede revival.
Prayer Pervades Revival: But when revival begins, prayer does not end. In fact, when the prayer ends, the revival ends. One of the marks of revival is continued prayer, day and night prayer. Whole cities become like prayer meetings as people are praying on the street corners. What kind of prayer pervades revival? It is a prayer of humility – a prayer like Asa prayed in Second Chronicles 14:11: "O God, help us!" That kind of prayer of humility is what will continue revival because one of the things that will stop revival is pride. If suddenly our churches are filled, if suddenly things are moving, there is a tendency for us to begin to take credit, to feel like we have accomplished something. To continue to have prayer pervade revival we must be praying prayers of humility, recognizing that what we have comes from God, that it is not by our own effort, but it is what He has done.
Prayers of worship and thankfulness are needed. These are two different things, but I bring them together because you see them together in the lives of Asa and Jehoshaphat: prayers of worship, adoring God, recognizing Him for who He is, but also prayers of thankfulness, of gratitude.
Today we find there are not very many praying churches. There are frustrated pastors and prayer leaders who would love their churches to be praying churches, but there is not much going on. They get discouraged when they have a prayer meeting and just a handful of people come. But God has a remnant He is working through. Those people need to stick with it, and they need to not give up. It is that remnant that continues to grow and build and develop, and to humble themselves before God. That is what God is looking for to spark revival. Then there will come a day when our prayer meetings will be full. People will come to prayer meetings because that is where they experience the presence of Christ in a fresh, new way. Prayer pervades revival.
Prayer Propels Revival: Prayer propels revival. It expands it, takes it to new places. Biblically and historically when revival took place, it went outward and spread to other places. The people of God experiencing the presence of God could not contain it. They began to pray different sorts of prayers, prayers that took the revival to different places. They began to pray evangelistic and transformational types of prayers. Jehoshaphat is a great example of one whose heart was "devoted to the ways of the Lord" (2 Chron. 17:6). But then he took what God was doing in his life out to the nation. He himself, as well as others that he trained, took the Word of God and went to the people to teach them to seek the Lord and to obey the Lord in all ways. Prayers of transformation and evangelism, lifestyle type praying is the sort of thing I believe that God is calling the church to when revival takes place, and it is to be expanded and to be propelled in other places. The Holy Spirit is the spark that ignites revival and causes it to be propelled.