I remember hearing Tom Nelson say, “Prayer doesn’t just bring revival. Prayer IS revival. When God stirs Christians’ hearts to pray, you’ve got revival, because Christians generally don’t pray.”
The more I think about that quote, the more I believe it is true. I’ve had my own battle with making time to pray consistently and fervently. But as I continue to study and teach God’s word in a culture that is running as hard as possible toward depravity, as I grow older and watch the church grow less effective, as I see so many people deceived and miserable when they buy the enemy’s lies, I realize my inability. I realize that God is our only hope. I realize the only alternative to awakening is judgment. That scares me. It drives me to pray. Desperately.
Dr. J. Edwin Orr was the professor of the history of awakenings at Fuller Theological Seminary. Billy Graham said that he was one of the greatest authorities on religious revivals. At the end of his life he said, “After studying prayer and spiritual awakenings for 60 years I’ve reached this conclusion…whenever God is ready to do something new with His people, He always sets them praying.”
Maybe this means God is about to do something new. Oh how I long for this. So I find myself praying not only for awakening, but for God to incite his people to pray for awakening. Renowned commentator, Matthew Henry, said the following:
When God is about to give His people the expected good, He pours out a Spirit of prayer, and it is a good sign that He is coming toward them in mercy. Then when you see the expected end approaching, ‘then you shall call upon Me’ (Jer. 29:11-12). Note: Promises are given not to supersede, but to quicken and encourage prayer; and when deliverance is coming we must by prayer go forth to meet it. When Daniel understood the 70 years were near expiring, then he set his face with more fervency than ever to seek the Lord (Dan. 9:2-3).
Therefore, my most important job as a pastor could be to beckon people to pray that God will send sweeping revival. Even more important than preaching. R.A. Torrey said, “There have been revivals without much preaching, but there has never been a mighty revival without mighty prayer.”
So I will pray. And I will plead with others to pray.