“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation” – (Luke 3:4-6).
We are right now living in desperate days. The Church in many parts of the world needs revival, and God wants to use each one of us to prepare the way for a mighty outpouring of His Spirit. I am sure that you sense the urgency of the hour. It is not hard to see that everything is not right. God is trying to get our full attention. It is truly time to cry out to the Lord and become men and women of fervent prayer. We need God’s intervention in our cities and nations. The valleys of defeat must be filled, the mountains of disbelief must be leveled, the crooked places of dishonesty must be straightened, and the rough places of disobedience must be made smooth.
It was almost 25 years ago on the mission field when I wrote the following two paragraphs in a newsletter. I find that today I must still ask myself the same questions I asked then:
“Am I desperate enough for revival? Do I realize the desperate condition of my country?” And if I trust in religious organization, material wealth, popular preaching, shallow evangelistic crusades, there will never be revival. But when confidence in my flesh is smashed and I realize my desperate wretchedness and emptiness before God, then and only then will God break through. “Lord, make me ready for revival. Revive me.”
I challenge you to join me in prayer for revival for our lives and for the nations. I call for prayer that is strong, prevailing, believing, God-moving, hell-defeating, devil-routing, sinner-saving, believer-sanctifying, Christ-exalting and worker-producing—prayer that takes all that we are and have. God Himself will motivate us to pray these prayers that have extraordinary consequences if we are only willing, willing to pay the price. Pray that God may fill us all with the very passion of Christ, with the power and persistence of the Holy Spirit, with the burdening sense of the Church’s plight and world’s appalling need, that the wheels of revival may be set in motion.
“Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Restore us, O Lord God Almighty; make your face to shine upon us, that we may be saved” – (Psalm 80:18-19).
How do we Personally Prepare the Way for Revival?
“The coming revival must begin with a great prayer revival. It is in the closet, with the door shut, that the sound of abundant revival will be first heard. An increase in the secret prayer of ministers and members will be the sure herald of blessing.” Andrew Murray
- Prepare yourself in the way of blessing through intensive prayer – Pray with all your heart, asking God to enlarge your prayer and worship life. Make time for God, and practice fasting.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray…” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
- Be serious about personal revival – Instead of watching TV, pray. Don’t get caught up in the ways of the world. Lay aside those worldly pursuits.
“… and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” – (2 Chronicles 7:14).
- Become dissatisfied with sin and ask God to convict your heart – Be sensitive to His conviction.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” – (Psalm 139:23-24).
- Repent thoroughly – Don’t tolerate sin in your own life. Let godly sorrow over your sin touch you deeply.
“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight… Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” – (Psalm 51:4-6).
- Make restitution whenever possible –Make sure that your relationships are right.
“Live in harmony with one another” – (Romans 12:16).
- Practice living the Sermon on the Mount – Matthew 5 – 7 is the job description of holy living. Ask God to transform your life and teach you to live to please Him. Prayerfully study the Sermon on the Mount regularly.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” – (Matthew 5:3-4).
- Choose to narrow your interests – If you narrow your interests, God will enlarge your heart. We can so easily be distracted from prayer, but revival calls for a focused vision on what really matters. This is the time to pray and hunger after God wholeheartedly.
“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands” – (Psalm 119:10).
- Make a new commitment to reach out to the lost – Pray an ask God for opportunities, and He will help you. Begin to pray, care and share Christ with those who do not know Him. Follow the example of Jesus.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” – (Luke 19:10).
- Have faith in God – Begin to expect God to move through your prayers. Believe that He does want to pour out His spirit and bring revival.
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” – (Hebrews 11:1).
Revival begins with us. It is each one of us getting our lives straight and turning from the crooked paths. Take seriously the need for personal revival. Take seriously the need for prayer. God is dealing with His Church.
“The great work of intercession is needed for this returning to the Lord. It is here that the coming revival must find its strength. Let us begin as individuals to plead with God, confessing whatever we see of sin or hindrance in ourselves or others. If there were no other sin, surely the lack of prayer is matter enough for repentance, confession, and returning to the Lord.” – Andrew Murray
Together in the Harvest,
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff
STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS
by Francis Dixon
(Key-verses: Habakkuk 3:1-2)
The strange word “”shigionoth”” in Habakkuk 3:1 indicates that this beautiful heart-felt prayer for revival, offered by the prophet around 600 BC, was originally set to music. Habakkuk prayed because revival was desperately needed. God’’s people had become forgetful, formal and careless in their devotion and obedience to God. They had almost lost their testimony, God’’s holy name was not honoured, and His kingdom was not being extended.
How relevant this study is for our own times! –- because our greatest need today is for spiritual revival. Our greatest need is not for more evangelistic meetings (although we thank God for these), for more money or for better methods. The greatest need is for spiritual revival, for a fresh infusion of divine life into the Church, for an awakening in the lives of God’’s people and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It was for this that Habakkuk prayed. Let us examine his prayer:-
1. The word ‘O’’ expresses a deeply-felt longing for revival
The prophet prayed ““I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord ”…” –- what intensity of feeling! Are we burdened like this? What is our reaction to the following facts:-
- 1. The average Christian is living on a very low level of Christian experience, often defeated and powerless and in bondage to self.
- 2. The testimony of the Christian Church in the world is frequently ineffective and very different from the testimony of the early Christians.
- 3. Many Christians and churches are completely occupied with petty things such as jealousies, squabbles, barriers between Christian and Christian, and often there’s a lack of love amongst God’’s people.
- 4. Many churches have no prayer meetings or poorly-attended prayer meetings.
- 5. Many preachers and teachers have departed from the Word of God and from pure Gospel preaching.
- 6. There are few conversions in our churches.
- 7. Much worldliness has taken over the lives of many believers in our churches.
2. The word ““Lord”” (repeated) declares that God is the author of revival
Habakkuk’s prayer was rightly directed to the Lord because revival comes from Heaven. It cannot be worked up; it needs to be prayed down. It is not man’s doing, but God’’s, though God in His mercy sends revival through His people. The fact that we so often place emphasis on outward things, on organization and methods, on advertising and publicity etc. shows that we do not see this amazing truth. These things do not produce revival –- God alone can!
3. The words ““I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe…” ” show how revival begins
It is when a believer gets alone in God’’s presence, hears His voice and trembles at His word (Isaiah 66:2). Habakkuk had in fact done this (2:1-3), and while he was alone in God’’s presence he experienced what the Psalmist mentions in Psalm 85:6-8. So often we rush into God’’s presence and do all the talking, but it is when a man abases himself before Almighty God, confesses the sins of his people and his own sins, that revival can begin in that one man. One person can open the door through which the Risen Lord will enter in reviving and quickening power into His Church (Revelation 3:20)!
4. The words “”Revive thy work…” ” (KJV) unveil the true nature of revival
Habakkuk did not pray, ‘‘Lord, deal with the heathen and save them…’
’, but ‘’Revive your work
…put your people right…’
’ Many Christians confuse revival with the work of evangelism. Revival includes evangelism, but evangelism does not necessarily include revival. Evangelism includes organization, publicity, team work, perhaps media appearances, and much human effort –- all of which is good; but when revival comes it is quite apart from these human endeavours. It always begins in the Church and in the hearts and lives of God’’s own people.
5. The words “”In the midst of the years…” ” (KJV) speak to us of the time of revival
Habakkuk repeats these words in his prayer, so what is their significance? No doubt the prophet meant, ‘‘O Lord, revive your work now, when the need is so desperate…’
’; and surely for us it means that any time is God’’s time for revival, any time when revival is needed and when God’’s people will pray. Here we are not in any way contradicting what has already been said about God being the author of revival; God is sovereign, but has also declared in His Word that He is willing to hear and answer the prayers of His people. Therefore, “”in the midst of the years””, at this very time, God will revive if
…look up 2 Chronicles 7:14.
6. The words “”make known…” ” reveal the effects of revival
When revival comes, what does God “”make known””? (1) He makes known His majesty, His glory and His holiness (Isaiah 6:1-8). (2) He makes known our sin, weakness, emptiness and failure (Lamentations 3:40-42; Matthew 5:23-24; Luke 19:8). (3) He makes known the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:11-12). When revival comes God reveals Himself, for revival is a revelation of the Lord Himself –- and the result is a tremendous consciousness of God’’s presence.
7. The words ““in wrath remember mercy…” ” suggest the true motive for praying for revival
God had been punishing the Chaldeans and chastening His own people, but Habakkuk prayed He would reveal His mercy to show the other side of His nature –- He hates and punishes sin but loves the sinner. Is that our prayer too?
By Dave Butts
For many years now, the Lord has put the issue of revival praying upon my heart. Initially, I must admit, my prayers were fairly generic: “O Lord, please revive us.” As I have grown in my approach to prayer, I’ve learned more specific requests, especially in using the Word of God to help format and provide content for my prayers. Psalm 80 and Isaiah 63 and 64 have helped me to petition the Lord for revival with both variety and the power of Scripture behind my requests.
Recently I have been praying through the Psalms again. I began to lift before the Lord the words of Psalm 74. To my delight, I found another “revival” prayer. My desire is that this Psalm will provide fuel for the fire of intercession and petition in your life as you beseech God to once again bless us with His Presence in revival.
As you pray through Psalm 74, please notice that before major sections I share some comments to help you see the aspects of revival in each passage. I encourage you to move beyond Bible study however, to passionately praying the heart of the Psalmist.
The Awareness of the Need for Revival
At the beginning of Psalm 74 we find the agonizing realization that God’s presence is not near. In fact, because of sin, there has been a sense of rejection. As is typical in revival praying, there is a cry for God to remember His people and return to them:
“Why have You rejected us forever, O God? Why does Your anger smolder against the sheep of Your pasture? Remember the people You purchased of old, the tribe of Your inheritance, whom You redeemed – Mount Zion, where You dwelt. Turn Your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary” (Psa. 74:1-3).
The Result of God’s Apparent Absence
When sin is accepted in the life of the people of God, the consequences begin to be felt. The enemies of God and His people begin to afflict the nation. Notice that the Psalmist uses the phrase, “Your foes roared.” This reminds us that our ultimate enemy is Satan, the one whom Peter tells us roams about as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour (1 Pet. 5:8).
“Your foes roared in the place where You met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved paneling with their axes and hatchets. They burned Your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of Your Name. They said in their hearts, ‘We will crush them completely!’ They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land. We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be” (Psa. 74:4-9).
Turning to an Awareness of the God to Whom We Are Praying
An important lesson to learn in prayer is that ultimately we need to be concerned about God and His reputation and the extension of His kingdom and purposes. Revival really isn’t about us having better meetings or being happy. It is about God’s Name being exalted and more praise and honor given to Him on this planet. Notice that the Psalmist asked God to go to work, because He is the one being reviled and mocked through the attacks on His people. Note also that this portion of the Psalm then moves into a wonderful expression of recognizing God’s power and ability to handle any attack. It is as we understand the awesome power of the One we are addressing in prayer, that our faith will grow and we will begin to pray in a way that moves the hand of God.
“How long will the enemy mock You, O God? Will the foe revile Your name forever? Why do You hold back Your hand, Your right hand? Take it from the folds of Your garment and destroy them!
“But You, O God, are my king from of old; You bring salvation upon the earth. It was You who split open the sea by Your power; You broke the heads of the monster in the waters. It was You who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert. It was You who opened up springs and streams; You dried up the ever flowing rivers. The day is Yours, and Yours also the night; You established the sun and moon. It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter” (Psa. 74:10-17).
The Request for Revival
Once again, this prayer is focused upon the honor of God and the integrity of His covenant with His people. The concern is for the Lord and how He is perceived by the nations. The cry for God to rise up and defend His cause will mean that Israel will once again walk in right relationship to their God. When He prospers them, they cry that God will be honored, not only by Israel, but by those nations in the area who see how He protects and prospers His people when they obey Him.
“Remember how the enemy has mocked You, O LORD, how foolish people have reviled Your name. Do not hand over the life of Your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of Your afflicted people forever. Have regard for Your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise Your name. Rise up, O God, and defend Your cause; remember how fools mock You all day long. Do not ignore the clamor of Your adversaries, the uproar of Your enemies, which rises continually” (Psa. 74:18-23).
Here is a prayer to pray that embraces the principles of revival in Psalm 74 and makes them our own:
Father, like ancient Israel, we too live in a day in which Your Name is mocked. Many times this happens because of the shortcomings and sins of those of us who are followers of Your holy Son, Jesus. Lord, we confess our sins and the way we have lived our lives as Christians apart from complete dependence upon You. We repent of this shameful self-sufficiency and throw ourselves upon Your mercy.
Gracious God, our lifestyle has often led unbelievers to insult and attack Your very nature and character. We ask You, Lord, to rise up and defend Yourself. Would You awaken Your people to the reality of Your presence in our midst and in so doing transform our lives into the character of Christ that You desire to see in us? May Your life lived out in Your Church begin to demonstrate to the world Your love, grace, mercy and overwhelming power on behalf of Your saints. Would You allow the kingdom principles that govern heaven to begin to be made manifest on earth? We ask You to revive Your people so that we may rejoice in You and demonstrate in our lives the awesome, transforming power of Jesus Christ in His Church. Amen.
–Dave Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries. A popular speaker, Dave is the author or co-author of 8 books, including When God Shows Up, from which this article is taken. (C) Harvest Prayer Ministries.