Prayer is an ordinary means of grace that God has often answered in extraordinary power. God has promised to bless it. There is no guarantee that God will reward our prayers with such a powerful outpouring of His Spirit that we hope for. But He encourages us to pray tenaciously, to say, as Jacob, “I will not let you go unless you bless me”
Some churches in the Presbytery of the Dakotas of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have committing themselves to pray for revival; they invite other believers and churches to join them.
Invitation to Prayer for Revival
We are inviting others to join us in praying with us for genuine, Spirit-wrought Revival. Several churches in the Presbytery of the Dakotas of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have committed to monthly prayer meetings for Revival, summarized in four points for prayer. This is an invitation to join us to pray together in your location for Revival? Each congregation is asked to gather monthly for prayer, on the last Friday of the month if possible, from April through October 2017 (coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation). If another day and time is more suitable, then meet then. What is more important is that there a time be set aside for corporate prayer.
Here is our webpage that provides guidance to mutually encourage one another in seeking our heavenly Father.
- That God would revive and strengthen the faith of His people gathered in true churches throughout our nation, giving them boldness and renewed vigor in repentance from sin and obedience to Him.
- That God would bless evangelism by His churches in a greater way, to increase the number of conversions, that more and more people, including those with or without a Christian background, would join themselves unto true churches of Jesus Christ.
- That churches that have turned aside into serious sin and error would repent, turn back to the way of life in Christ.
- That Christians everywhere would be bold and effective witnesses in all areas of life: family, work, church, leisure time, and civic engagement.
The Revival among the Jews in the days of Haggai and Zechariah
Distracted with putting up ornate fixtures of in their own houses, and harassed by hostile pagan neighbors, the people of God were timid and indifferent, in the second year of the reign of Darius King of Persia. They were building their own houses beautifully, but the building project of the Temple of the LORD had been long neglected. The land of Judah was again their home, having been restored from captivity in faraway Babylon, what few of them were able to return. But they were not as large, as prosperous, or as powerful as in generations before the exile. They were a weakened nation huddling behind the protection of the imperial Persia from neighbors who hated them. It was then that God sent the prophets Zechariah and Haggai to strengthen their faith, and energize their weak hands, to the work that the LORD had set before them, of building the House of the LORD and being a light to the pagans around them. “Turn unto me, says the LORD of armies, and I will turn unto you, says the LORD of armies” (Zechariah 1:3).
The Present Situation in our Land
Like ancient Israel after the restoration, the churches of Jesus Christ in America have also been languishing in indifference and laziness toward the work that God has commanded us to do. Although we still enjoy nearly unparalleled freedom to serve the Lord in America, a demonic spirituality pervades the culture around us, once faithful churches are teaching grave errors, and many of us can barely muster the motivation to attend church. Our evening worship services, our Sunday Schools, Bible studies, and prayer meetings, if they have not been given up altogether, are sparsely attended. Our numbers are low. Evangelism to the outside world is hardly a thing anymore. A siege mentality has taken over, so that the most we dare to hope for is the bare survival of the church. At the same time we are enticed to silence by the pleasures of all the entertainments and vanities that the world has to offer. What work that occurs among the most strictly biblical among us is sound and faithful, but we are in dire need of a larger pouring out of God’s Spirit upon us, a greater blessing of the Lord. Is it not time for us to more urgently seek the Lord together and pray for a widespread Revival?
Jonathan Edwards describes revivals as “remarkable communications of the Spirit of God, at special seasons of mercy,” and when “the work of God is carried on with greater speed and swiftness, and there are often instances of sudden conversions at such a time.”
Note that the work of God and the means of it are not different or extraordinary during a Revival, but the results of it are extraordinary. During a Revival, ordinary means achieve extraordinary results. At such times, due to God’s sovereign choice to bless them in a greater degree than at other times, there is a “greater effusion of blessing”, as when God blessed the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah to stir the Jewish people to complete the building of the Temple. God in this way reminds us that the results of our work for Him are due to Him, and not to us, by sometimes blessing more, sometimes less, according to His hidden will. Iain H. Murray said, “The difference lies in degree, not in kind.” We Calvinists ought to be the ones who are the most energized to hope and pray for revival, since we confess that without the Lord’s blessing, our best efforts amount to a dunghill. Let us pray for Revival.
A Revival does not only happen in a nominally Christian nation. It is not limited by the degree of wickedness of the surrounding culture. On the contrary, “There are eras,” said Samuel Davies, “when only a large communication or outpouring of the Spirit can produce a public general reformation.” Davies further says, “the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the great and only remedy for a ruined country—the only effectual preventative of national calamities and desolation, and the only sure cause of a lasting and well-established peace.” It is a country that is in ruins that needs revival the most, and in which Christians should be most motivated to pray for it.
If the blessing depended on ourselves, if it were something that we could do to fix our land through predictable means, it would be an easy fix. The spiritual condition in our country is so bad, that only a great outpouring of God’s Spirit will reverse the trend. As Reformed Christians, believing in God’s sovereignty in salvation, we know that we can do nothing of ourselves, that God must bless, or we die. It is because we are Reformed, that we hope for revival at all.
Encouragements to Pray for Revival from Scripture and History
Prayer is an ordinary means of grace that God has often answered in extraordinary power. God has promised to bless it. There is no guarantee that God will reward our prayers with such a powerful outpouring of His Spirit that we hope for. But He encourages us to pray tenaciously, to say, as Jacob, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26).
Our Lord Jesus also taught us that “men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1 NKJV) saying, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily” (6-8). We have a God who delights to answer our prayers, especially persistent prayers for things agreeable to His revealed will. Should we not make full use of our blessed opportunity by daring to implore Him for a great spiritual blessing?
Jonathan Edwards penned his An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer in 1746, in response to a petition from a group of Scottish ministers, who were asking American churches to join with them in prayer once a month at a time just prior to the Sabbath. Edwards asked churches to heed their call by uniting in prayer for worldwide revival, just as they requested, giving extensive motivational arguments from Scripture in favor of their plan. Churches on both sides of the pond responded to Edwards by cultivating habits of regular prayer.
The result of these prayer meetings in Britain and America, ultimately, was the modern missionary movement, led by men such as Andrew Fuller, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Asa Thurston, who carried the good news of Jesus Christ to India, Myanmar, and Hawaii, sent by churches in Britain and America that had cultivated habits of prayer in direct response to Edwards’s Humble Attempt. Today Christianity is a global movement due in no small part to their efforts, to such an extent that the “Christendom” referenced by the Scottish ministers in their prayer points, is no longer spoken of. What even greater blessing ought we to hope for, in fulfillment of the promises of God’s word about the latter days?
We wonder in awe at the mighty works our God has done throughout the world, in particular the vision He gave to churches in America through generous outpourings of His Spirit, and the ways that He has used the churches in this country to engage in missionary endeavors globally, developing indigenous churches in many other nations. It happened when God’s people made a habit of gathering to pray for great outpourings of His Spirit upon the world.
Haggai foretold in his day of a glorious time when the kingdoms of the gentiles would be overthrown and the kingdom of Israel would be exalted over them (2:22), and Zechariah, similarly, spoke of a time when the people and livestock of the Holy City, which is the Church, would be so numerous that walls could no longer enclose it (2:1-5), when ten gentiles would “grab the skirt” of a Jew, and ask to be taken to pray to the LORD (8:23).
These are Old Testament word pictures of future realities for the Church of God on earth. Can we also seek God for such great things, such spiritual conquests in our own backyards, such that we will not be able to keep people out of true churches by any means? We have a God who answers prayer, a pattern in the Bible, precious promises of future blessing, and historical examples to encourage us to pray. We can bind our hearts together in prayer, believing that God will revive us again. If you desire to join us, you may register here, so that we may be mutually encouraged and motivated to pray.
Riley Fraas, is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He is a member of the Presbytery of the Dakotas and lives in Aurora, Colorado.