C. How to Seek Revival
d. Grow in Faith
Some Christians think that there is no need to get deeply involved in praying and preparing for Revival. They perhaps pray about it occasionally but they think it is entirely up to God. In their opinion, if he decides to bring Revival, as he does on rare occasions, that’s fine. But there is nothing we can do about it.
However the history of Revival shows clearly that Revivals have been preceded by Christians committing themselves to persistent prayer and fasting for God to bring Revival. God is looking for people who will commit themselves to doing this but he finds very few.
Even when Christians do commit themselves to pray for Revival they can suffer from a serious spiritual weakness which is very widespread in the church. I will call it the “If it be thy will” syndrome. To add “If it be thy will” to a prayer sounds humble and reverent but it is actually a get-out clause: “I’m praying for this but if I don’t get a positive answer then that must be put down to the request not being God’s will.”
But this contrasts with the great promises by Jesus to answer prayer:
- “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Mt 21:22).
- “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you receive it and it will be yours” (Mk 11:24).
- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”(Mt 7:7).
- “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven”(Mt 18:19).
- “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”(Jn 15:7).
- “Everything is possible to the one who believes”(Mk 9:23).
The only conditions Jesus lays down are that we “remain in him” (have a close relationship with him) and his words remain in us (i.e. we don’t ask something unbiblical) and we have faith. These passages do not support the “If it be thy will” syndrome. Jesus expects us to come trusting in him, obeying his Word and having faith for what we’re praying for.
It follows that if we are trusting in him, obeying his Word and having faith for him giving us revival and praying accordingly he will answer positively and bring Revival. That is how we should pray.
I am grateful to that great man of God Andrew Murray for clarifying my understanding on this very important matter. See his books “The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer” and “With Christ in the School of Prayer.”
It is true that Jesus says in the Garden of Gethsemane “Abba,Father,…everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). But Jesus was facing very extreme circumstances and huge turmoil. We cannot let that verse undermine the clarity of the six promises above. Andrew Murray comments: “It may seem that Jesus prayer about the cup being taken from him undermines faith in prayer. But Christ’s submittal in Gethsemane secured his right to say to us ‘Ask whatever you wish and it will be done.’ He endured God not answering his prayer, so that our prayers could find an answer.”
The devil fears Revival more than most things because it brings him a huge defeat. If he can undermine our faith for Revival he will do so. We must resist that and take our stand on Jesus’ six clear promises.
It is not just faith for Revival that we need. We need to grow in faith that God will overcome every hindrance, every opponent and every weakness. We need to remember that:
- God is the almighty, awesome, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient Lord who created the universe but is infinitely greater than the universe.
- God is so loving, he is He loves the lost who are “on the broad road leading to destruction.” He loves his church, failing though it sometimes is. He loves the person who prays for Revival and wants to grant his/her request.
- God is the infinite provider, enabler, protector, deliverer, comforter, encourager and motivator. He will provide and is utterly trustworthy. He will provide everything we need to obey him. He will enable us to do all he wants us to do. He will protect and deliver us from everything that would prevent us from doing so. We need to concentrate on the Faithful One first before we ask for something in faith. If we think of God being the utterly reliable, faithful one we shall be inspired to pray in faith. We should focus on the fact that He will provide, not upon how. Faith is a relationship. It is a relationship with God who is all-powerful, all-loving and all-willing.
- We must firmly resist anxiety and not rely on human answers to spiritual needs and challenges. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). (By the way, I find writing things down, e.g. a brief analysis of a difficult situation, clarifies my mind and strengthens my faith to pray about it).
The road to Revival is getting to know God better and therefore to trust him more deeply and more consistently. We must reject anxiety strongly and focus instead on our omnipotent, loving, utterly reliable Lord. The history of Revival shows that God has greatly used small numbers of intercessors, maybe only one or two. Do not be discouraged – trust!