B. Motives for Seeking Revival
a. First motive: for God’s sake
6. Meditate on the Honour of God
Scripture teaches that the Lord acts to honour his name both in the eyes of his own people and in the eyes of unbelievers. It is an important motive for prayer and for God to answer prayer.
Through Ezekiel the Lord says several times in response to Israel’s rebellion in Egypt and in the wilderness “I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness. But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out” (Ezk 20:21-22 cf 8-9, 13-14).
Through Isaiah the Lord said: “You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ears have not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth. For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to destroy you completely. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another” (Isa 48:8-11).
So the Lord is clearly very concerned that his name should not be dishonoured amongst unbelievers by the failure of his people – now the church. Sadly, much of the church in the western world is failing:
- Many congregations are declining.
- Many congregations are increasingly elderly and so will die out in the not too distant future.
- There are scandals in the church such as child abuse and other sexual abuse.
- These scandals have sometimes not been dealt with properly.
- The church tolerates many aspects of hypocrisy.
- The church compromises biblical teaching on beliefs and morality.
All of this profoundly dishonours the Lord’s name. And, as we have noted, that matters a great deal to the Lord. How we need revival.
But those outside the church dishonour the Lord too:
- He is ignored.
- His name is taken in vain.
- His existence is denied.
- His laws and loving provisions are ignored and rejected.
- His Word is ignored or disobeyed.
- His love is spurned.
The Lord is gravely dishonoured. How terrible it is that the mighty, awesome Creator of the universe, who is infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient is ignored by a deceived society! We need to enter into the seriousness of this dishonour.
We need to pray for Revival for the sake of the honour of his name. There are various examples of such prayer in the Bible.
- Joshua prayed (when the Israelites were defeated at Ai): “Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?” (Josh 7:6-9).
- Elijah, when faced with the conflict with the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel, prayed “‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’ (1 Kings:18:36-37).
- The Psalmist writes:
- “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?… I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’ My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ (Psa 42:1-3, 9-11)
- “Help us, God our Saviour, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” (Psa 79:9).
- Psa 115:1-2 “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’”
- Jer 14: 7-9, 20-21“Although our sins testify against us, do something, Lord, for the sake of your name. For we have often rebelled; we have sinned against you. 8 You who are the hope of Israel, its Saviour in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveller who stays only a night? 9 Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are among us, Lord, and we bear your name; do not forsake us! … 20We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord, and the guilt of our ancestors; we have indeed sinned against you. 21 For the sake of your name do not despise us; do not dishonour your glorious throne. Remember your covenant with us and do not break it.”
- Daniel prayed: “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favour on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.’ (Dan 9:17-19).
- The Lord says through Joel: “Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘‘Where is their God?”’ (Joel 2:17)
It seems clear that today many people in the Western world are saying to Christians “Where is your God?” Only Revival will answer that question because it brings a powerful sense of God’s presence. It says: “God is here!” Why should the unbelievers say: “God couldn’t keep the church going”?
You will be shocked by the following quotation made in March 2018 by a Guardian journalist on the decline of Christianity in the UK. But perhaps we need to be shocked at how God is being mocked. “They appear to be putting that ancient, feeble entity called God out of his misery.”
A PRAYER FOR REVIVAL FOR THE SAKE OF GOD’S NAME
Lord, open your eyes and see the weakness of the church that bears your Name. See the profound and increasing godlessness of our society. Why should the nations say, ‘Where is your God?’ Do something, Lord, for the sake of your name. You are among us, Lord, and we bear your name; do not forsake us! Remember your covenant with us and do not break it. Hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God. For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your church and your people bear your Name. Bring Revival for the glory of your name. Amen.