The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Revival Praying - Part 1

Ever been persecuted or have an enemy try to crush you to the ground? Ever feel overwhelmed not only by personal distress, but community, state, national, or the world’s “distress of nations”? In such times the only valid response that bears hope of relief and redemption is to turn to the Lord. In such times what we need is revival.

Why revival? Maybe that’s not a familiar word to you. Weley L. Duewel defines a revival as:

“when God manifests His presence in overwhelming reality. . . . God’s presence and power are so mightily and extensively at work during revival that God accomplishes more in hours or days than usually results from years of faithful nonrevival ministry. . . . During revival people are moved toward Christ, people who can be moved in no other way. Many prayers that have gone unanswered for years are gloriously answered.”

We need a revival. Look around at breaking and broken marriages, divided families, confusion over identity (sexual and otherwise), addictions, lusts gone wild, betrayal, busyness, and poverty (material and spiritual). Look around you, look inside you, look and feel the pain and lostness. We need revival.

When we look at our nation today it’s not difficult to see, we need revival. When I look at the world, the wars, the terror, the rebellion and unrest, the injustices, the suffering, the atheism, the religious fanaticism, the lost souls, and the overall ignorance and even apathy toward God, I say, we need revival. We need the presence of the Lord. We need a mighty work of God. We need for God to make His presence known in a powerful and pervasive way. We need revival.

How do we go about getting a revival? Revival is not something we can just formulize into being. Only God, in His sovereign determination and will, can give revival. But there is evidence that we can beseech God for that revival. There is evidence that we can pray to God for revival. Prayerful supplication coupled with trust in Him who knows what we need before we ask, can bring revival.

Psalm 143 is an example of revival praying. Some believe the context of the psalm is Saul’s persecution of David. Others believe this psalm was written by King David when his son Absalom had rebelled against him. When those in power persecute you or those you love betray you it can be discourage you even devastate you. David knew what he needed to do in such times. He needed to pray. He needed revival as we will see. If you are going through a difficult personal time or burdened over the state of the world around you, I encourage you to join me as I take in this psalm prayerfully and seek the Lord for revival.

The prayer of supplication (143:1). Hear my prayer, O LORD, Give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, And in Your righteousness.” The basis for and reason we pray is God’s faithfulness and His righteousness. David begins his psalm by looking to God. And he looks to God with heartfelt devotion. A supplication is a passionate cry for God’s favor in a given situation. David is not merely repeating some memorized words of prayer. David is pouring out his heart to God.

We come to God in prayer on the basis of His faithfulness to His word and the promises contained therein. We come to God in prayer on the basis of knowing He is righteous and all His answers are right. Prayer begins with God. It is the Holy Spirit who puts the desire to pray within us. Prayer ends with God. God is the destination of our prayers. God is the One who is going to make the difference in whatever it is we are praying for.

When we look at this through the lens of the New Testament we can have great confidence before God. John was inspired to write:

1 John 5:14-15 - Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

If we pray according to God’s will, He hears us, and if He hears us we know that our great loving Father in heaven will answer our prayers and do what is best. Now you might be thinking, that’s well and good, but how do I know what God’s will is? How do I pray “according to His will”? Let’s continue in the study of our psalm to see.

The servant’s surrender (143:2). “Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous.” We don’t come before God in our own strength or with any attitude that we are worthy in our own right. No, we come to God in total humility realizing in the sight of God who is Holy “no one living is righteous.” We come in full surrender.

That is what Isaiah felt when He came into the presence of God (Isaiah 6). All he could do in the presence of God is utter a deep woe is me as the holiness of God convicted him of his utter destitution before God. God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:6). A “broken and contrite heart” is what is acceptable to God (Psalm 51:17).

It’s so important that when we come to God we do so in humility. We can only come into the presence of God who is Holy because of Jesus and His atoning work (Heb. 4:15-16). Because of Him and His shed blood we can come before our Heavenly Holy Father with the confidence of a child before their father.

The spirit’s distress (143:3-4). “For the enemy has persecuted my soul; He has crushed my life to the ground; He has made me dwell in darkness, Like those who have long been dead.4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed.” Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities. Revivals are often birthed out of hardship and distress of spirit. David speaks of persecution, being crushed to the ground, darkness, death, being overwhelmed, and distressed. It is out of his distress that he calls out to God.

Leonard Ravenhill has written:

“Prayer – protracted prayer, groaning prayer, fasting prayer, weeping prayer, speechless prayer – belongs to those initiated into a spirit of prayer, that is, into ‘praying in the Holy Ghost.’ To the uninstructed, terms like these mean ‘works.’ But praying friend, faint not; such critics may yet learn. In the language of Horatius Bonar it may be said of protracted, groaning, speechless prayer, ‘It is the way the Master went. Should not the servant tread it still?’”

And it is out of the distressing circumstances of our lives and this world that we lean on the Holy Spirit to help us pray. And from the depths such prayer in the Holy Spirit often takes the form of unutterable groans.

It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to pray. Scripture tells us:

Romans 8:26-27 - Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

We are weak and limited. We don’t even know how to pray at times. That is why we need the Holy Spirit to help us. The Holy Spirit within us is able to connect with the Father so that our prayers are empowered and according to the will of God. This is why we are advised to pray in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20). When the circumstances of life push us to our limits, our extremities, it is an opportunity for God to teach us to come to Him in prayer by the Holy Spirit.

The soul’s selah (143:5-6). “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. 6 I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah.” “Selah” means pause. This is a pause to take in all that has come to this point in what has been written. David begins this verse by looking to God’s works of old. He then “meditates” on them or ponders them. To meditate is to think about and concentrate on something. David ponders the works of God in the past in order to feed his present faith.

As he ponders and takes in what God has already done in his life, he is blessed. It moves him to spread out his hands before the Lord in worship. Haven’t you ever just thought about the things God has done in your life and worshipped him for it? Think of how He saved your soul, delivered you countless times, prospered and provided for your needs, how He made His presence known to you. We aren’t to live on our own past accomplishments. But we are to feed our faith on God’s faithful provisions throughout our lives. Selah. Think about that. Think about God’s faithfulness. If you do, like David, you will be moved to worship Him and long for more of Him in your life.

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