I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplications. (Zechariah 12:10)
A mere futuristic and prophetic interpretation of some Scriptures has a great appeal to lazy, sleepy-eyed Christians, who want to continue in their professorial arm-chairs. If there is a Scripture that challenges them, they try hard to give it such a connotation or denotation as leaves them outside the scope of its challenge. First as a Christian and secondly as a preacher of the Gospel, I turn to the Scriptures to apply them to my own heart, to measure and straighten out my experience therewith and then to apply them to my hearers.
There is nothing which is more sadly lacking amongst Christians today than the spirit of grace and supplications. Conspicuous amongst Christians today, however, is the spirit of gadding around. We have made a virtue of our flights, our tours and our globe-trotting. An account from the pen of a modern preacher reads like a travelogue and not even the remotest resemblance to the Acts of the Apostles or the missionary journeys of St. Paul.
While labouring and preaching amongst the Christians of Europe, Britain, the United States and Australia, I observed with sorrow that the vast majority have no notion at all of real individual prayer and waiting on God. It is an incontrovertible fact that the whole quality of your Christian experience and life depends on your personal prayer life. The idea has been more recently advanced that what really matters is the spiritual life of the whole body or assembly. This notion, I fear, is a clever subversion of Satan. The quality, depth and reality of the life of the body essentially depends on the prayer-life and holiness of the individuals, that compose that body or church. An Achan in the camp can turn the jubilation and joy of Jerichos victory into the bewildering, mournful and stunning defeat of Ai (Joshua 7:1-26).
When prayer life is at a discount amongst any company of Christians, there will be absent the finer points of Christian life, viz. spiritual unity, oneness in thought, spirit of discernment, guidance, adequacy to meet and counter every move of Satan, such as we see in Jesus and St. Paul. Some of the above graces that stem from a real touch and communion with God in prayer, are almost totally absent from many orthodox groups of Christians, who are held in high esteem and even enjoy much prestige for their piety. Appalling spiritual shallowness is the harvest that we are currently reaping for our prayerlessness!
Think of our evangelistic efforts today, how massive they have grown! Our organization was never better than it is today. Our gadgets and invaluable helpswithout which we claim we are so helpless- load us down like Sauls armour. Poor David felt so stiff and smothered in King Sauls armour that had he ventured out vain-gloriously thus accoutred, the familiar Goliath story would have had another ending! Woe to the Christian who despises the smooth stones of the brook! Get your sling in order. Let the spirit of supplications possess you! Then you can laugh at any modern Goliath.
Our trust must be in our prayer-answering God, and not in our methods and techniques. Our Master did not drill his disciples in some special techniques that consumed all their time in planning the campaign, publicizing and running around fast and canvassing hard for support. This is our way- the modern way! You will not, however, find this way in the New Testament. This is not Gods way. Christs way was to teach His disciples prayer and insist that they should just wait in prayer in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on High. Most of the battle was won in that upper chamber of prayer.
Do not mistake me, I am not advocating slip-shod and ill-organised endeavours. But let our efforts be galvanized and strengthened with the spirit of supplications. In the revivals that broke out under Finneys labours, there was manifest a tremendous spirit of prayer. Both the preacher and the people were possessed by this spirit of prayer. Whenever and wherever Christians met, they prayed and they prevailed in prayer. The revival spread like wild fire. There was a minimum of organization, as we know it today. Yet the results were enduring.
Over in the West I noted with deep disappointment that several when challenged on the lines of prayer and revival were more anxious to discuss revival than to pray through. But wherever they obeyed the voice of God and got on their knees, revival broke out forthwith. This revival awakening is continuing and spreading, although it is a long time since the original revival meetings concluded.
Let us quit playing with God. Let us get alone with God and pray. I am appalled that God should be still mocked by the so-called prayer conferences where 98 percent of the time is wasted in vain talk.
I am reminded of a prayer meeting which I address at a hotel in Birmingham. After a brief message we got on our knees and the Spirit of God moved in our midst. One of my beloved brothers, whose addiction to tea was well-known, even forgot that it was well past tea time and he had not had his tea! Yes, we need the spirit of supplications that will cause us to forget our tea, our food and our social niceties on which we waste so much of our God-given time.
Beloved reader, put away all sin from your heart and conscience and cry to God and He will pour on you the spirit of supplications.