In Ezekiel 22:30-31 we read of God looking in vain for an intercessor, but because He found none, His wrath was poured out in just judgment against the nation of Israel because of her sinful rebellion against God:
"I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them...."
From the warning we are made to understand that prayer is not optional but an absolute necessity. Prayer must have first priority in our lives. Prayer is the one power on earth that can influence Heaven.
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, commenting on the three words found in Philippians 4:6, "Everything by prayer," said: "I am persuaded that God does everything by prayer and nothing without it." D. L. Moody said, "Every work of God can be traced to some kneeling form."
Through prayer we become co-workers with the Lord God Almighty. Our prayers bring into fulfillment Gods purposes of His people. We have an example of this in Daniel 9:1-3. Daniel discovered from reading the book of the prophet Jeremiah (25:11) that the time of the desolation of Jerusalem at the hand of the Babylonians would last 70 years. He realized that this time was soon coming to an end.
In verse 3 we read, "And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes." The fact that God had spoken was no indication to Daniel that he should not pray, but he gave himself to praying into fulfillment what God had promised.
If we want God to fulfill what He has promised us there are certain conditions we are to fulfill and one of these is to pray. In Zechariah 10:1 we read, "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain...."
Revival Must Be Prayed Down!
Revival does not just fall from Heaven. It must be prayed down. R. A. Torrey said, "I have a theory, and I believe it to be true, that there is not a church, chapel or mission on earth where you cannot have a revival, provided there is a nucleus of faithful people who will hold on to God until it comes."
Charles G. Finney said, "A revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat is. In any community, a revival can be secured from Heaven when heroic souls enter into the conflict determined to win or die, or if needs be, to win and die."
Finney also said, "There are two kinds of means necessary to promote a revival: the one to influence men, the other to influence God. Prayer is an essential link in the chain of causes that lead to a revival as much so as truth is. Some have zealously used the first means truth to convert men and laid very little stress on prayer. They have preached and talked and distributed tracts with great zeal, and then wondered why there were no results. They forgot to use the other branch of the means effectual prayer. They overlooked that the Spirit is given only in answer to prayer."
Revival has never come anywhere, be it in the Third World, Europe or North America, without fervent prayer. God is ready and longing to send revival anywhere in the world no matter how hard the place may be. His Word declares, "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jer. 33:3).
Before revival came to the Hebrides in Scotland, two elderly women began nightly prayer times when they agreed together to pray for God to send revival to their community. They had become concerned because of the ungodliness and lack of commitment to spiritual things round about them and they did something about it. Night after night they interceded before God. After some months, unknown to them, several godly young men began to meet three nights a week and waited upon God until four and five oclock in the morning until a powerful revival followed.
Before we can pray effectively there must be true acknowledgment and confession of sin. True repentance must follow. This means forsaking any known sin, bad habit, practice or attitude that dishonors God. In Psalm 66:18 we read, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me"; in John 14:30 "
for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." Satan had no power over Christ because he had no foothold of sin in Him, for Christ was without sin.
We, by the grace of God and because of the righteousness of Christ should, with deep humility, have the same testimony "The prince of this world hath nothing in me." If we speak to God about power, He will speak to us about holiness. Before we can have authority with God, we must walk in obedience to His will and in humility.
Ways in Which We Can Pray
The following are some ways in which we can pray:
1. Let us unite together in prayer. Let the whole church be aware of its responsibility. There is great power in united prayer. In Acts 12:5 we read, "Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him."
We see in the above verse it was not just one individual involved in intercession, but the church. If two believers who are in agreement about what they ask are a powerful unit in advancing Gods kingdom (Matt. 18:19), then united groups of praying believers who are in agreement can change the whole spiritual condition of a nation.
2. Let us pray specifically and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our praying. R. A. Torrey said, "We should be careful about what we ask from God, but once we begin to pray for a thing we should never give up praying for it until we receive it, or until God makes it very clear and definite that it is not His will to grant it."
3. Binding and loosing is another way in which we should pray. In Matthew 16:19 we read: "
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." This teaching is so important that our Lord repeats it in Matthew 18:18-20. These verses indicate that God expects us to participate in binding and loosing.
4. Fasting and praying is a powerful spiritual weapon to be used by Gods people in advancing His kingdom. The Bible teaches us that there is room for both private fasting and praying (unseen by others) and that which is public (the leaders calling the whole congregation together for a special time of seeking God).
5. A good practice for congregations to develop is to pray before and after meetings. Prayer before a meeting creates an atmosphere of faith and expectation. Also, powers of darkness that would hinder the meeting could be bound. Prayer after meetings gives people time to wait upon God and to be prayed for by others.
6. All-night prayer meetings can be a great source of power in the church. These can be held, for example, once a week or once a month.
7. Early morning prayer meetings can be practiced once or twice a week or more often. The church that prays together stays together.
8. A twenty-four hour prayer chain can be established with different people taking turns in praying until continuous prayer is going up through the day and night.
In a needy, troubled world where sin is intensifying and tightening its grip on the hearts of ungodly men and women, God is calling us back to the days and nights of prayer, back to the example of Jesus, who spent all night praying. In the midst of the immorality, materialism, false religions and carelessness, God is calling us to pray more than we ever did before. Either we will experience revival or the hand of God in judgment!
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon