A concert of prayer for revival
by John Crotts
The prophet Isaiah looked forward to a great time for Israel. He spoke about it as an absolute certainty for sometime in the future. But he also told those in his day that they should be praying towards that end. God uses the prayers of his people to accomplish his ultimate plans.
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall ever be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6, 7). Notice that the watchmen are to take no rest and they are to give God no rest until he answers.
When Christmas or a birthday gets close, sometimes children can be relentless in their appeals to their parents for a certain present. Every time the mom or dad turns around, their child has a fresh creative reminder about the desired object waiting — or just begs one more time!
God actually seems to unleash his people to have the same kind of relentlessness in our prayers for the establishment of Jerusalem.
When it comes to what will happen at the end of time, all through the history of the church godly men and women have differed. Many a tree has lost its life as new books are published with fresh ideas about the Book of Revelation and other prophetic sections of the Bible.
The establishment of Jerusalem as the praise of the earth may well be literal, although in Isaiah 2 the prediction is that the temple mount in Jerusalem will be the highest mountain on the earth and all of the nations will come to it, so it may be a figure of speech pointing to a literal reality. It could be looking forward to a time in a millennial period after Jesus returns when God fulfills promises to Israel, but it could also be referring to a time in this age when the Jews turn to Messiah, or that the church with Jews and Gentiles triumphs on the earth.
However, these prophesies are fulfilled, ancient Israel and us by extension are called to pray for it to happen. In fact, we are called to relentlessly pray about it, giving God no rest.
Since the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people at Pentecost (Acts 2), the church has been blessed with his presence. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit of godly character in the lives of all true believers and he emboldens us to tell others about Jesus. He is the one who convicts people about their sinfulness and opens hearts for convicted sinners to repent of their sin and trust in Christ.
There were times later in the book of Acts (like the prayer meeting of Acts 4:23-31) where the Holy Spirit was manifested again, providing fresh power for more ministry. He has also been given in powerful ways throughout the history of the Church, like the Reformation, and the First and Second Great Awakenings. These special outpourings are true revivals.
A true revival is not something we can plan for or produce by using a specific set of steps.
A true revival is an extraordinary measure of the Holy Spirit’s blessing on the normal means of ministry. In other words, as we seek to faithfully preach, pray, confess sins, tell others about Jesus we will see normal amounts of fruit. But sometimes as Christians do these regular ministries they will see huge amounts of harvests.
I have been in churches and attended schools that put all of their hope in a real revival. They believed that revival would solve the problems of immaturity within the church and evangelism outside the church — and would result in radical moral changes in society as a whole. Instead of slowly building a foundation of biblical ministry, they longed for it to happen all at once. It is true that God has done those things from time to time through revival in the history of our land.
I have been in other churches and schools, however, that believed Christians should concentrate on faithful means of ministry. They strive to teach the Bible in an in-depth profound way, really seek God in faithful prayers, be fully engaged with other believers at church, intentionally share Jesus with others in the community and be salt and light in the community, and then leave the results with the Lord. They hardly mentioned revival. Certainly, God is using these means to change people, churches and societies as well, slowly and steadily.
The right answer seems to me to be both. Christians should be focused on faithful ministry to one another and to outsiders. We should leave the results in God’s hands.
But we should long for the super-abundant harvest that revival brings. We should really seek God to send the Holy Spirit again. We should humbly confess our sins, especially our self-confidence and self-sufficiency. We should beg God to come down like we are as desperate as we really are.
Do you believe there will come a time when Jerusalem will be the praise of the earth? That sounds like real revival to me. God says that we should be looking for it like watchmen. God says we should not rest as we wait for it expectantly. God says we should never let him rest until he does it.
Let’s pray together for it to happen like we believe that it will happen!