Prayer: Key to Revival
Charles E. Hackett
The distance is too great to go from light bedtime prayers to the heavy responsibility of intercessory prayer for revival in one quick step. As we experience answers to prayer in smaller, tangible ways, the Holy Spirit prepares us for the most enriching and demanding task of all: interceding for spiritual change in peoples lives.
Literally, through the power of prayer we are marching into territory held by satanic forces and capturing it for the kingdom of God. This seems impossible to the human intellect. Even experienced people of prayer may sometimes doubt the power of prayer.
My introduction to the power of prayer began when I was 10. I remember being too sick to attend school because of sharp stomach pains. After my sister and brothers had boarded the bus, my mother came into the bedroom, laid her hands on my stomach, and prayed a simple prayer. Instantly, the pain was gone. This answer to prayer left an indelible mark on my life. In subsequent years, no matter what I questioned or how much I doubted, I could not deny the reality of that single experience.
Another step in the development of intercessory prayer in my life occurred during my first year at what was then Southwestern Bible Institute. I was on a work scholarship, which meant my school bill was paid each month, but I received no cash. After a month, I needed items such as toothpaste and razor blades and had no cash flow to purchase them. I remember a mixture of panic and dismay as I considered my dilemma.
One night the Holy Spirit directed me to Matthew 21:22. Faith filled my heart. I needed some things, and Jesus said ask and believe and I would receive. I quickly wrote down the items I needed and the approximate cost, which totaled $2.50. (This was in 1952 when the minimum wage was 75 cents per hour). I went down the list and asked God for each item and went to bed rejoicing because God had come to my rescue. It never occurred to me that my needs would not be met.
The next day a lady, who worked part-time for the school and whom I hardly knew, thrust some money into my hand and said, "God told me to give this to you." I could feel some bills and change, so I knew without looking that my need had been met. As I counted the money, I discovered the amount was not $2.50 but $3.50. God had met the need plus a bonus. That one answer to prayer provided a beginning foundation of faith for me to believe God for Kingdom money. In subsequent years I have seen God supply millions of dollars for His work, plus enough for my own family needs, in answer to simple prayer. It began with a $2.50 answer to prayer.
Praying for health and money does not compare, however, to the kind of prayer that literally takes souls from the kingdom of darkness and ushers them into the kingdom of God. If our prayer life does not go beyond health and wealth, we have missed Gods highest reward. At best, health and wealth are temporary, but the salvation of a soul has eternal rewards. Jesus primary mission in coming to earth was to seek and to save the lost.
This must be the primary mission of the church, and intercessory prayer is the vital link to victory. We cannot and will not see a spiritual awakening unless there is much prayer. No conference, seminar, retreat, book, committee, or tape will serve as a substitute for prayer. Simply putno prayer, no revival.
The central question is, "How do we pray for revival?" Some are waiting for an extraordinary sign, feeling, or to hear a voice. None of these is needed. God has already spoken, and we do not need to hear another message until we obey what we have already heard. Jesus said, "Look at the crops; they are ripe for harvest." A farmer does not gather in the harvest because he has a feeling but, rather, because the grain is ready and will be lost unless it is put into the barn.
We must not make prayer for revival something that is strange, weird, and accompanied by goose bumps. We begin by looking at the unsaved in our families or neighborhoods with the realization that they are eternally lost unless they come to know Christ. It helps to write down their names and intercede before God on their behalf, allowing the Holy Spirit to pray through us.
No matter how we feel, we must be faithful. Sometimes the greatest answers come when our feelings are the lowest. It is the faith level that is important to God, not the feeling level. God answers the prayers of the righteous who passionately cry out to Him day and night. Too often we faint and give up when Gods command is "pray without ceasing."
Some are perhaps waiting for a kind of ministry break that will open up great success for them. It has already happened, and it took place on the cross. It was forever sealed on the Day of Pentecost. We dont have to wait for victory to find us when we know the Victor. Our victory lies in daily communication with God, not by the breaks we get or how gifted we are. Gifts and talents actually become traps of destruction for Christians unless they are continually sanctified by prayer.
"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord" is more than an often-quoted verse of Scripture. It is the very foundation for revival. We cannot create revival or put a spiritual hunger in the sinners hearts. We cannot renew the church or make it happen.
What a relief I felt when these truths became clear. The responsibility is not on me but on God. He wants to send a spiritual awakening more than we want to receive it. He is not unaware of our plight. He knows full well the state of mankind and what must be changed.
In light of these statements we must ask the classic question, "Why no revival?" This cannot be answered by a simple cliché but requires an in-depth look at the church and its reason for being.
We must recognize there is unprecedented revival in many parts of the world. We in America tend to think that if it isnt happening here, it isnt happening. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Great and mighty revival is occurring all over the world in response to the desperate cry of the local church. We have pockets of revival in America but no sweeping move from God.
God loves America as much as He loves the rest of the world, but the church in America does not love God as much as others do. There is still no respect of persons with Him. He does not play favorites nor show partiality. He will meet people anytime, anywhere they call out to Him in prayer.
We have not because we ask not. Spiritual leaders have not taken responsibility for our sins and backsliding. We tend to blame bad laws, crooked politicians, the economy, abortion, lack of prayer in schools, and a host of other things for our lack of revival. Many of these things have contributed to the moral decline of our country, but the spiritual tone of our nation has never been set in the halls of Congress, a vote of the Supreme Court, nor by dishonest politicians. The spiritual level of any nation is determined by the churchthe body of believersthose who say they are followers of Christ.
In America we are in a spiritual drought because the church has lost its first love. Instead, we love money, popularity, position. We lust after many things that dull our spiritual appetite and keep us from intercessory prayer, justifying our lusts rather than repenting. The Bible is still true, "You cannot love God and the things of the world." One will dominate and win.
Sacrifice is almost a forgotten virtue. We seek the favor of a worldly system rather than Gods approval and have substituted the efforts of human flesh for the supernatural power of God. We honor one another for performance rather than for character. The spirit of jealousy and envy runs rampant among us. We have difficulty forgiving one another. No wonder revival is lacking!
If prayer is the keyin fact, the very foundation for a spiritual awakening, why dont we take care of business and get down to the basics of intercessory prayer so we can have revival? Simply stated, the church has always done its best in bad times and its poorest in good times. Peace, prosperity, and the horn of plenty do not drive the church to prayer and repentance.
In many countries great revival has come because the church has been stripped of all possessions and political favor, and they have had no place to turn except to God. They have had to look to Him for their daily provisions; in so doing they have developed the discipline of intercessory prayer to a level seldom found in this country.
To summarize, God does not have the American churchs attention. We are preoccupied with many things but are doing very little with His agenda. This will change because God is going to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh in the last days, and that includes America. He will get our attention, and there will be a spiritual awakening in this country before Jesus comes.
Like other nations of our day, we will respond to the call for revival when the things we worship are taken away and God becomes first in our lives.
What can one person or one church do today that will make a difference? It is still true: When Gods people humble themselves and pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and heal their land. No contingencies are connected to this; God will do what He said. He is not waiting to hear from Congress or the Supreme Court; He is waiting to hear from the Church. Intercessory prayer by a person or a local church is the key to revival.
We need tracks to turn on if we are to be consistent in praying for revival. Some things that help me include setting a specific time for prayer, having a prayer list, walking the streets, driving through neighborhoods, turning off the TV, reading books on prayer, praying with others, forgiving my enemies, and loving all people. I will not see revival in my life if I cannot freely love all people and believe that Christ died for all.
We are not in the brick-and-mortar business but the soul business. Our measuring stick is not the amount of the offering or the size of the crowd. The questions are: Did anyone get right with God? Was Jesus lifted up? Does the world see Him in the church? Did the Holy Spirit convict, convince, edify and comfort the people of God? Did people leave the services with enough of the power of the Holy Spirit to live godly and upright lives in the coming week? Was there joy and victory in the camp?
True revival comes when we cant stand the status quo any longerwhen our hearts long for God more than anything else. Then we move into a supernatural realm of prayer that lifts us at times into the very throne room of God, and at other times we are plunged into the agony of the lost. This kind of prayer always produces great results.
The Holy Spirit is calling us to intercessory prayer for America. God will send revival one more timeeither with or without me. I am determined to be a part of this last-day outpouring.
Charles E. Hackett is executive director of the Division of Home Missions, Springfield, Missouri.