Importance of Prayer
Amidst the hopelessness and despair that has gripped the nations awareness seems to be emerging that God could be the one who might have a solution to the trouble and unrest.
As Christians, we are certain of it, persuaded that we need revival an unprecedented, worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will turn things around and restore righteousness and godliness to the people. The good news is that God has promised that if we will pray, He will restore!
“Even now, declares the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion. Declare a holy fast. Call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave His room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let they say, “Spare your people, O lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, where is their God? (Joel 2:12-17 NIV)”
God is calling His Church, and particularly its leaders, to seek His face, and to fast and pray for revival. In response to an appeal by Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade For Christ, many like itinerant speaker Wesley Campbell of Kelowna, BC and pastor Mike Bickle of Kansas City, have sounded calls to intercession as never before. Never have I been aware of so many participating in 40-day fasts. Not only did Carol and I begin 1997 with such a fast, so did many of our own church, asking God to bring revival to our city, the nation and the world. As believers, we are awakening to the desperate need, and things are finally starting to turn around.
Christian researcher, George Barna, offers encouraging statistics on change. A survey on the state of American faith released on March 21 showed significant increases in church and Sunday school attendance and stated that the number of American adults claiming to be “born again” is now 43 percent—a seven percent increase since ’94.
A news release from the Barna Research Groups says: “Just one year ago it appeared that the Christian Church in America was on the way out of people’s minds, out of their hearts, out of their schedules, out of their future. But the latest in the annual series of religion tracking studies by the Barna Research Group, of Oxnard, CA, shows that the multi-year decline of Christianity appears to have bottomed out and the Christian faith is now experiencing a renaissance of sorts.”
On another front, the Pope has initiated a three part count down to the year 2000 by asking Catholic faithful to celebrate ’97 as the year of Jesus Christ—a year to experience Him and get to know Him personally; ’98 will be the year to know and experience the Holy Spirit; ’99 will be the year to know and experience God the Father. All three will be celebrated in the year 2000 with one grand birthday party for Jesus!
You too can participate in this great awakening. “What can I do,” you ask?
“Humble yourself, repent of any sin, pray and seek God’s face. Then God will hear you and forgive your sin and heal your land” (2 Chron 7:14, my paraphrase)
Put God first. Busyness and pressures of life can rob us of God’s best. Preoccupations with work, ministry, family life, and the demands and expectations of people can crowd out the most important thing in our lives intimacy with God. Out of intimacy flow prayers that come from God’s heart and as we discover his love for us afresh, we enjoy deep and meaningful times of prayer, both individually and corporately.
You may need to reorganize your work as did the apostles. They wanted the revival of their day to continue. When they found themselves overwhelmed with an ever increasing administrative role, they delegated the tasks of caring for practical needs to others. It freed up their time and energy to return to that which was vital—prayer and ministry of the Word of God.
Finally, join with many others and pray! Start with five minutes a day and let the commitment grow into a powerful and meaningful prayer life. God is ready to answer your prayers for a great and abundant harvest. He has promised it will come: “He who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested” (Rev 14:16 NIV).
Originally Published June 1997 Editor John Arnott