(9/5) Last week one of my uncles called with a question. "When and why did Weds. Night prayer meetings start?" Some of you may remember that in a previous series I explained why we do what we do. For example, why do we meet at 10-11 on Sunday mornings? Answer; because in rural
America, farmers could gather their eggs, milk their cows and drive the ducks to water and then make it to church.
Sunday evenings began as an evangelistic service time when the gas lights were invented. Churches were the hub of activities in their communities in earlier times, and often the first place that the new lights were installed and people would come to see and enjoy the lights, and pastors would preach the
gospel. Sunday School was started in England to teach working children how to read and write by using the Bible. In America it became a tool to teach children and as a means of starting churches. But what about Weds. night prayer meetings?
Wednesday night prayer meetings were started in the mid 1850ís and resulted in a great revival in America before the Civil War.
Listen! The Prayer Revival of 1857-58!
Turn in your Bibles to 2 Chronicles 7:14 and letís stand and read it together.
"Öif My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
We need a Revival in our churches in America and a Spiritual Awakening in our country if we are going to avert Godís wrath and judgment. I believe that with my whole heart. Let me define those two terms.
Revival. To revive is to awaken, to revitalize, reinvigorate, give new life to, or cause to live again. Itís what happens in hospitals when hearts that have stopped are shocked back into beating again. Itís what happens to yards when the drought has turned their lawns brown, and then a good rain causes them
become green again. Itís what happens every spring, when the grass begins to grow and the trees bud, and leaf, and some produce new fruit again. Itís what happens when churches repent of their lethargy, complacency, and worldliness, and return to holiness and grace, and loving God and loving people, and reaching the world once
again is their purpose for living. America had a revival every 30-60 years in the first 300 years of settlement here. But the last nationwide revival was 110 years ago in 1906, and we have not had one since.
A Spiritual Awakening is when the un-saved, un-believing community becomes aware of whatís happening and they come to Christ usually in large numbers for a genuine conversion experience such as occurred in the book of Acts and as we heard in the Prayer Revival of 1857-58. During such awakenings social
changes occur, as crime is decreased and charity is increased, as people desire holiness and lives that honor God.
So, Revival is for Godís people (the Church) and a Spiritual Awakening is for the unsaved community or country.
In the 1990ís Henry Blackaby and Claude King, authors of Experiencing God, wrote another book called Fresh Encounter in which they gave 7 phases that have to occur in order to have a Revival that leads to a Spiritual Awakening.
- God is on Mission to redeem a lost world. He calls a people into relationship with Himself and accomplishes His work through them.
- Godís people tend to depart from Him, turning to substitutes for His presence, His purposes, and His ways.
- God disciplines His people because he loves them.
- Godís people cry out to Him for help.
- God calls His people to return to Him and repent.
- God revives His repentant people by restoring them to a right relationship with Himself.
- God exalts His Son Jesus among the people and draws the lost to saving faith in Him.
When our Lord had the Apostle John write the Revelation of Jesus Christ, He used two chapters to write 7 letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor or present day Turkey. 5 or those 7 churches were called to repent or face disciplinary judgment from God. They had become dormant, complacent, lethargic,
worldly, and wimpy, as they tolerated sin their midst. Our Lord said this to the 7th church. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
The Lord gave us a prescription for revival in Leviticus 26, and Deut. 30, and restates it concisely in 2 Chronicles 7:14. And in case you say, "Thatís Old Testament." Let me remind you that Paul tells us in Romans 15:4, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we
through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
We have hope, "If, my peopleÖ" There is a plan and a way to be revived and restored IF we want it and will follow Godís prescription. And it must begin with-
Humbling Ourselves. We must acknowledge our sins and bend the knee and submit ourselves to trust and obeying God no matter what. That leads to assuming the role of a servant to each other and washing feet or whatever will bless others. I tell you that this is the one of the biggest problems in the church
today. We are rights oriented and we have a right to have our own way, and we would rather leave a church than bow the knee or tie on an apron of humility. But we can never be right with God apart from being humble. God hates pride and though he loves His children he will chasten those who are too proud to bend to each other and
to Him. Too proud to take ownership of our sins, we would rather blame others, and rationalize and self-justify our rights and actions. We must humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord.
Then, we seek our Help from God by prayer. Hear me my friends, this is something we talk a lot about but do little of. It is, along with Humility, Submission, and Evangelism, one of those sermons we expect to hear in Church and yet do little to obey. We endure these sermons, but we wish it was a 3 easy
steps to happiness kind of sermon.
Regardless of how good the preaching is, and how many programs we have, the church is impotent, powerless, and pathetic if Godís people are not praying. You may say grace over your meal or shoot up a request for traveling mercies, or request for someone to be healed, but when is the last time you met with
other Christians to cry out for revival, for the lost souls of your spouses, children, siblings, grandchildren, parents, or your community or country. For 30 years I pastored churches that had a Weds. night prayer meeting and 99% of the praying was for someoneís healing, not their possible destiny of eternity in a Christ-less
hell; not for forgiveness of complacency, sinfulness, self-centeredness; not for begging God for ways to serve and help the helpless and hopeless with grace and the Gospel.
Our help and our revival will come when we begin to meet and to pray with urgency for God to forgive us, and to move in and through His people. I want to give you some scriptural principles for praying for Revival.
1. Be the One. On least 3 occasions in the Old Testament, the Lord God comments that He is looking for the one who cares. Listen:
Ezekiel 22:30, "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
Isaiah 59:15b-16a, "Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him, That there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor;
Jeremiah 5:1, "Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; And seek in her open places If you can find a man, If there is anyone who executes judgment, Who seeks the truth, And I will pardon herÖ" Jeremiah Lanphier was that one man. Nehemiah was that one man. Daniel was that
one man. Who will be that one man in Carroll, Adams, or Frederick County? Will You?
2. Begin with a Clean Heart. Ask the Lord to search your heart as in Psalm 139:23-24. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Confess and forsake any known sin, and ask God to bring to your
mind any sin of ignorance or sin that you buried. Read Psalms 32 and 51, and duplicate Davidís desire for forgiveness. Psalm 26:2 says, "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart." James 4:7-10, Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to
you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. Ask God to reveal to you, "Have I sinned in my thoughts? Have I sinned with my mouth?
Have I sinned with my body? Have I sinned in my neglect? How is my attitude towards others? Anyone I canít or will not forgive? What have I allowed my eyes to see?
3. Own your guilt. Lev. 26:40-41, "But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their
enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guiltÖ" Believe and follow 1 John 1:8-9 (cp. Ps. 32:5), "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." To
confess is homologo; that is, to agree with or to say the same thing about sin as God does. Nehemiah, in Neh. 1, prayed for revival and confessed his own sins and not just the sins of his country. As God searches your heart and brings your sins to your mind. You need to own up, - or man up, or woman up, to your own sins with zero,
zip, zilch, excuses, blame shifting or rationalizing.
4. Corporate Confession. Look at Lev. 26:40 again. Listen to Nehemiah 1:6-7; "hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my fatherís house and I
have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses." Turn to and listen to Danielís prayer for this is what God has in mind for us. Daniel 9:3-19. How have our parents, and our country departed from God and His ways?
For several generations now we have strayed and continue to drift farther and farther from God and then wonder where He is when disaster strikes. The sins of past generations have affected our present obedience and faith in God. The world has had a greater impact on the church than we have had on the world.
5. Confession needs to be sincere with sorrow for our sins and their effects. Joel 2:12-13 is a call to national repentance, "Now, therefore," says the Lord, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord
your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Our Lord Jesus bawled over Jerusalemís rejection of Him (Luke 19:41), James says, "Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom." (James 4:9). The effects and consequences
of sin should break our hearts for our children and our country.
6. We need to plead for forgiveness, mercy, and grace for our country (Joel 2:12-14). Psalm 103:8-14, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor
punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us." Joel says, "Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great
kindness; And He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him." Who wants Justice for your sins? We want mercy (less than we deserve) and grace (more good from God than we deserve). We want a pardon for sin and a peace that endures. We need to seek that for our country.
7. Our prayers need to be intercessory. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul states what ought to be a primary purpose for any local church. "Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may
lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." We need to pray for our candidates and our current leaders and others who we are to submit to. We need to pray for our
spouses and our children, siblings, grandchildren, parents, etc. We must pray that they seek Godly wisdom and not suppress the truth. We need to pray for their salvation. We need to pray for protection from the evil one who holds the whole world under his sway. Read John 17 and listen to how Jesus prayed for us.
8. Our Prayers should be intense. We should consider fasting to pray. Joel 2:12 says, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." A, 1 day, 3 day, or 7 day fast. Fasting on certain days of each week, not for attention but out of an intense desire to seek God to
move in our families and in our country. Nehemiah fasted, Daniel fasted, Esther fasted, Jesus fasted, Moses fasted. This is a time to put off the feeding of your body to spend the time cleansing your soul and crying out to God for His mercy and grace. Drink Water and or Gator Aid or Power Aid, but humble yourself to seek Godís
will for your nation and family.
9. Pray Corporately, Joel 2:15-17, "Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly; 16 Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.
17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, "Spare Your people, O Lord, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ĎWhere is their God?" Sacred assemblies were usually
called around Holy days. These were days when people assembled to hear Godís word and to worship and to pray as in Nehemiah 8. In Acts 2, 120 Christians met to pray and that is where they were when the Holy Spirit descended on the church that Pentecost. The great revival of 1857-58 was the result of sacred assemblies across
the nation. The disciples were meeting to pray when James was killed and Peter was in prison, and then miraculously released.
It may seem embarrassing to confess sins and to cry out to God for His mercy and grace when you are among other people, but it is Godís plan for His people. Get over it and call somebody to meet with you over the lunch hour, one evening each week, or whenever you can.
10. Make a Commitment to God. Listen Psalm 51:7ff, "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean
heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You do not
desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. This is the flip side of repentance. I will serve God with my whole heart even if I am the only one.
Our Help comes from this wonderful open door called prayer. My friends we are in a war and Dr. Charles Stanley advocates that we fight all our battles on our knees. This is not our grocery lists or Christmas lists of wants that we take to God and then wonder why He doesnít give us what we want. God give me
more, bigger, and better. God heal our sicknesses. God take away my trials. No! This is being honest to God and seeking His will for our lives, our family and our country.
So what will you do? What will we do?
Who is willing to call others to pray with them?
Who is willing to humble themselves in the sight of God and others?
Who is willing to fast and mourn over sin and its effects on our country and in our families?
Who is ready to repent of pride, complacency, lethargy, and self - sufficiency?
Who is ready to commit their whole life to serving and honoring God?
Who needs to repent and receive forgiveness and salvation in Jesus?
Psalm 85:4-7, "Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your anger toward us to cease. 5 Will You be angry with us forever? Will You prolong Your anger to all generations? 6 Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? 7 Show us Your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation."
Letís pray about it.
Letís take communion. He died for the whole world (1 John 2:1-2; 1 Tim. 2:4).
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman