The Prayer That Brings Revival
You hear it all the time today—believers want to see revival, deeply concerned about our nation and the world, saying that only God can save us now. You may be among them. But we see no signs of the revival the Church and our nation needs.
Why do we not see revival? What holds it back? Many are asking that. In this study we will look in depth at the prayer that brings revival.
This month an article from Adrian Rogers about this very issue is posted at OnePlace.com. Toward the end of that article, Dr. Rogers states that there is prayer—prayer of a particular kind—that we need to be praying if we want to see revival. How can we have revival? How do we seek God’s face?
1. Turn in your Bible to Isaiah chapter 64:1-9. The “you” refers to God. Isaiah is addressing Almighty God. Fill in some key words:
1 Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would _______ _______!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence—
2 As _______ burns brushwood, As fire causes water to boil—
To make ______ ________ known to Your _______________,
That the ______________ may _______________ at Your presence!
3 When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down,
The _______________________ ________________ at Your presence.
4 For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen _______ God besides _______,
Who _________ for the one who___________ for Him.
5 You meet him who rejoices and does ______________________,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed _____________, for we have ______________—
In these ways we continue; And we need to be ______________.
6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our _______________________________ are like filthy _________;
We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
7 And there is ___ ____ who calls on _________ __________,
Who _________ himself up to __________ _____________ of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us,
And have consumed us because of our iniquities.
8 But now, O Lord, You are our ______________;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And ________ we are the work of Your hand.
9 Do not be furious, O Lord, Nor remember ________________ forever;
Indeed, please ____________—we all are Your people!
2. In verse 1, what does Isaiah—like many of us—long for God to do? (The phrase “come down” is filled with meaning.)
3. If God were to descend in His power, Isaiah compares the effect to an earthquake. How widespread (v. 2) does Isaiah want God’s holy name to be known?
4. In verse 4, Isaiah maintains that since “the beginning of the world,” mankind has not heard or seen any God (other than Jehovah, the God of Israel) who acts for the one who waits for Him. Yet since before the Tower of Babel, wherever man has lived, he set up idols to worship other gods. So dig deeper—what is Isaiah really saying about this in verse 4?
5. Verse 4 brings to mind the story of the prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel.
- Turn to 1 Kings chapter 18 and begin reading at verse 17. This is the epic battle of Elijah, the prophet of God, versus the prophets of Baal. If you want the background, start with verse 1. In verse 18, add the number of false prophets (of idols Baal and Asherah). How many prophets were aligned against Elijah?
- So it was _____ against 1 (Elijah). Not a fair fight. But 1 + God is a majority. The rules of the contest were set in verses 21-24. What response did Baal give to his dedicated followers (v. 25-26)?
- Turn back now to Isaiah 64:5. How does Elijah’s experience relate to the first half of verse 5?
6. Only one people, God’s people, the Hebrews, actually worshipped the true God. Yet even they repeatedly fell into idol worship and God had to discipline them.
In the United States, we have experienced two Great Awakenings when people turned to God in droves. Yet we are as far from God today as we have ever been. How is our nation like Israel?
- Continuing in Isaiah 64, verse 5, we see a stark contrast. On one hand, what does God do for the person who, like Elijah, rejoices in Him and does righteousness?
- On the other hand, how does God react (v. 5b) to our repeated, unrepented-of sinfulness?
- What do we need? (v. 5)
A CLOSER LOOK: GOD’S PEOPLE NEED REVIVAL
God’s people needed revival then as badly as we need it today. Like the modern church today, in Isaiah’s day, God’s people had been carried away into captivity by the world, the flesh and the devil. God’s work was in disrepair. Many Christians are discouraged; they have no hope for revival. They don’t even believe revival is possible. I want to tell you, revival is not only possible, it is inevitable when God’s people get right with God.
Why is there no revival? Listen carefully. Not because of liberalism in the churches, or disunity among God’s people, or because we’ve been worldly and compromised. Those are a given. But if we get all of these matters changed, it still would not be revival. These aren’t the reasons for no revival. They are the result of no revival.
The heart of our study today is THE PRAYER THAT BRINGS REVIVAL.
Dr. R. A. Torrey said:
“I have a theory…that there is not a church, chapel, or mission on earth where you cannot have revival, provided there is a little nucleus of faithful people who will hold onto God until He comes down. First, let a few Christians—there need not be many—get thoroughly right with God themselves. This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest, I’m sorry to say, cannot be done, and it will come to nothing. Second, let them bind themselves together to pray for revival until God opens the heavens and comes down. Third, let them put themselves at the disposal of God to use them as He sees fit in winning others to Christ. That’s all. This is sure to bring revival in any church or community. I have given this prescription around the world. It has been taken by many churches and many communities, and in no instance has it ever failed, and it cannot fail.”
What kind of prayer will bring revival?
Prayer That Recognizes God’s Sovereignty
- Continue to verse 8:
But now, O Lord,
You are our ___________;
We are the _________, and You our ____________;
And all we are the _______ of Your hand.
We have to believe that God is God. Isaiah is declaring, “Lord, You are King, You are sovereign. I am clay. You are the potter. Mold me and make me after Thy will. You are King!”
God doesn’t want “a place” in your life. God doesn’t want prominence in your life. He demands and deserves pre-eminence. Are you willing to say, “God, mold me and make me after Thy will”?
What if God told you to sell your house and give it to missions? What if God said, “I want you as a missionary in Iraq?” Are you willing? Have you recognized the sovereignty of God?
Only prayer that acknowledges God’s sovereignty will be instrumental in revival.
Prayer That Remembers God’s Mercy
- Verse 9:
Do not be __________, O Lord, Nor ______________ iniquity forever;
Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!
“Furious” is a strong word. When a parent sets up parameters for behavior around his child, the parent seeks not to restrict but protect; not to dampen the spirit but preserve the child from great harm.
When after all their many deliverances in both Egypt and the wilderness, and God’s protection from their enemies in their new homeland, for Israel to go willfully and wickedly after gods carved from wood and stone was a horrific affront to God—His love, His character—His holiness.
When you think of the collective sins of our nation—and of God’s people, the church—“fury” is appropriate.
Isaiah pleads, “O God, O God, have mercy. Don’t keep your anger forever. Lord, we need You. We want You. We must have You.”
God wants to extend mercy. He doesn’t hold a grudge. God had much rather forgive sin than punish sin. But God cannot put away our sin by forgiving it unless we put it away by forsaking it.
The problem with so many of our prayers is we’re not willing to repent. We want God’s mercy, but we seek no repentance. And prayer without repentance is a religious farce, a smokescreen.
Prayer That Respects God’s Glory
- Verses 10-12.
10 Your holy cities are a ___________________, Zion is a wilderness,
Jerusalem a ________________.
11 Our holy and beautiful temple, Where our fathers praised You,
Is burned up with fire; And all our pleasant things are laid waste.
12 Will You restrain Yourself because of these things, O Lord?
Will You hold Your peace, and afflict us very severely?
Name some ways the Church of Jesus Christ is “laid waste” today.
- The word “desolate” is another powerful word. Turn to Daniel chapter 9.
For a beautiful example of how to seek God’s face for your nation and your church, read Daniel’s outcry to God in 9:3-19.
What a prayer! What an outpouring of confession!
Look at verse 17:
- “Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications [earnest prayers], and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is ____________________.”
What was God’s sanctuary? Desolate.
- Daniel doesn’t stop there.
v. 18: “O my God, incline Your ear and hear. Open Your eyes and see our ______________________________ [that word again], and the city which is called by Your name…”
- Jerusalem was the city Daniel refers to. But what did Jesus say? In describing what the believer is supposed to be like, Jesus said, (turn to Matthew 5:14-15)
14 “You are the light of the world. A ________ that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (Matthew 5:14-15)
We, the Body of Christ, the Church, are to be giving light to our generation.
- Daniel continues: (9:18) “…for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds [no self-righteous, “filthy rags” for Daniel. Compare with Isaiah 64:6], but because of Your great mercies.”
A CLOSER LOOK: THE BIBLE’S AMAZING TAPESTRY
I’ve often said that the Bible is an intricately woven tapestry. You pull a thread here, and over there, you see a wrinkle.
In both passages by two prophets who live a century apart and never knew each other, we see:
Write out the verse Daniel 9:19 here:
Isaiah is saying, “O God, we remember the glory. We remember when You spoke to us from Your sacred temple. Our fathers have told us about it. What a glorious time it was! O God, we want Your glory again! O God, do it again! O God, show thy face, show thy glory!”
That’s what revival is. It is when God comes down. Don’t you want to see that?
- Perhaps you haven’t been willing to stir yourself to seek God.
- Perhaps you are dressed in the rags of your self-righteousness.
- Perhaps you’re quite satisfied with where you are in your complacency.
But, my brother and sister, if you will seek God, I’m telling you that God wants to come down. He is waiting, leaning over the battlements of heaven. We don’t have to persuade God to send revival—only permit Him to do so.
Do you respect God’s sovereignty?
Do you want God’s glory?
Or will you close the page saying, “That was a nice little study.”
Ask yourself, “What has God said to me? What does God want me to do?”
Get right with God. Band together and pray. Put yourself at God’s disposal. This is the message of Isaiah 64.