A Prerequisite to Spiritual Awakening

Dan Hayes


You are probably beginning to get the message (I’m sure getting it!) that prayer might be the most multi-faceted gift of devotion which the Lord has bestowed on humanity. This sixth reason underlines that truth: prayer is the necessary prerequisite to sweeping spiritual awakening.

We are indebted to Him for providing in two freighted verses (II Chronicles 7:13,14) a précis of all God says on this subject in the entire Word of God: “If I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My Name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

As I say, this is a précis, a summary of the rest of God’s teaching on the subject of spiritual awakenings or revivals -- those times when God enters time and space in such obvious ways that masses of believers became stalwart and committed, and multitudes of unbelievers crowd into the Kingdom of God.

Such manifestations have occurred numerous times in Biblical and post-biblical history. Yet every time they occur, one clear progenitor has existed. Somewhere, there has always been a group, or many groups, who have given themselves to fervent, consistent, persistent prayer for the very purpose of cleansing from sin and the reviving of the Body of believers and the conversion of the lost. J. Edwin Orr once said that “every revival in history could be traced to find at its source a group of people gathered for prayer.”

Something about such group prayer breeds honesty, openness, and humility. Usually this group is the first to be struck by God’s awesome, yet gracious presence. Then revival spreads through and beyond them to the reaches of the church, community, or campus. Examples abound.

At Yale University in 1905, prayer meetings began to multiply. A faculty member was so impressed that he sent John R. Mott a letter in which he wrote: “We want you to come to Yale for a series of meetings... The Spirit of God is here with us in power... I have never known a time when there were so many inquirers.”

The result of those meetings was an awakening in which one third of the Yale student body were involved in small group Bible Studies. K. S. Latourette goes on to write that the class of 1909, who were freshmen in 1905, produced more missionaries than any other class in the history of Yale.

The key? Humility, repentance, and persistence in prayer. These are what we need today to lay the foundations through which God can manifest His Person in powerful ways. As we pray, we experience change which revives us. Then we become the seeds of revival to change those around us.

As the concentric circle enlarges, awakening spreads more broadly and quickly. And all of this is the fruit of prayer. What a wonderful reason to pray -- to see the resultant awakened church, campus, city, or country. May we be driven to our knees to pray for such a reality of His presence.

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