Prayer is the forerunner to every revival that has ever been held in history. No known revival, personal, Church or national, has ever come by sudden coincidence, but as God’s response to the persevering prayers of the saints.
Giving a glimpse of the pattern of intercession for revival. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Oh, that we knew how to pray! I fear that we do not. We are missing the sacred art, we are losing the heavenly mystery, we are but apprentice hands in prayer.”
Compared with such a man as John Knox, whose prayers were worth more than an army of ten thousand men, or compared with the prayers of Luther, how few of us can pray! Luther was a man of whom they said, as they pointed at him in the street, “There goes a man who can have anything he likes to ask of God.” He was the man who, by his prayer, dragged Melanchthon back from the very gates of death, and what was more, the man who could shake upon her seven hills the harlot of Rome as she never had been shaken before, because he was mighty with God in prayer.” Philip Melanchthon was a German Lutheran reformer, and collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation.
The ministry of Charles Finney shows us how to prepare the way for revival through prayer. When asked the secret to his success, Finney said, “The secret is prayer. I always get up at 4 o’clock every morning and pray until 8 o’clock in the morning. I’ve had experiences in prayer that alarmed me. I found myself saying, ‘Lord, You don’t think we’re not going to have revival here, do You?’ Then I found myself quoting scripture after scripture, reminding the Lord of His promises.”
One time a woman came to Finney and said, “About a week ago, Father Nash rented a room from me. After three days, I wondered why he hadn’t come out of his room. I went up to his door and heard him groaning. Thinking something was wrong with him, I opened the door and peeked in. There he was, lying in the middle of the floor, groaning and praying.” “Don’t worry about Father Nash,” Finney told her. “He just has the burden of intercession to pray for lost souls.”
Revival prayer demands praying the promises of God into reality. “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase. They shall be safe in their land; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them” (Ezekiel 34:25-27).
The sayings of these men may seem old-fashioned, and out of reality with the present way of living, but they cannot be swept under the carpet. If we must see a radical transformation in our nation it will require an unprecedented level of commitment to prayer never known before.