Prayer: The Heartbeat of Revival
“ ‘If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!’ ” (Matthew 7:11, NKJV)
The objective of our lesson is to find out the role of prayer in revival. According to the title it is the heartbeat. What this is trying to say is that prayer is what keeps revival…alive. However, according to Ellen White revival is an event and reformation is a process. If anything, then, prayer, in terms of revival would be a part of CPR.
1st, let us review what revival is. I will quote from last week’s overview. We based our definition on a sentence from 1 SM 121, which begins with Ellen White stressing the urgent need for revival. A few sentences down she says that “While the people are so destitute of God's Holy Spirit, they cannot appreciate the preaching of the Word; but when the Spirit's power touches their hearts, then the discourses given will not be without effect.” In this sense, Revival is what happens when we allow the Holy Spirit to touch our heart. What happens is that what we thought made no sense makes sense, what we thought was foolishness now is wisdom, what we thought was mundane and uninteresting now is precious. Ellen White rephrases this in RH Feb. 25, 1902, “Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from the spiritual death.”
As Ellen White speaks about revival she stresses the importance of prayer in revival. She says in 1 SM 121, “A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer.” Revival is the Holy Sprit’s work in us. He may initiate but he cannot continue unless we invite Him to do so. And, Ellen White, says this is something to pray for. She says,
There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our heavenly Father is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing (1 SM 121).
You could argue that a true revival will lead to prayer, because, we shall be distrustful of ourselves, having an abiding sense that our sufficiency is of God. So, we will pray to be connected and sustained by God’s sufficiency.
In Ellen White’s account of the disciples’ conversion and reception of the early rain, prayer figured prominently. She says AA p. 36,
They also met together to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. They knew that they had a Representative in heaven, an Advocate at the throne of God. In solemn awe they bowed in prayer, repeating the assurance, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." John 16:23, 24.
One change apparent in the disciples was a love for sinners. The disciples wished to fulfill the Lord’s wish for them to preach the Gospel to all men. Ellen White adds in page 37,
“The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ.”
The disciples received the early version of what we expect to be a much greater experience. But, do we pray as they did? Not, only in terms of amount of time, but with the conviction they had? The prayer of the righteous – those who hear the Word and believe it (Romans 4: 9; Romans 10: 17) - avails much (James 5: 16), because not only does he believe that God is, but also that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11: 6).