All Manner Of Prayer Useful For Revival
By W. B. Sprague
It is in the closet – in secret prayer – that Christians may expect to get the flame of devotion kindled in their heart. If the closet is neglected, however devout Christians may seem to be in public worship services, they have great reason to suspect the depth of their heart devotion.
The spirit of prayer with which revival begins, usually originates in the closet. There the Christian may wrestle in behalf of the church with as much earnestness as he will. There he may pour out his whole soul in tears and sighs and broken petitions and the divine ear on which his importunity falls will never be offended by it.
There, too, he may bring before God the cases of his individual friends or family members, and even plead for them by name, and mention minute details of their condition. Ordinarily, this would never be done in public worship. In the closet, he can earnestly supplicate for them, pleading for the convicting of the Holy Spirit upon them.
It is probable that during every true revival, the most fervent and effectual prayers that are offered go up from the closet. They are never heard by any other ear than that which hears in secret.
But there should be much of group prayer as well as private prayer connected with a revival. Much is wrought by the frequent meetings for this purpose of a few friends whose hearts are closely joined together and who have a common interest not only in regard to a revival in general but in respect to particular individuals. Their gathering together serves to increase that interest and stirs in each one the spirit of earnest intercession.
The record of these little gatherings, quiet and unknown to the world, will show in the end that there was often mighty energy there. The Holy Spirit made intercession with groanings which could not be uttered.
In larger groups, too, God's people are often to meet for the express purpose of supplicating for the moving of the Holy Spirit. The prayers on these occasions must of necessity be more general, yet they should have direct reference to the advancement of God's work. And these prayers should not be offered in the spirit of formality. Rather they should be the deep and earnest longings of the soul. They should go up from hearts bathed with the reviving influences of the Holy Ghost.
While all other efforts for revival are directed toward man, prayer is unique in that it is directed toward God. All other efforts for revival are dependent in great measure for their success on prayer. Ministers and other Christians may labor very faithfully but it will be to no avail without the divine blessing, and that blessing is secured only by prayer. God has said that He will be "inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them" (Ezek. 36:37). Let it never be forgotten that prayer secures the blessing on every other means for revival which the church employs.
Prayer, too, may reach individuals whom the preaching of the Gospel could never reach, because the individuals will not come under the sound of Gospel preaching. You may have irreligious friends or family members to whom you dare not open your lips concerning their salvation. Yet you can go and pour out your whole soul before God in their behalf and that prayer may carry the Holy Spirit to their hearts to work a genuine work of conversion.
Believe me, Christians, you cannot at any time estimate prayer as a means of saving the souls of your fellow men and women too high. Though it cannot take the place of other means, it is that without which all others would be utterly in vain. Besides, it has a direct influence, the extent of which it is impossible to fully estimate.
Therefore, friends, pray without ceasing!
– Adapted from Lectures On Revivals.