A Burden For Revival
By Dave Butts
Scripture Reading: Psalm 79
Revival comes to those who are desperate for it. Many today are talking about spiritual awakening and even beginning to pray about it. But have we allowed God to place within us the burden necessary to pray desperately for God to show up in our midst? Are we willing to “pray the price” to see God move in a powerful way in the church today?
As I continue to learn how to move my prayers into alignment with God’s will, praying Scripture has become increasingly important. As I pray God’s Word I find myself praying in ways I would never have found myself praying before. So it is as we begin to place ourselves before the Lord in asking for a burden for revival.
I have been greatly impacted by the prayer of the psalmist in Psalm 79. This is a powerful prayer for revival. It was prayed from a broken heart that saw the people of God under attack and the promises of God unfulfilled. Praying through Psalm 79 is a great way to develop a biblical burden for revival. The text breaks down into a great outline for passionate prayer:
1. Recognizing your current situation is a critical place to begin. The people of Israel were oppressed…under attack by their enemies. They finally got to a place of desperation – “for we are in desperate need” (v. 8). Until the church today arrives at that place of desperation, we will never develop a burden for revival.
2. Get serious about the glory of God. Pagans were disparaging God because of the sorry situation of the Israelites. “Where is their God?” they asked (v. 10). The fact that the world would ask such a question should bring great grief to God’s people. In a very real sense, this is exactly what the world is saying of the church today: “Where is your God?”
3. Recognition of your current situation and passion for God’s glory will lead you to petition. It is at this point that you find Israel praying for mercy, deliverance and forgiveness. “Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may Your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of Your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for Your name’s sake” (vv. 8-9). This is a very personal sort of prayer that focuses on the needs of the people of God for restoration into the favor of God.
4. Taking the prayer a step further, we see the psalmist asking God to step into the situation (vv. 10-12). In a very real sense, the psalmist prays, “God, You answer the accusations of the enemy. By Your actions, Lord, pay back the reproach that the world has heaped upon You through the sad condition of Your people.”
5. The result of such a prayer is worship and praise: “Then we Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will praise You forever; from generation to generation we will recount Your praise” (v. 13). This is the natural result of seeing God work. Even before full-blown revival arrives, there is worship erupting from the people of God. And along with that is the commitment to pass it on to the next generation.
Praying such a prayer for revival is not a guarantee of revival. It is merely preparing the ground of the human heart for a fresh work of God. Praying with passion for revival begins to create a burden for revival among the Lord’s people. And into such a prepared state, the Lord has often poured His rain from heaven.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks of this preparatory work of prayer in his book, Revival. He points out that our problem is that we are content with a superficial knowledge of God and do not pause to realize that others see nothing in us to attract them to the Lord. He goes on to write, “The inevitable and constant preliminary to revival has always been a thirst for God, a thirst, a living thirst for a knowledge of the living God, and a longing and a burning desire to see Him acting, manifesting Himself and His power, rising, and scattering His enemies. …The thirst for God and the longing for the exhibition of His glory are the essential preliminaries to revival” (pp. 90-91).
May our prayers for revival develop a great thirst for God, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those around us.