My dear readers, in our last blog, we considered the value of praying for revival in the Church. Revival is not a tent meeting performed by a religious charlatan. Revival is the Holy Spirit coming down with power to convict men of sin and lead them to Jesus Christ. No one can pray effectively for revival unless they believe that revival is needed. In a real revival, the life of God is poured into human souls. Fervent prayer has been connected to every true revival in Church history.
Let us consider what Biblical faith looks like when we pray. It is not easy for a person to pray with Biblical faith who also believes that God is sovereign. Consider carefully what James is suggesting in the following verse, and if you believe that God’s will is always done, do you talk around what James is telling us. “You do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2) If God wants you to have something and His will is always accomplished, then how can your lack of prayer restrain His will?
Let us consider a Biblically accurate but unsatisfying answer. To be Precise, biblically demands that we accept the reality that some truths at present are irreconcilable. Divine sovereignty and human responsibility, in some cases, are irreconcilable. However, in humility, we should accept the fact that we cannot reconcile what in this life appears to be irreconcilable. Consider 1 Corinthians 13:12. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
Do we really want a satisfying answer when in this life we should accept the reality that we do not see things clearly? To pray effectively, we must be humble, to be humble, we must understand that as born again believers, we still err. For this reason, we must remain teachable. We should never defend ourselves, our Church, or our beliefs unless we are absolutely certain that we are absolutely right.
Some people scoff at the idea that how we ask in prayer determines whether or not we receive the answers for which we pray. Yet, the Scriptures are replete in teaching us just this reality. “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” (Acts 12:5) Let us consider the word fervently from verse five.
Fervently is ektenṓs in the Greek. Fervently is an adverb modifying the verb “was being.” How the prayer was spoken is the point. It was not crucial that prayer was being made but that it was being made fervently. Fervently is properly, fully-stretched, i.e., describing the verbal idea as extended out, to its necessary (full) potential (“without slack”); strenuously, without undue let up (as “completely taut”). This type of prayer is very different from praying by rote. This is the prayer that a person prays when their child has been kidnapped.
Did Jesus speak to hear Himself talk or was He teaching a very important lesson to the early Church through the men he called to be Apostles? “And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen.” Is faith essential or not?
Was James teaching good doctrine or was he confused about the sovereignty of God? “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8)
My dear readers, I am not teaching the sovereignty of God in this blog. That does not mean that it is of any less importance, in reality, or to me. It is merely another side of the same coin, which is not totally reconcilable to our dimly lit brains. Bring the sovereignty of God into every verse that speaks of our responsibilities, and you will do away with our obligations.
The account of revival on the Isle of Lewis, 1949-1952, by Duncan Campbell.
IF you listen to the account as spoken by this dear man of God and it becomes merely an intellectual exercise, you will gain nothing from it. Lord bless you, and keep you, and shine His face upon you. May He bring you to your knees.