John 12:24, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
Isaiah 57:15, For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Psalm 85:6, Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?
In the book, The Kneeling Christian, we find the following words:
It is not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life– all victory over temptation, all confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers, all repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss, all habitual communion with God– depend upon the practice of secret prayer. … Everything depends upon prayer. Why are many Christians so often defeated? Because they pray so little. Why are many church-workers so often discouraged and disheartened? Because they pray so little. Why do most men see so few brought “out of darkness to light” by their ministry? Because they pray so little. Why are not our churches simply on fire for God? Because there is so little real prayer.
The same author wrote:
Why, the wonder is not that we pray so little, but that we can ever get up from our knees if we realize our own need; the needs of our home and our loved ones; the needs of our pastor and the Church; the needs of our city–of our country–of the heathen and Mohammedan world! All these needs, can be met by the riches of God in Christ Jesus. St. Paul had no doubt about this–nor have we. Yes! “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus” (Phil. iv. 19).
Over the past two weeks we have considered the thought of praying dangerously. Let’s take a moment review what we seen thus far:
Thankfully there are those of us who do pray. We pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray the prayer of Jabez, we pray Paul’s prayers in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, and on occasion we even pray some of those Old Testament prayers!
But even for those of us who do pray consistently and constantly, more often than not our prayers are “safe prayers.” You know, we pray for God’s blessing on our life and on the lives of those we love, as well as his blessing upon our ministries. We pray for God’s provision and God’s protection. We pray for good grades at school. We pray for a job, or a raise. We even pray for our friends and family members who don’t know Jesus to get saved.
These are all great prayers!
These are all necessary prayers!
Unfortunately, these are all what we could call “safe” prayers!
Our Old and New Testament heroes of the faith, as well as the prayer warriors found throughout church history, over the past 2,000 years, neither played it safe, nor prayed it safe.
They “Prayed Dangerously.”
Throughout history there have been men and women who have allowed God to do something special in their lives. These men and women were always men and women of prayer. As one author noted, “These ‘saints,’ as we sometimes call them, knew God in a way that I clearly did not. They experienced Jesus as the defining reality of their lives. They possessed a flaming vision of God that blinded them to all competing loyalties. They experienced life built on the Rock.”
One of the greatest books that I have ever read was called Deeper Experiences of Great Christians. In it we find these words about Savonarola:
As a boy his devotion and fervor increased as he grew older, and he spent many hours in prayer and fasting. He would kneel in church for hours at a time engaged in prayer. He was very contemplative, and his soul was deeply stirred by the vice and worldliness he saw on every hand. The luxury, splendor, and wealth displayed by the rich and the awful poverty of the poor weighed heavily on his heart. Italy was the prey of petty tyrants and wicked priests, and dukes and popes vied with each other in lewdness, lavishness, and cruelty. These things brought great sorrow to his young soul which was burning for virtue and truth. Some of the rough impassioned verses of his youth show how deeply his soul was stirred
These “saints” were men and women who not only prayed, but they prayed “Dangerous Prayers.”
As I have noted in parts one and two,
“God is looking for some men and women today who will step out of their comfort zone and enter into the very combat zone of praying. God is looking for some men and women who are willing, not only to pray, but to pray ‘Dangerous Prayers.’”
What are these “Dangerous Prayers”?
Below are a list of a few that I can think of. These are the prayers that have led to revivals [personal and corporate] in the past. These are the prayers that, when prayed sincerely, lead to the miraculous in the life of an individual or the life of a church.
O Lord, search me …
O Lord, break me …
O Lord, humble me …
O Lord, revive me …
O Lord, stretch me …
O Lord, change me …
O Lord, lead me …
O Lord, open my eyes …
O Lord, break my heart …
O Lord, use me …
O Lord, send me …
Let’s take a brief moment today and simply consider the second, third, and fourth of these “Dangerous Prayers.”
For those of us who have known the Lord for any length of time, we have come to know that in spite of all of the changes that God has made in our lives, and we thank God for them, there is still within a great hindrance to knowing God intimately and connecting to others with the love of Christ.
In a nutshell, we are a proud, arrogant, and often a calloused people that need to be broken. Was not this the problem with the Pharisees? They were faithful to the temple. They prayed. They knew the scriptures more than you and I will ever know them. According to Jesus, it appears many of them had a missionary spirit [Matthew 23:15]. Externally, they had it all together, but within is where the real problem was [Matthew 23:25-28]. In the eyes of one another, they were definitely an impressive bunch. But to the common sinner and to Christ, not so. Concerning the Pharisees, one author wrote:
Let’s be honest. Passionate faith can have a dark side — a really dark side. Just ask Jesus. When he showed up as God in the flesh, those who thought of themselves as God’s biggest fans and defenders wanted nothing to do with him. They tried to shut him up. When they couldn’t, they had him killed. That’s obviously passion gone bad. But the ancient Pharisees aren’t the only example of the dark side of overzealous faith. Our history books are filled with other examples. … They thought they were advancing the cause of the kingdom when in reality they were simply embarrassing the King.
Been there, done that!
Take a few moments. Ask God to search your heart. Ask God to reveal the pride, arrogance, insecurity, insincerity, and so on. Once God searches our hearts and reveals, by His Spirit, who we really are, NOT WHO EVERYONE ELSE THINKS WE ARE, then we can ask God to break us and humble us.
If we don’t, and we remain unbroken, we cannot bring forth the life that God intended for us to bring forth.
It doesn’t matter how many conferences or revivals we attend. It doesn’t matter how many verses we memorize. It doesn’t matter how many hours we go out and “serve the Lord.” If we aren’t broken, very little of eternal value is accomplished.
Watchman Nee had it right when he wrote the following words:
It is basically because their outward man has never been dealt with. For this reason, excitement in revivals, pleading prayers, and zealous activities are but a waste of time. As we shall see, only one kind of basic dealing can enable man to be useful before God—brokenness. … The basic difficulty of a servant of God lies in the failure of his inward man to break through his outward man. Therefore, we must recognize before God that the first difficulty to our work is not in others, but in ourselves.
After asking God to search our heart, break our will, and humble us, now we can get to “O Lord revive me.”
We hear many cries from pulpits today about the great need for a revival in our country. No doubt, we need a revival in our country. We pray out, “O God, revive our churches.” Our churches definitely need revival. But more than our country, our churches, and the guy or gal who sits across from us during the church service, I NEED REVIVAL.
And, I am going to guess that you do too!
And for those of us who have been in the ministry for awhile, we would no doubt have to agree with Leonard Ravenhill, who once said, “The problem isn’t in the pew, it’s in the pulpit.” 🙂
When our hearts are searched, our wills are broken, we are humbled before a holy God, and we are truly revived, we will find our greatest rejoicing in Christ and Christ alone!
Take some time today, this week, and ask God to search your heart, break you, humble you, and revive you!