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Be renewed in prayer!

  

 

Prayer is the key to revival. All great revivals have come forth through enduring prayer. Read about this important topic and start praying

 

 

Foreword

 

Are you aware that there may be obstacles in our prayer, which prevent us from praying trustfully and constantly? Even, if we have received Christ into our lives and been saved, starting to pray, trusting prayers and perseverance are not always so simple; many obstacles may come in the way of our prayer.

   Sometimes the reason may simply be that we do not understand our position before God, through Jesus. Even though Christ should be our righteousness, and through Him we can approach God, we might not properly understand or fully realize this important basic fact. Instead, we may concentrate on ourselves and our imperfections, and therefore do not expect God to answer our prayer. We expect that He will answer other prayers by "holier people”, but we ourselves do not have this kind of a trust in our prayers.

   Another obstacle for prayer can be the wrong kind of teaching, such as in matters like where to direct our prayer and how many times we should pray. If we have received the wrong kind of teaching in this area, it may unnecessarily lead us astray or paralyze our prayer. If we forget that the God to whom we pray is in Heaven, or always think that it is enough to pray once for each issue, our prayer may be paralyzed. Then, the form of the prayer changes and it is only words among other words, which is far from the purpose of prayer.

   On the next pages, we are going to study this important issue and also see why it is so important to pray persistently. The purpose is that we would learn to pray enduringly and trustingly, and that we can remove all the obstacles disturbing our prayer. If this is done, your prayer life is sure to be a lot easier!

 

 


1. Lacking understanding of righteousness
2. Wrong kind of teaching
3. Start to pray!
4. You can also fast!
5. Prayer and revival
 

 

1. Lacking understanding of righteousness

 

One of the most common obstacles hindering prayer may be the issue already mentioned in the foreword: not understanding that Christ is our righteousness and that we can approach God through Him. If one does not understand and fully realize this basic issue, it is almost impossible to pray with trust.

   Instead, we might concentrate only on ourselves and our imperfections, and not even expect that God would answer our prayers. We might feel unworthy and think that only those people who are holier will get an answer to their prayers from God. As a result of a poor understanding of righteousness, we may not have a trustful relationship with God at all.

   To make this clear, we are going to study the issue in the light of the next examples. They show us the right basis, so that we can trustfully pray to God:

 

Access through Jesus. First of all, anyone struggling with prayer should understand that we can come to God at any moment, but only through Jesus and His blood. Our access to Him is not based on something in ourselves, the basis is in the fulfilled work of Jesus and His blood. Jesus is our ticket to God and our Mediator. Therefore, if we try to approach God in some other way or through our own actions, it is not surprising if we do not have trust in our prayer. Trust will be missing from our prayer without Jesus:

 

- (Eph 2:13,18) But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ.

18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

 

- (Eph 3:11-12) According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

 

- (Hebr 10:19,22) Having therefore, brothers, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

 

Watchman Nee described the same thing. He pointed out the usual issue of people basing their access to God on how well they have succeeded, not on the atonement of Jesus. People may think that if they have succeeded really well, then also God will receive them. If they have failed, they may think the opposite:

    

I am almost sure that our thoughts go like this, "Today I have been very proper. The word of God felt so warm and alive in the morning – surely I can now go before God in prayer.” Or, "We had a quarrel at home yet again this morning, and it hasn’t been sorted out yet. Going before God is impossible now.”

   On what basis do you come before God? On the basis of your own uncertain feelings? Do you think that what you have achieved today will decide whether God will receive you or not? Or is your courage based on the blood of Christ having been poured out for you and that God looks at that blood and is satisfied? You might change, but the blood of Christ never does. Therefore, you can come to God at any moment without hesitation. Not even our good achievements today, yesterday, or the day before can guarantee us access to the Most Holy. It is guaranteed to us by the blood of Christ alone. Under the shelter of blood you can go before the face of God, regardless of whether your day has been good or bad, or whether you sinned consciously or unconsciously. The blood of Jesus is the only way to God, and it is always open. (1)

 

His name. Secondly, it is good to understand that when we pray and turn to God, it only takes place in the name of Jesus, not in the name of anybody else. In our lives this means that we do not need to look at ourselves and our imperfect lives, but at Jesus – this was already mentioned above.

   God, the Father, receives us in the name of Jesus, not in our own name. It is good enough for Him, and in a way, it is like a paid ticket of admission to Him. Other names or tickets are no longer needed:

 

- (John 14:13-14) And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

 

- (John 15:16) You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

 

- (John 16:23-24, 26-27) And in that day you shall ask me nothing. Truly, truly, I say to you, Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24 Till now have you asked nothing in my name: ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.

26 At that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you, that I will pray the Father for you:

27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

 

His righteousness. The third important issue is the righteousness of Jesus. For if Jesus has entered our lives and has become our Savior, we have also received His righteousness. This means that our acceptance before God no longer depends on ourselves, but on Jesus who has already fulfilled all the demands of God and the Law. He is our righteousness, and then, we are in fact as righteous and acceptable before the Father as He is.

   Therefore, the best we can do is to stop looking at ourselves and our faults and look at Him who is our righteousness. If we do this, it is not difficult for us to approach God trustfully in prayer:

 

- (1 Cor 1:30-31) But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

31 That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.

 

- (Rom 3:26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.

 

- (Rom 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

 

- (Rom 5:19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

 

In addition, as comes to the righteousness of Christ, it is good to understand that there is no difference between people. There is no difference, for example, between Paul and the believers of these days; in the same way also Elijah, the great hero of faith, was no more righteous than any of us. God heard his prayer in spite of his imperfection:

 

- (James 5:16-18) Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

 

God hears. It is also important to understand that God hears our prayers. It is very common that we focus our attention on ourselves or our faith when praying – do I have enough faith for God to answer me – instead of simply expecting that God will hear our prayers and answer them. We may be stuck in self-observation and consider our own lives and the degree of faith we have: all of this is of no use.

   How can this problem be solved? The only way is to stop concentrating on ourselves and our faith, and start focusing on the promises of God. Since there are many verses in the Bible saying that He hears and answers our prayers, it could be wise to trust them. We have to pay attention to these promises and not to ourselves or our faith:

 

- (Gen 17:20) And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.

 

- (1 Sam 1:27) For this child I prayed; and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of him

 

- (2 Sam 22:7) In my distress I called on the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.

 

- (2 King 19:20) Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus said the LORD God of Israel, That which you have prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.

 

- (2 Chron 30:27) Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even to heaven.

 

- (Ezra 8:23) So we fasted and sought our God for this: and he was entreated of us.

 

- (Ps 66:19-20) But truly God has heard me; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God, which has not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

 

- (Ps 6:9) The LORD has heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.

 

- (Ps 65:2) O you that hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come.

 

- (Matt 7:7-8) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:

8 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.

 

- (John 14:13-14) And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

 

- (Matt 7:11) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

 

- (1 Peter 3:12) For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

 

- (1 John 5:14) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us:

 

 

2. Wrong kind of teaching

  

The wrong kind of teaching can prevent us from praying in the right way. At its worst, it can lead us astray or paralyze our prayer. It is important where we direct our prayers, another thing worth noticing is the number of times we need to pray about the same issue.

 

WHERE SHOULD WE DIRECT OUR PRAYERS? One important issue in praying is the direction. It is important that our prayers are always directed to God, not to anything else. Sometimes people concentrate more on the devil and evil spirits than on God. These people may perceive all problems as caused by the devil, thinking that salvation of people also depends on him, and for this reason, they have turned more to the devil than to God.

   This may be due to teaching on spiritual warfare, in which "prayer" has been used as a fighting tool and as an authority against the devil while pleading to God has been rejected. This is why many people may have spent hours talking to the enemy and drifted into deep distress, because they have gone into wrong areas.  

   We may wonder, however, whether these people have gone deeply astray. If we look at the Bible, we cannot find any teaching on concentrating on the devil for hours or thinking about him. Instead, the Bible says that the direction of our prayers must always be God who is in Heaven, and when we turn to Him, we can also expect to get answers to our prayers.

   So did Paul, for example, when he wanted his compatriots to be saved.  He did not concentrate on the enemy, but prayed for these people (Romans 10:1). Among others, his example shows that if we pray to God who is in Heaven, we will not go astray. Many great men of God have not concentrated on the devil, but have prayed to God, spent time with Him and then acted from the fullness of the Holy Spirit – that has been the secret of their power.

 

- (Ezra 8:23) So we fasted and sought our God for this: and he was entreated of us.

 

- (Rom 10:1) Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

 

- (Acts 12:5) Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church to God for him.

 

- (Matt 6:9) After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.

 

- (Matt 9:38) Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.

 

- (Dan 9:3-4) And I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments

 

In addition, if we look at big revivals of the past, we can clearly see that the most important factor in those revivals was prayer. These revivals were not created by concentrating on the enemy, but by searching for God in enduring prayer.

  Charles G. Finney, whom God used in many revivals, told in his biography how prayer was the most important means used in revivals. When people first prayed to God, the forces of the enemy collapsed. We can, therefore, expect that if the same is done today, God will start to act and people will change their attitude towards the Gospel:

 

I have said many times that in revivals the most distinctive feature has been a prevailing spirit of prayer. (…) Answers to the prayers were so many that people had to be convinced of a God who answered prayers every day and moment.

 

The situation was such in Stephentown that I had to move there. And so I did. In the meantime, I had been overpowered by a powerful spirit of prayer, as that one lady had also been. The power of prayer soon spread and grew, strengthening our work at the same time so that the Word of the Lord stroke down even the strongest of men, making them helpless. I could mention several incidents like this.

 

I have not yet spoken about the spirit of prayer, which prevailed in this revival, and I must not forget to mention it. (…)

 

My aids in the revivals were simple sermons and prayer, which were used abundantly both in private, small group meetings and public prayer meetings. A lot of emphasis was given to prayer as the main means in the progressing of the revival.

 

As I have told, the most important factors in the revivals were prayer meetings, personal contacts and visits, handing out leaflets and the tremendous efforts of ordinary people, both men and women. As far as I know, the priests were not against it anywhere. I believe that they were mostly sympathetic towards it. But there was such a large general trust in the power of prayer that people seemed to put prayer meetings before sermons. A common idea seemed to be, "We have received advice and guiding enough to make us hardened, now it's time to pray.” The prayers were constantly answered and in such surprising ways that it got the attention of people in the whole country. We clearly saw that as an answer to our prayers, the windows of Heaven were opened and the Holy Spirit was poured over us like a river. (2)

 

IS ONCE ENOUGH? Another wrong view people have of prayer is that we only have to pray once, and we will immediately receive an answer. This may be the case with, for example, teaching on how to pray for other people to be saved.

   But is this view correct: is one prayer always enough? Let’s look at this in the light of the next examples:

 

- Jesus as an example. An excellent example of a person who prayed several times for the same issue is Jesus Himself. When He was on the Mount of Olives, He prayed for the same thing not just once, but three times – that is, when He was searching for the will of God in His own life. In other words, as Jesus has given us this kind of a model, we are certainly not in the wrong if we do the same.

   On the other hand, it has been told about Jesus that He also spent a whole night praying to God. It is unlikely that during this time He would have prayed for a million different issues: he most likely concentrated on certain issues He had in mind. He prayed, among other things, that Peter would not lose his faith:

 

- (Matt 26:44) And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

 

- (Luke 6:12) And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

 

- (Luke 22:31-32) And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.

 

- Examples of enduring prayer. When Jesus taught about prayer, He also emphasized enduring prayer. A good example of this is the allegory of the widow and the wrong judge.

   It is important to note from this allegory how the widow again and again brought the same issue before the wrong judge. She did not bring new issues to the judge, only the one that pressed her mind. The consequence of the woman’s perseverance (constantly bothering the judge with the same issue) was that she finally got a favorable answer. In the same way, when we again and again bring the same issue before God in prayer, we can also expect that He will answer our prayers:

 

- (Luke 18:1-7) And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.

4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

5 Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said.

7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them?

 

- The salvation of other people is also something that requires persistent prayer, bringing the same issues before God again and again. Even though all of us can immediately personally receive such gifts as salvation, baptism of the Holy Spirit, or health on the basis of Jesus' fulfilled work (we do not need millions of prayers of “Save me!”, but can receive salvation as a gift from God; Rev 22:17), it is still quite a different thing when we are praying for the salvation of other people, or when we pray, for example, for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Issues like revivals are usually the results of persistent prayer.

   Sometimes we have to pray for months or years for the saving of other people before we can witness it. For example, George Müller - who received thousands of answers to his prayers - had to wait for decades before a couple of people were saved. He brought these people before God daily for years, but they were not saved until just after he died. Müller is a great example of persistent prayer:

 

The whole big secret is in not giving up before the answer comes. Over the course of 52 years, I have prayed every day for two men who are the sons of a childhood friend of mine. They have not yet been saved, but they certainly will be! How could it be otherwise? I rest on the unerring promises of Jehovah. One great fault of the children of God is that they are not persistent in prayer. They do not stand firm. If they wanted to receive something for the glory of God, they would pray until they received it. Oh, how good, kind, merciful, and condescending towards us is He, whom we are dealing with! He has given me, the unworthy, more than I imagined to pray, or even think about! I am only a weak, sinful man. But He has heard my prayers tens of thousands of times and used me to lead tens of thousands of people to the truth. I say tens of thousands in this and other countries. These unworthy lips have preached the Gospel to multitudes, and many, many have believed and received eternal life." (3) 

 

 

3. Start to pray!

 

Before you can start to pray, you must first concentrate on it and -- most of all -- reserve time for it. David Wilkerson said in 1974 in his book The Vision that in the future the main sin among the Christians would be misuse of their free time, meaning that they would not spend time with God praying. Television and other unnecessary leisure activities would steal this time from the most important one.

   In order to prevent this from happening to you, you must reserve time for prayer. Give up unnecessary activities and start to pray, for example, for your neighbors and their salvation. It might seem difficult in the beginning if you are not used to praying, but certainly their salvation is more valuable than anything else here on Earth:

 

- (Rom 10:1) Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

 

Oswald J. Smith wrote about the problems we will face when we start to pray. He also spoke about the meaning of prayer, and how we might replace it by our own gifts, abilities, and acts. Permanent prayer alone can lead to what we cannot achieve through our natural abilities:

 

A Christian who starts to pray for other people goes through quite a different experience. Satan will do everything in his power to prevent and block the way. His presence and resistance will be noticeable.

   We might also get depressed. We might repeatedly feel ready to give up. No wonder that the Lord told the allegory of a friend who came to the house of his friends in the middle of the night. Persistence is one of the most important preconditions. We will pray for a certain time and not getting an answer straight away, be depressed and give up. This is how Satan uses one of his most successful weapons against us, and crushes our decision to start praying for others.

   When everything else has failed, Satan puts a workload on our shoulders. He would rather like to see us working than praying even for a moment. He knows perfectly well that working without prayer is powerless and useless. Therefore, if he can only make us so busy that we do not have the time to pray, he has achieved his goal. (…)

   Intercessory prayer is the most effective weapon the Christians have. Nothing rivals its power. It will make things happen when everything else has failed; and it seems strange that we turn to other resources to try to make such things happen that can only happen through prayer. God has given this great weapon to us, and He expects us to use it. How disappointed He must be when we put it aside and replace it by natural tools in doing spiritual work. (4)

 

WORK SHEETS. If it is difficult for you to pray for a longer time, work sheets can be useful. You can write down all your prayer issues and people you want to pray for, and then pray for each of them for 5–10 minutes, for example. When you have reached the end of the list, you can start from the beginning again and again or have a break in between.

   (The same method of a work sheet that can be distributed to the participants can be a good tool also in larger prayer meetings. For example, Yonggi Cho described in his book Kokemuksiani rukouksesta (DR. CHO’S PATTERNS OF PRAYER), p. 34, how this method is used in their meetings.)

   The prayer and worksheet can be drawn up, for instance, from the following issues:

 

- Salvation of one's relatives: spouse, children, sisters, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles and their families.

- Salvation of neighbors and friends.

- Salvation of co-workers.

- Prayer for the leaders of your nation and city, so that they would also be saved. Pray also for the representatives of the media. Prayer for the authorities should be one of the most important prayer subjects:

 

- (Jer 29:7) And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray to the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall you have peace.

 

- (1 Tim 2:1-4) I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;

4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

- Pray for your neighboring countries, and that their people would be saved.

- Pray for missionary work.

- Pray for spiritual work, and the leaders of the congregation. For example, Paul wrote:

 

- (Col 4:2-4) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

3 With praying also for us, that God would open to us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

 

- (Eph 6:18-20) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

 

- (2 Thess 3:1) Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you

 

- Pray for those believers who have just found salvation so that they would grow in faith.

- Pray for your own personal needs and the needs of your family, guidance in spiritual and everyday issues.

 

 

4. You can also fast!

 

In the previous chapters, we have been talking about prayer, its purpose, and how it is important to reserve time for praying. However, in addition to prayer you can also fast, which is like continuous and speechless prayer. When fasting, we are in a way praying and searching for the will of God even when we are not saying it aloud. Therefore, fasting should be a part of our spiritual life, but it is unfortunate that this is not often the case. In modern congregations, this issue has mostly been neglected.

   However, if we look at the time of the early church, we can see that fasting was used in those times. Jesus, for example, said that after He had gone away the disciples would fast. He warned us also about being hypocrites when fasting. He also said that certain people cannot be released by any other means than by prayer and fasting. These words of Jesus alone prove that fasting was used in those times:

 

- (Matt 9:14-15) Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but your disciples fast not?

15 And Jesus said to them, Can the children of the bridal chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

 

- (Matt 6:16) Moreover when you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.

 

- (Mark 9:28-29) And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out?

29 And he said to them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

 

In addition, a good example is Apostle Paul who most certainly fasted during his life. He did it privately but also together with other people – obviously based on an agreement. The Acts also includes references to the prayers and fasts of Paul and Barnabas before they went on their first mission journey:

 

- (2 Cor 11:27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

 

- (Acts 13:1-4) Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

4 So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

 

Fasting not only appears in the New Testament, but was also used during the Old Covenant in many special situations. For example, Joel urges people to declare a holy fast and cry out to the Lord.  We can also find several other similar references to fasting.

   One of the most interesting cases is the situation in Nineveh; when this city declared fasting and turned to God, it avoided its judgment and received extra time. Perhaps this also applies to many towns in the world today:

 

- (Joel 1:14) Sanctify you a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry to the LORD,

 

- (Jonah 3:5,10) So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did it not.

 

- (Ezra 8:21-23) Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

22 For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken to the king, saying, The hand of our God is on all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him.

23 So we fasted and sought our God for this: and he was entreated of us.

 

- (Neh 1:4) And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

 

- (Dan 9:3,21-23) And I set my face to the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes

21 Yes, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give you skill and understanding.

23 At the beginning of your supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show you; for you are greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

 

The significance of fasting to health and when not to fast. Fasting can be very beneficial. Especially in the Western countries, where people stuff themselves with food, fasting can certainly be a good thing for your health. It has been proven that the majority of illnesses in Western countries are caused by excessive eating. When people limit their eating, their health will start to improve. Illnesses such as heart and vascular diseases, old age diabetes, and cancer, for example, may be the results of excessive eating. Therefore, fasting or reducing the amount of food you eat is reasonable in these cases.

   However, there are some situations and illnesses when fasting is not generally recommended because it can do more harm than good. These include diabetes that requires insulin treatment, pregnancy and breastfeeding, serious coronary and vascular diseases, liver or kidney deficiency, hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, serious mental disorders or psychosis, and long-term fasting of teenagers.  If you do not have prior experience of fasting, it is good to start with a fast of one to three days. If you are suffering from one of the above-mentioned conditions, it may be wise to avoid fasting, or try a half fast. If you are not sure about your own situation, talk to your doctor.

 

Ending fasting. There are some guidelines to ending a fast. The longer the fast is, the more important it is to end it correctly. End fasts by drinking natural juices first, then add extremely light foods such as fruits and vegetables, mild gruel and berry soups. Stay with these foods longer if your fast was a long one. (When shifting to solid foods, allow yourself a transition time of at least one week.) If you start eating solid foods too soon, you can suffer pain or become ill. In some cases, you might place yourself in danger. Fasts that last for 1–2 days, for example, that are carried out at regular intervals, are easier because ending them is simpler.

 

 

5. Prayer and revival

  

Do you want to see people around you being saved and a change take place in your society? Many do want this, and it truly is the best of all wishes anyone can have. If we want to see these wishes come true, we should also pray enough and often enough for them. If our prayers consist only of sighing for a couple of minutes instead of being persistent, the answer may take a while.

   Our prayers can be compared to sowing a seed. If we sow a small number of seeds, we will receive a small harvest, but if we sow a lot of seeds, we will receive a larger harvest, just like in farming. The hearing of our prayers surely has a correlation with the amount of seeds sown, "the seeds of prayer". We must ask in order to receive:

 

- (Jam 4:2) You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.

 

- (Matt 7:7 8) Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:

8 For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.

 

If our prayers are persistent, we can also expect them to be answered. Several examples can be found in the past, when people prayed persistently, even for years, and finally saw their prayers answered.

  D.L. Moody wrote about his times in England: The revival did not start by coincidence, it started through the prayers of a sick woman who had 55 names on her list. Because this woman was not able to do much else, she started to pray for these people. As a result, people were soon saved, and churches filled up with people looking for salvation. The souls of those 55 persons for whom she prayed were saved; her prayers were heard. 

   Prayer and revival always go hand in hand. Below, there are a few examples and some Bible verses connected with revival. Perhaps they will encourage you and others to pray more than before:

 

Charles G. Finney had a burden of prayer. Time after time, he went to a forest or some other lonely place and was in front of God in agony. Sometimes he could not even express himself in words. He told us that he could only moan and cry; so enormous was the burden that lay on him. No wonder that God used him. It is not surprising that he became one of the greatest revival preachers in time. No wonder God glorified Himself through his sermons. Finney knew what it meant to experience pain over prayer.

   Every man God has used has been a man of prayer. If you have never learnt how to pray, if you have never learnt what it means to wrestle with God, if you have never learnt how to experience pain, if you do not know anything about birthing pains, then you do not know what it means to get spiritual results. If you want to see God glorified through your ministry, you must first become a man of prayer. (5)

 

In the meantime, I was praying diligently and I noticed that the spirit of prayer prevailed especially on the female members of the congregation. (…)

   I believe it was the following week that I dropped by her house and met her husband pale and anxious. He told me, "Finney, I think that my wife will die. She doesn’t get any rest at night or day, she has totally devoted herself to prayer. She has been praying in her room all day long, groaning and fighting, and I am afraid that this is past her powers.” When she heard my voice in the living room, she came from the bedroom with a heavenly glow on her face and said, “Mr. Finney, the Lord has come! This work will spread throughout the region, a cloud of mercy is above us and we will see such work of mercy we have never seen before.” Her husband looked surprised and did not know what to say. This was new to him, but not to me. I had seen it before and I believe that the prayers had been heard, I was quite sure about that. (6)

 

I know what I speak about, for I have seen this happen in most difficult conditions. For example, the great revival in Rochester started under extremely disadvantageous settings. However, there were a few believers who had a strong spirit of prayer, and this assured us preachers in believing that God was behind it after all. As we continued our work, we could see that when the resistance of the devil grew, the spirit of God also grew stronger and sharpened its grip until a wave of revival crushing all obstacles finally rolled over this community. (7)

 

Many of us may remember those miraculous things God did in Korea a few years ago simply because of prayer. A few missionaries decided to get together and pray every day at noon. After a month, a brother proposed that the prayer meetings should be discontinued "because nothing has happened". ”Let’s all pray at home according to what suits us," he said. Others, however, resisted the proposal and said that they should rather spend more time in prayer. So they continued their daily prayer meetings for four months. Then, suddenly, the blessings started to flow. The meetings were interrupted here and there by people crying or confessing sins. Finally a large revival broke out. (…)

   One of the missionaries said, "It was worth spending several months in prayer, for when God gave His Holy Spirit, He made happen more in half a day than all of the missionaries could have done in half a year.” (8)

 

Pastor Ding Li from China had the names of 1,100 students on his prayer list. Through his prayers, hundreds of people had been won to Christ. Their conversion was so deep that dozens of them went into doing spiritual work.

   It would be easy to tell more of these surprising and inspiring stories about blessings received through prayers. But there is no need to do so. I know that God wants me to pray. I know that God wants you to pray. (9)

 

E.M. Bounds: Prayer must be continued with never-ending endurance, persistency, and with infallible courage. (10)

 

George Whitefield: Days, even weeks have I spent lying on the ground on my mouth in silent and loud prayer. (11)

 

A.T. Pierson: Since the day of the Pentecost, there has never been a revival in any country which did not start through united prayer, even if just among two or three people; neither has any outwards and upwards movement continued if the prayer meetings have been neglected. (12)

 

Yonggi Cho: Pastors and evangelists have asked me how their congregations could grow like in Korea. Yet, after meetings they go out to eat and spend hours together. In the morning, they are so tired that they cannot pray. Over the years, I have seen this everywhere in the world. (…)

The revival in Korea must not be taken for granted. Years ago, I studied church history and understood that one not only has to pray for the revival to come, but also pray for the revival to continue. Revival in the Western countries has always been seen as self-evident after a few years. At that time, people forget the most important thing that brought on the revival: they forget prayer. When continuous and persistent prayer is forgotten, the driving force of the revival ends. Continuity will maintain the revival for some time, and then it will vanish. (…)

   When the Holy Spirit gives a revival as an answer to prayers, the driving force of the revival must be maintained so that the revival will not be extinguished. If prayer is forgotten, we replace the driving force with continuity and finally the special help of God will end. (13)

 

Yonggi Cho: For the revival to come and continue, we have to pray and fast. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. (14)

 

Yonggi Cho: When I was young and inexperienced, I once again turned to prayer. I prayed much, very much, and God started to act. My mother-in-law was a special source of inspiration for my prayer life at that time. She made sure that I always woke up at the latest at 4.30 a.m., for in Korea we pray in the mornings.

   In Korea, everyone is expected to wake up at 4.30 a.m. and pray. Especially the pastors should do this. (15)

 

John Wesley: Hold up feeble arms by believing and praying; support the knees that are weak. Do you have prayer and fast days? Make haste to the throne of grace and continue there in perseverance, and the blessings will come down. (16)

 

The spirit of God can bless two, but cannot bless one. Abraham was not able to help the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah alone, even though his prayer pressed like a thousand kilograms in the scales of God. But there was his nephew Loot, who was one of the biggest cowards you can imagine. He did not have more than 15 grams of prayer in himself, but that insignificant amount was enough to press down the scale enough so that Sooar was spared. Therefore, add your 15 grams to the prayers of the great saints, for they might need it. (17)

 

- (Luke 18:1-7) And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.

4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

5 Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said.

7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them?

 

- (Luke 11:5-8) And he said to them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

6 For a friend of my in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give you.

8 I say to you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needs.

 

- (Luke 2:36,37) And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;

37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

 

- (Ps 119:147) I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in your word.

 

- (Matt 18:19,20) Again I say to you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the middle of them.

 

- (John 14:13,14) And whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

 

- (Mark 11:24) Therefore I say to you, What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.

 

- (Phil 4:6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

 

 

                                                                

REFERENCES:

 

1. Watchman Nee: Elämän rikkaus Kristuksessa (THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE), p.11.

2. Charles G.Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä

3. Charles Price: Ihmeitätekevä usko, p. 37.

4. Oswald J.Smith: Ketä Jumala käyttää? p.126-128.

5. same.

6. Charles G.Finney: Ihmeellisiä herätyksiä

7. Charles G.Finney: Kun herätys tulee

8. Tuntematon kristitty / Unknown Christian, Rukoileva kristitty (The kneeling Christian), p. 33,34.

9. Same , p. 36.

10. Leonard Ravenhill: (WHY REVIVAL TARRIES) Miksi herätys viipyy?, p.13.

11. Same, p.13.

12. Same, p.121.

13. Yonggi Cho: (PRAYER: KEY TO REVIVAL) Opeta minua rukoilemaan, p.14 15.

14. Yonggi Cho: (PRAYER: KEY TO REVIVAL) Opeta minua rukoilemaan, p.101.

15. David Yonggi Cho: (CHO’S PATTERNS OF PRAYER) Kokemuksiani rukouksesta, p.36.

16. Leonard Ravenhill: (WHY REVIVAL TARRIES) Miksi herätys viipyy?, p.8.

17. C.H.Spurgeon: (THE SOUL-WINNER) Sielujenvoittaja

  

More on this topic:

 

Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism and fullness of the Holy Spirit is necessary for spiritual work. What does the Bible say about it, and how is this important gift received?

 

Weaknesses of the church. The church has many weaknesses, such as a small prayer, a small commitment to human relationships, or a lack of desire to advance the gospel

 

ABC of missionary work. Eternity, hell, and heaven still exist. The goal of missionary work should be for people to be saved and to come in contact with God

 

Gifts studied. Spiritual gifts, or gifts of grace should be sought so that people get help. If a person does not feel his own weakness, he can be proud of the use of gifts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life

 

 

  

 

Grap to eternal life!

 

More on this topic:

 

Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism and fullness of the Holy Spirit is necessary for spiritual work. What does the Bible say about it, and how is this important gift received?

 

Weaknesses of the church. The church has many weaknesses, such as a small prayer, a small commitment to human relationships, or a lack of desire to advance the gospel

 

ABC of missionary work. Eternity, hell, and heaven still exist. The goal of missionary work should be for people to be saved and to come in contact with God

 

Gifts studied. Spiritual gifts, or gifts of grace should be sought so that people get help. If a person does not feel his own weakness, he can be proud of the use of gifts