People are used to thinking about prayer as a means to get their personal needs met. However we should understand
prayer as a means to praise and adore God, to know Him, to come into his presence and be changed by Him. We need to
better learn how to pray, repent and petition God as a people.
Biblically and historically, the one non-negotiable, universal ingredient in times of spiritual renewal is corporate,
prevailing, intensive and kingdom-centered prayer. What is that?
- It is focused on God's presence and kingdom.
Jack Miller talks about the difference between "maintenance prayer" and "frontline" prayer meetings. Maintenance
prayer meetings are short, mechanical, and totally focused on physical needs inside the church. But frontline prayer
has three basic traits:
It is most interesting to study Biblical prayer for revival, such as in Acts 4 or Exodus 33 or Nehemiah 1, where these
three elements are easy to see. Notice in Acts 4, for example, that the disciples, whose lives had been threatened, did
not ask for protection for themselves and their families, but only boldness to keep preaching!
- a request for grace to confess sins and humble ourselves
- a compassion and zeal for the flourishing of the church
- a yearning to know God, to see his face, to see his glory.
- It is bold and specific.
The characteristics of this kind of prayer include:
- Pacesetters in prayer spend time in self-examination. Without a strong understanding of grace, this can be morbid
and depressing. But in the context of the gospel, it is purifying and strengthening. They "take off their
ornaments" (Exod. 33:1-6). They examine selves for idols and set them aside.
- They then begin to make the big requesta sight of the glory of God. That includes asking:
1) for a personal experience of the glory/presence of God ("that I may know you" Exod. 33:13);
2) for the people's experience of the glory of God (v. 15); and
3) that the world might see the glory of God through his people (v. 16).
Moses asks that God's presence would be obvious to all: "What else will distinguish me and your people from all the
other people on the face of the earth?" This is a prayer that the world be awed and amazed by a show of God's power
and radiance in the church, that it would become truly the new humanity that is a sign of the future kingdom.
- It is prevailing, corporate.
By this we mean simply that prayer should be constant, not sporadic and brief. Why? Are we to think that God wants to
see us grovel? Why do we not simply put our request in and wait? But sporadic, brief prayer shows a lack of dependence,
a self-sufficiency, and thus we have not built an altar that God can honor with his fire. We must pray without ceasing,
pray long, pray hard, and we will find that the very process is bringing about that which we are asking for to
have our hard hearts melted, to tear down barriers, to have the glory of God break through.