February 27, 2006

prayer

For the past few days, I've been engrossed in American Evangelicalism in the late-18th and early-19th Centuries while reading Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858. I haven't gotten into "the heart" of the book which challenges our idea today of what a revival looks like compared to that of the partakers of the Great Awakening. So far the author, Iain Murray, has been covering the true essence of revival and what brings it about. Ultimately it is the Holy Spirit moving, but what can we do to bring about that movement? Well, some would say promotion and advertising, holding special events, etc. Through testimonies from those living during the Second Great Awakening, Murray concludes this:
Thus what characterizes a revival is not the employment of unusual or special means but rather the extraordinary degree of blessing attending the normal means of grace. There were no unusual evangelistic meetings, no special arrangements, no announcements of pending revivals. Pastors were simply continuing in the services they had conducted for many years when the great change began. That is why so many of them could say, "The first appearance of the work was sudden and unexpected." Their theology taught them that there is no inherenet power in the truth to convert sinners and they rejoiced in the knowledge that the size of the blessing which God is pleased to give through the us of means is entirely in his own hands. (Revival & Revivalism, p. 129)
These "normal means of grace" are faithful, regular preaching of the Word and prayer, which he goes on to expound upon:
As with the truth that is preached, prayer has no inherent power in itself. on the contrary, true prayer is bound up with a persuasion of our inability and our complete dependence on God. Prayer, considered as a human activity, whether offered by few or many, can guarantee no results. But prayer that throws believers in heartfelt need on God, with true concern for the salvation of sinners, will not go unanswered. Prayer of this kind precedes blessing, not because of any necessary cause and effect, but because such prayer secures an acknowledgement of the true Author of the blessing. And where such a spirit of prayer exists it is a sign that god is already intervening to advance his cause. (ibid.)
I must confess that my prayer life is wanting, and this above passage is quite convicting about its power. What keeps me from praying fervently is a lack of confidence that my prayers will do any good or have any results, whether visible or invisible. Not that we should be disappointed when our prayers do not result in revival, but we should pray with the expectation that God is already at work in our hearts and in the hearts of those he is drawing to himself.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

That was the one book I couldn't get through from the intern program!! ha ha ha