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Praying for Revival and Awakening- and Where to Begin

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 8:22pm -- Rob
Thursday, May 1st, is the National Day of Prayer in the U.S.  The National Day of Prayer Committee's website lists over 40,000 prayer events nation-wide (and those are just the ones listed or registered on the site)!
 
One needs to look no further than a daily newspaper, an online news source, or even talking to a friend, neighbor, or co-worker, to know some of the many things that make our nation and its people unholy and ill.  We see matters like murders, suicides, gang-related matters, drug abuse (legal and illegal), hatred, worry, self-absorption (in seeking endless opportunities to be entertained or to entertain others; be seen, read, or observed... via social media and other outlets), and more.  But there's a common thread- a common denominator in all these societal matters.  It's an exalting of self over God.
 
Few people consider prayerlessness as a matter that falls into that category as well.  In fact, prayerlessness isn't something that most people think about.  We tend to focus on what interests us most in the moment.  If what interests us most isn't God, then self is occupying that place.

 
So, as we pray, and prepare to pray for God to revive and awaken our nation, where do we begin?

 

Revival vs. Awakening

There's a difference between Revival and Awakening that's important to first define.
 
Revival happens to Christians.  It can come when God is sought to increase a Christian's depth of relationship with Himself, an increasing awareness of God's constant and holy presence, and often is worked out in a complete turning over of self and one's pursuits for God's shaping and direction.  Revival begins in an individual's heart, humbled by God and before God.  Historically, this sometimes has happened when a group of Christians, praying in a similar heart-felt and biblical manner, seek Him; although it always begins within one's personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

Revival is often equated with a Christian who has wandered away from his First Love, Jesus Christ; but it always yields a growing desire to draw nearer to God and be conformed more into His image and ways.

 

Awakening:  Awakening is a term used that describes God's wooing of hearts, convicting of sins, and turning of hearts toward Himself and away from self or other sources that have taken or are keeping Him out of His rightful place as #1 in one's heart.  Awakening happens amongst non-Christians, although also within churches- within attendees who've never received Jesus as Lord and Savior or have entered into a personal relationship with Him.

 

How We Can Pray

Every nation is made up of sizable groupings of people- just as states, cities, or neighborhoods are (in varying sizes and numbers).  But before praying a "blanket", all-encompassing, general, prayer for God to revive Christians and awaken non-Christians across our land, let's begin individually- with ourselves.

Withdraw to a place that separates you from people or things that would distract or draw your attention away from God.  This could be a car, a park, a quiet room, garage, bedroom, closet, backyard, or any place that helps set time and space apart for God.

Worship God, and ask Him to search your heart.  God desires our hearts to be sinless and pure as we approach Him.  By asking Him to search us, His Spirit will quicken our hearts to realize ways we've sinned against Him and/or others.  As He does so, confess those to God so that the slate is wiped clean.  No sin is too great to be covered by Jesus' death on the cross.  Therefore there's no condemnation for sins that have been confessed to God. 

Psalm 139 offers some simple, yet powerful Scripture to pray:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.
-Psalm 139:23-24

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
-Psalm 139:1-3

 
Next, be still.  Listen for His reply.  He may answer with a prompting to your heart, your mind, or in another way.  If you're not familiar with praying, listening, or being still before Him in this way, you may also ask God to help you discern His voice and promptings over others that may attempt to intrude.  Remember:  God will never instruct you to do anything unholy or unrighteous.  He can not be other than who He is- holy.  He won't instruct any of His children to sin or be unholy.  He will bring conviction of sin; but as a means to draw the heart to confession and repentance.  When that happens, that particular heart becomes workable, pliable, and useful in His hands.

As you continue your time with God, ask Him if there is any Scripture that He'd have you read, meditate upon, or pray through.  Listen for His voice, then obediently follow as He instructs.

In America, we're quick to pray for matters on our hearts, serve those requests up to God, then dart away like a young child rushing back to play with friends.  Yet to receive God's ongoing wisdom, affection, and much more, we must invest our time personally with Him- in prayerful worship, praise, thanksgiving, sharing of requests, more worship, and more time still (even while we're active in daily routines and activities.  It's possible!).  To unplug from Him, rush off to an event, activity, TV show, movie, game, or something else, is to greatly short-change both short and long-term joy, love, peace, wisdom, relationship, and much more that comes from being and dwelling in His presence!

The same is true when we focus prayer on the revival and awakening of people in our nation.  If May 1st is the only day we set apart to pray accordingly, then we dart away from our First Love to other loves competing for our attention and hearts, we lose out on a great deal more than we realize!  God is a jealous God, as well as perfect in love, grace, trust, power, truth, wisdom, and much more.  He wants us to place and keep Him as our First Love.

So, as you pray today, tomorrow, on the day set aside as the National Day of Prayer, and other days, seek ongoing revival in your heart with God.  Seek Him to lead, instruct, and shape your heart, how you pray, and more.  You'll quickly find a growing hunger and appetite for His presence and Word- and there's no greater benefit of revival than God Himself!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. - 2 Peter 3:9,14-15, 17-18

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