How To Pray For Revival

Ray Ortlund » God Preaching Prayer Gospel

Revival is a gift from heaven. We don’t work it up. God sends it down.

When Jonathan Edwards described the awakening in his church, he had to use words like “surprising,” “extraordinary” and “astonishing.”  The Bible says of the early church that “awe came upon every soul” (Acts 2:43).  We can’t program that into our worship: 10:45 am – Awe comes upon every soul.

Since revival is of God, we should pray for it. But how? The Bible teaches us how to pray; Isaiah 63:15-64:12 is a biblical prayer for revival.


Longing for the love of God

“Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me” (63:15).

Isaiah is saying, “Father, your mighty heart beats with so much passion for us. But you’re holding back. We need more of you!”  We can pray for the outpouring of God’s felt love upon us. 


Lamenting our own hardness

“O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?” (63:17).

Isaiah is not blaming God for our sins, but he is saying God can hand us over to the power of our sins. We think we can play with sin, no big deal. But it isn’t that simple. When we are stuck, we can ask God to move toward us and free us again: “Return for the sake of your servants” (63:17).


Longing for the presence of God 

“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down!” (64:1).

God hung the starry canopy above us like a big curtain in space (Isaiah 40:22). Isaiah is saying God can take that curtain in his mighty hands, so to speak, rip it apart and step down into our world with power from above. “When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down” (64:3). Our God is full of surprises. Let’s never settle for any status quo.


Lamenting our own sinfulness 

“In our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?” (64:5).

Isaiah is not blaming God for our sins, but he is saying God can hand us over to the power of our sins.

It’s easy to think, “We’ll never change. Nothing will ever change.” After all, it’s not as though we fell just yesterday. We have long histories running contrary to God. Let’s admit it to him. Let’s admit how helpless we are. Let’s hurl ourselves at Christ, the mighty friend of sinners.


Longing for the touch of God 

“We are the clay, and you are our potter” (64:8).

If we are the clay and God is the potter – if God is sovereign over us – why pray? Because we are the clay and he is the potter! We lie in his power. He can touch us again and reshape us in new ways. Nothing in us limits God.


Final appeal

“Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord? Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?” (64:12).

Oh, that God would visit us with unrestrained power! Nothing in us can hold him back. Only God controls God. We therefore cry out to him, to vindicate the holy name of Jesus Christ in our time.

Will you join me in praying for revival, as the Bible instructs us to?


Read Ray's other post on How to Know What Real Revival Looks Like

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