In his book, Power Through Prayer, E.M. Bounds says, “We do greatly need somebody who can set the saints to this business of praying… The greatest will he be of reformers… who can set the church to praying.” This quote encapsulates the mission of 1012prayer.org. It is my desire that the content of this blog will call saints everywhere to the business of seeking God for spiritual renewal.
The Scripture that God has used in my life to call me to prayer has been Hosea 10:12- “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” In this verse the Lord details for us the kind of prayer that brings revival.
1. The kind of prayer that brings revival must first be prayer that is searching. We see this in the Lord’s commanded, “…break up your fallow ground.” In the verses preceding Hosea 10:12 the Lord is warning his people that judgement for their sinfulness and idolatry is imminent (see Hosea 10:9-11).
And yet, just as the Lord’s judgement seems certain and unrelenting he cries out to his people in mercy one more time- “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy…!” David Guzik captures the heart of God when he says, “Israel had sown the seed of sin, and they would soon reap judgment from God. [Yet] even now, if they would sow righteousness, they would reap in mercy at the next harvest” (David Guzik’s Commentary on the Bible, Hosea 10:12). God’s willingness to relent of judgement and show mercy is unfathomable; and yet, heartening to those who will seek him for revival.
The fallow ground is a picture of their hearts which had grown hard and resistant to God as a result of their spiritual wanderings and idolatry. The remedy to their hardness of heart was to “break up [their] fallow ground” by seeking the Lord and sowing righteousness. In other words, they must invite the searching eye of the Holy Spirit to examine and remove any sin from their lives. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
If we are to pray the kind of prayer that brings revival we must begin where God tells us to begin- breaking up the fallow ground of our hearts. The breaking up of our hard, fallow hearts will be painful. The idolatrous heart is opposed to God “because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). Still, we must surrender to the searching and trying, the plowing and the breaking up of our hearts, so that God might lead us in the way everlasting.
2. The second kind of prayer that brings revival is prayer that is urgent. The Lord’s admonition to Israel was “…it is time to seek the Lord….” Judgement was at hand and there was no time to put off seeking the Lord. This was not the time to rely on good intentions and fail to follow through on the Lord’s command. God was not just trying to stir his people up to acknowledge their need or lament their condition. He was trying to move them to prayer so that their condition could be changed. If they were to break up the fallow ground it would be done through the humble seeking of the Lord.
If there ever was a time in which God’s people needed urgency in prayer it is now! Our hearts have been so captured by the pleasures and comforts of the world that it has made us deaf to the call of God- “Seek Me!” We desperately need a people who will respond in the manner of Psalm 27:8, “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I will seek.'” Our need is urgent and we need prayer warriors who will urgently seek the face of God. For our encouragement we have been given James 4:7-10, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” If we will follow the instructions of James with urgency we will no doubt break up the fallow ground of our hearts.
3. Finally, the kind of prayer that brings revival is prayer that is persistent. The Lord told his people “…seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” They were to persist in prayer until the renewing presence of God was poured out upon them. They had persisted for years in idolatry and rebellion, and now they had to persist in seeking the Lord.
This is often where revival prayer meetings fail. People may feel an initial surge of interest to pray for revival, but few stay on their knees. We expect that after years of living half-heartedly for the Lord that he should answer quickly when we begin praying for revival. However, the business of prayer is hard work. It is exhausting and time consuming. It requires that sacrifices are made and comforts are surrendered. The kind of prayer that brings revival is the kind of prayer that will wrestle with God like Jacob did at Peniel- “And [the LORD] said, ‘Let Me go, for the day breaks.’ But [Jacob] said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:26) Throughout every revival in history there has been a remnant of saints who have persisted in prayer, sometimes months and even years, until the Lord poured out his Spirit. We cannot expect to get by with anything less. We must persist in prayer until the Lord blesses us.