2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV
“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
I recently watched a YouTube video clip which was made in November last year (2017) to celebrate Billy Graham’s 99th Birthday. Among the tributes being given were comments made by Billy Graham himself. He said that he was praying that there might be a spiritual awakening. This statement caught my attention, because we’d just attended a day of prayer for the nation, and also our church has recently held several days of prayer and fasting. The main thrust of these events was for there to be a great awakening across the nation and the Church, and a turning back to God, asking for His forgiveness, mercy and deliverance.
Billy Graham went on to say that this awakening was only possible when we, as individuals, surrender our lives anew to Jesus Christ, and live the Christian life wherever we are. He then outlined three steps that need to be taken if this is to happen. These steps are something which we all need reminding of from time to time.
Firstly, do all you can to follow in the steps of Jesus by loving and caring for others, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit for His power to live this way.
Secondly, read God’s word every day as a source of spiritual nourishment.
Thirdly, keep praying until you and God become intimate friends, and you experience His joy and peace.
As I reflected on these thoughts, and the growing desire there seems to be among God’s people today for awakening, I was reminded of the verse above, so often used in the context of prayer for this. It contains God’s promise of blessing for His people if certain conditions are met. Four conditions are given, three of which, although challenging, most of us can comply with, to a lesser or greater extent, that is, to humble ourselves, to pray and to seek intimacy with God.
But the fourth condition presents the greatest challenge of all – to ‘turn from our wicked ways’. A spirit of repentance isn’t always the first thing we think about when praying for spiritual awakening, but Scripture makes it clear that we can’t expect blessing without it.
Turning from all traces of pride, arrogance, wilfulness, indifference, bitterness, un-forgiveness, sinful desires and wrong thoughts in our hearts may seem too painful to some. But that’s what God requires of us before He can impart His blessing. And there are many illustrations in Scripture of those who missed out on God’s best by not being willing to turn from their sinful ways. Yet there are also many accounts of those who were willing, and they received God’s blessing on their lives.
I believe the lessons are clear, the pathway to spiritual awakening for both individuals and nations is through repentance. Our prayers, individually and collectively, should be preceded by the King David’s prayer, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart. … See if there is any offensive way in me’ (Psalm 139:23-24). If we’re willing, God, through the help of His Spirit, will give the grace, the courage and the power to deal with these hindrances, and will allow His Spirit to flow through us.
Prayer: Lord, send revival. Start with me, for I’m one of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King. Your glory I have glimpsed. Send revival. Start with me. (Matt Redman)