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Monday, August 22, 2011

Revive Us Again!

Last night, that was the title of the evening message. Looking at Psalm 85 we spent some time talking about God’s past blessings and how we have so often frittered those away. We stand today in a great need for revival and need to cry out to God to “revive us again.” I know I didn’t preach the most moving message on the subject. But I stand by the old saying “others may preach the gospel better, but no one can preach a better gospel.” So regardless of my efforts, the need for God’s people to cry out for revival is just as great.

I’ve found that I quote Charles Spurgeon way too much. So I purposely didn’t read anything by the Prince of Preachers as I studied Psalm 85 this week; until today. I’m so sorry that I didn’t. On August 14, 1887, Spurgeon preached from this same text. The opening lines, based on the plea for God to “revive us again,” say this:

BRETHREN, if you will pray this prayer, it will be better than my preaching from it; and my only motive in preaching from it is that you may pray it. Oh, that at once, before I have uttered more than a few sentences, we might begin to pray by crying, yea, groaning, deep down in our souls, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”

Notice the style of the praying here; it is in the form of a question, and in the shape of a plea. There are very few words, and none that can be spared. Godly men, when they prayed of old, meant it. They did not pray for form’s sake, neither were they very particular about uttering goodly words and fine-sounding sentences; but they came to close grips with God. They put interrogatories to him, they questioned him, they pleaded with him. They drove home the nail, and tried to clinch it. I see that in the very shape of the prayer, “Wilt thou not -wilt thou not-wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”

Oh, that we knew how to pray! I fear that we do not. We are missing the sacred art, we are losing the heavenly mystery; we are but ‘prentice hands in prayer. Compared even with such a man as John Knox, whose prayers were worth more than an army of ten thousand men, or compared with the prayers of Luther, how few of us can pray! Luther was a man of whom they said, as they pointed at him in the street, “There goes a man who can have anything he likes to ask of God.” He was the man who, by his prayer, dragged Melancthon back from the very gates of death; and, what was more, the man who could shake upon her seven hills the harlot of Rome as she never had been shaken before, because he was mighty with God in prayer.

Oh, that I could but stir up my brethren and sisters to be instant in season and out of season, if there be such a thing as out of season with God in prayer! Let us get away to our closets; let us cry mightily to him; let us come to close quarters with him, and say, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?

I wish I had read this first! He says more in these few lines than I did in nearly 30 minutes. And of course, he says so much more in the rest of his sermon. I highly recommend reading it (here is just one source to find it).

The point is simply this. There is a real lack of crying out for revival. We are indeed “missing the sacred art” when it comes to this prayer. Don’t give up because you’ve prayed it before and seem to have seen no results. Now more than ever we need to heed the call and pray for our God in His mercy to “revive us again.”

I’ll leave you with the closing words from Pastor Spurgeon, as he invited his church to join him in praying:

Lord, revive us again. Lord, revive me. We would each one of us say “Amen” to that petition. Lord, revive the pastor. Lord, revive the church officers. Lord, revive the workers. Lord, revive the members of the church. Lord, revive the backsliders. Lord, revive those who did seem to live, but have grown careless. Lord, revive the church at large throughout the whole earth. Spirit of revival, come upon us now, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit, be with us evermore! Amen.

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