“I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4
Recently I was visiting with a friend with whom we had been members of a local church back in the late 1960s and early 70s. God graciously visited that church and area with a mighty demonstration of revival power. Over a period of a number of months we saw numerous lives changed, salvations, deliverances from various sins and dependencies, supernatural provision of great needs of every kind and most of all an awesome abiding presence of the thrice holy God!
Before this period of time that forever marked all of our lives that were there, it was preceded by a time (some three years) of praying, confessing, repenting and purifying that is difficult to put into words if one was not there!
It would be easy to magnify the times of glorying in the presence of our glorious savior, Jesus Christ, once the time of reviving came. But the thing I am remembering today is the times of prayer before the glory of God came to dwell. Every time of meeting eventually evolved into a prayer meeting, whether it was a church committee meeting, a Bible study class, a group social gathering, or just two couples going out for a meal together, eventually winding up in one of their homes in prayer together. Prayer had become contagious! Through the centuries countless numbers have looked to the Psalms and asked many similar questions that the psalmist asked in his day. “Will You not Yourself revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” What is missing today? Why in such a time of obvious need does heaven seem to be silent?
I asked the friend mentioned above if he was seeing what I refer to as “the activity of God” in his area, reminding him of the difference between religion (Men working for God) and Christianity (God at work among men). His answer was, “Sadly, no!” I then asked him if he could put his finger on what is missing so often today in our churches. He told me his pastor had recently felt led by the Lord to return Wednesday nights from Bible study to a time of prayer (What a novel idea!). He said that Wednesday night attendance dropped drastically for the next several weeks with some saying, “If all we are going to do is pray, I can pray at home! There just seems to be no burden to pray!”
May God in His gracious mercy and goodness open our eyes to see that all of the problems and challenges facing this generation will never be met until we as believers join Nehemiah on our knees to weep, mourn, fast and pray before the God of heaven!