Prayer Moves The Arm Of God
By T. T. Shields
A prerequisite to revival is prayer. This does not mean that we must study long and elaborate treatises on how to pray: it means that we must pray. Whether we know how to pray or not – pray. One woman in the Scripture cried, "Lord, help me!" (Matt. 15:25). That was true prayer! Another cried, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" (Luke 18:13). That was true prayer!
Prayer is talking to God. He will forgive us if our speech is crude, and if we blunderingly ask for the wrong thing – if only we pray. We shall learn how to pray by praying. There must be private, individual prayer. When you read this, do not buy a book on prayer, nor wait to hear an address on prayer. Go to your room – and pray. Begin at once and determine that you will continue to pray until a revival comes to your own heart.
Then carry that forward into your own church. If you are a pastor, give the first place to the ministry of prayer. Neglect everything and anything rather than the prayer meeting. By your preaching and example, magnify the privilege of prayer. Resolve that you will subordinate everything to this one matter of prayer.
Pray! Pray! Pray!
But if you are not a minister, but only a member of the church, and there are no evidences of revival in that church, begin to pray. You will almost certainly find other hearts in your own church inexpressibly longing for seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Invite them to pray with you.
Remember the promise is not to a multitude, but to two or three (Matt. 18:19). Perhaps the conditions are already fulfilled in your own home? A husband has a wife who can pray with him, or a wife, a husband; and two thus may gather in His name. Do not be afraid of being called fanatical. Urge everybody to pray.
Prayer Is an Attitude As Well As an Act
And when you pray, expect God to answer. Many prayers publicly offered, are not offered to the Lord, but to the people. More people believe in the exclusively subjective influence of prayer than may be supposed. It is true, there is a subjective side to it: prayer does bring us into fellowship with God. But prayer moves the arm of God: prayer casts out devils, heals diseases, stills the tempest, calls down fire from heaven.
When we have prayed, let us maintain an attitude of faith. Lean upon God’s Word – not only before and while you pray, but after your petition has been presented. Let your soul’s attitude be of faith, and thus press home your petition to the Throne of Grace.
We have seen this spirit manifested in church life in such measure that people come expecting the presence and power of God in the service of God’s house just as they expect to see the preacher walk into the pulpit, and when that spirit of expectation takes possession of a church, God never disappoints it. Heaven hears the cry of the thirsty ground, and the rain of blessing descends.
Wherever people pray, God speaks. A praying church will find a new interest in the Word of God. Bible study and prayer always go together. In this way, the beginning of revival comes; the sword of the Spirit is unsheathed.
Let us put everything else aside, abandon all efforts toward popularizing the religion of Christ by amusing or entertaining. Let us accept the plain teaching of the Word of God that the Gospel, in the nature of the case, unless it be preached in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, must be the most unpopular thing in the world.
The Gospel calls men to repentance, to the renunciation of sin and of a sinful life. It calls men to Gethsemane and to Calvary. It conditions discipleship of Christ upon taking up the cross – and the cross never means anything less than crucifixion and blood. The second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles can never be made to change places with the nineteenth chapter of John. There can be no open heaven without an open grave, and no grave without a cross.
But what abundant compensations are to be found in the ways of the Lord! What glorious victories over principalities and powers! What happy and holy ministries to the suffering sons of men! What gladsome companionship with the angels of the Lord! What joyous communion with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
The Christian church, made up of regenerated persons, called out of the world, and separated unto the Gospel of Christ, is sent into the world that it may cease not to teach and to preach Christ Jesus. Let us get back to the New Testament program. Let us read our Bibles on our knees. Let us cease to depend upon any other power than the power of the Holy Ghost. Then God will visit us, and the Acts of the Apostles, which were the acts of the Holy Ghost, will be repeated in our day, and God will add to the church daily such as are being saved.
"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Zech. 4:6).
– Taken from the January 12, 1989, issue of The Gospel Witness. Edited and used by permission.