Pray for RevivalIf you were roughed up by the authorities on a mission trip and put in jail, what would you pray for? I think I would be praying for a miracle to happen to release me from that jail so I could return home safely. Let’s just say that an earthquake were to suddenly set you free, would you see this as a divinely orchestrated escape route? By all means, that would have been the first thought in my mind. I want to look at a story in Acts 16:16-36, where the outcome in the minds of Paul and Silas was a lot different from what mine would have been.
I think this story has a lot of material to run with. What about the annoying girl who followed Paul and just got under his skin? She was an uninvited announcer who wore out her welcome and was just plain annoying. It ended up being an evil spirit that was living in the girl causing this commentary. Paul casts out this spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. I will let you fill in the blank concerning annoying people. The owners of the slave girl didn’t like it too well because they were not able to make money any longer. They accused Paul and Silas with causing havoc and putting the city in an uproar by promoting customs unlawful to the Romans. They were eventually stripped, beaten, and thrown into jail.
Now the tendency to complain would be the first reaction of most people. I have been in less stressful situations where I have complained about the inconveniences. What is Paul and Silas' reaction? They begin to pray and sing hymns to God. It was almost like they didn’t care where they were. Nothing was going to hold the joy of the salvation down. What a lesson in itself.
Suddenly, a violent earthquake came and shook the jail. All of the doors to the jail were opened and their chains fell off. This would have been an opportunity to run in their newly found freedom. But this was not the response of Paul and Silas. Their response was amazing. Their original goal was to reach the lost in Philippi for Jesus Christ – so this unusual event was viewed, not as their road to freedom, but as a marvelous opportunity to tell the jailer about Jesus.
There is a man named Leonard Ravenhill who wrote a book entitled, “Revival Praying.” He was a great writer. He influenced the lives of people like the singer Keith Green, Bill Gothard, Ravi Zacharias, and many other successful authors and speakers. In his book, he tells of a person of fervent prayer and focused evangelism – Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843). “His short but powerful ministry was spent at the church of St. Peter in Dundee, Scotland. He was offered more prestigious positions but graciously turned them down. He was contented with his lot because no church could offer him more time for prayer. After this saintly pastor’s death, a visitor went to see the great church. The sexton showed him around. Some of McCheyne’s books were still there. ‘Sit down here,’ said the canny sexton, leading the young visitor to the chair where McCheyane used to sit. ‘Now put your elbows on the table.’ The visitor obeyed. ‘Now put your face in your hands.’ The visitor again obeyed. ‘Now let the tears flow. That was the way Mr. McCheyne used to do it!’”
A clear sign that the church today is truly experiencing revival is an increase in the number of tearful prayers about others coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Leonard Revenhill had many quotes attached to his name. One of them is simply, “The only reason we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it.”
“Lord, raise up a Paul and Silas in our generation. We desperately need your intercession…”
Let’s continue to pray for our Nation as we lead up to Call 2 Fall this Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!