Sunday, May 27, 2012

Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill

I did a more brief summary about this called "book 2" because I just couldn't seem to find the time to read and get on my computer to get a summary for each chapter.
In the future I will reread the book and finish this post, for now I've done what I can with it.
Chapter 1
As book it's important to set the tone for what it going to be about. That is the purpose of the first chapter. Well, without knowing what the future chapters say I can see the possibilities. One of the primary burdens on my heart over the last year and change is the same one that gets pulled out in chapter 1. The Church needs to stop turning a blind eye to all the filth going in it's members lives, filling the minds of it's youths. The examples differ, somewhat, but are still strikingly relevant. That's probably a testimony to the nature of humankind.
A few direct quotes that really stood out to me:
"a lady in New Zealand saying recently that she feared to pray for revival because national revival seems to be a prelude to coming judgment. Maybe she is right, but better to have revival followed by judgment then to judgment without a revival preparation."
"Sinned as we have as a nation, yet to our sin we have added pride in our sinning. The world has lost the power to blush over its vice; the Church has lost her power to weep over it. Do you ask, 'well now, where do we go from here?' the answer is, 'where sinful individuals or sinful nations can only go - back to a merciful God.' Hear me! Every church without a prayer meeting condemns us; every Bible daily unopened condemns us; every promise of God unused condemns us; every lost neighbor condemns us; every lost heathen condemns us; every dry eye among us condemns us; every wasted opportunity for God condemns us; every unclaimed opportunity for God condemns us. Next year is not ours. Tomorrow may be too late. Unless we repent now, unless we return and fire the prayer altars now, unless we fast and weep now, woe unto us at the judgment!"

Chapter 2
Stepping forward in trying to understand prayer and revival must come the understand and even more so usage of faith. The example of the fiery furnace is used to diagram faith. It wasn't that they necessarily expected God to save them from the flames, they knew He could but they had the faith to stand against what they knew to be wrong without knowing what would happen.
Thinking and saying that God is able to do anything really isn't faith until it is backed with action, a steely resolve. Anyone with half decent theology knows that could transform a table, for example, into the purest of God. it doesn't mean He will. Knowing that it's possible doesn't mean it will happen, or that it is even genuinely believed beyond mental capabilities.
Faith sees the condition of what is and longs to go to great lengths to see it changed. Instead o congregations serving as factories for more Sunday/Wednesday attenders, making them a shelter, a training site for people that are hitting the streets every night of the week, people who are praying til the nightclubs and bars get shut down, people persistently and passionate chasing after God.
A simple 4 step process is layed out in the reading
1) Renounce all known sin
2) Godly sorrow and confession of failure and satisfaction with the status quo
3) Seeking God's face in daily prayer
4) Time in the word, giving God the opportunity to speak the promises that He set out for us.
Without the Word, faith is easily misguided and can remain in a dwarfed state of existence for far too long.
That time is also fundamental to the relationship with Him.
No person has relationship with someone they never speak to and haven't seen in years, it's the same with the relationship with God.
If I were to take a little bit of liberty with that list, and I am going to, I would reorder it this way:
1) Godly sorrow leading to confession
2) Seek God's face in prayer every day
3) Simultaneously, renounce the sins that come to mind during the prayer and continue to renounce ones that are already known.
4) Time in the Word

Chapter 3
This one starts out with a pointed indictment toward the apathy of the Church. Ravenhill goes through most of the common excuses used for apathy but very simply, maybe too simply, dismantles them with a different verse from the Bible for each one.
Not long after the point is strength by saying that we have everything we need to do what we are supposed to do, but instead of owning our Christian responsibilities we keep playing around.
He goes on: "We will learn to pray...for God will see to that...when we have fewer mouth watering commodities, we will have less time for our feet under the table and more time for our knees on the floor in prayer. When we have less eye - catching TV and less thrilling music, and when we have the spirit of heaviness and know more of poverty than plenty, we might get our foot on the first rung of the ladder of intercession. What fools we are if we have to pray the price...before we get serious in quitting "playing church" and in getting into the stream of divine anointing for revival in our day!"
The chapter ends with a question, has it gotten to far off track? Instead of spending hours and days just seeking the Lord, $1,000's and $1,000,000 are spent on advertising and advancement, buildings and the last technique. That's the way in America but can it be changed? or is it too late?

Chapter 4
The story of Hannah (Samuel's mother) is told in relation to prayer. Her desire was to have a son but she was barren. The more fervently she desired it the more fervently she prayed, but it still took time. It took the offering of that son to God's use too.
I'm not one to say that just because people pray a lot for one thing it will happen and certainly won't always happen on our timeline but then faith must be integrated once again. To not lose heart and quit seeking God, to operate in genuine faith.
Hannah did for a long time and she bore the one who anointed the first kings of Israel.
It's simple, but it's a good example of persistent prayer being rewarded in the Old Testament.

Chapter 5
This chapter discusses prayer as the deep cry of life toward the depths of God. In a way that doesn't make sense, because of God's infinity but it means that depth never ends and yet we are pretty much always just scratching the surface.
The deep cry begins to be understood only after days and weeks of fervent pursuit of God. This cry gives direction to a person in how they are best suited to serve and for some to whom they are to minister.
An important note to be made, at least in my opinion, is that many of the most fervent revival leaders of history were ardent pray-ers and we're also a bit kooky. Being on the strange side would be more classified as a charismatic trait but the majority of intercessors that I've met happen to be very charismatic.
Ravenhill makes a direct corolation between being unconventional and operating at a high level of intimacy with God. Not choosing what looks and feels right over what He would have us to.

Chapter 6
So those are some reasons to pray and benefits of it, but what are some negative things that happen when people don't pray?
Well if you take 1 Samuel 12:23 by what is says then lacking in prayer is a sin. In context Samuel is saying that he hasn't stopped operating in his calling but will persist for the Israelites through prayer. Each of us has a calling and while few have anything to level that Samuel did, that approach should be taken in every area.
We should never knowingly walk in sin, so to feel the tug to pray but to disregard it for any reason is to disregard (quench) the Spirit's ministry. In my opinion that's a big deal and shouldn't be taken lightly.

Chapter 7
It's titled "The Promise is for You." I think that the principle of drawing promises and applications out of scripture is widely under utilized. In a way it's good because it prevents more misinterpretation of the Bible but it's also a grave mistake. As a letter that's been written to us God wants His people to take it personally, in a good way, and be transformed. Without the use of personal application and without knowing which of the many promises can apply to life the fullness of what God has can be, CAN BE not definitely will be, missed out on.
The specific promise being referenced to in this chapter comes from Psalm 126:6. Verse 5 is also very much in the line of thinking put forth in the chapter. That the condition of the world, along with the sacrificial labor that we are called to do should result in deep emotional brokenness. It's easy to be so callused and just write people off for how they live and what they do, but they're people trying to live the best lives they know how but severely, fatally and eternally broken. These ones have been made by God, same as me and should be viewed with the same level of respect and wonder that I esteem myself worthy of.
If this brokenness is able to penetrate the deepest places of the heart  the results will be abounding joy and a bountiful harvest.

Chapter 8
This one just made think about the importance of prayer for men of God in congregational leadership. How pastors are meant to lead and teach and exort but without prayer its impossible to do any of those things in a godly way. Going as a missionary I don't know what will happen during my time abroad, but I could definitely see myself implementing the simple tips included in this one into any/all messages that I may have to give.
They are simply giving as much time to prayer as to preparation. Spending Saturday in communion with God and not rushing to finish the message. Actually receiving the topic from the Lord so that the word's may be impactful, relevant and godly.

Chapter 9
Primarily from chapter 9 is the declaration that while many people say prayers, most do not actually pray. The conversation, being as Abraham, Daniel or Jesus in the form. Entering lonely places to speak with God. But not just endless repetitions of words, spending equal or greater amounts of time in listening.
The prayers that are offered serve as a testimony to the life of the Spirit within the believer. By being in tune to Him we are guided in what we should say and able to effectively address any and all issues that Jesus has in mind for us to cover.