Spiritual Renewal: Prayer

(This is a continuation of our study on spiritual renewal. You can find all of the posts here.)
"If you could pray the best prayer in the world without the Holy Spirit, God would have nothing to do with it. But if your prayer be broken and lame and limping, if the Spirit made it, God will look upon it and say, as he did upon the works of creation, “It is very good.""
-Charles Spurgeon
Scripture Reading: 2 Chronicles 7:11-18
Lesson: We should say up front, as we consider this text from 2 Chronicles 7, that it has a particular place in Scripture’s story. Too often it’s promise is detached from this history, applied to modern natural calamities as if our country was the same as Israel. It isn’t. This is a reaffirmation of God’s promise to David concerning Israel, and the land in view is tied up with a particular time and place in the Bible’s history.
That said, it reflects the foundation of much Old Testament teaching about renewal. When God’s people stray from their first love, they face discipline both in terms of their own spiritual condition and in terms of their experience of the world. Their call is to return to the Lord, and in their return we get the first examples of the process of renewal, a process still at work in our world.
The first motion of this return is always a movement toward our knees. Israel is called to “humble themselves, and pray and seek my face.” Only after this inward turn toward prayer is there an expectation of the outward turn toward obedience, to “turn from their wicked ways.” Humble prayer is the first step toward true renewal.
Prayer is the movement of the soul toward God. It is not primarily about requests but relationship. We acknowledge what God has given and give thanks and praise to Him. We acknowledge the truth of what He has said and meditate on it. We acknowledge that we do not have what we need, and we offer those requests to our Father, knowing that He will give us all that we truly need.
Prayer is not a magic formula, and this is especially true of prayers for renewal. We never earn God’s favor or force Him to act. It is not that, if we had enough people saying the right words with sufficient intensity, revival would have to break out. Our prayers do not work on God.
However, God does work through our prayers. When seasons of renewal come, it is often because faithful saints have been pleading for it for years. These prayers might be invisible from the human perspective, but if we could only see them from the vantage of heaven, we would recognize that they have more power than all our plans and programs. Prayer brings the power of God to bear on our circumstances, and it is that power by which revival can come.
Prayer: Bountiful Father, we acknowledge that often we have because we do not ask. We are often self-reliant and proud. Knowing this, we humble ourselves before Your throne. Move in our hearts and in our churches. Impress the gospel on our hearts, move us toward discipleship, and breathe new life into us. Lift us up from the dust and work through us, that this world might sing Your praise. All of this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who intercedes for us before the throne. AMEN.