Robin J Johnson 
The longer I serve the Lord the more I become convinced that prayer is the foundation and absolute necessity from which all our Christian activities must be launched.
The apostle Paul puts it aptly as brought out through The Message Translation.

Since prayer is at the bottom of all this,…..
1 Timothy 2:8

Seek the Lord, now!

Today I received an email in which the following, disturbing, comment was made.
“Unfortunately history shows we will be slack until persecution comes and if that is the case maybe we should be praying, bring it on!!”
This is an unfortunate misunderstanding, one which appears to be held by some, hopefully only a few. I have worked closely with persecuted believers for 20 years. They would certainly not agree!
True, man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Nevertheless, what does it say about the believer who neglects prayer until their life and wellbeing depends on it?
I believe we should pray as if our life depends on it, but we should not wait to pray until our life does depend on it.

We can learn from history

The saying goes…. The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.
Well, I believe we can learn from history!
Our ears must be open and our hearts attentive to hear what the Spirit is saying. The Bible is full of exhortations to learn from the past.

Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Matthew 11:15

As we observe the lives and practice of godly men and women who have gone before us praying “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done” they become our inspiration to believe God for our own generation.
I love the prayer of Habakkuk. It should be on our lips everyday.

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
Habakkuk 3:2

What can we learn from history?

Prayer movements turn into revival movements
Revivals do not precede prayer! We do not start out as a revival movement. That really is putting the cart before the horse and is somewhat presumptuous. I’ve been invited to many events whose organisers had hoped that it would bring about revival. I have probably done the same. There is one event which leads to revival. It is constant, consistent, heartfelt prayer.
We can organize events, but revival is solely in the realm of God. He is the life giver, the one who speaks and brings into existence that which did not exist before.

…..the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
Romans 4:17

Matthew Henry wrote….
“When God intends great mercy for his people, he first of all sets them praying.”
There is nothing wrong with wanting, believing and even planning for revival, but it must start with prayer. The first thing that happens when we begin to pray is; we are the first one to be touched and changed.
Change begins with me. Revival begins with me. The search light of the Holy Spirit first shines into the heart of the one who cries out to God and in that encounter our life is changed; healed, restored, refreshed, revived.

 The Spirit of God breathed into man, is like a living lamp and a shining light-searching into the innermost chamber of our being.
Proverbs 20:27 (The Passion Translation)

From this encounter with the Holy Spirit comes vision, the revealing of the plans and purpose of God along with direction and convictions about what our involvement should be; the part to which we have been called. We often find that we become a participant in the answer to our own prayers.
Prayer movements turn into missionary movements
Another common thread throughout history is that prayer movements become active and tenacious missionary movements. They soon become a part of and involved in the answer of their own prayers.
As we lay down our agendas and wants and begin a cry solely for the souls of men we will find ourselves revived by the Holy Spirit and thrust out into the great harvest fields on our own doorstep and throughout the nations.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Luke 10:2
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer,….
Acts 1:14 (NASB)

Prayer movements turn into justice movements
When we research prayer movements of the past we often see, if not always that they journeyed on into becoming a voice speaking up for justice and actively engaged in the fight against injustice. They took on the case of the poor, the widow, the orphan and the downtrodden. Justice became a part of their values, mission, purpose and mandate speaking into a world where injustice was rampant.
When the Lord called Abraham, justice was on His heart.

For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.
Genesis 18:19 (NASB)

Jesus introduces us to justice in the Sermon on the Mount

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:7 & 9

Prayer that flows from our heart should be interwoven with the heart of God. Justice is not separate from God’s heart and therefore, must flow out through us to the world with care, compassion and action.

 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
Psalm 103:6

We must learn from history

 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
Proverbs 9:9

As with past generations who came by faith to the throne of God with their prayers, petitions and intercession, we also can come to that same throne of grace in Jesus’ name.
In so doing we will be revived, find ourselves consumed with His mission and bold in a fight against injustice in Jesus’ name.
Now is the time to pray! Your Kingdom come, Your will be done….
 (Scripture references are taken from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise stated.)