In recent weeks we have been reminded that we live in an increasingly dangerous world. There are all kinds of reasons for us to become nervous. We have conflict between nations, terrorism, riots, the treat financial instability, moral failures as well as the seemingly routine day to day bad news that inundates us. We look ahead and think that things must get better someday. However someday never seems to come. For some the solution to our troubles seems to be to turn to God in Prayer and so we find ourselves organizing and attending great prayer rallies. These can be wonderful things, but somehow we find ourselves thinking that something more is needed. When we hear a call to prayer and find ourselves moved to participate we must make sure that we really do pray. What is needed is secret and real prayer. We are called to seek the face of God in genuine repentance. I believe that it was this that W.C. Burns was writing about in his journal entry regarding the day of solemn fasting on March 1, 1840. (In God’s Polished Arrow: W.C. Burns Revival Preacher, by Dr. Michael McMullen, Christian Focus Publications, 2000)
“We had this day a solemn fast, kept by many I have no doubt very strictly, as far as the duty of abstinence is concerned. We met at two o’clock P.M. and I spoke upon the exercises appropriate for this day:
1) Self examination in order to the discovery of sin, of the heart and nature as well as of the tongue and life, by the law and the Spirit of Jehovah.
2) Humbling the soul before God under sins discovered.
3) Confession of sin, full and particular, free and filial.
4) Penitent turning from all sin.
5) Entering into the covenant of grace by the receiving of Emmanuel and the surrender of the soul to Him and to God through Him.
6) Special prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon this city, and the other places united with us in this fast, the great end designed in its appointment. There was great solemnity.”
The beginning of any great movement of prayer must always be found in individuals who genuinely begin to seek God for themselves. This always requires heartfelt Gospel repentance. Leonard Griffith once asked an assembly of believers who had gathered to consider some great cause whether “they really meant it”. When we endeavour to share the love of Christ in a city such as ours, or in a world such as we find ourselves living we must always begin by asking ourselves whether we really mean it. Are we serious about the love of God? This means that we must personally examine ourselves to see whether we have received that Gospel love, and then, are we truly living in it. For this is the starting point. We must join with others to really pray for God’s blessing in revival. This is a vital thing. Before we join with others we must find ourselves on our knees in secret prayer. This is the way forward.