The value of prayer in revival cannot be overstated. Every major revival in America and other countries began with prayer. The Second Great Awakening began in New York City when a burdened man named Jeremiah Lanphier read the times, which were not much different than today! The financial picture of New York City (and thus most of the industrial sector of the North) was desperate and there was no move of God in America for decades. The last revival had taken place when the controversial Charles Finney was on fire throughout the north eastern United States preaching the Gospel and leading hundreds of thousands to Christ.
Jeremiah Lanphier printed out and passed out flyers all over America’s largest city inviting men to a prayer meeting at the Fulton Street church he attended. The meeting was set for September 23, 1857 at noon. Even though thousands of flyers were handed out, not one person showed up for lunch time prayer until about 30 minutes in. Finally 6 men got together to pray for their city, businesses, community and family, where factories closing, unemployment and worse had destroyed many a family.
One week later, 40 prayer warriors showed up at Fulton Street to pray at Lanphier’s noon time weekly prayer meeting. From that day, it was changed to a daily noontime prayer meeting instead of weekly and within SIX MONTHS, ten thousand (as in 10,000) New York businessmen started meeting DAILY for prayer - IN NEW YORK CITY! Today, one would be hard-pressed to find ten (10) men in one small town who would even meet weekly to pray for their families, neighborhoods or anything! What resulted out of all of this praying and seeking the Face of the Lord was that over 1 million were saved across America as the fires of revival caught the head wind and spread like, well, wild fires on the prairie. The renewal and awakening which began in New York City with one man, then six, then forty was a result of prayer, not just prayer for the natural but fervent prayer which brought repentance and sorrow of the sad human condition of the day.
Every move of God began with personal repentance and prayer, and none genuine was a result of a church or group of people sitting comfortable in their pews chanting "Lord bring revival". Every turn around in the spiritual atmosphere came out of an environment of idolatry, crime (against God and man) and general despair. It happened with the Welch Revival where bars shut down and the cops had no work to do, so they formed barbershop quartets and it happened in the Old Testament. Back then, godless men had destroyed much of the Word of the Lord, much like they are attempting to these days, and pagan "worship" abounded. Still God's word never goes away and a copy of the Word was found during the reign of King Josiah who had it read out loud.
Scripture says "Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes...(2 Kings 22:10-11)." Are we rendering our spiritual hearts today as the Word of the Lord convicts us? What happened when the pure milk of the Word of God convicted the king to lead him to tear his clothes, was an acknowledgement of his and the people's sins. It cut him to the quick.
God said to the king ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you”. (2 Kings 22:18b-19)
Revival can come and the Lord can hear us, and will react according to His own Sovereign Will. Even in the Great Awakenings from Whitefield to Lanphier and D.L. Moody to Duncan Campbell and Life Action Ministries, God did NOT move across an entire people. He only moved upon those whose hearts were set upon Him and then brought many into glory as a result of that faithfulness. The majority still rejected Him, and were and will be judged in His Wrath. Still, there is no magic to revival. King Josiah's repentance and leadership in actively getting rid of the evil junk in the lives of his people, of removing all symbols of the evil idols and allowing the Word of God to be read and taught constantly resulted in something really powerful for a time. It was that specific season for the people of Jerusalem which led to their spiritual revival at that time. It WAS the reading and preaching of the Word. Read this account right here.
To that end, finally, the Apostle Paul prayed and ask for the same in 2 Thessalonians 3: 1-5 "Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ."
The rapid spreading of the Word of the Lord, which convicts and leads many to repentance and salvation, is how we should pray. We have the example of King Josiah's HEARING the Word and the subsequent turning of all Jerusalem to the Lord and then Paul's prayer here that the Word will led to rescue, strength, protection and then confidence and the turning of hearts unto the love of God, standing strong in the Knowledge and Faith of Jesus Christ. This is our true prayer of revival. May we never depart from it but press on daily, as we seek a strong move of the Savior across a dry and spiritually barren land.