The sun was just a dot in the sky as heat waves fell on them like heat given off by a red hot branding iron. The earth was cracked and dry, parched and had turned into what resembled lunar dust. With each step the preacher took, through the powdery dirt, his heals kicked up a small cloud behind him. The crops had withered and were failing due to the lack of rain. The cattle too, would soon have to be slaughtered for lack of food and water. Everywhere wells were drying up and squirrels suffered for the slightest drop of water to fall.
It was Sunday morning as the church bells rang out calling the faithful to worship. There was not a single cloud in the sky and nobody expected a drop of rain to fall as the church filled to overflowing. The situation was desperate as the surrounding community came together to petition God for relief. The pastor rose from his chair, opened an umbrella, and slowly walked up to take his place at the pulpit. He prayed like an Isaiah, with unction from on high as all creatures great and small waited outside the open church windows to hear the prayer of his heart.
“O Lord! Send us rain. We pray for rain. Our harvests perish. There is not a drop for the thirsting birds. The ground is parched. The choking cattle lift their voices towards a brassy heaven and lowing cry ‘Lord give us water’…We do not presume to dictate to Thee what is best for us, yet Thou dost invite us to come to Thee as children to a father and tell Thee all our wants. We want rain! Even the squirrels in the woods are suffering for want of it. Unless Thou givest rain our cattle must die…O Lord, send it now! For Jesus sake! Amen!” Charles G. Finney, 1853, Oberlin, New York.
Prayer is so powerful. It’s so incredible and often times it’s our last resort. You might ask yourself why America is not experiencing another great revival and the answer lies somewhere underneath the layer of dust that has collected on our leatherback books. Many of us have five or six different translations of God’s Word lying about but hardly reach for them. Our problem is that we lack discipline to make time to study, meditate or just read them. Oh, how we love to shop and be entertained. We have left our first love as Jesus is left standing outside the door of our church knocking to be let back in!
God so loved His world that He willingly sent His own Son to earth to be born into human flesh, suffer and die in order that we might be able to enter into His presence. God isn’t angry with us, He doesn’t want to punish or hurt us He only wants to give us a choice to accept salvation on His terms. Jesus’ walk to the cross was not a tragedy but the universe’s greatest victory as our Great Shepherd willingly laid down His life for His sheep. In His death we are forgiven but in His rising from the dead we have eternal life!
Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus. A friend who has willingly offered to carry all of our sins, grief’s and burdens. Even though we might have denied Him, even though we might have betrayed Him with a kiss He still stands between us and a holy-righteous Heavenly Father always ready to intercede on our behalf.
The reason revival tarries isn’t because God has moved away from us or has changed His mind it’s because we have left Him standing outside the circle of our lives. We have plenty of time for friends, movies, running, shopping, vacations, travel, school and reading varies titles that peak our interest but how often do we agonize in prayer? How often do we serve the homeless in a food line or put someone else’s needs above our own? How often do we pray for the Holy Spirit to come and heal our land?
Maybe, we are afraid to pray for people who are sick, thinking that they might not get well? Or possibly we are just too comfortable lounging in our chairs in front of one sort of screen or another? It’s time to turn off our phones, tablets, computers and lap-tops and fall on our knees before a holy and righteous God who is standing outside the door of our hearts waiting to be let back in.
We need to pray believing that God has already answered our request; like bringing an umbrella while praying for rain when there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Before Charles Finney finished his sermon it began raining.