Prayer is so vital to personal revival, continued spiritual growth and power for witnessing. According to the Bible, after Christ’s ascension the disciples returned to Jerusalem and waited for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Luke assures us that this period of waiting was one of serious preparation. He says the group “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14.) Two preparatory steps for the gift of the Spirit are given in this verse: First, they were of one accord, and second, they did a lot of praying.
Let’s review the instruction given to us by inspiration on the relationship between prayer, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and revival. Luke says the disciples continued in prayer and supplication. The word “continued” suggests that they did not merely go to prayer meeting on Wednesday night. With a 10-day period between the ascension and Pentecost, gathering for prayer one evening does not fulfill the picture given by this verse. Perhaps we can picture in our minds the disciples getting together every day to seek in prayer the fulfillment of the Father’s promise. They no doubt spent time in private prayer for the Gift as well. Their prayers were continually ascending to the throne day after day.
The preparatory experience of the disciples is an important lesson for us. We are not serious enough about pressing our prayers before God for the fulfillment of His promise to give us the final revival that will be accompanied by the latter rain. Believe it or not, God is disappointed in us because we do not nag Him enough about revival and the gift of His Spirit. Ellen White tells us, “We are not willing enough to trouble the Lord with our petitions, and to ask Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Lord wants us to trouble Him in this matter. He wants us to press our petitions to the throne” (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 537).
Repeatedly the servant of the Lord tells us to pray for the outpouring of the Sprit--she says to pray, pray, pray. Are we doing it? Do we privately pray several times a day for a revival in our personal lives and within the church? Do we meet in groups and pray as the disciples did? Do we hear prayers for the latter rain during the pastoral prayers in the church service? Are we really serious in doing what God tells us? Are we serious about receiving the latter rain?
God’s messenger to the remnant church was serious about revival. The following statement fromThe Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 22, 1887 (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 121) is probably familiar. Read it again slowly and prayerfully, phrase by phrase: “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work. There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it. Our heavenly Father is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer.”
What can we do to encourage each other to follow this instruction from the Lord? We can begin by each one setting an example. Let us seriously enter into the experience of praying for God’s promised gift just as the disciples did. Let us believe what God has said and pray!
Ted N. C. Wilson is the president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church