“And when He was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast him out?” And He said to them, “This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting.””
A number of years ago a friend gave me a copy of Martyn Lloyd-Jones book Revival. Above the very first sermon in that collection of messages calling the Church to seek revival my friend had written these words. “Revival begins with God.” Those words are the key to my own thinking about the need that the modern church has for revival. They are also my motivation calling me to seek the revival we need from the One who is able to give it. We, as the modern Church, are called to earnestly seek the face of God asking constantly that He would revive His work among us. This is a call to a life of prayer seeking to know the LORD intimately. To this end I want to share this extended quotation from the very first sermon in Lloyd-Jones’ collection.
“The Church is so constituted that every member matters, and matters in a very vital sense. So I also call attention to this who subject, partly because, I sense that there is a curious tendency, today, for members of the Christian Church to feel and think that they themselves can do very little, and so they tend to look to others to do all that is needed for them. This, of course, is something which is characteristic of the whole of life today. For instance, men and women no longer take exercise in sport as they used to. Instead, people tend to sit in crowds and just watch other people play. There was a time when people provided their own pleasure but now the radio and television provide their entertainment and pleasure for them. And I fear that the tendency is even manifesting itself in the Christian Church. More and more we see evidence that people are just sitting back in crowds while one or two people are expected to be doing everything. Now that, of course, is a complete denial of the New Testament doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ, where every single member has responsibility, and has a function, and matters, and matters in a most vital sense. You can read the Apostle’s great expositions of that doctrine, for example in 1 Corinthians 12, where you find that he says that our less comely parts are as important as the more comely parts, that every part of the body is to function and is to be ready for the Master’s uses, and always to be usable.
That is why I believe that this is a matter which really deserves the most urgent attention of every one of us. Indeed, I do not hesitate to go so far as to say that unless we, as individual Christians, are feeling a grave concern about the state of the Church and the world today, then we are very poor Christians indeed. If we are people who come to the Christian Church merely in order to get some personal help, and no more, then we are the veriest babes in Christ. If we have grown at all, then we must have a concern about the situation, a concern about the state of society, a concern about the state of the Church and a concern about the armour of Almighty God. It is, I repeat, a matter that should come home to every one of us.” (Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Revival, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1987, p. 8)
What Lloyd-Jones identified many years ago was a tendency which I believe has only intensified in recent years. This is to leave the responsibility for being the Body of Christ to professionals. Even in our hope for revival we pass the responsibility on to others who we believe have greater interest or ability as people of prayer. As long as “they” are praying then we believe that all that is needed is being done. What is needed is already being done. We forget that what God is looking for are people who actively believe. These are those who will not be satisfied with anything less than an intimate, personal knowledge of the LORD. Such things only come about by prayer. What are needed are a praying people.