The most common way to know if someone is alive or dead is to feel for a heartbeat. That’s why I thought the title of this week’s lesson was so appropriate. “Prayer: The Heartbeat of Revival” reminds us of the life-giving quality of our prayers. Were it not for prayer, revivals just wouldn’t exist and would not lead to needed reformation. Just as important in saving a life by getting a heartbeat started is the importance of prayer in getting a revival started.
Memory Text: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11 NKJV
The key focus for our study this week will be how to do the asking it talks about in this verse. It obviously refers to an activity commonly called prayer. Prayer is referred to in Strong’s as simply “a request to God”. But most of us are in awe when it comes to how and why prayer is done and the results it brings.
We are aware of many prayer warriors in the Old Testament. Many of the patriarchs and prophets were masters at what we call intercessory prayer. Men such as Moses, David, and Daniel prayed fervently for God’s people, and many miracles were wrought by them and others as a result of their heartfelt pleas for God’s intervention.
We are also amazed at the results of the prayers sent up by the New Testament believers in bringing the gospel to so many after Jesus’ resurrection. Thousands were added to the early church daily and this rapid growth can happen again, in response to our prayers and receiving the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in what has been referred to as the latter rain.
Finally, we will explore the prayer life of Jesus. The disciples were so intrigued by His prayer life that they asked Him to teach them how to pray. Like Jesus, prayer can help us “understand God’s heart more, know His will more fully, and experience His presence more powerfully.” [Teacher’s Helps]
Sunday: Prayer and Revival in Acts
We read in Acts 1 that there were only one hundred and twenty men in the upper room, praying for God’s Spirit, as Jesus’ had instructed them, soon after His ascension. By the end of the first century it has been estimated that there were over one million Christians in the Roman Empire. This was phenomenal growth, especially when you considered the challenges facing the early believers.
The Roman Empire was immersed in Greek philosophy, military dominance, and pleasure-seeking. It would seem that these hardened minds and hearts would never respond to the gospel. But through the Holy Spirit, and only through the Holy Spirit, they were able to multiply their churches and convert many souls.
One thing that marked these prayers in the book of Acts was the fact that many of them were corporate or group prayers. Although Jesus often prayed alone, He also instructed His followers to pray together. There is power in corporate prayers that has been proven to be effective. We mustn’t miss any opportunity to pray with others when possible. The life of the church depends on this type of prayer.
Personal Thought Questions: Am I hindering God’s work by not making the most of church and prayer meeting attendance? Is my prayer life sufficient to get me and my church family through the time of the end, when persecution again faces the church?
Monday: Jesus’ Prayer Life
By reading Mark 1:35 and Luke 5:16 and 9:18, we discover three things about Jesus’ private prayer life while on earth. He prayed often, alone in a quiet place, early in the morning.
Then, reading in John 17:20-24, Luke 22:31, 32, and Matthew 26:36-44, we find three things Jesus prayed for. He prayed for all believers, for specific disciples, and for Himself.
Jesus’ daily prayer habit gave Him a renewed commitment to God, refreshed His relationship to the Father, and gave Him strength to minister to others and to fight off Satan’s temptations.
Personal Thought Question: What more can I do to make daily quiet prayer time a reality in my own life? And how do I stay connected with God throughout the day?
Tuesday: Praying Together
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19, 20 NKJV
We often recall this verse when confronted with a low attendance at a church gathering, but don’t overlook the words here “anything that they ask”. Prayer is present at such a gathering. There is power in Christians praying together in unity, no matter how few or many.
“…in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love for God and for one another.” ~ Ellen G. White, The Central Advance, Feb. 25, 1903
This was proved to be true for Peter, when the church prayed so earnestly for his release from prison and God provided a miracle for it to happen. Read about it in Acts 12:1-16. Even Peter didn’t recognize the miracle deliverance at first. He thought he was having a dream or vision. What a shock to the church when he showed up on their doorstep, right in the middle of their prayer session for him!
Wednesday: Our Freedom
Many have wondered why prayer is so vital. Won’t He give us the Holy Spirit, even when we don’t ask for it?
In answer to this question, we must keep in mind the freedom of choice God has given all people. God will never force His will or love on any of us. He needs our permission, through the act of prayer, to intervene in our lives, and mercifully allows us to even pray for our loved ones as well. Not that this will change the will of our loved ones; they will still have to invite God into their heart. But it will ensure that God will keep knocking.
To me, this increases the need for us to pray for everyone in the world. I do believe that everyone has been covered with this type of prayer to some extent by conscientious Christians somewhere. But the more people praying for us, the more powerful can be the results. That’s why we’ve often thought or heard it said, “If it weren’t for the prayers of my parents, my spouse, or someone else in my life, I know I wouldn’t be where I am in my Christian walk today.”
Let’s also not forget that part of the Christian’s armor in Ephesians 6 was prayer. We sometimes stop in this passage with the verse that mentions the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. But verse 18 continues with…
“praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” NKJV
This is our mandate to pray for each other. When this happens, we complete our armor against the “rulers of darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places” (v. 12, KJV). Only then can our true freedom from these forces be achieved.
Thursday: Effective Prayer
There is no set formula for effective prayer. What works for one person may not work for another. But the important thing is to make prayer a high priority in our life.
Some elements of prayer that seem to be found in Scripture, however, are praise and adoration for God, an attitude of gratitude and submission, intercession for others, and requests for our own forgiveness and needs.
Your contribution to the class:
Why do we need to pray if God knows everything already?
Please leave us your comments and thoughts on this question or anything else concerning prayer.