Many prayers are offered up in Christians circles but I wonder how much of these are to do with what God wants, as opposed to what man wants. The Church has been praying for revival for generations and during that time, contrary to its prayers, its spiritual power and strength has declined and its moral authority has been dissipated.
The Church today, while called to be a light to the world, has instead become a mirror of the world. It embraces, for example, the world’s values in relation to the worldly doctrines of “inclusiveness” and “nonjudgementalism” and “tolerance”. What this leads to is the endorsement of practices approved by the world but which the Word declares to be wrong; so we see the ordination of homosexual “ministers”, an unwillingness to speak out boldly against those things that God condemns, welcoming homosexual couples into the Church etc. All of this meets with the wholehearted approval of the world, whose popular and fashionable trends the Church embraces and adopts.
Then it is noticed that there is a decline in the spiritual power of the Church and its people. A quick visit to Koorong and you will find shelves upon shelves of books giving you the answer; all of them will tell you that the answer is more prayer; congregational prayer meetings, warfare nights, more emotion, more noise, more crying out to the Lord, etc. All of them are wrong. While the people lend themselves to these activities proposed by their leaders, they don’t work and soon they slip back into the old slothful ways, and a numb discouragement settles over them all.
The problem is that prayer has become a substitute for obedience! The true answer is always more obedience. The discouraged people think that their failure was in the weakness of their prayers, whereas their real failure is in the weakness of their obedience.
Obedience has fallen out of favour in modern Christianity; legalism must be avoided at all costs; we must be careful not to insist on the application of God’s moral standards lest anyone feels that they are being excluded or discriminated against or not extended tolerance for their views and values. The world has changed and the Church has changed with it; but God hasn’t changed one whit; He is still the same; and what He has said before is still true today: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, ‘I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart’” (Psalm 40:6-8). This was prophesied of the Lamb of God, who sacrificed His life to continual obedience to the Father, the only acceptable sacrifice that there is. This is the “sacrifice of righteousness”, which is “to trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4).
To obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken better than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22).