“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, “Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.’” And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him” (Zechariah 8:20-22).
In 1747, Jonathan Edwards published An Humble Attempt to Promote an Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People through the World, in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. Usually referred to thereafter as An Humble Attempt, this book was reprinted by Christian Focus in 2003 as A Call to United, Extraordinary Prayer. Edwards said he was motivated to write on “a concert of prayer” for two reasons: first, he realized that the revivals of the mid-1730s and the early 1740s would not recur until God’s people engaged in earnest prayer for revival. Second, he wanted to provide additional theological support for a document written by some Scottish pastors simply entitled Memorial.
David Bryant, describing this document, states: “Rising out of scores of prayer societies already functioning in Scotland around 1740, especially among young people, by 1744 a committee of ministers determined it was time to do more. They decided to try a two-year ‘experiment,’ uniting all prayer groups and praying Christians in their nation into a common prayer strategy. They called for focused revival prayer on every Saturday evening and Sunday morning, as well as on the first Tuesday of each quarter. By 1746 they were so gratified by the impact of their experiment that they composed a call to prayer to the church worldwide, especially in the colonies.
However, this time the ‘concert of prayer’ was to be for seven years.” Citing Zechariah 8:20-22, Edwards said that God’s rich promises encourage us to expect great success from corporate prayer. He said: “That which God abundantly makes the subject of His promises, God’s people should abundantly make the subject of their prayers.” He concluded that when believers persevere in united, concerted prayer, God will grant a fresh revival, which “shall be propagated, till the awakening reaches those that are in the highest stations, and till whole nations be awakened.”
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 45, Prayer Meetings and Revival in the Church by Joel R. Beeke).
Heavenly Father, my prayer life is often so lifeless and routine! When I hear of these amazing people, old and young, who gave themselves fully to Your purposes in united prayer, I long to experience the sweetness of revival in my own spirit, in my home, in my church and in my nation! I do not want to perpetuate a prayer life that is routine, but want to spark life in the hearts of others who are seeking more fullness in Your kingdom. Draw me close, Father, and fill me with expectation of seeing You move in power as I cry out to You in desperation!
Praise the one who is King of kings and Lord of lords. Give thanks for everything in which you may find godly pleasure today: for work, food, books, music, and friends. Confess any pain you have unnecessarily brought into the lives of others. Commit yourself to doing to others today what you would have them do to you. Ask God to guide you in all your ways, to guard you against all that would harm you in body and soul, and to strengthen you in the face of temptation.
Pray for your pastor and church leaders. Ask God to give them wisdom and integrity and the filling of the Holy Spirit, that they may be mature in faith and may exercise their offices with prayer, patience, and humility.
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend
Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book. This resource makes an excellent gift for pastors and prayer leaders!