The Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards observed, “When God has something very great to accomplish for his church, it is his will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of his people.”1 Edwards was, no doubt, reflecting on Ezekiel’s line, “ ‘ “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them’ ” ’ ” (Ezek. 36:37, NKJV). In other words, there are some divine actions that come only in response to human petition.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? To be honest, it is not an easy task to keep your pastoral heart focused on God’s appeal to petition Him for revival,
reformation, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this generation. “I will also let . . . [you] inquire of Me to do this,” He declares. But I forget to keep asking. And thus, so do my people.
Could it be that what the church needs most right now is the fulfillment of a preliminary promise? “ ‘And I will pour on the house of David [church leadership] and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem [church membership] the Spirit of grace and supplication’ ” (Zech. 12:10, NKJV; emphasis supplied). We need to be asking Christ to give us the spirit of asking! What else will unleash our hearts to, as Ellen White urged, “Plead for the Holy Spirit”?
Given the razor edge of eternity on which we’re now living, isn’t this the right time for “extraordinary” asking? Then shouldn’t our first prayer be for the spirit of supplication?
1 Jonathan Edwards, Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, 1740 (New York: American Tract Society, n.d.), 427.
2 Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1941), 147.