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Four Words To Pray
Today, I’ve been lead to set aside our next teaching on establishing those lasting biblical values in order to properly build up God’s House within us, which is part two of a two part series on discipleship that we’ve been on this year.
What I believe the Lord would have me share with you today, however, are some words that He has laid upon my heart when it comes to our prayer life and what we are praying for, especially as it relates to both a personal and corporate revival.
I shared these four words at our men’s study this past Wednesday, which was something I thought I wouldn’t do, seeing that I’m looking for the Lord to intercede as I am using these in my prayer life.
And since I’ve been praying these, and looking to write on what the Lord has been showing me about prayer, a battle has begun to rage, because I am asking for the Lord to stop the enemy’s advancement, which has only increased the battle.
But, instead of saying more about what is prayer and why we need to pray, which is something I will shortly be writing in my doctrinal cliffnotes series, let me kind of jump right in and give you these words, and hopefully you’ll take them to heart and start incorporating them into your time of prayer.
I was first introduced to this word in a promise given to me by God over 30 years ago, and one that is still working itself out in my life and in the ministry.
“Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, ‘Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not make Your inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they among the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:17)
Here the priests were commanded to say, “Spare Your People.”
The meaning of this word in the Hebrew language is to look upon and extend compassion and pity. It can also be asking for God to extend His mercy and grace towards us.
Nehemiah asked this of the Lord when he made a kind of unpopular decision to stop commerce on the Sabbath and to shut Jerusalem’s gates so that the Sabbath day could be kept holy to the Lord.
“Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to (spare) me according to your great love.” (Nehemiah 13:22)
Here the same word for “spare” is used to “show mercy.” Just a short definition that I’ve come up with to explain how these two words, mercy and grace work together.
Mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it.
Mercy is then deliverance from judgment.
What the prophet Joel is bringing out in our passage is a serious call to prayer, because God’s people are moving away from their covenant relationship with the Lord through outright disobedience to His commandments, and as a result the Lord has sent an army of locust against them, which was eating away at their crops and everything green.
The types of locust mentioned in verse 25, the swarming, crawling, consuming, and chewing locust basically describes each phase of a locust swarm and their annihilation of crops.
So Joel was asking God for mercy, to have compassion upon them, and to spare them of this judgment. And the reason is so that God’s name would not be profaned among those nations that surround them, or those outside the faith, who began to question God’s power when they saw what was happening.
And it is no different with us. The Bible says that all have sinned and come up short of God’s holy and righteous standards for life (Romans 2:23). And if we’re honest with ourselves, then we have to admit that we haven’t been living up to God’s word in various areas of our lives.
And so, we need to pray, to weep and mourn asking for God to spare us, to have compassion upon us, to extend to us His mercy and grace, and this, not just for our sakes, but also for His holy name’s sake.
This was God’s promise to Israel and why we, not only in our prayer life, but in our words and actions, need to bring honor and hold as holy the name of the Lord, as Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
So what was God’s promise?
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,’ says the Lord God, ‘when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.’” (Ezekiel 36:22-23).
And so, I believe that God will step in a spare us, have compassion upon us, will extend to us His mercy and grace, not because we deserve it, but because of who He is, and His passion for His name and for those who are called by His name.
And so the first word is “Spare.”
Within God’s promise given by Joel, after the priests were called upon to pray and ask God to spare the people, the Lord’s promise is that He would. But not just to spare them, but to restore them and what was taken.
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25)
And while this refers to God’s judgment, we need to speak the word “restore” to stop Satan’s strategy against us.
Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Jesus’s desire is to give abundance in place of Satan’s famine and destruction.
To see this come about Jesus tells us to bind the strong man, that is, Satan, so that he stops plundering the promises of God.
“How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.” (Matthew 12:29)
How can we have the abundant life? We do so by binding Satan and his attempts to steal, kill, and destroy, and stopping his robbing and plundering, ensnaring and imprisoning, and this binding of Satan happens when we pray for God’s restoration power. Look at this very informative verse by the prophet Isaiah.
“But this is a people robbed and plundered; all of them are snared in holes, and they are hidden in prison houses; they are for prey, and no one delivers; for plunder, and no one says, ‘Restore!’” (Isaiah 42:22)
And when we pray this, believing by faith in God’s word, then He will restore.
But something more about God’s restoration, and that is He adds to it blessings in abundance.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; and My people shall never be put to shame.” (Joel 2:26)
Earlier the promise was that God would not only fill the barns with grain, and the vats with new wine and oil, but that they will overflow in abundance. He also promised the former and later rains to bless the people to see this promise come to fruition.
God’s desire is then to restore, not only what has been taken, but even more as the Bible says that He is able to give above and beyond what we could even ask for or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
And so the second word, once we ask God to spare us, is to restore us.
Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
It is the love and compassion of our heavenly Father who draws us towards Jesus, and when we believe in Him, that is, where by faith we accept Him as our Savior and Lord (verse 40), we can have the assurance that God will raise us up into everlasting life.
What a promise this is, and therefore should always be a part of our prayer life for this world we live in. We need to pray that God will draw those outside of the faith to come and hear about His Son, and the salvation He brings, because as the Bible says that God wishes none to perish but all to come to everlasting life (John 3:16).
But there is another aspect of this word that I’d like to bring out, and that is for us to draw closer to Jesus, and for Jesus to draw closer to us in these difficult days we are living in, and through the problems we are experiencing.
In other words, instead of moving away from God when the problems and issues of life happen, we should be drawing closer and pressing into God.
Knowing that the Lord is near to us when we call upon Him (Psalm 145:18), King David said, “How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You. To dwell in Your courts we will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4)
How are we, or how can we draw near to God?
In Psalm 24:3-5 we’re told, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
What we are told then is that we draw near to God, and God draws near to us when we confess and repent. This is seen in what the Apostle James says.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)
Therefore, we are to pray that the Father draws not only those outside the faith into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but also that He will draw us closer to Himself, especially in times of difficulties. And this comes when we recognize the sin that is keeping us away, and then repenting of it.
If we want to be healed and see a revival in our lives and within the church, we need to turn back to God and His ways.
And so the third word is to draw, which then leads to our fourth word …
In asking God to restore us, as we looked at as our second word, this then involves His reviving us, which is then God’s answer in sparing us as we rejoice in God’s mercy towards us in bringing us into a saving relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
“Restore us, O God of our salvation … Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation.” (Psalm 85:4-7)
We need to draw near to God and ask Him to revive us, that is, bring back to life what is dead within us. This is the heart of God and the heart of the resurrection.
To revive is to bring back to life, which is seen in several places in the Bible like when Elijah stretched himself upon the boy who had died, and it says that the boy revived, that is, he came back to life.
And this applies to every area of our lives, not only the physical, but the emotional and spiritual as well. For all of us who have experienced drawing further away from God rather than towards Him, it is a cry for us to be restored again, and to experience again that closeness and dance with Him. To return to that first love relationship (Revelation 2:4).
But there is even more. God doesn’t just want to rescue us out of our bondages, but His desire is to take us into a good land where we can walk with Him and be His people.
To be revived then is to live in the abundance of God’s love for us, and so we are to cry out to God, “Revive us.”
And then finally we are to speak these words to spare, restore, draw, .and revive in the name of Jesus.
The Name of Jesus
What’s sad is that we repeat these words without thinking about what we are saying and why we are saying it. It’s become something we’re supposed to say at the end of our prayers.
Jesus is actually the one who told us to pray and to make these request of the Father in His name, because He will intercede and bring it about so that our joy will be made full.
Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:14)
“Until now you asked nothing in my name, ask, and you shall receive so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:24)
Why is this needed? It’s because we come to God, not based upon our own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart … He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3-5)
The Apostle Paul said that His desire was to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ, which is through faith (Philippians 3:9; Romans 3:22).
Since we are not righteous, as the Bible says that there is no one who is righteous (Romans 3:10), we come into the presence of God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is because of His righteousness that we can boldly bring our requests before God’s throne of grace to receive His mercy in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
This is why we pray in Jesus’s name.
I believe that these are four words that we need to pray, and more specifically the meanings behind these words. And my prayer is that through these words we’ll see God move in a mighty way in our lives and in His church, bringing restoration and revival.
And so we pray Spare and Restore, Draw and Revive, and this we are to ask our Heavenly Father in Jesus’s mighty name.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study