The fundamental problem in this world is sin. Sin both blinds our eyes and makes us lovers of darkness. It is a double curse, and when we look at the world, this problem is always front and center. Sinners are naturally prone to turn away from God towards fleeting pleasures. They turn to gods that will not help them. To be an evangeliser in this time seems like a daunting task. How will this blindness and love of darkness be corrected? It is clear that we need an awakening.
If you are familiar with Scripture, you should know that this awakening comes only by the power of God. It is God who opens the eyes of the blind and softens the hearts of the wicked. You should also know that God uses means to work out His purposes in the world. Those who come to Christ do so because others have proclaimed the gospel and discipled them in the faith. God works through His people to cause awakening. Therefore, we must rely on God to awaken sinners, all the while refusing to be lazy in the work of evangelism.
One of the most fundamental ways you can work toward this end is by praying. God uses the prayers of His people to work His will in the world.
Paul prays for the Ephesian church, "Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:18). By his prayers, he is acknowledging his inability to change hearts. By his prayers, he depends on God to work. This is how we must pray.
The second part of our work in awakening is the proclamation of the gospel. Without the gospel being proclaimed, people will not hear, nor will they believe on Christ (Rom. 10:14-17). We must be Truth-tellers in a world of itching ears. We cannot give in to the demands of the culture to lighten the load of our message. However, in order for our proclamation to be effective, we must begin with prayer. Awakening starts with prayer.
Practical Steps: Pray For Your Own Awakening
A simple step to take in the work of awakening is to pray for your own. We are not as advanced in our spiritual maturity as we think. We do not see as clearly as we ought. We have not reached the end of knowing God. We need a personal awakening. As time passes, it is far too easy to grow dull in the faith, enamored by things in this world. We need an awakening to see our lives in an eternal perspective.
If we are to be effective for the sake of Christ in the world, we must first become like Christ. Our minds must first be imbued with His humility (Phil. 2:5). Therefore, a great start is praying for humility.
Pray not only for yourself but for your family. It is most often the case that families are the hardest to reach, yet they are the people whom we know need it the most. In the youth group I lead, many of the youth pray for their relatives that do not believe in Christ. It all started because one of the youth had a pressing concern for her uncle's soul. Now, many family members are being prayed for. It is a simple prayer, but it is a powerful prayer.
Pray that you and your family would know the riches of Christ more deeply (Eph. 1:18), that your minds would be transformed by Christ (Rom. 12:2), that you would know Christ's love to a greater extent (Eph. 3:19), and that the Word of God would permeate your hearts (Ps. 119:11; Deut. 6:6).
Pray For the People Around You
Next to your family, the people you are around the most are your neighbors, coworkers, and church family. I suspect that most in your church family are believers, and so you would pray for them as you pray for yourself. As for neighbors and co-workers, these people are more than likely blinded by sin and lovers of darkness.
For your church, pray that the gospel would be central, God's Word the authority, and the faith contended for. We cannot be lights in the world if our candle wicks are not trimmed, the oil in our lamps left unreplenished, and the flame not relit. Pray that your church would seek to equip the saints to do the work of ministry both for one another and for a waiting world (Eph. 4:12).
Because you are a part of your church and your church is a part of your community, praying for your community and coworkers is included in the prayers for your church. Your community and work is impacted by your church. Pray for your church that they might all have confidence in God's Word and opportunity to proclaim it.
Pray For Your City and Nation
Although our nations and cities are made up mostly of nonbelievers in our time, we must pray in the hope that they will awaken to the truth of God. Indeed, the need to pray is all the more urgent.
Pray that the nation would turn from worshipping idols of every sort and turn to worship the true and living God. Pray that they would praise God, not curse Him. Pray that they would honor God, not despise Him. Pray that your city and nation would allow you to proclaim the gospel freely. Pray that they would let the church worship freely.
Pray For the Whole World
We are not only to pray for the things that pertain to our lives but to pray for those who live elsewhere. God's love is for those throughout the world, not just in your community. Praying for the world sets our eyes upon the grand picture of salvation. People of every tribe and nation will be gathered together in heaven, and so we are to pray for them as well. Pray that the nations of the world and their leaders will bless God, not curse Him. Pray that the nations of the world would fear God.
In praying for the church, we not only pray for our local congregations, but for brothers and sisters throughout the globe. There are likely churches in close proximity to unreached people groups. Pray that they might have the opportunity to reach the lost. There are many churches that are persecuted for the faith. Pray for peace and hope in Christ to rule their hearts. Pray for the missionaries all across the globe that they might have the freedom to proclaim the gospel to the nations.
R.C. Sproul, in one of his last letters, wrote, “I don’t know if God will bring an awakening in our lifetime, as He is free to act as He will. But I also know from church history that awakening has typically followed periods when God’s people dedicated themselves to prayer.”
Will you pray for a gospel awakening?
This article is based on Ligonier Ministries' guide to pray for awakening. Download a free copy here.