Sun. a.m. AGCC 2/8/98



TEXT: II Chron. 29:1-11


King Hezekiah recognized early on that moving Judah into revival would require a return to prayer! It is nearly impossible for an individual or a Church to experience real revival that does not restore it's prayer life! We talk about prayer, we teach on it, we have seminars about it....but what we don't do is pray! This is even evident in our country...we send mixed messages about the importance of prayer, consider the following truth: ILLUS: The U.S. Senate pays $116,000, and the U.S. House of Representatives pays $123,000 annually to their respective chaplains, whose chief official duty is to open legislative sessions with prayer. We think there are thousands of teachers, and students too, who would love to open class sessions with prayer without any pay for it at all. You figure it out. -- Pulpit Helps, March 1996, p. 22. Like many of our Churches and many of our own lives, we all think prayer is important, but we do not practice it! We cannot just attach importance to prayer, we must also practice it! PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that prayer is the very foundation of God's power in our lives or the Church. His house will be called a house of PRAYER!


A. Priority! 29:1-3 1. The very first move by Hezekiah once his wicked father had died and they no longer had a co-regency was to put a priority on getting Judah back to God! a. note that it was "in the first month of the first year of his reign" that Hezekiah opened up the doors of God's temple again! b. Hezekiah understood that revival couldn't happen without making the relationship to God a top priority! c. Judah needed to come into God's presence again if they were to experience revival and God's restoration. 2. No doubt for some this seemed like a turn backwards, by now they were sophisticated as a nation and had opened the door for new ideas ... but to Hezekiah this was not sophisticated, this was sinful! a. Too many people today think of praying as "old fashioned" ... they are too mature for this childish concept! b. Too many see praying as a quaint part of our history...but it is very much our future! ILLUS: A farmer was paid a visit by one of his city relatives. Before dinner the farmer bowed his head and said grace. His sophisticated relative jeered, "This is old-fashioned; nobody with an education prays at the table anymore." The farmer admitted that the practice was old and even allowed that there were some on his farm who did not pray before their meals. Justified, the relative remarked, "So enlightenment is finally reaching the farm. Who are these wise ones?" The farmer replied, "My pigs." --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 423. 3. Hezekiah understood how important it was to restore prayer to the nation, and he realized this would require the leaders showing the way! a. So he not only opens the doors to the temple ... b. He also gathers up the Priests and Levites to consecrate again their lives back to spiritual service and to setting an example of prayer before the people. 4. Proper priorities are being set by Hezekiah..this is a pathway to revival! B. Purity! 29:4-9 1. Hezekiah wants the priests and Levites to not just pray out of command, but out of a cleansed heart! a. So he instructs them to deal with the previous unfaithfulness by confession. b. He wants them to really get serious about their service, this would require getting serious about past mistakes. 2. Unless there was a sense of desperation, they would not learn to pray! 3. If we feel no desperation for the times we live in, we will feel no need to pray either! ILLUS: One day a boy was watching a holy man praying on the banks of a river in India. When the holy man completed his prayer the boy went over and asked him, "Will you teach me to pray?" The holy man studied the boy's face carefully. Then he gripped the boy's head in his hands and plunged it forcefully into the water! The boy struggled frantically, trying to free himself in order to breathe. Finally, the holy man released his hold. When the boy was able to get his breath, he gasped, "What did you do that for?" The holy man said, "I just gave you your first lesson." "What do you mean?" asked the astonished boy. "Well," said the holy man, "when you long to pray as much as you longed to breathe when your head was underwater--only then will I be able to teach you to pray." Mark Link, Breakaway --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 422. 4. Hezekiah needed them to understand how serious the issues were, a. There was a direct connection between prayer and responsibility. b. While Hezekiah calls them back to service, he also calls them to deal with the unfaithfulness of the past. c. Prayer must be combined with responsible action to have power! ILLUS: I have a friend who took his little six-year-old boy fishing with him one day. They put out the line and then went up to the cabin. After an hour, they went back down to the river to see if they had caught anything. Sure enough, there were several fish on the line. The boy said, "I knew there would be, Daddy." The father asked, "How did you know?" He replied, "Because I prayed about it." So they baited the hooks again and put out the line and went back to the cabin for supper. Afterward, they went back to the river; again, there were fish on the line. The boy said, "I knew it." The father said, "How?" "I prayed again." So they put the line back into the river and went to the cabin. Before bedtime, they went down again. This time there were no fish. The child said, "I knew there wouldn't be," and the father asked, "How did you know?" The boy said, "Because I didn't pray this time." The father asked, "And why didn't you pray?" And the boy said, "Because I remembered that we forgot to bait the hooks." Robert Goodrich, What's It All About --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 420. 5. Hezekiah explains that the reason Judah is in the present mess they are in has to do with the past neglect of prayer and faithfulness to God's Word. a. Hezekiah links the spiritual condition of the present to the past behavior. b. This is still true today! 6. Hezekiah wants them to understand the important connection between prayers being answered and holy living. a. Note that he makes this careful connection before introducing a new covenant for prayer and ministry! b. This is consistent with the Chronicler's other passage that states: "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chr 7:14 c. Prayer must be joined by humble repentance and a turning from sin! II. EXPECTATION OF PRAYER 29:10-11 A. Promise! 29:10 1. Hezekiah now sets the example for the priests, Levites and Judah by offering to start anew with ministry and prayer. a. Hezekiah wants the ministers in place again b. And he wants them burning incense! (the altar of Incense was the symbol of prayer, it was the prayers of God's people rising up to God.) 2. It was not just important that they knew what God had to say to them, it was also important that they have something to say to God! ILLUS: I'd rather be able to pray than be a great preacher; Jesus Christ never taught his disciples how to preach, but only how to pray. D. L. Moody --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 417. 3. Hezekiah sees this covenant to minister and pray as a path to revival. 4. We can never have revival in our lives or the Church...or the nation if it doesn't involve prayer! B. Prepared! 29:11 1. Hezekiah calls the priests and Levites to begin ministry again...with prayer! 2. It is obvious Hezekiah believed in the power of prayer, do we? ILLUS: Dr. Thomas M. Carter, an ex-convict, tells a thrilling story of his mother who constantly followed him with her prayers. On one occasion while he was in prison, she received a telegram stating that he was dead and asking what she wanted done with his body. Stunned by the news, she opened her Bible and laid the message beside it. "Oh, God," she said, "I have steadfastly believed that You are a rewarder of them who diligently seek You. I felt sure that I would live to see Tom saved and preaching the Gospel; and now this wire says he is dead. Lord, which is true, this telegram or Your promises to me?" When she rose from her knees, having won the victory, she sent this note to the prison: "You must be wrong. My boy is not dead!" And there had been a mistake -- Tom Carter was alive! He was later converted and lived to preach! - Bible Illustrator for Windows 3. Prayer allowed Judah to participate in God's power to transform the nation. a. The Altar of Incense stood just immediately before the presence of God demonstrated in the Ark of the Covenant. b. It was this altar that the prayers arose as a sweet smelling incense to the very nostrils of God...the prayers of His people. c. Here is where God's people made real contact with God. 4. Getting the priests to once again light the altar of Incense in the Holy place would restore the people's connection to God in prayer. 5. They needed to be prepared to speak to God, the proper cleansing of the Temple had to be done first, then a proper approach to God needed to be made, and finally the altar alive again with incense being offered up as the prayers of the people unto God. 6. A priest in right relationship with God could boldly come to God through prayer, a theme echoed in Hebrews for us. 7. Prayer allows our hearts to express itself and to connect to God's power, we can come boldly before Him! ILLUS: In 1540 Luther's good friend and assistant, Friedrich Myconius, became sick and was expected to die within a short time. From his bed he wrote a tender farewell letter to Luther. When Luther received the message, he immediately sent back a reply: "I command thee in the name of God to live because I still have need of thee in the work of reforming the church -- the Lord will never let me hear that thou art dead, but will permit thee to survive me. For this I am praying, this is my will, and may my will be done, because I seek only to glorify the name of God." Those words seem harsh and insensitive to modern ears, but God apparently honored the prayer. Although Myconius had already lost the ability to speak when Luther's reply came, he soon recovered. He lived six more years and died two months after Luther. - Bible Illustrator for Windows 8. Prayer has always been at the heart of every revival, and this will not change! a. If we want to see revival, we must prepare ourselves to enter into prayer! b. Prayer is a pathway to revival...are we on it? CONCLUSION: Revival comes from prayer and is sustained by prayer. It is impossible to enter God's presence without prayer! A revived Church IS a praying Church - are you ready for revival?