By Dave Butts
For many years now, the Lord has put the issue of revival praying upon my heart. Initially, I must admit, my prayers were fairly generic: “O Lord, please revive us.” As I have grown in my approach to prayer, I’ve learned more specific requests, especially in using the Word of God to help format and provide content for my prayers. Psalm 80 and Isaiah 63 and 64 have helped me to petition the Lord for revival with both variety and the power of Scripture behind my requests.
Recently I have been praying through the Psalms again. I began to lift before the Lord the words of Psalm 74. To my delight, I found another “revival” prayer. My desire is that this Psalm will provide fuel for the fire of intercession and petition in your life as you beseech God to once again bless us with His Presence in revival.
As you pray through Psalm 74, please notice that before major sections I share some comments to help you see the aspects of revival in each passage. I encourage you to move beyond Bible study however, to passionately praying the heart of the Psalmist.
The Awareness of the Need for Revival
At the beginning of Psalm 74 we find the agonizing realization that God’s presence is not near. In fact, because of sin, there has been a sense of rejection. As is typical in revival praying, there is a cry for God to remember His people and return to them:
“Why have You rejected us forever, O God? Why does Your anger smolder against the sheep of Your pasture? Remember the people You purchased of old, the tribe of Your inheritance, whom You redeemed – Mount Zion, where You dwelt. Turn Your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary” (Psa. 74:1-3).
The Result of God’s Apparent Absence
When sin is accepted in the life of the people of God, the consequences begin to be felt. The enemies of God and His people begin to afflict the nation. Notice that the Psalmist uses the phrase, “Your foes roared.” This reminds us that our ultimate enemy is Satan, the one whom Peter tells us roams about as a roaring lion seeking whom he might devour (1 Pet. 5:8).
“Your foes roared in the place where You met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved paneling with their axes and hatchets. They burned Your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of Your Name. They said in their hearts, ‘We will crush them completely!’ They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land. We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be” (Psa. 74:4-9).
Turning to an Awareness of the God to Whom We Are Praying
An important lesson to learn in prayer is that ultimately we need to be concerned about God and His reputation and the extension of His kingdom and purposes. Revival really isn’t about us having better meetings or being happy. It is about God’s Name being exalted and more praise and honor given to Him on this planet. Notice that the Psalmist asked God to go to work, because He is the one being reviled and mocked through the attacks on His people. Note also that this portion of the Psalm then moves into a wonderful expression of recognizing God’s power and ability to handle any attack. It is as we understand the awesome power of the One we are addressing in prayer, that our faith will grow and we will begin to pray in a way that moves the hand of God.
“How long will the enemy mock You, O God? Will the foe revile Your name forever? Why do You hold back Your hand, Your right hand? Take it from the folds of Your garment and destroy them!
“But You, O God, are my king from of old; You bring salvation upon the earth. It was You who split open the sea by Your power; You broke the heads of the monster in the waters. It was You who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert. It was You who opened up springs and streams; You dried up the ever flowing rivers. The day is Yours, and Yours also the night; You established the sun and moon. It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter” (Psa. 74:10-17).
The Request for Revival
Once again, this prayer is focused upon the honor of God and the integrity of His covenant with His people. The concern is for the Lord and how He is perceived by the nations. The cry for God to rise up and defend His cause will mean that Israel will once again walk in right relationship to their God. When He prospers them, they cry that God will be honored, not only by Israel, but by those nations in the area who see how He protects and prospers His people when they obey Him.
“Remember how the enemy has mocked You, O LORD, how foolish people have reviled Your name. Do not hand over the life of Your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of Your afflicted people forever. Have regard for Your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise Your name. Rise up, O God, and defend Your cause; remember how fools mock You all day long. Do not ignore the clamor of Your adversaries, the uproar of Your enemies, which rises continually” (Psa. 74:18-23).
Here is a prayer to pray that embraces the principles of revival in Psalm 74 and makes them our own:
Father, like ancient Israel, we too live in a day in which Your Name is mocked. Many times this happens because of the shortcomings and sins of those of us who are followers of Your holy Son, Jesus. Lord, we confess our sins and the way we have lived our lives as Christians apart from complete dependence upon You. We repent of this shameful self-sufficiency and throw ourselves upon Your mercy.
Gracious God, our lifestyle has often led unbelievers to insult and attack Your very nature and character. We ask You, Lord, to rise up and defend Yourself. Would You awaken Your people to the reality of Your presence in our midst and in so doing transform our lives into the character of Christ that You desire to see in us? May Your life lived out in Your Church begin to demonstrate to the world Your love, grace, mercy and overwhelming power on behalf of Your saints. Would You allow the kingdom principles that govern heaven to begin to be made manifest on earth? We ask You to revive Your people so that we may rejoice in You and demonstrate in our lives the awesome, transforming power of Jesus Christ in His Church. Amen.
–Dave Butts is the co-founder of Harvest Prayer Ministries. A popular speaker, Dave is the author or co-author of 8 books, including When God Shows Up, from which this article is taken. (C) Harvest Prayer Ministries.