Summary: Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's church.
OH THAT YOU WOULD REND THE HEAVENS!
When we pray for the whole state of Christ’s church, as we must do given the Lord’s own example (John 17:9), we should encourage ourselves by recalling past mercies. In the context of this passage, Isaiah has been gradually building up through praise towards intercession. This is the nature of true prayer.
The prophet rejoices in the LORD for his own salvation (Isaiah 61:10), but he will not keep silent about Zion’s predicament (Isaiah 62:1). The intercessor’s prayer recalls the past kindnesses of the LORD (Isaiah 63:7), but appeals to God to look upon the plight of His people (Isaiah 63:15). Becoming ever bolder, the prayer warrior cries out for the LORD to rend the heavens and come down (Isaiah 64:1)!
The poet longs for the mountains to flow down at God’s presence (Isaiah 64:1), as when the nations encounter Him in the great natural events of history (Isaiah 64:2-3). This is not born out of malice, but out of a zeal that the name of the LORD may be made known (Isaiah 64:2). Our first motive in prayer is that God might be glorified.
Israel, of course, already knew the LORD. It was He who had delivered them out of Egypt. God made a name for Himself at the parting of the Red Sea, and by leading His people to their rest (Isaiah 63:12; Isaiah 63:4).
Throughout history, the LORD has continued to do awesome things for His people (Isaiah 64:3). Great is His faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23)! Let us never lose sight of His loving kindness towards us.
There is no doubt that Isaiah is praying to the right God. The gods of wood and of stone are incapable of answer, no matter how their worshippers bellow and prance, and lance themselves (1 Kings 18:25-29). Those who wait upon the LORD hear and see things which never cease to amaze them (Isaiah 64:4).
Perhaps we are in a waiting time just now. We are encouraged to hope, to long for the coming of the Lord, but we are not to be idle or lazy about it. We should be remembering God’s ways, living the joy, and working righteousness amongst men (Isaiah 64:5).
The prophet moves on next to confession: on his own behalf (Isaiah 6:5), and on behalf of those for whom he is praying (Isaiah 64:6). This is also an essential element in prayer. There is no use in our pleading with the Lord to manifest Himself amongst us if we still have sin issues (1 John 1:9-2:2).
Sometimes God seems to be hidden from us, to the point that we no longer bother to seek Him (Isaiah 64:7). Our Lord Jesus Christ knew an even greater desolation, and went through it on our behalf (Matthew 27:46): as a consequence we can boldly enter into the presence of God in His name (Hebrews 4:15-16). We need to pray through the silence (Isaiah 64:12).
Turning away from the negative side of our prayers, we profess a “but now” affirmation about the LORD (Isaiah 64:8). God is our Father, so we make our appeal on the basis of that relationship (Isaiah 63:16). He is also the potter, shaping us according to His own will: who could have known that that which men meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20)?
The praying man appeals for an end to the manifestation of God’s judgments in His people’s lives. Covenant people can expect God to respond to their repentance (Isaiah 64:9). Then they give Him their thanks, and tell forth His praises to generations yet unborn (Psalm 79:13).