Summary: People want blessings. They want renewal. But they are not often so willing to obey and to praise God who gives it to them. That’s why, sometimes, meetings that tell you how to be renewed and be filled in the Holy Spirit are packed to the doors ...
Opening illustration: I expect that if I were to ask you, ‘Why do you come to ‘The Well’ every week?’, many of you would answer, “I come to worship God and be fed with His Word … I want to hear the good news and grow in fellowship with other folks in the body of Christ.” ‘Well some might even say, I come for refreshment, I come for renewal, I come to try and get my life together again because I wanted God to renew and restore and refresh my life.’ That same desire for life is a very prominent longing of this psalmist. In fact, it was the first thing that struck me when I was reading this psalm again and again, deciding how to divide it for today’s Bible Reading. I discovered that at least fourteen times he prays this prayer: ‘Renew … restore … preserve my life … give me life … let me live’, or similar expressions.
Just as the Psalmist, this should motivate us to pursue personal revival before we can go corporate. Therefore let us turn to Psalm 119 in God’s Word and delve into the passage for this morning.
Introduction: In fact, all those English phrases are translations trying to capture one single Hebrew word that the English language translates in different ways. It is hayah, which means ‘to make alive, to cause to live’. ‘The psalmist uses the emphatic, causative form of the verb: ‘to live, to have life’. He prays again and again, ‘Lord, make me live, get me life, let me live’.
How to desperately pursue God for personal revival?
1. Revive me according to Your Justice (v. 149-153)
Notice this prayer for revival is “according to Your Justice,” a synonym for biblical truth, especially its judgments. This word has been explained as emphasizing God’s ‘binding judicial decisions that establish a precedent and binding law … in effect, “God, I want you to hear me based upon your truth, your decisions, your will.” [He] does not “Give me what I want …” rather give me what meets your will … our will conforms to God’s will. There is the serious error today about prayer that says we can ask anything regardless of God’s will [and Word]. There are even those who say we can “demand things from God” and that there are things God “must” do. Today’s “healing movement,” for example, says we can demand good health when we are Spirit filled. The “prosperity movement” says we can demand financial prosperity when we are good stewards of our money and ask God for more [like a genie?!]. Others just say that God will give us anything we want and even define prayer as “asking and receiving.” How shameless all that is! In such schemes, God is lowered to the position of a butler who comes to serve us when we ring the bell. God has now become the servant instead of us.’ That is irreverent blasphemy, friends!
Biblical prayer is not twisting God’s arm to get what we want, prayer is the turning of our will to submit to what GOD wants and will do. Twice in this verse he says “according to,” and he doesn’t say “according to my character or my desires,” but according to God’s; a prayer not based on his own merit, but on God’s mercy.
Prayer is not a means for man to get his will done in heaven as man wants it on earth, for the sake of man’s comfort and kingdom. Jesus taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Even Jesus prayed in the garden, “not my will, but Thine” -- how arrogant if that’s not how we mortals pray? Praying biblically is so important because it is only in God’s Word that we can know God’s will, and it is prayer in accord with God’s will that God answers and always answers in His perfect will.
1 John 5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked.”
John 15:7 (NASB) “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Balancing the Word and prayer is crucial also because all Bible and little or no prayer can result in light without heat, but all prayer and little to no Bible could result in zeal without knowledge. Both extremes are seen in modern churches and individual Christians. The early church in Acts, however, did not have such a dichotomy.
Acts 2:42 “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”