Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States, a day when millions of Christians join together to pray for our country.
This stirring reflection from A.W. Tozer challenges Christians to consider whether their desires in prayer are sincere. It has been adapted from Born After Midnight (Wingspread, 1989).
Among revival-minded Christians, I have heard the saying, “Revivals are born after midnight.”
This is one of those proverbs which, while not quite literally true, yet points to something very true: revivals (or any other spiritual gifts and graces) come only to those who want them badly enough.
It may be said without qualification that every man is as holy and as full of the Spirit as he wants to be. He may not be as full as he wishes he were, but he is most certainly as full as he wants to be.
Our Lord placed this beyond dispute when He said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”1Hunger and thirst are physical sensations which, in their acute stages, may become real pain. It has been the experience of countless seekers after God that when their desires became a pain, they were suddenly and wonderfully filled. The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently to permit Him to do so. The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness.
Yet for all God’s goodwill toward us, He is unable to grant us our heart’s desires till all our desires have been reduced to one. When we have dealt with our carnal ambitions; when we have trodden upon the lion and adder of the flesh, have trampled the dragon of self-love under our feet and have truly reckoned ourselves to have died unto sin, then and only then can God raise us to newness of life and fill us with His blessed Holy Spirit.
It is easy to learn the doctrine of personal revival and victorious living; it is quite another thing to take our cross and plod on to the dark and bitter hill of self-renunciation. Here many are called and few are chosen. For everyone that actually crosses over into the Promised Land, there are many who stand for a while and look longingly across the river and then turn sadly back to the comparative safety of the sandy wastes of the old life.
No, there is no merit in late-hour prayers, but it requires a serious mind and a determined heart to pray past the ordinary into the unusual. Most Christians never do. And it is more than possible that the rare soul who presses on into the unusual experience reaches there after midnight.2
- Matthew 5:6
- A.W. Tozer, Born After Midnight (WingSpread, 1989. Originally printed 1959, repr. by Moody Publishers, 2015).