Jonathan Edwards on Prayer
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit… John 7.38, 39
An Humble Attempt
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
“The Scripture gives us great reason to think, that when once there comes to appear much of a spirit of prayer in the church of God for this mercy, then it will soon be accomplished…Spiritual waters and rivers are explained by the apostle John, to be the Holy Spirit…It is now a time of scarcity of these spiritual waters; there are, as it were, none. If God’s people, in this time of great drought, were but made sensitive of this calamity, and their own emptiness and necessity, and brought earnestly to thirst and cry for needed supplies, God would, doubtless, soon fulfill this blessed promise.”
First we have to recognize our need. If evidence of the living waters of God’s Spirit was scarce in Edwards’ day, what shall we say of our own? For all the Christian movement’s outward “success,” we’re not making many real disciples, not filling our world with the fragrance of Jesus, and not turning the world upside down for the glory of God. Whatever we’re doing with the time and resources God provides, it’s not having the kind of effects we see in the New Testament, or which were present in other periods of revival. Surely we can admit this? Only when we do will we seek from the Lord that which we lack. But it seems that many believers – dare we say, most? – consider that their Christian life is “good enough.” They like their church, they have many Christian friends, and their life as a whole is pleasant enough. Why would they want to seek for more of the Spirit of God? But if we can rouse ourselves to consider the greater boon and glory that attends His constant filling and transforming work in our lives, our complacency may give way to a new vision, and more earnest and fervent prayer for the Spirit may ensue.
What is your own sense of what the Spirit of God wants, and is able (exceedingly abundantly able, Eph. 3.20), to do in your life? Do you need to have your vision enlarged?
Learn to Pray for Revival – and Pray!
An Humble Attempt
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.All quotations are from Jonathan Edwards, An Humble Attempt, &c. in Edward Hickman, ed. The Works of Jonathan Edwards(Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1834, 1995), Vol. Two, pp. 278ff.