What are the things God requires His people to do? First of all, “My people shall humble themselves.” That is a hard thing for religious people to do. I do not say this in jest; I mean it sincerely. You hear some people say, “God, make me humble.” God never said that. God said, “Humble yourself.” God will not humble you. God can humiliate you, and He may have to, but the only person who can humble you is you, yourself. Humility must come by an inward act of your will. It cannot come in any other way. If you do not choose to humble yourself, you can be humiliated in the dust but still be as proud as a peacock. The command to “humble yourself” is seen both in the Old Testament and New.
The first condition is to humble yourself and submit yourself to God. If we are submitted to God, we will also be submitted to His Word and His authority. It is easy to say that you submit yourself to God, but God’s Word says: Submit yourselves one to another. . . . Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands. . . . Children, obey your parents (Ephesians 5:21-22; 6:1). That is where it is not so easy. Many people claim, “I am submitted to God,” but when the test comes in their relationship to other people, it is obvious that they are not.
If you are to humble yourself, you must be the doer. It is not a bad thing every now and then to get right on your face on the floor before God. Have you ever done that? Say, “God, here I am and here is where I belong! I am a worm. I came from the dust and the dust is my place.” Do you think that is fanaticism? Read through the Bible and see the number of men who were on their faces before God: Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel. There is hardly even one of the great, outstanding saints of God of whom it is not recorded that they were flat on their faces before God. If it was a good place for Moses, David, Daniel and others, I do not think it should be beneath your dignity or mine.
“If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves.” This is the first step, and you cannot leave it out. God has His spiritual program arranged in grades: grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4. Until you pass in grade 1, you cannot get to grade 2. It does not matter if you have to repeat grade 1 ten years in a row, God will not promote you. That is why some people have been stuck so long in the same grade. Do not think, “Lord, I didn’t make it through grade 1, but I will make it in grade 2. Let me pass this one and I’ll make the next.” No, it will not work!
The second step is prayer. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray.” Do not start to pray until you humble yourself. Humility comes before prayer.
The third step is to seek God’s face. God said, “Pray and seek My face.” What does that mean? I understand it means to get directly into the presence of Almighty God—where every barrier and every hindrance is removed. In the Spirit of the Lord, you are face-to-face with Almighty God. You may have a prayer meeting, but that is not necessarily seeking God’s face. To seek God’s face, you are seeking Him in worship, not to receive provision from His hand, but to rest in His presence.
A young man came to me seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was a youth worker in a church. I told him I could see him on Wednesday evening. He said he had to attend a prayer meeting that evening. I said, “I suppose that would be no good.” “Oh, no,” he said, “that would be OK. We pray from 8 to 9 o’clock.” That is a prayer meeting, but it is not seeking God’s face. When you seek God’s face, you do not stop until you get into God’s presence—even if it takes all night. There is a lot of praying that is not seeking God’s face. It stops short of contact with God.
The fourth step is to “turn from [our] wicked ways.” Who? The alcoholic, the young people that won’t go to church? No, the Christians—God’s covenant people of today! The hindrance to revival is inside the Church, not outside. It never has been outside.
Do you know where judgment begins? At the house of God. “For the time has come,” Peter says, “for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). To make it doubly clear, he adds, “It begins with us first.” Then he asks, “What will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” God has always operated this way. He begins with the people who know the most. “To whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). You say, “Brother Prince, I don’t have any wicked ways.” I reply, “Perhaps you never got close enough to God to see. If you had gotten into God’s presence, you would have seen your wicked ways. The very fact you say you have no wicked ways just shows how far you are from God.”
After these four steps, God says, “I will hear from heaven.” God has not committed Himself to hear every prayer. Did you know that? I am convinced that in many churches prayers go no higher than the ceiling…. In fact, God says, “If we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:15). The difficulty is not getting God to answer, but getting God to hear.
“Then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin.” Whose sin? The sin of the prostitute or the drug addict? No, the sins of the Church!
“And heal their land.” To me the issue is clear. If a land is not healed, the fault is with the people of God. I have considered this, prayed over it, and meditated on it. The responsibility for the condition of modern America lies at the door of the professing church. I believe that this is exactly the truth. If our land is not healed, the responsibility rests with us. I share the responsibility with you. I am not telling you something that is true about you but not about me.
For Personal Prayer:
- Each of the four conditions God gives as precursors to revival deserves its own devotional study, but that is beyond the scope of our purpose. If you have read this far, you are interested in revival and willing to make personal application. What is your reaction to the author’s insistence that we “humble ourselves”? Some say, “But I pray against pride every day.” Ask God to help you understand the difference and to humble yourself.
- None of us wants to think we have “wicked ways” in our life. Such things are often subtle to present-day believers. With God’s Old Testament people, it was idolatry, and its primary manifestation was intermarriage between the sons and daughters of Israel and those of the pagan nations with false gods and heinous practices. This idolatry incited God’s righteous anger, bringing judgment and captivity. God still demands, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
- Idolatry is also “front and center” in the New Testament and listed as a sin from which we are exhorted to flee. It is specifically mentioned in the often-shocking list of “the works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-20. Are we willing to face the truth that we ourselves, as committed intercessors, are still able and willing to erect idols? But what about the same issue in today’s Christian settings? Could we modern-day Christians be harboring idolatry? Ask God to speak to you about idolatry in your life.
- A second form of modern idolatry has to do with our motives. Why exactly do we want righteous government? Is it for God’s glory or our own convenience? It sounds holy to say, “I want my children and grandchildren to live peacefully and in freedom under good government,” but God doesn’t promise a world change just so my children can avoid suffering. We will take this thought further in our Day Four devotional entitled, “Healing Through Prayer.” The question is, have we made an idol out of our own concept of good government and what we want when we pray? Many of us have to confess that we have.
- Finally, ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and moral courage in applying these “four conditions” in your life and home. God is faithful, and He wants us to succeed in our pursuit of true holiness. He will reveal our hearts as we seek His face. The Holy Spirit tenderly convicts us when we miss the mark. Always remember, God loves you and is for you. He is patient and kind. Give Him your heart, and follow where He leads.
Derek Prince (1915-2003) was an internationally known Bible teacher and a “founding father” of IFA. Born in India of British parents, he became an American citizen primarily due to his unwavering belief that our biblical heritage made America the strongest hope to ignite a revival for the restoration of godly government and a restoration of biblical standards before the return of Jesus Christ, Lord of the Church. His best known book among intercessors (Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting) portrayed his belief in prayer and fasting to receive God’s highest blessings, both for individuals and for our nation. Praying for the Government was originally published in New Wine magazine in the 1970s. It is available from IFA as a booklet, and is the basis for these devotionals. In general, we present the author’s own words; however, some editorial adjustments are made for space and clarity.