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Revival Lesson 5 - Hab. 3.1-2

REVIVAL LESSON 5 - Habakkuk 3:1-2 - A Prayer for Revival

INTRODUCTION:  Last week in Psalm 85, we heard an account about the Jewish exiles who returned to a devastated Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity that can be analogized to the situation  present-day Christians and churches find themselves in today.  Let me make three observations about this analogy:  (1) Like these exiles, we need to be mindful and grateful for our nation's Christian-centered past, but we need to accept that this "golden age" is past-tense, and get over it!  (2) Like these exiles remembered, we present day Christians need to have faith that (a) God is not angry with us, (b) God is still the source of revival, and (c) God can and will revive us-that's our present, what we're facing today.  With this truth in mind, we need to humble ourselves before God in prayer with sincere confession and honest repentance of our sins and ask Him to use His Spirit to revive us again.  With faith and hope, we must pray, pray, and pray more.  (3) And finally, like these exiles, we need to be confident in the expectation that God hears ours prayers and will-according to His timing and divine purposes-bring revival. 

            Today, in Hab. 3:1-2, we're going to look at how we should pray for revival.  Habakkuk is thought to have been a pre-exilic prophet who resided in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, which was comprised the tribes of Judah (or David) and Benjamin.  The best estimate we have on the actual timing of Habakkuk's writings appears in Chapter 1, verse 6, where he says:  "For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs."  The "Chaldeans," another name for the Babylonians, defeated both the Assyrians and the Egyptians between 605 and 612 B.C., thereby becoming the dominant political and military power in the region, and further, we know that, under king Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonians attacked and sacked the city of Jerusalem in 597 B.C.  Based on this, Habakkuk must have been raised as a prophet sometime after the death of the good king Josiah (d. 610 B.C.) and prior to the sack of Jerusalem, which places him within the 13-year timeframe between 610 and 597 B.C.  His prophecy was directed at Judah after Israel-the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom-had been defeated and subjugated by Assyria and had long since ceased to be an autonomous nation.


Read Hab. 3:1-2 - HABAKKUK'S APPEAL TO THE LORD FOR REVIVAL (2 Translations)      

1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.  O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear.  In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.  (ESV)

1 This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:  2  I have heard all about you, LORD.

I am filled with awe by your amazing works.  In this time of our deep need, help us

again as you did in years gone by.  And in your anger, remember your mercy.  (NLT)


v. 1: "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth" - The musical notation, "Shigionoth" indicates that Habakkuk's prayer was designed as a song that was intended to be sung to a musical accompaniment. From all the well-known hymns that we're familiar with, all of us know that it's easier to memorize words that are set to music, and that's Habakkuk's intention in this case.    

v. 2: "O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.  

  • The first word of thid verse, "O," attaches a sense of strong emotion to the words that follow it, so that we see Habakkuk begin his prayer with deeply-felt reverence toward the recipient-God. This forceful mindset forms a model for us in the way we should approach God today. Because of the moral and spiritual decline we have seen in our nation over the last century, it's not surprising that many Christians feel defeated and powerless, and it's reflected in the way they pray-often formulaic and without strong feelings.  But like Habakkuk, our prayers should reflect the power and the majesty of the intended recipient-the one true God who created everything!  He hasn't changed, not one bit.
  • The word, "LORD," in v. 2, repeated twice, declares and affirms that God, and Him only, is the source of revival. As Habakkuk rightly demonstrates here, revival comes from heaven and cannot work upward but must be prayed downward. Revival is never man's doing but God's Spirit working through His people.  The fact that contemporary Christians often place great emphasis on upward things like organization, advertising, and publicity shows that we don't see the truth about revival:  Only God can bring revival
  • The phrase, "I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear," in v. 2 , shows us how revival begins: It happens when a Christian believer gets himself or herself alone in God's all-knowing, all-powerful presence-that is, meets God face-to-face-he or she experiences "fear" (which literally translates to feelings of deeply-felt awe and amazement). Too often, we Christians rush into God's presence and do all the talking, but it is when we truly lower and humble ourselves before the one Almighty God, confess our own sins and the sins of our people, and admit our helplessness, that revival can begin, and that revival can begin with one person.  One person can open a door through which God will enter and use His quickening power to revive His church!  "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him..." Rev. 3:20.  Are you prepared to do this?  When?  What are you waiting for?  The time is NOW!       
  • The phrase, "In the midst of the years revive it;" in v. 2, Habakkuk is pleading with God to revive His "work" as discussed in the preceding paragraph. Notice that Habakkuk didn't ask God to deal with the heathen Babylonians and save them but ask Him to revive the "work" that would put His people in a right relationship with Him. Many Christians confuse revival with the work of evangelism.  Revival can bring about evangelism; however, evangelism by definition doesn't include revival.   Evangelism, by contrast, often includes the upward (i.e., human) efforts cited above, such as organization, advertising, and publicity, all of which good and proper.  But revival comes apart from these human endeavors and always begins in the hearts and lives of God's people in the church. 
  • The phrase, "make it known," in v. 2, reveals the effects of revival. What God "makes known" to His people is (1) His majesty, His glory, and His holiness (Isa. 6:1-8); (2) He "makes known" our own sin, our weakness, and our failure (Lam. 3:40-42; Mt. 5:23-24); and (3) He "makes known" the power of His Holy Spirit (Acts 5:11-12). When revival comes, God reveals Himself, for revival is the revelation of the LORD Himself-and the widespread result is a tremendous consciousness of God's presence.  When these things happen, we will know-without doubt-that revival has come.  
  • The phrase, "in wrath remember mercy," in v. 2, suggests the true motive for praying for revival. God had been chastening His own people, but Habakkuk prayed that He would reveal His mercy to show the other side of His nature: God hates and punishes sin but loves the sinner.  Is that our prayer, too-for God to show us His mercy?  If we ask, will He will give us better than we deserve?


I hope, as a Christian and a member of this church, than many of us plan to pray for revival.

But what, specifically, do we mean by the phrase "pray for revival"?

From what we've heard Bro. JR preach and learned so far about revival, we know that we can't simply "organize a revival" but must understand that true revival is the work of God-which tells us that we must pray it "downward."  Amen? 

If you will bear with me for a few minutes, I have prepared a list of 10 suggested prayer requests for genuine revival that I believe capture the spirit what we studied last week in Ps. 85:6:  "Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?"  Here they are: 

  1. That God would search my heart and reveal anything in my life that is not right with Him.
  2. That God would break any stubbornness and hardness of my heart.
  3. That God would show me any relationships that need to be restored.
  4. That God would help me to have a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that I have never experienced.
  5. That God would grant me a deep conviction of sin, repentance, and a renewed fear of God.
  6. That God would give me a spiritual hunger and fervency that I have never known.
  7. That God would bring loving unity and deep harmony in my church and my family.
  8. That God would fill my heart with a passion to see people saved.
  9. That God would call many from among our church to missions and Christian service.
  10. That God would take what He does in our church family and use us to the furtherance of the gospel in this community, this state, this nation, and this world.

I have prepared copies of these ten prayer requests, along with the Biblical quotations that support them, for you to use as a guide to praying for revival.  As each of us pray daily, we need to understand that revival is entirely a work of God that we must pray down.  God wants to bring revival to His people-us-and we must seek Him face-to-face, acknowledging that He is the Almighty Creator and we-as His people-are powerless without His help.  And we need His help in a mighty way.  Amen?

PRAYER:  Lord God in heaven, Creator and Maker of all things seen and unseen, I come before Your mighty throne this morning to ask for the help that only you can give.  Father, every one of us are sinners who have fallen short of Your glory, so we ask for your mercy and forgiveness.  We confess that we are totally helpless to achieve revival through our own efforts.  Lord, I pray that every person watching today would join me in seeking Your face, humbling ourselves before you, and asking you to spiritually revive each one of us through the power of Your Spirit.  I pray, Dear God, that we will begin to see Your presence and movement in our church through the empowerment of our people. Please, Lord, do a mighty work through us.  In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, AMEN.