America needs revival. We need people to be changed from the inside out so that neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties and society can be changed.

What kind of change? Change that reflects the person and character of Jesus Christ. I am not talking about legislating this change; that is impossible. I am talking about the gospel transforming people to Christlikeness.

First, that happens through a confession of sin. We need to admit that our sin is real, destructive, and pervasive. We need to call it what God calls it and ask for His help to turn from it, from big sins to so-called “little” sins.

But then what comes? Communion with God. What does that look like? This week I will talk about prayer, and next week about meeting God in the Word.

Prayer is a vital part of the Christian life. Revival cannot happen without prayer.

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In September 1857, a Christian businessman in New York City started a prayer meeting over lunch break. No preaching, no singing; just prayer. A small group swelled to 6,000, and soon cities across the nation were reporting the same. People were being converted: 50,000 New Yorkers were saved by the following May.

This revival spread across the country, to Canada, Wales, and Korea. The same is true for many other great movements of God. Google “Haystack Prayer Meeting.”

What is prayer? Prayer is more than a mantra. Saying empty words is not prayer (Matthew 6:7). Neither is “just talking with God.” Prayer is deep communication with the Creator.

What are principles of answered prayer? First, we need to get the mind and will of God. 1 John 5:14 says that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. So many times, we aren’t asking God for what He wants to give us; we ask for things we want that He may not want. God is too good to give us things we don’t need.

Second, we need to pray in faith. Once we know God’s will, we need to believe that God will bring what He has promised. Matthew 21:22 says, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Third, we need to persevere in prayer. Luke 18:1 tells us that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint (quit).” When we pray out of desperation, that can be a good thing. But if we only pray when we feel that desperation, we will stop before God has answered us. If God has burdened you to pray, you ought to keep praying until you obtain what you need from Him.

If America will see revival, we need to pray in this way, and not the pithy ways we are used to praying. If we spend protracted time in asking God to move among us, it would change us and our community.

History and Scripture tell us that revival starts when God’s people pray.

Pastor Joshua Hawn serves at First Baptist Church in Park Rapids.