Editor’s Introduction -- By: John H. Armstrong

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 01:3 (Summer 1992)
Article: Editor’s Introduction
Author: John H. Armstrong


Editor’s Introduction

John H. Armstrong

Our Great Need

No aspect of the church’s life and ministry more indicates the state of her health than prayer. And nothing so displays the great need for revival in our generation like our prayerlessness.

Our Lord taught His disciples that they “should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1). And our Lord used only two parables concerning prayer. Both of these, found in Luke 11:5–8 and Luke 18:1–8, stress the same basic truth—persistence in struggle, or what has been called importunity in prayer.

Surely no area of our Christian life causes us such honest heart-rending concern. And surely most pastors must confess that this is the weakest part of their private lives as well as the corporate lives of the churches they serve.

Why are we prayerless? Why will we do almost anything except pray? This issue of Reformation & Revival Journal is published to answer these and related questions.

As we all freely confess, prayer has a vital role in our lives. We cannot grow in His grace without praying. The church will not reach maturity without praying. Revival blessings will not fall upon us without praying. And reformation in truth can never accomplish what it should without prayer. Great reformers and great revival preachers were men and women of prayer. Why are we such pygmies in this area?

One central reason is confusion. The nature of true prayer is not understood in our time. We need a theology of prayer and an understanding of God that causes us to pray aright. We have understood prayer as a kind of Aladdin’s Lamp that we rub periodically in order to get what we think we need.

The great theologian Karl Barth referred to prayer as our “incurable God-sickness,” and so it is. It is God reaching out to man. It is God calling upon man to respond in obedience.

It leads to the realization of our true humanity through the experience of unmerited favor being poured out upon us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is an act of the human will, not a mere resting in stillness, mystically expecting our personalities to be absorbed somehow into God’s. Prayer is asking, asking in accord with God’s revealed truth in Scripture, and asking in the spirit of “not My will, but Thine be done.” This is why importunity is so important.

The earlier Liberalism of our century almost entirely ignored this, and much of modern Christianity has never recovered it. Here ...

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