By Jeff Ziegler
Published March 1, 1996
The Relationship of Prayer and God’s Law in Reformation
“There is a communion of men with God by which, having entered the heavenly sanctuary, appeal to him in person concerning his promises in order to experience, where necessity so demands, that what they believed was not in vain, although he had promised it in word alone.”
– John Calvin
It is interesting to note all of the various prayer movements which are springing up around the country. Most of these seem intent on seeing great spiritual awakening. Truly, I encourage such praying for our national sin is great indeed and corporate prayer, especially covenantally based prayer, is one of the great means in achieving a great Christian Renaissance. However, I do have concern that many of these movements have little understanding of the theological and historic underpinning of genuine awakening which brings societal reform.
While prayer is of paramount importance in arresting national moral atrophy, it is equally important to note that there are concrete Biblical steps which must be concurrent with such praying or which follow quickly on the heels thereof. The mighty revival and reformation during Israel’s captivity led by Ezra and Nehemiah, certainly had its genesis in prayer (Ezra 9:5-15; Nehemiah 1:4-11). However, the central theme of their reformation was not prayer in and of itself but, instead the answer which their prayers secured. That central blessing and purpose was the restoration of the Law of God in Israel as depicted in Ezra 7:10; 10:3; and Nehemiah 8:1-9; 9:1-3; 10:29. This restoration of the Law of God and the subsequent return to orthodoxy and fidelity which it wrought, was the chief reason for the sweeping re-ordering of Israel’s apostate society which now regained God’s favor.
The standard for a reformed society has always been and will always be the Law of God. Unfortunately, so many in the “revival prayer movement” see no need of restoring the orthodox and Protestant doctrinal foundations which are the bedrock for any lasting reformation. In fact, they shun any such standard and instead grasp at politically correct straws such as cultural and racial reconciliation, (whatever that means), and lowest common denominator unity which is said to be necessary as a testimony to the world.
However, if such unity has no orthodox creedal basis, if such a proposed unity refuses to confront evil,(without Scriptural standards evil cannot be defined let alone confronted), and if such unity harbors heresy on primary issues, then what standard is being raised as a “testimony” to the world in the first place?
The American “First Great Awakening” is often lauded as the epitome of revival. Much emphasis is given to the vast numbers of people who were swept into the Kingdom and the effect this had on society at large. Unfortunately, very little attention is given to the fact that the great leaders of the day Jonathan Edwards, Gilbert Tennant, John Rowland and English firebrand George Whitefield were in fact Calvinistic, covenantal in their approach to Scripture, theocratic if not outright theonomic in ethics and to a man, were postmillennial in outlook. Indeed, their theology formed their worldview, which in turn impacted the content and methodology of their pulpiteering. Thus, it was reformation preaching which brought the sweeping revival.
So, as important as prayer is to revival and reformation such prayer cannot be divorced from doctrine or anarchy will be the result.
That is precisely why The Puritan Storm is dedicated to the restoration of the fallen altars of our Puritan heritage for reformation cannot be had without Reformed doctrine!
Thus we by God’s grace must highly resolve to support corporate covenantally based prayer for revival (a return to orthodoxy), reformation (according to God’s Law) and reconstruction (coextensive with all of society). Yet at the same time we must engage antinomian (lawless) pietistic and mystical defeatists within the Church and overcome them. As they are displaced, we must doggedly continue to disciple pastors, train students, reform local churches, and mobilize such churches to act in enforcing the Crown Rights of Jesus Christ over all of society. In this way we will be in line with ministry of Ezra and Nehemiah.
So, let us hasten to action stations by mobilizing for prayer according to the covenantal standards of God’s Word. May we not equivocate, excuse or retreat until the Kingdom and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven and earth are given to the saints of the most high God. May God grant that every form of indolence and ignorance be driven from the Church, and that she in turn would drive iniquity from our land. For God has not given this task of dominion to any other institution but the Church. To speak of reforming the culture without reforming the arrogantly ignorant and impotent American Church is sheer folly!
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