We Should Groan Because Of Our Spiritual Condition
Those are in the best condition that, while they know they need reviving, yet feel their condition and groan under it. Habakkuk knew how to groan about his spiritual condition. "O Lord," he said, "revive Thy work…" (3:2). Alas, many of us lack revival, but few of us feel that we lack it. It is a blessed sign of life within when we know how to groan over our departures from the living God. It is easy to find hundreds who have departed, but you must count by ones those who know how to groan over their departures.
What have you been doing about your own spiritual declension? Christians will sometimes lose a sense of intimate fellowship with Jesus, but they will always groan and cry when they lose Him. The true believer, when he discovers that he needs revival, will not be happy. He will begin at once that incessant and continuous strain of cries and groans that will at last prevail with God and bring the blessing of revival down. He will, days and nights in succession, cry, "O Lord, revive Thy Work…!"
Let me mention some groaning times that will always occur to the Christian who needs revival:
1. A Christian will always groan when he looks upon what the Lord has done for him in the past. If he is what he should be, he will always weep when he remembers God’s loving-kindness of old.
When he hears a sermon that relates the glorious experience of the believer who is in a healthy state, he will put his hand upon his heart and say, "Such was my experience once, but those happy days are gone. Oh, that I might again behold Him! Oh, that I might once more see His face!" He will weep when he remembers how the Lord was precious to him, how He laid bare His heart and was pleased to fill his heart with the fullness of His love.
2. A Christian who lacks revival will groan during participation in religious exercises. He will go up to the house of God but he will say to himself, "Ah! How changed! When I once went with the congregations to keep the holy day, every word was precious. When the song ascended, my soul had wings. When the prayer was offered, I could devoutly say amen. Now the preacher preaches as he did before, but the sermon is dry and dull to me. I know the fault is in myself. The song is just the same, but my heart is heavy. My harp strings are broken and I cannot sing."
The Christian will return from those blessed means of grace sighing and sobbing because he knows he needs revival. Then the Christian will begin to groan again, "O Lord, revive Thy work!"
Those of you who know that you are in Christ but feel that you are not in a desirable condition because you do not love Him enough or have the faith in Him that you desire to have, I would ask you this: Do you groan over it? Can you groan now? When you feel your heart is empty, is it an aching void? When you feel that your garments are stained, can you wash those garments with tears? When you think your Lord is gone, can you hang out the black flag of sorrow and cry, "O my Jesus! O my Jesus! Are You gone?" If you can, then I bid you do it. Do it, and may God be pleased to give you grace to continue to do it until a happier era will dawn in the reviving of your soul.
Perhaps some of you will say, "Sir, I feel my need of revival. I intend to set to work this very moment to revive my soul." Do not say it and above all things, do not try to do it, for you never will. Make no resolutions as to what you will do. Your resolutions will be broken as certainly as they are made, and your broken resolutions will but increase the number of your sins.
I exhort you, instead of trying to revive yourself, turn your groaning into prayer. Say not, "I will revive myself," but cry, "O Lord, revive Thy work!" And let me solemnly tell you that you have not yet come to know how sad your estate really is if you would talk of reviving yourself. If you but knew your own condition, you would as soon expect to see the wounded soldier on the battlefield heal himself without medicine, or convey himself to the hospital when his limbs are shot away, as you would expect to revive yourself without the help of God.
I bid you not to do anything, nor seek to do anything, until first of all you have addressed Jehovah Himself by mighty prayer – until you have cried out, "O Lord, revive Thy work!" Remember, He that first made you must keep you alive, and He that has kept you alive must restore more life to you. He that has preserved you from going down to the pit when your feet have been sliding can alone set you again upon a rock and establish your goings.
Begin, then, by humbling yourself – giving up all hope of reviving yourself as a Christian, but beginning at once with firm prayer and earnest supplication to God: "O Lord, what I cannot, please do! ‘O Lord, revive Thy work!’"
Reprinted from "Pray!"