Commentary: 'We must begin to seek God’s face with fervent prayer'


The theme for this year's National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2, will be “Lift Up the Word –Light Up the World.” The National Day of Prayer was established in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988 the law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, designating the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.

Today we live in a nation that truly stands in need of prayer and many believers are desperate for another great Spiritual Awakening. In the United States, we face growing social, cultural, economic and religious challenges.

I believe America is already experiencing God’s judgment, but despite all the disturbing issues we face daily, I believe that a spiritual awakening is possible. A preacher must be a realist, but also an optimist. He must see it like it is and tell it like it is, but forever hold out a message of hope. So, yes, I believe another spiritual awakening is possible, but only if we meet the conditions.

Through the years II Chronicles 7:14 has served as the prescription for revival for the church. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

This verse puts the burden for revival upon those who are called by God’s name – the saints of God, Christians, the redeemed. Humility is the first quality required for those who seek forgiveness and long for our land to be healed. The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). And “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5: 5b).

Repentance is also a requisite for revival. Those who wish to see a spiritual awakening must “turn from their wicked ways.” The late Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries said, “For the believer repentance is a realignment with God’s heart by relinquishing one’s own way through a penitent heart.”

In Acts 3:19 the Apostle Peter said, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

I intentionally skipped over the second requirement for a spiritual awakening, because for years I quoted the verse without noticing what was expressly stated. II Chronicles 7:14 clearly explains that the other indispensable requirement for revival is to pray and “seek God’s face.”

I wonder how often we get to that level of prayer. To me there are three levels of prayer: Petition, Intercession and Communion.

First, petition is the lowest level of prayer because it is when we ask God to meet our own personal needs. It is certainly a legitimate level of prayer because Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).  

And James wrote: “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:2). Indeed, the prayer of petition is a valid and an appropriate kind of prayer, but it is the lowest level.

The second level of prayer is when we intercede for others – the prayer of intercession. This is when we lose sight of ourselves and focus on those in need. One of the most selfless intercessory prayers on record is found in Romans 9 when Paul prays for his Jewish people. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3).

I can hardly imagine the self-abnegation of such a prayer, but what a wonderful example of Christlikeness and evangelistic passion!

However, the next and highest level of prayer is the prayer of communion. This is when we are not asking anything for ourselves or others, but simply seeking intimacy with our blessed Savior. How often do we set aside everything else and enter into His presence for the purpose of loving and adoring Him and telling Him what His boundless love and amazing grace mean to us?

When Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the leper a woman came to him with an alabaster box of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus as an expression of her love and devotion., but the disciples were indignant and said, “To what purpose is this waste?” Jesus responded, “Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me” (Matthew 26:10).

That we have a National Day of Prayer is a wonderful blessing, but we must focus on having that prayer of communion when we seek not just His hand, but His face on a moment-by-moment basis and get to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). When we do that God will either favor us with a mighty spiritual awakening or prepare and fortify us for the coming persecution.      


J. Gerald Harris is a retired pastor and journalist who served as editor of The Christian Index for nearly two decades. You can reach him at