Urgency


I’ll always remember November 11, 1997. Because it was a holiday, my wife, Kim, our son, David, and I went to Indianapolis to relax and to get a head start on our Christmas shopping. After a full day, we went to the airport to pick up a relative.


When we got there, however, we were met by a family member who told us my mother had suffered a major stroke that day. Suddenly getting back home became urgent. Quickly we drove back to Terre Haute, Indiana, and straight to the hospital.


A sense of urgency may come from something mundane like hunger or thirst, or a crisis such as a medical emergency. When circumstances move together to create urgency, suddenly everything changes. The routine is set aside, and we focus our attention on the source of the tension or crisis. Urgency causes shifts in priorities and activities. Urgency pushes previously important activities into the background.



Time Is Short
I believe God is calling the church to a new sense of urgency. It is time to lay aside the routine and use our time more wisely.


The Bible teaches much about the use of time. Time is a gift from God and therefore should be used to bring glory to him. Consider these texts:


• “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12*).


• “So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days” (Ephesians 5:15, 16).


• “Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).


The Bible makes clear that time is limited:


• “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a shadow, gone so soon without a trace” (1 Chronicles 29:15).


• “My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath” (Psalm 39:5).


• “Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).


Time is short because soon the Lord will return. And then he will bring time, as we know it, to an end:



Now let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short, so husbands should not let marriage be their major concern. Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God’s work. Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).



The Bible sometimes connects urgency to both the completion of a task and a passionate connection to God. I believe the following passage speaks strongly to that situation: “Because I love Zion, because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1).


Isaiah had begun to sense God’s heart for his people. Through drawing near in prayer, the prophet’s heart was lining up with God’s heart. Many times the Lord had revealed his unfailing love for the Israelites and his desire for their return to him. Isaiah begins to pray the Lord’s agenda, and it is a prayer of passion and urgency.



Hear God’s Heart
It is time today for the people of God to hear God’s heart so we may pray with passion about God’s passion. As we draw near to him in prayer and in his Word, it becomes apparent that two things today ought to bring a strong sense of urgency to the church: (1) the revival of the church, and (2) the completion of the task of world evangelization.


God earnestly desires for his Son a bride who is pure, and spotless, and without blemish. This certainly will require a massive change that could happen only through Heaven-sent revival.


Revival is not a week of meetings. Revival is simply the church waking up to the presence of Christ in her midst. Revival is all about Jesus and the way he transforms his people.


Revival comes to those desperate for it. It comes to a church that recognizes its inability to do the things of God without the power of God. Passionate prayer always precedes times of revival. Can we become a people who cry out to God for a genuine revival that will transform, empower, and prepare the bride of Christ for all the Lord desires to do in us?


This bride is to be comprised of people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. Completing the task of world evangelization results from the revival of the church. It flows from the very passions of God in the hearts of his people who take up this task with urgency. Revival is not feeling better about ourselves or having better meetings. Historically, times of revival have resulted in the expansion of the kingdom. An awakened church begins to attract unbelievers.


The church must finish the task of world evangelization. A revived, refocused church will be found moving to the furthest parts of the earth to proclaim the glories of salvation through Jesus Christ. The prayers that sought the face of God for revival will now cry out on behalf of those who do not know him.


It is time for the church to begin to pray with the urgency and passion of Isaiah. This time, we pray for the new Zion, the new Jerusalem, the people of God. Like the prophet of old, we too say, “I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1).


We must lay aside lesser things. The call is for today. It is a call for the people of God to pray the heart of God for our generation.


________


*Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation.







Dave Butts is president of Harvest Prayer Ministries, Terre Haute, Indiana, and chairman of the National Prayer Committee.

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