Edwardian Prayer in Canada

Anyone who frequents a church for even a short period of time will come to recognize fairly quickly that the attendance of the meetings seems to fluctuate as the week goes on. Sunday mornings win the largest crowd, and it generally goes downhill from there. The bottom of the barrel in a traditional protestant church is the mid-week prayer meeting. While some souls will brave any weather condition or even government lockdowns to get to church to pray, many others seem less gallant in their effort. The reality is that if you can get half of your Sunday Morning group to attend the mid-week prayer meeting, you’re doing pretty good. Yes, this is actually a joke amongst those funny type Christians who enjoy a good laugh like your truly. At the same time, it is not a laughing matter!

Edwardian Prayer

Rewind a few hundred years to the 1740s. Imagine a group of ministers joined together for what Jonathan Edwards called a “concert of prayer”.  This was a commitment of prayer for the nations from the nations in sync for the revival of God’s blessing of salvation upon the entire world. Now, for those pastors who believe they have it rough, try organizing one of those! Sounds like a little more work and certainly deeper than asking the Lord to heal a tooth ache.  This unusual prayer meeting was made popular by Jonathan Edwards. If you’re not familiar, Jonathan Edwards was an extraordinary theologian who lived during the 18th century, and he is rightly considered one of the greatest minds ever to live on American soil. Edwards was a pastor who saw the First Great Awakening and was one of the main voices during this spiritual revival. Edwards was a man of prayer and in return believed that for such revivals to happen (and continually happen), something big needed to come from God through His people. But Edwards was looking for more than a casual kneeling by the bedside, he was looking for extraordinary prayer, petitions to Yahweh as a concert of sweet prayer in harmony together all throughout the world. This eventually became a book which the title itself lays out its entire premise: An humble attempt to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God’s people in extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth, pursuant to Scripture-promises and prophecies concerning the last time.  Edwards’ thesis is based upon the text of Zechariah 8:20-22 where it states:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘It will yet be that peoples will come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one will go to another, saying, “Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts; I will also go.” So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.

Edwards focus is upon the unity of the prayer amongst the nations coming to the Lord in sync. He writes:

From the representation made in the prophecy, it appears rational to suppose that it will be fulfilled something after this manner. There shall be given much of a spirit of prayer to God’s people, in many places, disposing them to come into an express agreement, unitedly to pray to God in an extraordinary manner; that he would appear for the help of his church, and in mercy to mankind, and pour out his Spirit, revive his work, and advance his spiritual kingdom in the world, as he has promised[1].

He was looking for a revival and to join the ongoing concert from believers in Scotland and elsewhere. From the whole we may infer, that it is a very suitable thing, and well pleasing to God, for many people, in different parts of the world, by express agreement, to come into a visible union in extraordinary, speedy, fervent, and constant prayer, for those great effusions of the Holy Spirit, which shall bring on the advancement of Christ’s church and kingdom… Edwards encouraged gatherings for extraordinary prayer, to become a people who sought to exhibit zealous reverence across the nations. Participation in these prayer meetings was had in England, Scotland and in beautiful New England.

A Canadian Question

Before moving on, we should note that the sheer shambles of immorality that we are experiencing in Canada is one of the most disheartening debacles that a Christian could ever wish to see. Our country, which previously evidenced at least some form of the divine oracles, is now swinging leftward so hard and fast that it resembles a spinning top and nobody in Ottawa seems to have any desire to put their hand on it. Of course, when have The Regressives had any brakes anyway? Canadian politicians are no longer known for their passive demeanour towards biblical values and are playing bad poker by showing their hand. They’ve gotten off the fence and are now fueling the anti-Christian movement for the majority vote. The downward spiral of political activism is stomping out the light that once shined upon this nation. I love my country and I’m seeing its downfall. How did we come to this? Well, one reason that could be pointed to is that the churches in Canada have been dormant for a great number of years and now that the lullabies have turned into a war trumpet, it’s about time to heed the wake-up call! But what is a Christian to do? Are we to beg for God to come in judgment? Is there still time to repent, even at a national level (Jonah 3:5-10)?

Ecclesiastical Preparation

One of the things that we need to recognize is that there is little that can be done on a national stage until there is much done in another of God’s institutions, the church. In preparation for this concerto, we need to examine ourselves. While many argue that the churches simply need to repent, and I agree that churches need to repent before this can work, I’m with Edwards in recognizing that the church firstly needs to be unified. The major ingredient for a concert of prayer to work and to truly be exhibited, like in any good musical ensemble, is in the unity amongst the musicians. You can’t have an assemblage when everyone is blurting out sounds whenever they so choose. Edwards reminds us of the significance of unity in the concert of prayer.

How beautiful, and of good tendence would it be for multitudes of Christians, in various parts of the world, by explicit agreement, to unite in such prayers as is proposed to us. Union is one of the most amiable things that pertain to human society; yea, it is one of the most beautiful and happy things on earth, which indeed makes earth most like heaven[2].

We need to seriously consider this. I recently wrote a post upon this ecclesiastical unity, and I believe that when this type of unification happens, the gates of hell will receive a reckoning.

On a National Level

While Edwards focused upon a worldwide revival to usher in the millennium, I believe firstly we should be satisfied with a revival in our country. Let’s start at home and move our way through! We need churches in our cities and provinces to consider this type of prayer to see this nation revived by the Spirit of God. Brethren, our country needs us, and if our land is to become glorious and free once again, we need to see souls saved through faith in Jesus and that the life-changing gospel to begin to permeate throughout our land, in our institutions, in our universities, and perhaps even in our governments. Brethren, we need to pray for this revival together, in harmony!

If God sets upon your heart to this type of commitment to see a revival, please contact me!

[1] A Humble Attempt, Jonathan Edwards, Christian Focus Publication, 2004, Page 49

[2] IBID Page 125


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