Unstopping the Wells: Theological Barrier
“The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him–and of her.”
A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”Hebrews 11:6
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!“Matthew 7:9-11
Our prayer assignment during this season is to “re-dig” and “unstop” the metaphorical “wells of revival” through prayer. As in the story of Isaac in Genesis 26 who needed to access water so his family and tribe could survive in the desert, the church today needs to access the same supply of life and power which nourished her in past seasons if we want to survive and flourish during this post-Christian secular decline.
But, as Isaac comes back to the wells that Abraham dug in the desert, he notices that in the intervening years, the Philistines have thrown rubbish and dirt in the wells to render them non-functional. In like fashion, as we look back to the past, to the revivals that have brought the church out of its seasons of past deadness, we find “rubbish” blocking us from the life and power of God. The wells are there. The water is there. But the post-modern Philistines have filled the wells with dirt and trash. It is our responsibility to pray and to work to remove this rubbish.
One very important kind of rubbish we must remove is theological. There are certain cardinal truths and doctrines of the faith that are so essential and vital that it is very difficult, perhaps even impossible, for revival to take place without them. These truths and doctrines were believed in the past. But in the intervening years, these truths have been lost and forgotten. The people of God might say that intellectually we believe them, but practically, as a whole, we are not building our lives and our churches upon them as theological bedrock.
If we want to see revival, part of our work is to rediscover and recover these fundamental doctrines. To believe them again. To trust them. To apply them and act upon them. And to renounce the lies the enemy and the world have sold us. To repent where we have believed these lies and falsehoods. As Tozer notes in The Knowledge of the Holy, “the heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him–and of her.”
The first truth to recover is about God. God is a sovereign God who is mighty and who acts in history. He does things. He intervenes. He does not sit aloof in the heavens, uninterested in us or our needs or our prayers. He is not the God of the deists. He is a person. With a name. YHWH. A God who hears prayer, responds, initiates, moves, and acts. History is the story of the acts and movements of this God in the lives of human beings. And that this is a God who hears and who answers prayer. He always has and he always will. When we pray, this sovereign God hears us and acts and does things in the world that are noticeable and wonderful to bring his Kingdom.
Well of course we all believe that, you might say. But do we? Do we really believe that? At the core of our being? If we did, we’d behave differently. We’d pray differently.
Here is what Corey Russel writes: “sadly, a majority of the Body of Christ has been more impacted by the father of lies, Satan, who constantly bombards us with doubt and accusations against our Father in heaven. The enemy knows that if he can sow unbelief into our hearts and minds concerning who God is and how He feels about us, then we will never pray.
Russell goes on to write: “This unbelief is typically rooted in two areas: God’s ability and God’s emotions towards us. Either we believe He is stingy and will withhold those resources from us. Many of us view God as a middle-class working dad with seven billion children; He has a good heart, but there are so many demands placed on Him, and we are just another voice crying out for something. Others view God through the lens of their relationship with their earthly dad who was emotionally absent and unwilling to meet their needs. Without even realizing it, they attribute those same characteristics to God.”
Where have you allowed the enemy, Satan, or the “Philistines” of our age to obscure the truth that God is a loving and able father who hears when we call and acts and intervenes in human affairs and our lives? How is this lie about God inhibiting your prayer life? The prayer life of the church?
Ask God to give you faith in who he says he is. He is a loving God who answers prayer. He is a sovereign God who acts in the world and in your life. One of the most important questions Jesus ever asked was to Peter, and it is to us as well. “Who do you say that I am?” Ask God for revelation of who he is. Ask God to give the church greater faith and confidence that God is a) ABLE to answer prayer and b) WILLING to answer prayer. Ask God to pour this truth like gasoline on the embers of our collective prayer lives and ignite us into a church that is contending for revival. Knocking on the door of heaven, asking for spiritual nourishment for ourselves and the decaying culture around us, with a boldness that will not be denied. Ask God to restore to the church the vital truth that has been covered over by the rubbish of the Philistines – that God loves us and earnestly rewards those who seek him.
As you pray, either alone or with others, begin as Jesus teaches his disciples to begin praying – by addressing “Our Father in Heaven,” reminding yourself of who God is. Ask yourself honestly, “as I pray, who am I praying to today…is it the real God? The sovereign God who acts in his mercy and answers prayer? Or am I praying to an idol…an exhausted middle-class dad with 7 billion kids…or an absent aloof father who is unconcerned with me or those I love?”