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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, June 19, 2016

I want you to open your Bible to Isaiah 64:1. It’s on page 768 of the Scofield Study Bible. Please keep your Bible open to that place throughout this sermon. A moment ago Jack Ngann sang “Teach Me to Pray.” Stanza two expresses our great need today,

Power in prayer, Lord, power in prayer,
   Here ‘mid earth’s sin and sorrow and care;
Men lost and dying, souls in despair;
   O give me power, power in prayer!
(“Teach Me to Pray” by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).

My long-time pastor at the Chinese church was Dr. Timothy Lin. He was a man of prayer. He said, “The goal of prayer is to have God’s presence.” He also said, “The Church of the last days must have the presence of God if she wants to grow, or all efforts will be futile.” That is why Satan works so hard to keep us from praying. Dr. Lin said that the closer we are to the Second Coming of Christ, “the greater Satan’s pressure will be against prayer” (all quotations are from Dr. Lin’s book, The Secret of Church Growth). That is why the Apostle Paul told us, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against” Satan and his demons (Ephesians 6:12). How do we wrestle against the powers of darkness? Paul answers that question in Ephesians 6:18-19,

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

Satan puts pressure on our minds when we pray – especially when we pray for God’s presence among us. Be aware of that. Force your mind to think about what you are praying. When someone else is praying, force your mind to listen carefully to each request, and say “Amen” at the end of each request as the leader prays! Amen! That makes our prayers a mighty force against Satan!

Isaiah was living in a very sad time in the history of his people. In America and the Western world, we too live in a time of great apostasy and sadness in the churches. The Southern Baptists lost close to a quarter of a million members last year. Prayer meetings have been turned into Bible studies. The Sunday night services are being closed in an alarming number of our churches. Preaching has been turned into dry-as-dust Bible exposition. Real evangelistic preaching is dead. I don’t hear of it in any of our churches. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,

     God knows the Christian church has been in the wilderness many a long year. If you read the history of the Church before about 1830 or 1840, you will find that in many countries there used to be regular revivals...almost every ten years or so. It has not been like that. There has only been one major revival since 1859. Oh, we have passed through a barren period...We have passed through one of the most barren periods in the long history of the Church...We have been in bondage, we have been in fear, we have suffered persecution and derision, and it is still going on. We are still in the wilderness. Do not believe anything that suggests we are out of it, we are not. The church is in the wilderness (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Revival, Crossway Books, 1992 edition, page 129).

And that brings us to the great prayer of Isaiah for the presence of God to return to His people. The prophet lived in a time when God’s people were in a forsaken and desolate condition. Isaiah saw this. It troubled him so much that he decided to pray to God with persevering prayer, giving God no rest or peace, until He sent a time of revival to His people. It is my prayer that God will lay that burden on the hearts of several young people here tonight. How we need to pray again and again and again – shamelessly asking for God’s presence, asking, seeking, knocking – until God sends His presence among us. For Jesus said,

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

And that was the prayer of Isaiah. Please stand and read Isaiah 64:1 out loud.

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

You may be seated.

He said “Oh.” That is a great word. I remember reading Dr. John R. Rice, who said that the “Oh” has gone from our prayers. It shows that we long after the things we are asking for. We thirst for it. We feel we must have it! Isaiah is taking ahold of God, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane,

“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7).

Jesus told us to ask, seek, and knock until the answer comes. In Greek it means “keep asking,” “keep seeking,” “keep knocking.” Some people say we should only pray once for what we need. They say it is wrong to keep asking for the same thing. They forget that Christ Himself prayed three times “saying the same words” (Matthew 26:44). He prayed three times, “with strong agony and tears” until God answered Him, and sent an angel to “strengthen” Him, so He would not die in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43). He prayed “more earnestly” for enough strength to live and go to the Cross the next morning. And so, with great earnestness, Isaiah prayed, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down...”

Isaiah was deeply concerned. He wanted God to rend the heavens and come down. Look at verses 10-12. Stand and read it aloud.

“Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O Lord? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?” (Isaiah 64:10-12).

You may be seated.

When I was a boy in my twenties I saw the debauchery of Woodstock, the drugs, the wildness. I saw the riots, the killing of President Kennedy, the killing of Dr. King, the Yippies burning Chicago during the Democratic Convention. I saw the dying churches, the shallow preaching, the churches closing. I was troubled night and day. I cried out to God, “Rend the heavens and come down.” And He did come down! I will never forget what I saw at the First Chinese Baptist Church and among the Hippies in San Francisco. God came down! The fire of God burned in our hearts. Soul after soul was converted! God came down! I saw it. I want you to see it too. I want you to see the power and glory of God tear open the windows of Heaven and come down among us!

Though the way seems straight and narrow,
   All I claimed was swept away;
My ambitions, plans and wishes,
   At my feet in ashes lay.

Then God’s fire upon the altar
   Of my heart was set aflame;
I shall never cease to praise Him,
   Glory, glory to His Name!

Glory, glory to the Father!
   Glory, glory to the Son!
Glory, glory to the Spirit!
   Glory to the Three in One!

I will praise Him! I will praise Him!
   Praise the Lamb for sinners slain;
Give Him glory, all ye people,
   For His blood can wash away each stain.
(“I Will Praise Him” by Margaret J. Harris, 1865-1919).

Oh, do it again, Lord! Do it again! So these children may see Thy glory in the earth! They need to see Thy glory and Thy power! It will change them for ever! The things of this world will grow strangely dim and not attract them anymore. Please do it for their sakes, Lord. Please do it for Thine own name’s sake! Please send the fire, Oh my God! Please send the Fire! “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

Real prayer means taking hold of God and not letting Jacob did when He wrestled all night with Christ – and said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Genesis 32:26). Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, “Taking hold of God, pleading with Him, reasoning with Him, and even beseeching, and I say that it is only when the Christian arrives at that position that he truly begins to pray” (Lloyd-Jones, Revival, p. 305).

When God comes down, “the mountains flow down at [His] presence” (Isaiah 64:1). Mountains of unbelief, mountains of fear, mountains of doubt, mountains of pride and selfishness, mountains of despair, mountains of Satanic oppression – all mountains that stand proudly against our God and His Christ, “that the mountains might flow down [like molten lava from a volcano] at thy presence!”

But revival praying must come from men like Isaiah, men who say with the prophet, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8), men who are willing to sacrifice their lives in the service of God. Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

The church at this moment needs men, the right kind of men. The talk is that we need revival...but God will not revive mice. He will not fill rabbits with the Holy Spirit. We languish [in weakness for lack of] men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul, who cannot be frightened...because they have already died to the [attractions] of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men...If Christianity is to stay alive she must have men again, the right kind of men. She must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out...she must of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of...they will be men of God and men of courage... Through their labors [God will] send the long delayed revival (We Need Men of God Again, by A. W. Tozer, D.D.).

That is what our church needs at this hour – “men of God, and men of courage.” We need young men who have seen the vanity of this world, young men who want sacrifice rather than “security,” young men who are free from fear, young men who will say with the prophet, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8), young men who pray from the depths of their souls,

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!” (Isaiah 64:1-2).

Young men, rise up and give your lips to pray that prayer of Isaiah with zeal and power. Young men, rise up and sacrifice your lives for Christ! Young men, rise up and fight with all your strength for God’s glory to come down in a shower of revival! William Merrill’s hymn says it well,

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up, and make her great!
   (“Rise Up, O Men of God!” by William P. Merrill, 1867-1954).

Young men, I have been young too, but now I am old. So are our leaders. They brought us through the long years of the church split. They worked to make this church as good as it is. They paid the price. They paid for the world-wide ministry we have on the Internet. But we no longer have the stamina to lead this church to the next level! We no longer have the vigor to create the new Baptist Tabernacle! You must do it, or it will not be done! And so I say to our young men,

Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up, and make her great!

Please stand and sing hymn number seven.

Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray, Let me see only Jesus today;
   Though through the valley Thou leadest me, Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, every desire Keep for Thy glory; my soul inspire,
   With Thy perfection, Thy holy love, Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, let naught of sin Shadow the brightness shining within.
   Let me see only Thy blessed face, Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine, Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
   Fill all my vision, that all may see Thy Holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

Let us stand for prayer.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Isaiah 64:1-4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“Teach Me to Pray” (by Albert S. Reitz, 1879-1966).