Tuesday, July 31, 2012


If only You would tear the heavens open [and] come down, so that mountains would quake at Your presence—as fire kindles the brushwood, and fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your enemies, so that nations will tremble at Your presence!  When You did awesome works that we did not expect, You came down,
and the mountains quaked at Your presence.” (Isaiah 64:1-3 HCSB)

Prayer reaches up to heaven and brings heaven down to earth.  It moves the hand of God.  True prayer can do anything God can do, for it unleashes the power of the Almighty. John Wesley said, “God does nothing, but in answer to prayer.” In His sovereignty, prayer is God’s chosen method of bringing heaven to bear on humanity.

God invites, “Call unto me, and I will answer you.”  It is an invitation—as Henry Blackaby says—to join God in His work.  It isn’t that He needs us, for He is God and so needs nothing and no one, rather that He in His infinite wisdom and grace permits us to be in partnership with His purposes.  Amazing grace, this!

When Israel spurned God and made a golden calf to worship, God threatened to exterminate them, but Moses prayed and Israel was spared. Samson had his strength sapped by sin, but as the Philistines mocked him, he prayed and his power was restored.  Elijah held a nation in the palm of his hand because of his knees bent in prayer. He prayed and the heavens were shut up for three and a half years. He prayed again and it rained. Daniel read in Jeremiah’s prophecy that in seventy years the Jews would be released from captivity. He prayed and God moved the heart of a pagan tyrant to free the exiles. The Disciples prayed and the Spirit came.  They went out in that power and turned the world upside down. That’s praying heaven down!

Isaiah prayed like that.  His prayer in chapter sixty four sets the pattern.


If only You would tear the heavens open [and] come down, so that mountains would quake at Your presence…” (v.1)

The prophet is fervently entreating God to manifest Himself. It was an hour in which the people of God had plunged into iniquity. The consequence was that Holy God withdrew His glory. The heavens were sealed and silent. There was no response from the Lord.

Indeed, the Lord's hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide [His] face from you so that He does not listen.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)  The deadly cancer of sin was draining the life of the nation. Isaiah called upon the Divine Physician.

America is a dying nation, having the same malignancy of evil.  We don’t need another government program, we need God’s power. We don’t need more laws, we need the Lord. We don’t need a better economy and better education we need the Eternal One. We don’t need more programs in the church and more human activity, we need power in the church and heaven’s activity!   With Isaiah, let us cry, “Tear the heavens open and come down!”


If only You would tear the heavens open [and] come down, so that mountains would quake at Your presence—as fire kindles the brushwood, and fire causes water to boil—to make Your name known to Your enemies, so that nations will tremble at Your presence!  When You did awesome works that we did not expect, You came down,
and the mountains quaked at Your presence.” (Isaiah 64:1-3)

Notice what happens when God shows up! The mountains quake—whatever the spiritual obstruction is—mountains of unbelief, impurity, indifference, selfishness, all must go and will crumble before the Holy One!

A voice of one crying out:

Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert.  Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled;
the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain.  And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity together will see [it], for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)

The way of the Lord is prepared, as in the days of John the Baptist. Your life becomes a highway in which God can move.  Heaven comes down on that thoroughfare!

Not only are the mountains removed, but the fire is rekindled. Hearts once cold, now burn with zeal for God. There is a fervent testimony that issues from a flaming heart.   Recall what happened to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  They encountered the glory of the Lord in His resurrection.  As He taught them the Word and revealed Himself, their hearts burst into spiritual flame!

When heaven is prayed down, and Christ walks in the midst of His church, the enemy will be confounded and the nations will tremble.  Such people, immersed in such praying, are found in the first-century church:

When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.  And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in response.  After they had ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves,  saying, ‘What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it!  However, so this does not spread any further among the people, let's threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.’

So they called for them and ordered them not to preach or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it's right in the sight of God [for us] to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’  After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them, because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done; for this sign of healing had been performed on a man over 40 years old.

After they were released, they went to their own people and reported everything the chief priests and the elders had said to them.  When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, ‘Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them.

You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant: Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plot futile things?

The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers assembled together against the Lord and against His Messiah.  For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.   And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.’

When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God's message with boldness.” (Acts 4:13-31)

Such praying is birthed in the womb of THE REMEMBRANCE OF GOD’S PRESENCE.

When You did awesome works that we did not expect, You came down, and the mountains quaked at Your presence.” (v.3).

See the past tense, “You did…You came down,” as the ignition of a passion for God to do it again.  We are not only motivated by the revelation of what might be, but by the recollection of what has been. They had known great blessing before—beyond their greatest hopes and dreams. Now, in their time of desperation, they believe that God can do it again.

Don’t doubt it!  God is still able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think.  He hasn’t changed!  All that has changed is our lack of fervency in prayer and faith in His promises.

Israel had witnessed these miracles in the past. Not only were they released from Egypt, but they carried away their wealth as well. He not only opened a way through the Red Sea, but closed it on their enemies. In the wilderness He fed them bread from heaven and gave them water from the rock. The unchanging God who has moved in revival during dark days in history can do the same today!  Holy men and women of God have prayed heaven down!  Why not us?  Why not now?

If we do, we will find THE REVELATION IN GOD’S PRESENCE.

From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened, no eye has seen any God except You, who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4). 

We are most familiar with this verse from Paul’s quotation of it in 1 Corinthians 2:9.  Perhaps, you have heard it as referring to the incredible experience of heaven that awaits the eternal state. Certainly, there is an application, but the context there and here shows another, primary interpretation. God reveals these wondrous things not in the sweet by and by, but in the nasty now and now!   It is the experience of heaven alright—but of heaven come down to earth and enjoyed here, not just hereafter!  When revival comes, we’ll sit back in amazement, for God takes the field.

The requirement here is waiting on the Lord.  That isn’t passivity--that’s prayer!   It is actively engaging eternity.  Will we wait upon God?  The early church prayed for ten days, preached for ten minutes and three thousand were saved.  We pray for ten minutes, preach for ten days and hope that three will be saved!  The difference is the early Christians waited on the Lord in prayer.  They prayed heaven down!

Such praying is costly—confronting our self-centeredness and convicting our sinfulness.   It calls for THE REPENTANCE IN GOD’S PRESENCE.

You welcome the one who joyfully does what is right; they remember You in Your ways.  But we have sinned, and You were angry.  How can we be saved if we remain in our sins?  All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.

No one calls on Your name, striving to take hold of You. For You have hidden Your face from us and made us melt because of our iniquity.” (Isaiah 64:5-7).

To experience God’s powerful presence demands the barrier of sin be broken down.  When sin is confessed and forsaken, the expectation is forgiveness. Thorough repentance demands honesty and humility. We are brought to conviction, contrition and confession for we see the hideousness of our sin against God. This is what Paul called a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Do you want to know how rotten sin is? Look at the horror of the cross; evaluate what it cost God to obtain your forgiveness.  If we take sin lightly, we show that we understand little of Calvary. We can be certain we have not encountered God’s glory.  All those in Scripture who did, fell on their faces in fear before God: Abraham, Jacob and Job, Peter, Paul and John.  Confession was wrung from their lips.  Isaiah himself documents his own encounter with the Everlasting God in chapter six.  It will always be that way.  Trivialize, minimize, rationalize sin and heaven will remain silent—our prayers unanswered.

But, if we get right with God then we can have THE RESPONSE OF GOD’S PRESENCE.

Yet Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we all are the work of Your hands.  Lord, do not be terribly angry or remember [our] iniquity forever.
Please look—all of us are Your people!  Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.  Our holy and beautiful temple,
where our fathers praised You, has been burned with fire, and all that was dear to us lies in ruins.

Lord, after all this, will You restrain Yourself?  Will You keep silent and afflict severely?” (Isaiah 64:8-12).

We can be sure that such praying gets heaven’s attention. The revival prayer God responds to is one appealing to His mercy as our Father (v.8a). If we, human fathers, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit in power to those who ask Him?

Heaven comes down in supplication, when we bow down in submission.  It is at the place of full surrender that we can know the fullness of God.  We may have made a mess of our lives, but He is the potter who will break down the clay, and reshape us into a vessel He can use (v.8b).

Praying ascends to God’s heaven when praying appeals to God’s honor (v.8c). Isaiah is essentially saying, “God, look at us—what a mess!  People are mocking You because of us!  Do something!”  The quality of handiwork reflects upon the craftsman.

Real praying casts us upon the grace of God (v.9). It is an appeal to His glory to be sure, but also to His gracious character.  God wants to walk with us!

God responds to a prayer of urgency (v.10-11).  Isaiah knew that Divine intervention was all that could change their desperate situation. 

Finally, praying heaven down means we rest our case with the righteousness Judge (v.12). Abraham did.  He pled with God and believed, Won't the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" (Genesis 18:25b)  He always does the right thing.

What might happen in our life, our home, our church, our nation, indeed, in our world, if we would pray fervently and faithfully Isaiah 64?  Heaven would come down!

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