Jonathan Edwards saw a direct cause and effect relationship between the faithful and fervent prayers of God’s people and the authenticity of heaven-sent revival.
“When God has something very great to accomplish for his church, ’tis his will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of his people; as is manifest by Ezek. 36:37, ‘I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them’; . . . And ’tis revealed that when God is about to accomplish great things for his church, he will begin by remarkably pouring out ‘the spirit of grace and supplication,’ Zech. 12:10” (Some Thoughts, 516).
“When God is about to bestow some great blessing on his church, it is often his manner, in the first place, so to order things in his providence as to shew [sic] his church their great need of it, and to bring ’em into distress for want of it, and so put ’em upon crying earnestly to him for it” (517).
So just how important is prayer in the lives of those who long for revival?
“There is no way that Christians in a private capacity can do so much to promote the work of God, and advance the kingdom of Christ, as by prayer. By this even women, children and servants may have a public influence. Let persons be never so weak, and never so mean, and under never so poor advantages to do much for Christ and the souls of men otherwise; yet, if they have much of the spirit of grace and supplication, in this way they may have power with him that is infinite in power, and has the government of the whole world: and so a poor man in his cottage may have a blessed influence all over the world. God is, if I may so say, at the command of the prayer of faith; and in this respect is, as it were, under the power of his people; as princes, they have power with God, and prevail [cf. Gen. 32:28]. Though they may be private persons their prayers are put up in the name of a Mediator, that is a public person, being the Head of the whole church and the Lord of the universe: and if they have a great sense of the importance of eternal things and concern for the precious souls of men, yet they need not regret it that they are not preachers; they may go in their earnestness and agonies of soul, and pour out their souls before One that is able to do all things; before him they may speak as freely as ministers; they have a great High Priest, through whom they may come boldly at all times [Heb. 4:14-16],and may vent themselves before a prayer-hearing Father, without any restraint” (518).