Back when I was at university I somehow, somehow, ended up as the Prayer Secretary for the Christian Union. You may as well give Mr. Bean the keys to your Porsche.
At that time there was, amongst certain circles, a devout belief that a spiritual awakening akin to the great Welsh Revival was on its way. Our Christian Union leadership believed this, and decided that we should have a weekly prayer meeting to pray specifically for revival in London. This was, as Prayer Secretary, my responsibility, so I duly arranged the meeting and attended as often as I could, despite my characteristic cynicism. It became apparent that the conviction among the leadership that revival was coming was so solid, so unshakeable, that turning up to prayer meetings was obviously unnecessary for them. Three was a good turn out. I liked the times when it was just me who showed up, to be honest. It was good for my misanthropic soul.
One day, there was a new face at the prayer meeting. A guy who’d just started at the university. He began by telling me how passionate he was for revival, how he longed for nothing more than to see God do something amazing in the city. I looked at the clock. It was 6:05pm. The meetings would go for anything from half an hour to forty five minutes, and if this guy’s enthusiasm was anything to go by this one might be decent after all. But my initial hope was very soon dashed to pieces on dull rocks. We had awkward silence, uninspiring muttered prayers, lots of looking down at your feet in what Adrian Plass calls ‘the Shampoo Position’. Pick a random page from the ‘Dull Prayer Meeting’ play book, we did it. We struggled through for what seemed like half an hour, and then I looked at the clock. It was 6:07pm. Have you ever been in a prayer meeting like that? George Harrison once said, “The Beatles saved the world from boredom.” He was wrong.
After the meeting finished, we had a few minutes of awkward chat and went our separate ways. He didn’t come to the meeting the following week, or the week after that, or ever again. I didn’t blame him, but still, he’d said that he was passionate about revival. Eventually, the prayer meetings fizzled out due to lack of interest. I’m not sure what God thought about it all, but I do know one thing. Talking about how passionate you are doesn’t count.