Habakkuk’s Prayer of Praise, Prayer for Revival, and Prayer for Mercy (Part 2)

Praying Through the Bible #105

TEXT: Habakkuk 3:1-2: “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”

In part 1 of this message, we were introduced to the prophet Habakkuk. He likely lived during the reign of the good King Josiah and was led to prophesy during the reigns of the evil kings who came after Josiah. Habakkuk’s problem with God was that, although he knew the children of Israel deserved God’s punishment for their idolatry and disobedience, he did not like that God planned to use the heathen Babylonians to carry out that punishment. In chapter 1 of his book, he expresses his concerns to God about that issue, and God explains to Habakkuk that He will be ultimately triumphant over all the wicked — the Jews and the Babylonians. In chapter 3, Habakkuk responds to God’s explanation of His judgment on Judah, and his prayer in this passage is the focus of this message.

1. We saw on last week that Habakkuk’s initial response was a prayer of praise. Despite the sobering defense of His judgments that God had just given to him, this prophet’s response is to express praise and thanksgiving to God. Habakkuk is glad about the fact that God is in complete control and that God knows and will do what is best for His people and for the world. When we face situations in our lives that we may not understand or agree with, we can still give thanks to God because He is in control, and He will work out every situation for our good.

2. Habakkuk’s prayer for revival. The overwhelming majority of chapter 3 is a psalm of praise to God. However, Habakkuk does make two requests both found in verse 2. The first one is: “O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known.” Habakkuk asks God to send revival to his people. He knows how God worked among His people before and he wants to see the nation of Judah return to that state of obedience and blessing once again.

3. Habakkuk’s prayer for mercy. First, we saw Habakkuk’s prayer of praise to God, then we saw how he prayed to God for revival. Now, we see his third and final prayer request: he says, “in wrath remember mercy.” Why does Habakkuk ask for God’s mercy right after asking for revival? Because he knows that his people do not deserve to experience revival. The majority of the nation does not desire revival and does not want to get right with God. So, in light of the reality of God’s judgment, Habakkuk pleads for God to have mercy on his people.

Habakkuk had to adjust his desires to align with God’s will, and we must do the same in our prayers. Many Christians today are praying for revival in their countries, in their churches, and in their communities, but it may be that God has chosen to bring about judgment as the means of getting people to wake up and see how far they have strayed from Him. In the midst of that judgment, we ought to be pleading for mercy — that God’s work would continue in the hearts and lives of all people that they will eventually turn to Him.

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