a publication of Life Action Ministries
Whose Move? Winter 2012 Volume 43, Issue 1 www.LifeAction.org/revive
understanding the mystery of revival
6 There Is Hope at Hand! David Bryant
Awakening Your Appetite for God
14 What Happens in Revival? Glenn Meldrum
16 We Need Spiritual Crises James MacDonald
18 Is It Our Move or God’s?
Spirit of Revival
Del Fehsenfeld III
21 From the Heart Seek the Real Thing!
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
PERSPECTIVES 22 Understanding Revival 23
Answering common questions
Revival is worth the mess!
24 Hard Questions Do we have to keep praying for revival? 26
An older man decides he is unwilling to pursue revival.
Making It Personal
Apply principles discussed in this issue.
30 Prayers for Change
Antidotes for doubt, hardness, and apathy
Executive Director: Byron Paulus Managing Editor: Daniel W. Jarvis Creative Director: Aaron Paulus Senior Designer: Thomas A. Jones Production: Wayne Lake
Senior Editor: Del Fehsenfeld III Assistant Editor: Kim Gwin Art Director: Tim Ritter Photography: o_sa, Lauri Patterson, Akirastock, Tommaso 79, Scacciamosche, Tim Ritter
Volume 43, Issue 1 Copyright © 2012 by Life Action Ministries. All rights reserved.
Revive magazine is published quarterly as God provides, and made available at no cost to those who express a genuine burden for revival. It is financially supported by the gifts of God’s people as they respond to the promptings of His Spirit. Its mission is to ignite movements of revival and authentic Christianity. Life Action does not necessarily endorse the entire philosophy and ministry of all its contributing writers. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or pay our authors for content. We grant permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or group setting, provided copies are unchanged, are distributed free of charge, and indicate Life Action Ministries as the source. Many Revive articles are also available online. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. To purchase additional copies of this issue, be placed on our free mailing list, or contact the editors with feedback or questions: Life Action Ministries • P.O. Box 31 • Buchanan, MI 49107 • 269-697-8600 • info@LifeAction.org • www.LifeAction.org/revive. We do not share subscriber information with other organizations.
SPIRIT OF REVIVAL (prayer was essentially forbidden on campus) when a severe thunderstorm caught them by surprise. The only covering they could find was a haystack. They huddled together and prayed for God to meet with them. Listen to one historical account of what happened next: Finally after singing a hymn, Mills looked at the others, and over the roar of the drenching rain, and with flashes of lightning reflecting in his eyes, cried out, “We can do this, if we will!” Something broke loose in that moment within the hearts of all five. All pointed back to that moment as the one that changed them forever. The five later consecrated themselves to full devotion to the Great Commission and taking the gospel to all the nations.
hen God comes in revival, He accom-
plishes in a brief time what would normally take many years. As J. I. Packer has said, “Revival is God accelerating, intensifying, and extending the work of grace that goes on in every Christian’s life.” This does not diminish the value of the normal means and timing of God, but rather accentuates the importance of seeking those divine seasons of God’s extraordinary flow of grace. Years ago, Life Action held a revival summit at Liberty University to call students and faculty to repentance and obedience. God’s Spirit began to move, and within 48 hours more than 400 individuals came to Christ. The conviction of God was so intense during those few days that classes were cancelled so teachers could lead weeping and repentant students to Christ. What would typically take years to accomplish, happened in a few short days. When God comes in revival, His work is intensely convicting. I remember being in a large church summit in Houston, Texas, when a respected staff member was overcome by the conviction of God while driving on the freeway. He could not elude the immediacy of what God was asking of him, so he pulled off to the side of the freeway, bowed his head, and wept uncontrollably as he surrendered his life to the Lord in salvation. God’s Spirit would not let go of him until he let go of himself! When God comes in revival, evangelism is at its best. I will never forget the intense and broad conviction of God throughout an entire city in central Indiana. The manifest presence of the Spirit was everywhere. The bank president was inexplicably overcome by conviction while sitting at his desk. He went searching for someone to lead him to Christ. Over iced tea in a nearby restaurant, he repented and received Christ. More than thirty years later, that ex-banker has been instrumental in seeing thousands come to Christ. Bill McLeod, the pastor in whose church the great Canadian revival was birthed, once told me, “Byron, remember this: In times of evangelism, evangelists seek sinners. But in times of revival, sinners seek the Lord!” When God comes in revival, missions overflow. The famous Haystack Prayer Meeting became the fodder for the first missionary movement originating in North America. Five students at Williams College in Massachusetts began praying for revival and evangelism. One sultry Saturday afternoon, the students were off campus interceding
That moment in 1806 under the haystack was the spark for the greatest missionary movement the world has ever seen. The numbers of missionary agencies birthed and missionaries called overseas are absolutely staggering. Life Action just launched its fifth decade of revival ministry. During the past forty years, we have partnered with hundreds of congregations who have set aside time to seek the Lord in a protracted and intensified way. As a result, many hearts, homes, and churches have witnessed glimpses of God’s glory. But my heart won’t let go of the prospect of something far greater—a nationwide outpouring of the Spirit of God. Toward that end, Life Action is launching a new initiative called OneCry that invites believers across America to unite in turning to God, praying for spiritual awakening, and spreading the hope of revival. Why seek revival? Because revival speeds up the advance of Christ’s kingdom! v
the advance of Christ’s kingdom.
Visit www.LifeAction.org/WhoseMove to read more about the Haystack Prayer Meeting. Follow Byron at Twitter.com/ByronPaulus.
in humble repentance from every sin God reveals to us
with urgency for spiritual recovery and awakening
with other believers in spreading the hope of Christ-centered revival
A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening
To learn more about OneCry and to join the movement, visit 4 LifeAction.org/revive
OneCry is a partnership led by Life Action Ministries ÂŠ2011 OneCry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening. All rights reserved.
particular, he prays for power from the Holy Spirit to experience the fullness of God. More power. More filling. More fullness. This is a wonderful New Testament definition of revival. John Piper explains this further: Revival is not first the conversion of the lost. Revival is first the answer to Paul’s prayer in 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God.” When the Lord takes hold of the hearts of His people and directs them into the love of God, they experience the outpouring of the love of God through the Holy Spirit. When that happens to lots of people in the same place at the same time, we call it revival.1
t’s become a yearly ritual. My wife forces me to
go to the doctor for a checkup. Frankly, she’s not really nice about it . . . but I know it’s her way of telling me she wants to keep me around for another year! So I trudge off to get poked and prodded, evaluated and examined. I submit to the indignities of a complete physical because I know I need it. Life is a gift, but my health is in a constant state of flux. I’m glad there are trained physicians with the expertise to give me feedback on what’s working (and what’s not!). Sometimes the conversations I have after an examination are downright personal, awkward, and even confrontational. My doctor isn’t shy about pointing out my flaws, cajoling me about bad eating habits and lack of exercise, or warning me about my weight. He or she is there to intervene to make sure I thrive. As much as I avoid and neglect the hard choices involved in physical fitness, I know there is an important difference between being alive and being healthy. Health is worth pursuing, even when the process hurts. The same is true spiritually. We have received spiritual life as a gift from God, but it is possible to be alive spiritually yet weak and unhealthy. Sin is like a disease that undermines spiritual vitality and power. That’s why Jesus warned the believers at Sardis, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Rev. 3:1-2). This theme is taken up by the apostle Paul. He knew that as great as the blessings we’ve so far received in Christ are, there is still more to experience by His Spirit: I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:16-19). Note that the people for whom Paul prays in this passage are already believers. Yet Paul still prays for them to receive more from God than they currently possess. In
Visit www.LifeAction.org/WhoseMove to download a copy of An Urgent Appeal.
The experience of more of the love and power of God in revival is something that is common to all believers, although the ways we understand and express it are often quite different across the body of Christ. In a wonderful document on revival called An Urgent Appeal, there is a list of the kinds of terms that have emerged to describe revival: Renewal. Awakenings. Effusions of the Spirit. Fillings of the Spirit. Quickenings. Restorations. Christawakenings. The manifest presence of Christ. Reformations. Visitations. Outpourings of the Spirit. Baptisms of the Spirit. Revitalizations. Times of Refreshing. Jubilees. Of course, the point is not what we call these seasons of the intensifying, accelerating, deepening work of the Holy Spirit. The real issue is that we experience them for ourselves. Revival is part of the Great Physician’s prescription to help us thrive! v
It is possible to be alive spiritually yet weak and unhealthy.
Del Fehsenfeld III
Taken from the sermon archive at www.DesiringGod.org (December 5, 1999).
There In a real sense, revival is the only hope for our nation and for this whole generation.
HOPE at HAND!
by David Bryant
he Bible is preeminently a book about hope. It affirms that almighty God is at work within history to bring forth a future in which all things will be made new. In fact, Christ summons us to become co-laborers with Him in birthing this new order in our lives, our communities, and in the larger world. Here’s how Scripture describes the hope of the gospel: “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you” (Col. 1:5-6). Such a biblical hope provides the unshakeable foundation from which we can face and engage the mounting challenges all around us, both inside and outside the Christian community. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that in daily discipleship, saving faith is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (nasb). Without hope, we can’t have faith. And without faith, we can’t go forward in the things of God (v. 6).
[ The Big Hope: Revival Perhaps the most perceptive of all writers on the topic of revival was Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century pastor and scholar from New England. Edwards believed that God’s one primary objective in creation was to prepare a kingdom for His Son. From this perspective, he held that revivals were strategic in the revealed purposes of God because they were God’s way of “shepherding” history toward that great climax.1 The Bible indeed teaches that, at the end of history, God will sum up everything under Christ (Eph. 1:9-10). Christ will be manifested as Lord and take His rightful place as the central focus of all creation. That event, described in hundreds of verses throughout the Scriptures, might properly be called the final revival. That being so, it follows that every other revival approximates this final revival. God intends for His Son to be at the center of everything—at the end of history and at every step along the way. He has no greater desire. In whatever He does, His ultimate purpose is to sum up all of heaven and earth under Jesus as Lord. Every revival is meant to accelerate, intensify, and expand this process. At this very moment, Christ is about the business of bringing unconditional surrender among all the nations. Therefore, there is always great potential in any generation for the advance of God’s purposes throughout the earth. Not one corner is left out of the exercise of Christ’s lordship. No human enterprise is irrelevant to His concern or outside of His authority. No human structure and ultimately no peoples of the earth can indefinitely remain indifferent to His reign. God’s one increasing purpose is to achieve glory for His Son from the greatest number of people, to the fullest scope, and at the deepest level. And often that requires revival. The question of God’s predisposition toward revival is already decided—in Christ. There is no Plan B. This is God’s longing for every generation. He is not only willing and able, but also ready and committed to do this on behalf of those who seek Him for it.
[ Revival Is Christ! Consumed with Christ as the church’s everlasting future, Paul summarizes his entire life mission in one verse: “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). This passage defines the heart of revival. Revival comes to the church when we are thoroughly possessed with the hope held out in the gospel—and that hope is Christ Himself. From whatever angle we view it, therefore, revival is Christ! That’s because God can do nothing greater for His church than to reawaken us to the sufficiency, supremacy, and destiny of the Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, if there is one hallmark of the revivals documented in Scripture (and repeated the past two thousand years), it is that God reveals more of Christ. In revival, Christ and His kingdom become the center of attention. There is such an intensified
awareness of who Christ is that even skeptics must acknowledge that what is happening with the Christians is only explainable by supernatural causes. Thus, revival is something that comes from outside our resources, our ingenuity, and our control. It is something God must do for us, something that God brings to us out of grace. Revival is an extraordinary work of the Spirit that invades the church to reenergize us with God’s eternal purposes in Christ Jesus.
[ Nothing Else Matters In a real sense, revival is the only hope for our nation and for this whole generation. If it doesn’t come, then most of our other strivings will ultimately be in vain. If the church is enveloped in revival, however, then we will be receiving from the Holy Spirit virtually everything that matters to see Christ sufficiently exalted in our land and among many peoples. In 18th-century preaching and writing on revival, leaders never gave way to the feeling that the condition of the world was so desperate that the only hope left was to “hold the fort” until Jesus came back. In their minds, to have done so would have been to “fall into unbelief in regard to the promised results of Christ’s first coming. If what was predicted seemed impossible, the remedy was to contemplate more closely the authority and glory which now belongs to the Head of the church.”2 As we focus on revival, we pray not simply with a spirit of hopefulness. Rather, we pray with a living hope, and that hope is Christ Himself. We pray with our eyes toward that final revival when God will culminate, execute, and then supremely extend Christ’s kingdom over all the earth. The hope of which I speak must become the passion of our churches and for a whole generation. We must become a people filled with such a hope—a people who live for revival. May God help us to be so filled with confidence in who He is and what He is up to at this moment that we will pray and prepare with confidence. Would you join me in praying with growing intensity and expectation for the whole counsel of God to be fulfilled? Come, Lord Jesus! v
J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, Crossway Books, 1990, p. 322. Iain H. Murray, The Puritan Hope. The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979, p. 90.
David Bryant gives leadership to PROCLAIM HOPE! (ProclaimHope.org). He is the author of many books, including his latest, Christ Is ALL! This excerpt comes from The Hope At Hand: National and World Revival for the 21st Century, copyright © 1995, published by Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
A Promise on Revival Praying Jonathan Edwards wrote a treatise encouraging widespread corporate prayer, on the premise that the Bible makes many promises that have not yet been fulfilled. This being the case, there is great reason for God’s people to anticipate and seek their fulfillment. Edwards refers to several Scriptures in this connection, such as Micah 4 and Isaiah 60:2-4; but the thrust of his treatise is based on an exposition of Zechariah 8:20-22, which reads: Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, “Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.” And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him. Edwards asserts of this passage: “There never happened anything, from the time of the prophet Zechariah to the time of Christ, to answer this prophecy.” Edwards made five practical observations about the kind of revival praying this text inspires:
Purposeful. The prayer described is extraordinary. It is with the specific purpose of intercession and of seeking
the fulfillment of great good—that strong nations unite in their mission of prayer.
Focused. The expression “seeking the Lord” is often used in Scripture, and it implies that God Himself is the
great good to be desired and sought after. It is a characteristic of the saints that they seek God. As the Psalmist cried, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you” (Ps. 63:1). If the Lord has been absent from the church, then surely we must seek His return.
Unified. In the text, multitudes from different parts of the world unite and conspire in this matter of seeking the Lord. Edwards saw in this promise the impact of worldwide revival: “In this manner religion shall be propagated until the awakening reaches those who are in the highest stations, and till whole nations be awakened, and there be at length an accession of many of the chief nations of the world to the church of God.” Resolute. There is clarity about the objectives sought. The peoples and nations understand the promises that
form the basis of their prayers, and are resolute in their purpose to go together at a set time. There is no apathy or sluggishness here.
Urgent. The manner of prayer agreed on is urgent: “Let us go at once to pray.” In contemporary language, it
reads, “Let’s go for it!” The idea is that there is strength and quality in the going. There is a determination in this going to seek the Lord together. There is the element in which the answer “No!” will not be acceptable, as Jacob insisted, “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:26). Vast blessings are promised. They are to be obtained through asking (Isa. 62:6-7).
Adapted from chapter nine of Give Him No Rest by Erroll Hulse.
It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven
but endless nibbling at the table of the world.
Your Appetite for God John Piper
he birthplace of Christian fasting1 is homesickness for God. In the summer of 1967, I had been in love with NoĂŤl for a whole year. If you had told me then that we would have to wait another year and a half to marry, I would have protested firmly. For us, it seemed, the sooner the better. It was the summer before my senior year in college. I was working as a water safety instructor at a Christian athletic camp in South Carolina. She was hundreds of miles away working as a waitress. Never had I known an aching like this one. I had been homesick before, but never like this. Every day I would write her a letter and talk about this longing. In the late morning, just before lunch, there would be mail call. When I heard my name and saw the lavender envelope, my appetite would be taken away. Or more accurately, my hunger for food was silenced by the hunger of my heart.
Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of homesickness for God. But the story of my heart hunger to be with NoĂŤl could be misleading. It tells only half the story. Half is that our physical appetite is lost because our hunger for God is so intense. The other half is that our hunger for God is threatened because our physical appetites are so intense.
What Kills Spiritual Appetite? The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night.
For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of His love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20). The greatest adversaries of love to God are not His enemies but His gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God Himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable and almost incurable. Jesus said some people hear the Word of God, and a desire for God is awakened in their hearts. But then, “as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14).2 In another place he said, “The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). “The pleasures of life” and “the desires for other things” are not evil in themselves. They are not vices. They are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes, coffee and gardening, reading and decorating, traveling and investing, TV watching and Internet surfing, shopping and exercising, collecting and talking. Any of these can become deadly substitutes for God.
Why Fasting? Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of a superior satisfaction in God; it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away. I mean that we will do anything and go without anything if, by any means, we might protect ourselves from the deadening effects and preserve the sweet longings of our hunger for God. The issue is not food per se. The issue is anything and everything that is, or can be, a substitute for God. How does fasting help us keep from turning gifts into gods? We easily deceive ourselves that we love God unless our love is frequently put to the test, and we must show our preferences not merely with words but with sacrifice. Many small acts of preferring fellowship with God above food can form a habit of communion and contentment that makes one ready for greater sacrifices. This is one way that fasting serves all our acts of love to God. It keeps the preferring faculty on alert and sharp. It does not let the issue rest. It forces us to ask repeatedly, Do I really hunger for God? Do I miss Him? Do I long for Him? Or have I begun to be content with His gifts? Christian fasting is a test to see what desires control us. What are our bottom-line passions? In his chapter on fasting in Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says, More than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. This is a wonderful benefit to the true disciple who longs to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. We cover up what is inside of us with food and other things. Psychologically, that sort of thing is spoken of a lot today, especially in regard to people who have much pain in their
lives. We would say they “medicate” their pain with food. They anesthetize themselves to the hurt inside by eating. But this is not some rare, technical syndrome. All of us do it. Everybody. No exceptions. We all ease our discomfort by using food, and cover our unhappiness by setting our eyes on dinnertime. Which is why fasting exposes all of us--our pain, our pride, our anger. At these points we really begin to discover what our spiritual resources are. The things I discover about my soul are so valuable for the fight of faith. Humbly and quietly, with scarcely a movement, fasting brings up out of the dark places of my soul the dissatisfactions in relationships, the frustrations of the ministry, the fears of failure, the emptiness of wasted time. And just when my heart begins to retreat to the delicious hope of eating supper with friends at Pizza Hut, she quietly reminds me: not tonight. It can be a devastating experience at first. Will I find spiritual communion with God sweet enough, and hope in His promises deep enough, not just to cope but to flourish and rejoice in Him? Or will I rationalize away my need to fast, and retreat to the medication of food? The apostle Paul said, “I will not be enslaved by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). Fasting reveals the measure of food’s mastery over us—or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God.
Intensify Spiritual Desire Fasting proves the presence, and fans the flame, of spiritual hunger. It is an intensifier of spiritual desire. It is a faithful enemy of fatal bondage to innocent things. It is the physical exclamation point at the end of the sentence, “This much, O God, I long for You and for the manifestation of Your glory in the world!” The more deeply you walk with Christ, the hungrier you get for Christ. If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want You.” v Christian fasting: willingly abstaining from food or drink for a spiritual purpose. 2 All Scripture quotations in this article are taken from the New American Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1977 by The Lockman Foundation. 1
Adapted from A Hunger for God, copyright © 1997 by John Piper. Downloadable PDF at www.DesiringGod.com. All rights reserved.
WELL, HOW AM I? When the Great Physician invites us into His examination room, He searches our hearts and offers hope and healing. How long has it been since your church had a spiritual checkup? Make an investment in the spiritual health of your congregation by scheduling a Life Action summit in your church.
Now Scheduling for 2013
For available dates call 800-321-1538, or visit LifeAction.org/summit for more information.
What Happens in Revival? by Glenn Meldrum “Will we settle for the status quo, or will we reach out for what God can supernaturally do through us?” Jim Cymbala
The Spirit moves the
hearts of men to move the heart of God— a mystery indeed.
od has been described as “one pent-up revival.”1 When saints live in the reviving power of God’s presence, the world takes note that there is a God, we have been with Him, and His name is Jesus.
Revival is God’s self-disclosure. It speaks of a Savior who yearns to dwell in the midst of His people. It is the positive work of the Spirit that deals with the negative character traits of sinful humanity. Revival is the sovereign activity of God. No one can force His hand to act, or else He would not be the Almighty. Yet the Lord has chosen to place responsibility for revival in the hands of men. This is the great mystery of revival: the Lord sovereignly moves and yet acts in accordance with the prayers of His people.
“Revival causes the church to look up to the
throne of God, in to their own desperate need, and out to the need of the nation.” David Smithers For revival to come, we must comprehend that in and of ourselves, we can do nothing. Yet, our responsibility is real. This means that a cooperative effort between God and man takes place for the Spirit to be poured out. God has given us the privilege of pursuing revival through those means He has established in His written Word. The Spirit moves the hearts of men to move the heart of God—a mystery indeed.
Revival is a revelation of God’s holiness. Revival is a “person or a community saturated with the presence of God . . . an invasion from Heaven which brings to man a conscious awareness of God.”2 This awareness of God includes the revelation of His holiness. The beauty of His holiness will always illuminate our sinfulness, which subsequently produces tremendous conviction of sin. When we look at our sin through the presence of God, we begin to understand how hideous our transgressions actually are. This is Christ’s goodness revealed to a race of rebels (Rom. 2:4). Revival produces deep, heartfelt repentance. When the Holy Spirit descends, He convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8). Heartfelt repentance produces a change in character, and a change in character produces a change in lifestyle. History demonstrates that according to the depth of conviction will be the depth of repentance, and according to the depth of repentance will be the depth of the revival. Revival is always a move of the Spirit that produces repentance and personal holiness. It cannot be otherwise. Revival is new life. Heartfelt repentance and a passion for holiness impart new life to the saved and the unsaved. The river of living water that pours forth from the throne of God gives life wherever it flows (Ezek. 47). When that river flows through the church, there will be power and desire to reach the unsaved. When it sweeps through the streets of our cities, radical conversions will abound. New life produces new priorities. The light of God’s brilliance illuminates the meaninglessness of worldly pursuits. Compromise falls off as love for the Savior replaces the depraved love of the world and the twisted love of self. Vibrant worship and prayer become the norm.
New life in the soul means new life in relationships. When men and women abandon themselves to Jesus, the result will be transformed lives that affect every relationship they have. Marriages and families are restored as godly virtues replace wicked character traits. When rebellious teens are genuinely converted, their rebellion ceases. The power of God delivers the fornicator, adulterous spouse, or homosexual from their sexual addictions to live in pure and holy freedom. Revival is literally new life for individuals, families, churches, and nations.
Revival is spiritual revolution. “Revival is a divine method of operation in human history . . . an instrument of spiritual revolution.”3 This spiritual revolution is birthed through radicals and martyrs who reproduce after their own kind. They see the world through the eyes of Christ and are willing to lay down their lives for the One who laid down His life for them. This is the place of desperate love and surrender to Jesus, where sacrifice ceases to be a burden. An explosive missionary spirit is always a byproduct of revival. The Lord uses common saints who live in the light of eternity to turn the world upside down. They comprehend that people are eternal creatures who will live forever in heaven or hell. So they joyfully abandon themselves to the cause of Christ to rescue a self-destructing world no matter the cost. The manifest glory of God is the greatest hope for the salvation of our loved ones, the most effective means of restraining the wickedness that is sweeping America, and the only power that can transform cities and nations. v Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, Minneapolis, MN, Bethany House Publishers, 1959, p. 139. 2 Stephen Olford, Lord, Open the Heavens!, Wheaton, IL, Howard Shaw Publishers, 1969, p. 60. 3 C. E. Autrey, Revivals of the Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Publishing House, 1960, pp. 14, 16. 1
Excerpted from Rend the Heavens, copyright © 2005 by Glenn Meldrum. Used by permission. Glenn is the founder of In His Presence Ministries (www.ihpministry.com) and has ministered as an evangelist since 1997.
I was thinking I had it all together, and then God dropped a boulder on my life.
Do you understand the difference between faith in a crisis and faith in the process?
Conversion to Christ comes in a crisis. In a certain place at a certain time, you heard the good news about Jesus, and by faith you turned from sin and received Godâ€™s forgiveness. You became a true follower of Jesus at a turning point. That was faith in a crisis.
e are often taught wrongly that once you had that faith in a crisis, then everything else in your Christian life will be a process called sanctification. If you have been taught “process only” sanctification, then the focus of your Christian life becomes being a better dad or mom, learning how to manage your finances, or being a good example at work. Keep trying, keep growing, keep moving ahead in an endless cycle of data-gathering and hopeful implementation. Process is important, but process alone will not complete the work God began at your crisis of conversion. Colossians 2:6 (esv) says, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.” I bet if I heard your conversion story, it would go something like this: I was going along thinking I had it all together, and then God dropped a boulder on my life. He got my attention! I had a problem and realized I couldn’t handle it on my own, so I reached out to the Lord; later I realized that it was really God reaching out to me. Is that pretty much your story? Yeah, it’s all of ours. The label on the boulder may be different for each of us (e.g., an existential crisis, a little boy afraid of going to hell, an empty wife in a failing marriage), but the purpose it served was the same. God got our attention. “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord,” Paul declares in Colossians 2:6, “so walk in him.” The crisis is not supposed to be left in the rearview mirror as we begin to grow in Christ. There needs to be a regular interval of turning and returning to the Lord where the cords of commitment that bind our hearts to His are tightened up again. While we are eternally forgiven the penalty of sin through faith in Christ, the power of that sin still looms large over our old nature. A poor choice, a weak moment, a willful wandering—and we are in need of another crisis. Don’t just try harder; return to the Lord. Not because He has left you (He hasn’t!) but because, like Jonah, in some way, at some level, you have left Him. As you received Him (a moment of turning), so walk in Him (a moment of returning). Every so often as we follow Christ through the months and years, we need to say, “I have slipped. How did I get over here? I must return to the Lord.”
Regular Returning For two thousand years the church has understood the need for regular returning or reviving. I have a threeinch-thick book on my shelf entitled Accounts of Revival that is filled with stories of revival in the lives of countless people through the centuries. It was published in 1754, then revised in 1845. But for the past 150 years, there has been
less and less emphasis on reviving in the experience of a believer—only the crisis of conversion followed by an endless process that leads most people to a spiritual drought, desperately in need of a downpour. Even fifty years ago in Baptist and Methodist and most other Protestant denominations, churches would hold a special series of revival meetings every eighteen months to two years in order to provoke this crisis of returning. The pastor would announce, “We’re going to have some revival meetings.” A week would be set aside, and a guest preacher would bring an urgent and more crisis-oriented message than the people got week in and week out. These revival preachers moved from church to church and focused their entire ministry on these weeks of “returning to the Lord.” In effect their message was, “What are you doing way over there?” and the people would agree, “You’re right. I don’t even want to be over here; thanks for reminding me where I really want to be. I’m coming back right now.” That pattern is almost gone from the churches of our day. Our “special speakers” actually take us deeper and more analytically into our process. We are offered endless teaching and tapes, books, and seminars on “how-to’s.” How to be a better friend/neighbor/witness, how to communicate with your spouse, how to make a difference at work, how to make peace with your past, etc. So much of the teaching today is about horizontal behavioral adjustments, but there is very little on the vertical focus of you and God. The sad result, as every survey confirms, is very little heart transformation. We used to believe that if we got our lives where they needed to be with the Lord, the other stuff would fall in place. What we desperately need is a crisis, a turning, a returning to the Lord. There will be no revival without it.
An Honest Question When was the last time you had a spiritual crisis in your life? When was the last time God brought you to your knees with the weight of weeds growing unwanted and treacherous in the garden of your heart? When did you last have a deep, heartfelt rekindling of love and passion for God’s Word? How recently has your heart been so tender that you wept over lost people in your family or your co-workers who desperately need the Savior, and who are in danger of hell if they were to die today? If your honest answer is like that of most believers I know, respond now to the invitation: “Come, let us return to the Lord” (Hosea 6:1). v Used by permission. Excerpt taken from Downpour by James MacDonald, © 2006 B&H Publishing Group.
Our Move by Dan Jarvis
hose turn is it in the “chess game” of spiritual life—ours or God’s? Or, as some have proposed, is God making the moves on both sides of the board, whether or not we recognize His hand in doing so? This question is, of course, quite loaded, especially as it relates to revival. To answer that revival is dependent on us—that it’s our turn to seek the Lord and repent so that He can take His turn in sending revival—raises questions for some over the apparent diminishing of God’s sovereignty. Could God really be waiting for His people to make the right choice? Could His desire to send a fresh wind among His people be contingent on their willingness to pray and repent? However, to say that revival is solely up to God causes others to shrug their shoulders and do nothing. After all, if God is going to do what He wants no matter what we do, then why get involved?
Are We Complicating Things? Perhaps we should step back from rigid presuppositions and take a fresh look at what the Bible says about how and why God moves. To that end, I submit the following “key texts” pertaining to revival: Revival Text: 2 Chronicles 7:14 The temple had been dedicated, the fire of God had fallen, and the glory of God was present. But God knew that the day would come when His people would turn away, when “Ichabod” would describe His beloved nation. So He gave Solomon four specific actions they would need to take toward restoration, healing, and revival: If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Many question whether or not this promise was limited to the covenant relationship God had with Old Testament Israel. If so, it would not be valid to appeal to it today. However, Jeremiah 18:7-8 enlarges our understanding of how covenant principles related to national judgment and revival should be understood: If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
or GODâ€™S? Could God really be waiting for His people to make the right choice?
Any nation that has walked away from God and is experiencing the negative consequences of sin is invited to call on God with humility, prayer, and repentance. And when they do, God says to expect a fresh wind of His grace and power. This is what happened to the pagan city of Nineveh (Jonah 3). Revival Text: James 4:8-10 Someone has called this text “the 2 Chronicles 7:14 of the New Testament” because the same principles of humility, prayer, and repentance are repeated, with the promise of restoration of God’s presence: Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you doubleminded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. This text again brings a conditional promise to the forefront— when we “come near” to God in humility, repentance, and surrender, He promises to draw near to us with healing and grace. Revival Text: Psalm 85:6-7 In the prayer that inspired the hymn “Revive Us Again,” the Sons of Korah ask, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.” This prayer for revival springs from hearts desperate for the presence and glory of God. In the preceding verses, the agony is felt: “Will you be angry with us forever?” And to set the stage for their request, they even remind God of how He once before sent revival and restoration to the people. “Do it again, Lord!” is their heart’s desire. Note that whatever revival and restoration involve here, the power of God is clearly required. God is seen as the reviver—the people are helpless to revive themselves. But such a prayer would not pour forth from the heart of anyone who felt that their prayer would fall on unaffected ears. God’s assumed willingness to listen and respond to their cry is the motivation to seek His face. Revival Text: Revelation 2–3 Jesus called His churches to revival with a forceful emphasis on what He wanted them to do: To the loveless Ephesians—Return! To the sleepy church of Sardis—Wake up! To the lukewarm Laodiceans—Open the door! Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. . . . I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. . . .
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Jesus didn’t ask these believers to wait or wonder how revival would come. Instead, He commanded that they respond in obedience. Yes, Christ empowers our repentance. Yes, He motivates our hearts to change. But His commands are still explicit: Revival requires action!
A Personal Note The biblical call to “take action” obviously involves personal and church-wide repentance and prayer—something many are good at discussing but few are good at doing. That’s why I joined the OneCry movement. OneCry is a movement of people who are pledging to turn in humble repentance from every sin God reveals, pray with urgency for spiritual recovery and awakening, and unite with other believers in spreading the hope of revival. Throughout history, when God’s people sensed a spiritual emergency in their land or felt heartbroken and desperate for change, they cried out to the Lord. Sometimes this cry began with just one person. And sometimes, as was the case in the Great Awakenings, one cry multiplied into a united cry by thousands of believers, repentant and ready for the Holy Spirit’s transformative work. Oh, how we need Him today! That’s why we’re praying fervently for spiritual awakening, and beginning that prayer personally, rooting out our own sins and distractions to replace them with humility and obedience. In a world that is dark and confused, you and I have the opportunity to be part of the answer, part of the multitude God is raising up even now. In the spirit of Joel 2:12-17, would you join me and thousands of others at www.OneCry.com? v Dan Jarvis is the pastor of LifeChange Church in Medina, Ohio, and the Managing Editor of Revive magazine.
FROM THE HEART
Seek the Real Thing!
orporate revival, in the biblical and historical
sense, is a precious term that ought to be reserved for those “divine moments” when there is a supernatural outpouring of God’s Spirit on His people that cannot be explained in any human terms. The fact that a lot of people are talking about “revival” doesn’t mean that we are, therefore, in the midst of revival. We must continually evaluate what is taking place through the grid of God’s Word. Large crowds, intense enthusiasm, stirred emotions, energetic activity, and “signs and wonders” are not necessarily evidence of revival. Nor can they uniformly be attributed to God at work among His people. All these things can be imitated by the world, or even counterfeited by false religions, even as Pharaoh’s magicians were able to counterfeit the miracles that God did through Moses. Genuine revival will not be popular with everyone. It may have a polarizing effect. It will divide between those who are walking after the flesh and those who are walking in the Spirit, between those who want to build their own kingdom and those who want to build the kingdom of God, between those who are attached to their own ideas and those who are committed to the Word of God. Genuine revival must not be “just another” popular program or emphasis in the church. In its quest for results and success, the church tends to gravitate to trends and to jump from one new thrust to the next. But the church of Jesus Christ does not need one more novel idea or approach. “The answer” is not a program or an effort. What we need is the presence and power of God. And that cannot be acquired by launching another emphasis; we must seek His face. Revival is not an end in itself. Our mission is not to seek revival, but to seek the Lord. However, when we seek His face, revival is a likely by-product. There is nothing we can do to coerce or manipulate God to send revival. All our prayers, our fasting, our gatherings, our efforts to promote revival are no guarantee that God will indeed be pleased to send revival. And while it is unlikely that God will revive a people who have not earnestly sought Him, revival remains a sovereign, independent work of God.
There are no shortcuts to revival. We may be so eager to experience the fruit of revival that we bypass God’s conditions for revival: humility, repentance, contrition, prayer, and obedience. There is no such thing as a “painless Pentecost.” Weeping comes before joy. The cross comes before the resurrection. Death comes before life. Brokenness comes before wholeness. Revival is not primarily a way to get rid of our problems, to make our lives easier, to increase giving, to get people to respond, or to increase the fruit of our ministries. The ultimate purpose of revival is for the glory of God—that His name might be known and reverenced in our world, that His kingdom would rule and reign in the hearts of men, and that His will might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us rejoice in every evidence that God is manifesting Himself to the hearts of His people, that Christ is being exalted, that the Holy Spirit is stirring God’s people to seek His face, and that believers are responding to Him in humility, repentance, faith, and obedience. At the same time, let us be discerning and carefully evaluate every purported evidence of revival in the light of God’s Word. Let us not cheapen the term revival by prematurely or carelessly applying it to every contemporary religious movement, but reserve its use for that which is truly heaven-sent and God-initiated. Most of all, let us press on to seek the Lord with all our hearts and call others to join us in doing so. And let us eagerly anticipate that day when His glorious presence may be “like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!” (Psalm 72:6 esv). v
Revival remains a sovereign, independent work of God.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Revive Our Hearts Radio Host
Excerpt from “Is This Revival? An Appeal for Discernment” © 2004 by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Visit www.ReviveOurHearts.com to order Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ newest book True Woman 101: Divine Design (with Mary Kassian, March 1, 2012, Moody Publishers).
Understanding Revival Why should we pray for God’s presence? Isn’t He already here? Is revival in the New Testament? These sure seem like the “Last Days.” Does God even want to send revival? Is it right that we try to organize revival? Does revival praying require me to mix with people from other denominations?
Why should we pray for God’s presence? Isn’t He already here? The Bible speaks of the presence of God in at least three ways. First, there is the essential presence of God. God is omnipresent—everywhere, at all times (Psalm 139). Second, there is the cultivated presence of God, meaning that God promises to draw near to those who seek Him (Jer. 29:13; James 4:8). Finally, there is the manifest presence of God—those divine moments throughout Scripture when God sovereignly breaks in with obvious and extraordinary power. Seeking God for revival does not deny the fact of God’s omnipresence in us, with us, or around us. Rather, it seeks to cultivate His presence in our lives while asking Him to manifest His power and grace.
Is revival in the New Testament?
Is it right that we try to organize revival?
While the word revival isn’t found in the New Testament, its synonym resurrection certainly is! The concepts of having renewed life from the Holy Spirit in individual lives, and refreshed repentance, vitality, and witness among churches are core New Testament expectations. (Examples: Acts 4:23-35; Eph. 1:15-23; Rev. 3:1-3.) In addition, Paul prays that the church would experience “the love of Christ” and “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:14-21). So the New Testament recognizes that there can be a gap between what we spiritually possess “in Christ” and what we practically experience in our daily lives. Revival is the supernatural acceleration of God’s work by the Holy Spirit to close this gap!
No, we can’t organize revival. Revival is a work of God in people’s hearts, initiated by His Spirit. We can, however, cry out for God to send revival (Psalm 85) and humble ourselves before Him in seeking His presence (James 4:7-10). And we can, as Joel proclaimed, organize seasons of prayer, solemn assemblies, and fasts asking for God’s mercy and renewal (Joel 2). G. Campbell Morgan said, “We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the winds of heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again.”
These sure seem like the “Last Days.” Does God even want to send revival? Christians in the Bible thought they were living in the final generations before Christ’s return. And so have believers in many different eras of church history. The point isn’t that they were wrong, but rather that in any period of judgment short of final cataclysmic judgment, there is still time to turn to God. The spiritual darkness of the times in which we live should not cause us to stop and “hang on until the rapture.” Instead, it should fuel our urgency to encourage all men to take advantage of mercy. As was said in the wilderness and repeated by the writer of Hebrews, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). Finally, believing that the return of Christ is imminent does not preclude a final sweeping work of the Holy Spirit to ready the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25-27) and gather as many as will come into the kingdom (2 Peter 3:9).
.comVisit www.LifeAction.org/WhoseMove to hear a conversation on revival between Byron Paulus, Michael Catt, Jim Cymbala, Erwin Lutzer, and Bill Elliff.
Does revival praying require me to mix with people from other denominations? Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that Jesus always comes “with a family.” Not everyone in the family of God will think, pray, or believe precisely as we prefer, and sometimes these differences make us uncomfortable. However, revival history teaches us that “a rising tide lifts all boats”; that is, the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit jumps over denominational and stylistic boundaries to benefit all true believers in Christ. It may be that God will call you to lay aside some of your objections and pray with people from other churches. It’s not that our theological differences aren’t important as we seek revival. But those differences should be put in the right order of importance in comparison with the essential priority of seeking the glory of God in our lives. v
Revival Is Worth the Mess! Not everyone is enthusiastic about revival breaking
loose in their church. The great Dutch theologian and missionary Andrew Murray experienced a revival in South Africa in the mid-19th century that actually scared him. As a young pastor, barely thirty, who had grown up in the Dutch Reformed Church, Mr. Murray had never experienced an outbreak of revival, even though his devout father had prayed for it for 35 years. One evening, while Murray was speaking in one part of the church building, a group of about 60 young people were meeting in another room. The young people were singing hymns, and the Spirit of God began to move powerfully among them, compelling them to prayer. Some prayed silently, but most prayed aloud, pouring their hearts out to God. An elder ran to get Murray, who had just finished his service. He took off with the elder in a run in the direction of the noise. He found people everywhere, kneeling in prayer to God. He tried in vain to interrupt their prayers and to have them rise to their feet. In desperation, he reached the middle of the room and called out as loudly as he could, “People, silence!” The praying continued. He tried again, “People, I am your minister, sent from God. Silence!” The people continued to cry out to God for His mercy and pardon. He tried to start a hymn, to dispel the prayers. It didn’t help. Finally, he cried out, “God is a God of order, and everything here is in confusion!” With that he stomped out of the hall. This was all new to him, and like many of us when we experience something new, it seemed wrong. How could this have happened? Prayer meetings were held every evening after that, with similar outpourings of the presence of God, evidenced by repentance and brokenness before the Lord. On Saturday night it was Mr. Murray’s turn to speak to the group. After a Scripture reading and prayer, the same spirit of prayer fell upon the people. Again, Murray tried in vain to dissuade the attendees from their earnestness in calling out to God. Eventually, an elderly minister who was visiting approached and admonished him. He had just come from meetings in America, and he told Mr. Murray that God was doing a similar work among His people across the seas. His advice was to be careful not to quench the work of the Holy Spirit. This was enough for Andrew Murray. God used that experience to help break him of pride and to show him his own need for the work of the Spirit in his life and ministry.
While this revival was truly a spontaneous work of God, not a result of man-made programs or gimmicks, it was preceded by many years of prayer, and by openness on the part of God’s people. Andrew’s father was blessed to visit him and participate and speak in those meetings. He said, “Andrew, my son, I have longed for such times as these, which the Lord has let you have.”
“Lord, I am willing to let You take anything from me, and to receive anything You want to give me.” Without a doubt, there is a risk of true disorder and ungodliness surfacing in meetings such as these. In the weeks that followed the revival, people flocked from miles around to see and experience the happenings. Some of these visitors, eager for an ecstatic experience (devoid of the Spirit), brought with them excesses that detracted from the true work of the Lord. This is common in genuine revivals. What did the Murrays and others do? They prayed that God Himself would shut down anything that wasn’t of His Spirit; and for the most part, He did. The best approach in situations like that is to simply deal with the excesses, in a spirit of love and gentleness, and allow the work of the Spirit to continue. We should never be so afraid of the counterfeit that we refuse to experience the genuine. It is true that revival will take us out of our comfort zones. I have personally prayed, “Lord, I am willing to let You take anything from me, and to receive anything You want to give me.” Jesus promised us that if we are seeking the Spirit, the Father will not give us a serpent or a stone (Luke 11:11-13). God will only send what is for our good and His glory. It’s true that revival isn’t safe, but it is good—and we need it! v Israel Wayne (www.IsraelWayne.com) is an author and conference speaker with Wisdom’s Gate Ministries.
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Hard Questions Do we have to KEEP praying for revival?
How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous,
Dr. Richard Fisher
so that justice is perverted. . . . Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Habakkuk 1:2-4, 13).
henever evil appears on the scene,
wherever justice is perverted, wherever the sting of wrong is felt or the guilt of sin oppresses, prayer is the natural response for those who trust in God. We cry out to God for relief, for salvation, for forgiveness, for help, for revival. Without God, all we do is complain, or strike back in anger. But prayer is more than complaining or restating the obvious. Prayer involves hope. Prayer is calling on Someone who has the power to deal with the situation and to change things. So we pray . . . and we wait. We pray . . . and we wait. Sometimes we get frustrated that there is no immediate answer or recognizable response. We get tired of praying for God’s help. Should we give up? In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus uses the illustration of a persistent widow. He challenges us to be persistent because God is interested; and unlike the grouchy, uncaring judge, God loves us and wants to respond to our needs and make us whole again. Do not misunderstand what Jesus is saying. He is not saying that if you pray for something fifty times, God will get tired of you bugging Him and answer your request. Prayer is not a tool that manipulates or prods God into action. But the Bible consistently illustrates persistence in asking God for revival and help in every area of life:
• Psalms 80 and 85 speak of asking God to revive (80:18; 85:6) and restore (80:3, 7, 19; 85:4) His people so that we may be forgiven, may rejoice in God, may walk in righteousness and peace. • When we sin, Psalm 51:1-12 urges us to confess our sin, asking for forgiveness and restoration—reviving the soul. • Isaiah 55:1-13 gives an invitation to pray for life restored by returning to the Lord. • Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 is a prayer for revival—to know the love of Christ and experience the power of God that we might be strengthened to reach a lost world for Christ. • First Thessalonians 5:16-18 exhorts us to rejoice always, pray continuously, and give thanks in all circumstances. That we are to “pray continually” suggests that prayer is more important than we realize, and that it is part of a bigger operation dealing with the advancement of God’s kingdom and the conflict this involves with the kingdom of darkness.
Time and again, Paul prayed. Persistently, the prophets called to God for help, for revival. The Bible is clear: We are to keep praying because the need always exists. The reason for this is that the human race has been engaged in a spiritual war with the forces of darkness ever since Adam rebelled against God. A spiritual darkness has blinded mankind to the reality and devastation caused by this war (Gen. 3; Eph. 6:10-20; Rev. 12). Under the devil’s spell, men pursue lies while under the condemnation of death. To overcome this evil, God’s battle plan must overpower many layers of deception, generations of bad habits, a commitment to self-centered living, and a worldview that dismisses the validity of God. God’s rescue plan is based on the promise of Jesus, who was sent by God to die in the place of mankind, and through His death and resurrection to offer whoever would believe the way out of darkness and the way back to God and eternal life. To understand why we persist in prayer, we must understand the part prayer plays in God’s strategic battle plan, His plan of making disciples. 1. Prayer is communication. If a battle is going to be successful, the lines of communication must be kept open and used often. All through the gospels, Jesus is constantly talking with the Father. This is what Paul referred to when he said to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). Prayer is asking God for battle plans, supplies, and encouragement. Prayer is fellowshipping and keeping in touch with our Savior. Prayer is communicating with our Creator and Lord (Jer. 33:3). 2. Prayer takes place in relationship. If you are not part of God’s plan to redeem mankind, the lines of communication are not open to you. Without a living connection with God and a relationship with Christ, prayer means nothing. Jesus reveals this aspect of prayer in John 14–17. 3. Prayer demands partnership. If we do not buy into God’s plan and partner with Him to rescue mankind, our prayers will soon diminish into mere repetitive rituals and decorative words with no purpose or power. But if we are on God’s team, and are committed to His plan as partners in the gospel, then we get involved. And when we face problems or need something to help the mission, we will pray to God about it. After all, He is our partner. • He is the senior partner with the wisdom, experience, and plan. We follow His lead. • He is the spiritual partner, empowering our inner man (John 4:24; Eph. 3:16). We draw courage from Him. • He is the silent partner with the controlling interest (Phil. 2:12-13). We depend on Him. • We are sons asking our Father about our future. This is a family business, a family partnership.
In Philippians 1:4-6 and 2:12-13, Paul develops the idea of the partnership God wants to have with us. When we have the same vision, the same goals, the same mission, our minds work along the same lines, and whatever we ask for, God gives us (John 14:13-14). The phrase “whatever you ask in my name” expresses the partnership concept. It implies that we are on the same team and act as one to accomplish the same purpose. An active partnership with God in the ministry is vital to our prayer life and to the success of our mission. 4. Prayer accompanies work and engaging the enemy. James 5:20 sees the deliverance of sinners as a main goal for Christ followers. Paul speaks of holding out the word of life (Phil. 2:16) and rescuing those under Satan’s control (Col. 1:13-14) as another key goal. All three of these passages are surrounded by prayer (James 5:13-18; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-14). Prayer and the work of the ministry go together. If I said “I love you” to my wife, Lois, but never demonstrated my love, we would soon have no relationship to talk about. There would be no real need to communicate. But if my wife and I are partners in the struggle of life, our work and our words go hand in hand, to communicate, clarify, and complete our goals. Love grows. Communication flows. With God, prayer becomes the vibrant communication of a working relationship. It gives hope, joy, and direction to a life invested in the work of God’s kingdom. God calls us to prayer . . . and to action. He calls us to join Him in the mission to rescue mankind from the grip of the evil one. It is God’s plan to restore man that gives the real value to prayer. Prayer plays a vital part in this mission. It is the communication between those who stand and fight for truth, and their God. Prayer grows out of our desire to see revival and out of the rigors of fighting the battle to save mankind (Eph. 6:10-20). Whenever we seek revival, we are joining God in His mission to save mankind. And for this, we desperately need the help and power of God. We need to keep praying! v Dr. Richard Fisher has served as a professor and regional director with Moody Bible Institute.
What Prayer Is Not • A magical incantation reinforced by ceremonial activity to activate God • Repeating a phrase over and over, or nagging someone to get what we want • A performance to impress someone, or a religious ritual required by God to get an audience • A substitute for good deeds or active involvement in the spiritual battle (based on Matthew 6)
Visit www.LifeAction.org/WhoseMove to order or download the bookmark “Prayers That Birth Revival.”
Real World I don’t want to change. An older man decides he’s unwilling to pursue revival.
Don’t Quit on God
The Scenario I’ve attended church for most of my life; my first memories of the church are sitting in the balcony with my friends nearly fifty years ago. I’ve attended just about every Sunday of my whole life; I’ve given money, served on committees, and raised my own children to value the Christian faith as well. Recently my pastor announced a series of “revival meetings” he wants to have in our church. I’m glad to see his enthusiasm, but as he explained what’s involved, I really am not interested at all. Meetings every night? Talking about full surrender to God? It sounds a little over-thetop to me. I’m quite happy where I am. Maybe this thing will be good for younger people or for people who aren’t saved, but for me, I’m thinking of sitting it out. At the end of the day, I’m not planning on changing anything about my life. I’m doing fine.
I once heard of a 97-year-old lady who faithfully attended a weekly Bible study. I am so challenged and encouraged every time I see a senior citizen with a teachable heart. I don’t ever want to stop learning about the things of the Lord. I don’t ever want to grow content or think that I have “arrived” spiritually! I think of Caleb in the Bible. When he was 85 years old, he came to Joshua and wanted to take on the giants that were bothering God’s people. He said (essentially), “Those guys are always bugging us. Let me go take care of them!” I want to be an old Caleb with some vision and strength of heart; I don’t want to retire out of usefulness to the Lord! If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t resist what my pastor is planning. In fact, I’d be right in the middle of it. Set some spiritual goals for yourself. Lay out some future challenges. If my outer physical body decays, so be it, but in my inner man I want to be “renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). If God puts opportunity in front of me to make a difference, whether in my own life or in the hearts of others, I want to jump in! Think of men like Vance Havner, who preached until he was past 90 years old. I don’t know what your personal spiritual gifts are, but how about picking up the pace a little? The best and most productive years of your spiritual life could still be ahead of you! As long as your heart is beating, God has a plan for you. And it’s not to sit on the sidelines. Finally, something I say to senior citizens all across America as I travel to proclaim revival: “We need you!” The church of Jesus Christ needs the wisdom of its elders; and if you sit this out, you’ll miss the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing. Wilson Green pastored for 21 years before joining Life Action in 1999. He currently co-leads a Life Action summit team.
Run to the Finish
Remember Jesus’ Words
Wow! What an amazing thing for you to feel “quite happy where I am.” If God is also quite happy with where you are, then all I can say is, Amen! However, a pastor at my church recently sent me this quote: “If you think you’re green, you’ll grow; if you think you’re ripe, you’ll rot!” The minute any of us becomes content (complacent might be a better word) with the level of our growth and faith, that’s when we really need to turn to the Lord again! We must ask Him to show us the true condition of our hearts, and ask, as the apostles did in Luke 17:5, “Increase our faith!” The moment we start to feel like we have it all together is the moment we should desperately start praying for revival. Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” This race must be run with patience and perseverance: patience to encounter the difficulties that lie ahead, and perseverance to resist all temptations to desist or turn aside. Running the race involves effort, striving, and pursuing until we breathe our final breath—not sitting back thinking we’ve already done our fair share! How do we run the race? First, we are told, by fixing our eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith” (v. 2). Second, we are called to mimic Christ, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame.” A joyful inheritance awaits you in heaven, and God has still given you more time in this race—so get up and get moving!
When someone says they’re “doing fine,” it makes me wonder what standard they’re measuring by. Many people arrive at that conclusion because they are comparing themselves to others instead of to the Word of God. Jesus spoke to a group of believers in Laodicea who thought they were doing fine. They were saying, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” But they didn’t realize that according to Jesus they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:15-19). The people in that church were trusting in outward things that seemed to indicate they were doing well (this could be church attendance, giving money, doing “good” things for other people, etc.), but Jesus knew their hearts and said that they were lukewarm. And He called them to be zealous and repent! The belief that everything is okay is actually a strong indicator that we need revival from God. Some people may actually need to reevaluate their salvation experience altogether. There are plenty of “good” people—even in church—who are actually trusting in the “good” that they do to save them. But there is nothing we can do to “score points” with God. The only thing that will save us is trusting completely in Jesus’ sacrifice and throwing ourselves on His mercy (Eph. 2:8-9). Jesus doesn’t want our works—He wants all of us. He wants our hearts—all that we have and all that we are. Remember that Jesus is the one who is asking for radical devotion: “If any would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).
Jeff Brianas volunteers with the OneCry Prayer Movement, seeking to call people to refreshed faith and renewed prayer for spiritual awakening.
Melody Keener is a coordinator at LifeChange Church in Medina, Ohio.
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Making It The Pathway to Revival When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, He introduced a new kingdom and a revolutionary new way of life. The first several verses recorded in Matthew 5 capture a series of attitudes that are foundational to a revived life. If your soul longs for the blessing of revival, begin asking God for the following characteristics of heart.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. To experience revival, we must begin with the humility of spirit that cries, “Lord, I need You!” Check your heart for pride: o I often think about how well I am doing or how much I have accumulated. o I rarely pray, except when in public situations where prayer is expected. o I hesitate to share my faults with people, because I need to defend my reputation. o I internally compare myself with others, noting their apparent lack of growth or wisdom. o I tend to believe that my opinion is more valuable than others’.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. To experience revival, we must be willing to weep over our sin and the desperate condition of our world. In the past six months, I have grieved about: o Personal losses o Stressful situations o The condition of our world o God’s glory and honor o The souls of lost people o Nothing, that I recall
o Spiritual needs in my church o My failures to love God or people
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. To experience revival, we must humble ourselves, deferring to Christ and others. On each line, check the option that most characterizes your life: o Being concerned about what others think or o Putting others first o Looking down on and condemning others or o Being patient with others’ weaknesses o Seeking to better myself or o Serving others o Forcing my opinions on others or o Listening to and understanding others o Reacting in the flesh or o Responding in the Spirit
lessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. B To experience revival, we must seek the righteousness that comes from yielding to the Holy Spirit. Recall the last time you experienced true physical hunger/thirst. Have you ever had a similar driving desire for righteousness? o Yes o No Excuses I’ve used to neglect the pursuit of righteousness: o Nobody’s perfect. o I’m waiting for heaven. o I’m an addict. o I don’t have time. o This is just who I am. o I don’t like change. o I’ve tried and failed. o I don’t know how. o I don’t want to be extreme.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. To experience revival, we must extend grace and forgiveness toward others, just as God has done for us. Is there any unforgiveness in my heart? o Yes o No Am I quick to judge people or express my frustration with them? o Yes o No Do I frequently contrast my good choices with the poor choices of those around me? o Yes o No Is there anyone in my life that I have not shown Christlike mercy? o Yes o No Write his/her initials here ________, and begin by praying for this person.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. To experience revival, we must daily pursue purity of heart in our relationship with God. Check the areas of “heart impurity” you have experienced in the past week; then look up the passages to help with your confession and repentance before God. o Sexual lust (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8) o Greed (1 Timothy 6:6-10) o Hatred or seething anger (1 John 3:15) o Laziness (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) o Selfishness (1 Corinthians 10:24) o Dishonesty (1 Peter 2:1)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. To experience revival, we must resolve conflict so we can pray and work with other believers (John 17). Do I promote disunity in any of the following ways? o Frequently verbalizing criticisms and negative opinions o Seeking out or affirming the negative opinions expressed by others o Talking publicly about my disagreements and dissatisfactions o Second guessing people’s motives; spreading distrust o Ignoring sins and divisions I see happening around me o Listening to or participating in gossip o Focusing on differences instead of areas of common ground o Failing to pray for people I have trouble with or who cause trouble
Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Sometimes the biggest hindrances to revival reside in our own hearts. It is possible to know what’s right but still not desire it. Prayer and meditation on Scripture are the antidotes to doubt, hardness of heart, and apathy. Try it!
I don’t think I can really repent. “Lord Jesus, I feel inadequate for the task of holiness and purity. I’ve tried to repent before, but despite my good intentions, I chose to walk right back into my sin. I need Your grace to empower me to live a new life. I’m afraid that if I decide afresh to repent, I’ll be right back here again confessing my lack of faithfulness to You. Please give me Your strength, wisdom, and power to walk in the victory You died to provide for me. I want to repent because I love You more than I love my sins.” Consider: Matthew 19:26; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Philippians 4:13
I would love to be strong in prayer, but I’ve tried before and failed. “Father, You are well aware of my prayerlessness. I’ve read materials on prayer, heard sermons about it, and even made a few resolutions to spend more time with You. And yet, for a host of excuses, I don’t pray. I want to, I think, but I haven’t proven that by my actions. I want to believe I have faith in You and love for You, but the fact that I rarely speak with You in a meaningful way must make You sad. I repent of prayerlessness today, and I choose to seek You in prayer. I ask You for the strength to pray fervently and for the joy of prayer to fill my soul.” Consider: Proverbs 24:16; Matthew 11:28; Luke 18:27; 2 Corinthians 12:9; James 5:17-18
I feel hypocritical when I pray for revival. “Lord, I confess that as I seek revival, I feel like I’m living a double life. I think it is because, even though I want revival in my life and in my church, I also don’t really intend to stop doing worldly things. Will You even hear my prayers for revival if I’m not fully surrendered to You? I ask for Your help to overcome my hypocrisy and to make a clean break with sin. It is for Your glory that I am praying for revival, and it is for Your glory that I was created in the first place. I have no right or reason to hold back areas of my life from your Holy Spirit’s control. I repent today and ask for Your mercy, and for a fresh start in personal revival.” Consider: Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16-26
I’m just too tired and too busy to think about this right now. “Jesus, Your Word says that You sympathize with our weaknesses because You know what it’s like to be a human being. I confess to You that I’ve filled my life with far too many earthly things and, as a result, when I think about seeking You in revival or deepening my spiritual life, I just sigh. There’s no way I have time for You, Lord. I confess that You are not my priority, and I repent today. I commit to clearing my life to the point where I can invest time into my relationship with You. I love You, and I do want to experience the fullness of Your grace. Consider: Matthew 6:33; 24:36-44; Revelation 3:1-3
I’m “in process.” God is still working on me! “Holy Spirit, I recognize my dependence on You to change me, and that You have initiated the lifelong process of sanctification in my life. But I also don’t want to use this as an excuse to not pursue righteousness and revival. I’m afraid that I’ve been doing that, assuming that You’d bring changes into my life in Your own time, ignoring the Bible’s obvious commands to take action myself. I’ve even grown comfortable with some secret sins lingering in my soul. I do depend on You—Your grace, Your spiritual blessings, Your power—but I also know that You’ve given me the power to choose the path of obedience. I choose that path today, and I will take action in whatever area of my life You prompt me to change.” Consider: 2 Corinthians 6:1-2; James 2:14-26; 4:17; 1 Timothy 6:11
I’m comfortable where I am. “Father, when confronted with the truths of revival, I must confess that I’ve been mediocre in my response. I’m not opposed to humility, repentance, and fresh obedience. I’m even willing to serve people or share my faith. But up until now I’ve felt like I was okay, and I was basically content with my spiritual life. Lord, You’ve shown me that this is a deception from the devil, and that I should always have a ‘holy dissatisfaction’ with the status quo. There is so much more to learn, to enjoy, to obey, to experience—so much more of You and Your Word to know! Please, Heavenly Father, never allow me to slide back into a lazy, chair-bound Christianity. I’m ready to get up and get moving—which is why I’m asking You for revival today!” Consider: James 1:21-25; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Revelation 3:15-19
How do I know this will last? “Jesus, You are the author and perfecter of my faith. When I look at myself, I’m skeptical that any revival I experience will have lasting impact. But I know that You have a plan for me that far exceeds my own. I know that You have good works prepared in advance for me to accomplish, to Your glory. In light of this, Lord, please grant me Your special favor to continue on the pathway to maturity, love, and effectiveness. You have me on earth to fulfill Your purposes, and I would never want my own lack of faith to stand in the way of accomplishing those. I place my faith and trust in You, not in myself. And so, Jesus, please send revival to my heart. I don’t want to miss anything You have in mind for me.” Consider: John 14:26; Galatians 6:9; Philippians 1:6
For this reason I kneel before the Father
, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
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