While it is true there are many people talking about revival and praying for revival, there are also many who wonder how practical it is to be doing this. They feel that those who constantly speak and write of revival are simply “out of touch from reality mystics” who are so revival-minded they are no earthly good. Unfortunately, there are even pastors, church leaders, and denominational leaders who are of the mindset, “If it won’t put more people in the pews, or increase the offerings, or grow my church, why should I pursue it?” Too many church leaders are looking for the latest, greatest program or idea that will help them “grow or revitalize their church.” However, they want something that can be packaged, promoted, put into action, and if the truth be told, controlled.
One of the churches I served as pastor was located in a small town. The town was not growing, but God began to work in a powerful way and in the first four years the Lord added three hundred people to the fellowship of our church. A friend of mine who was a leader in his church in another town, called me and asked, “What program are you using?” This is the mindset of so many in our churches. There was no program. Believe it or not, we did not even have a strong visitation/outreach ministry at the time. What happened? God happened. For months, we sought the Lord in prayer. cleared the church calendar of all unnecessary events, and set aside a time to meet with Him. Guess what? He showed up! In this blog I will not write of all the Lord did (it would take a small book), but He did what only He could do and our church was in a state of revival for months. It changed everything, at least in the lives of those who truly surrendered to Him.
Still, there are those who think, “All this talk of something called “revival” is well and good, but I need something practical. I need something practical to help our families, our young people, and those who are struggling with different issues in their lives. I need something practical to grow my church. Sitting around praying for something called revival just does not seem very practical.”
Do you think the children of Israel thought it was practical when Joshua said, “I know the Jordan River is overflowing its banks, but the priests are going to take the Ark, step into the water, stand there, then God is going to part the river and all of us are going to cross over to the Promised Land on the other side.”? What do you imagine some of them thought when he told them about God’s battle plan for Jericho? “We’re going to do what!?!” How practical did that sound? How practical did it seem when Jesus said, “Hand me that basket of fish and bread and watch me feed this crowd.”?
Revival is not something we can package, promote or control. However, based on revival testimonies of the past, and on what I have been blessed to experience myself, when we truly meet God’s conditions He lays out in 2 Chronicles 7:14; God keeps His promises. In a short period of time, when God visited His people in His reviving presence and power, I have seen the Lord save lost people who have been prayed for for years. I have seen Him restore the backslidden. I have seen God deliver drug addicts and alcoholics from their bondage, heal broken marriages and make them stronger than ever, restore relationships between parents and their children, restore relationships between church members, set people free from bitterness, enable people to forgive others, and so much more. I have seen Him draw people to Himself in such a real and tangible way that a church would be packed out with people waiting to see what God would do next. How practical is that?
At the same time, however, let me say that we should not expect God to send revival our way if we are not truly seeking Him, turning from our wicked ways, and obeying what He has already told us to do. We cannot disregard and disobey His commands that He has given individuals and churches and honestly ask Him to revive us. The church that is not obeying the Great Commission, loving their community, and working to reach their community for Christ should not expect the Lord to send revival as a cure-all. There is a part that God has called us to do. There are conditions that He is waiting for us to meet. We are to humble ourselves, confess, repent, seek Him, trust Him, believe Him, and wait on Him to do what only He can do. When God does bless us with His reviving presence; it is one of the most powerful and practical things that can ever happen in our lives and in our churches.