I have three suggestions for the people of God, the ones commissioned to represent the Lord on this planet, to bring worship to Him, and to carry His gospel to the ends of the earth. They and only they have a concern with the matter of revival. Revival is only for believers. After all, you cannot revive what never was alive in the first place.
1) REMEMBER THE BIG PICTURE: we are God’s people. The object of spiritual revival is not the emotional outbursts, unstructured services, excessiveness in enthusiasm, bigger budgets, or even the crowded churches which often accompany revival. These things may occur and often do, and they tend to frighten away those of us who like worship to be completely predictable and identical to the way we did things last week.
The whole point of a movement of God’s Spirit which we call revival involves great concerns, matters like a) glorifying God in this world, b) magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ, c) the spiritual rebirth of millions of lost people, d) the restoration and health of families, e) the healing of society and the redemption of our culture, f) rescuing the futures of vulnerable little children, and g) reviving and re-aligning the Lord’s churches.
When we get hung up on the emotional excesses of revival, we fail to look at the big picture, that the whole point of revival is God transforming this world, one person at a time, for His own purposes and glory.
2) MAKE THE BIG DECISION: humble ourselves.
If revival is about re-establishing God’s glory and Christ’s honor, about transforming lives and homes and churches and society, don’t you want that? Surely we do, even though we like our comfort and hate being “messed with,” we who call ourselves disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ can be said to desire these things.
In fact, David Mains points to the restlessness of church members today as a sign that God’s people are indeed yearning for a genuine revival. He says, “Step one to any kind of revival movement is a deep-seated sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are. People who are already satisfied with life seldom aspire to something more, so I’m glad if there is a restlessness going on.” The kind of restlessness Mains refers to can be seen in the way believers run from one church to another, crossing denominational lines, soaking up Bible studies in conferences, and pressuring their leaders toward more relevant and productive ministries.
Dr. Mains emphasizes that these “yearnings for more than meager fare have a tendency to go in one of two directions. The first is a negative bent and results in a carping or complaining spirit….” The other is to drive us to our knees in praying for a great movement of God’s Spirit, a movement we call revival. If we can admit that we want God’s transformation in our world, our institutions, our people, our churches, and our homes, then, where is the starting place to achieving that?
3) PRAY THE BIG PRAYER.
We’re now at the point where we can pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. We can pray for His will to be done in Washington, D.C., as in heaven; in my town as in heaven; in my church, my home, my own life. That’s the simplest definition of revival you’ll ever find: God putting into place His will for vast numbers of His people.
And so the prayer we pray for revival may come down to being the simplest prayer one can ever lift heavenward: “Lord, we want thy will. Thy will be done in us.” In so saying, you are handing Him the keys, moving out of the driver’s seat, yielding your will to His.
Now, if it happens that the pleasures of this world have you in a death grip and will not let go–you could not possibly imagine leaving home on a Tuesday night and helping at the homeless shelter because you would miss your favorite television show–and you cannot honestly pray for God’s will to be done in your life, then there’s another prayer for you. This one is the key to the other. Try praying this: “Father, I cannot say I want thy will to be done in my life. But I wish I could. Therefore, I pray that I will want thy will to be done. I ask you to change my heart and give me a desire for Thee.”