We desperately need revival, but how do we seek it?
“As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.” —Leonard Ravenhill
We need a revival. We need an awakening. We need a Jesus movement more than ever in history. I don’t care what you call it, but we need it. God has done it before and I believe he can do it again. The Holy Spirit is alive and well and working in incredible ways among believers and churches around the world. On December 20, 2020, Long Hollow Baptist Church had a regularly scheduled baptism service that has turned into an incredible movement of God. Pastor Robby Gallaty described it as “a movement of God that I’ve never experienced.” It started with a powerful testimony from a man who just recently lost a loved one and Pastor Robby was prompted to ask if anyone else wanted to be baptized. One by one people decided to be spontaneously baptized and 99 were baptized by the end of the service. Since then the church has hosted several other baptism services during week days and at last count they had over 187 get baptized! Pastor Robby has been posting testimonies on twitter including:
“One of those who got baptized was formerly in satanic worship. She didn’t think she could be saved because of all the horrible things she had done,” he said. “I told her that was a lie. The guy who brought her to our church had been a Satan worshipper for 10 years. I had baptized him and now he had brought her to the church. Never had this happen before. After the service, one girl sincerely asked me, ‘What do I do with all the witchcraft stuff that I have at home?’ I said, ‘Burn it all.’”
I have been hearing stories of God working in powerful ways like this across the nation and it makes me wonder what he has prepared for the days ahead. Last year, a small team of Christian leaders from a variety of backgrounds and denominations used social media to call 1 million young people to fast and pray at the start of the decade. We called it the “Roaring Twenties Fast” and thousands of people joined us for 21 days of fasting and prayer with a focus on consecration, asking God to move in our hearts to prepare us for the “Roaring Twenties.”
Then 2020 happened. God knew what he was doing, preparing his people for a year that will go down in history. During this season God continued to move, but also pruned and shaped his people. What if 2020 is plowing the ground for a great harvest in 2021? When I think about the local collegiate ministry that I lead, COVID-19 hurt our overall attendance numbers but the strength, unity and vision of our student leaders is at an all time high. God is preparing these college students to be world changers!
In 2021 we are again calling 1 million people forward to fast and pray with us for the Roaring Twenties Fast 2021, with a focus on being “resolute” based on Daniel 10:12:
“Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”
Click here to join us for the Roaring Twenties Fast.
We desperately need revival. I work on the college campus and the truth is that this generation is lost and broken in so many ways. We estimate that the average college campus is less than 5% followers of Christ. They suffer from addiction, depression and hopelessness. One out of every three students are binge drinking and at least one in five are regularly using some kind of drug. According to a recent American College Health Association survey, 37% of students reported feeling so depressed within the last 12 months that it was difficult to function, and 21% felt overwhelming anxiety. Ten percent of full-time college students had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year. However, these issues are not only found outside the church. A study of over 700 practicing Christian college men showed that 89% watch porn at least occasionally and 61% watched it at least weekly. Even more shocking, in an anonymous study by TheFreedomFight.org over 50% of pastors admitted to watching porn regularly. If half of our spiritual leaders are not walking in freedom, then we desperately need a revival in the church! For many COVID-19 has only magnified these struggles. This generation truly is “harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36–38).
So how can we practically seek revival?
1. Pursue God for Personal Revival.
“Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.” —Charles Finney
Before God brings revival to a church or nation he often brings it to an individual. Interestingly, in my conversations with Pastor Robby Gallaty earlier this year he has raved about how God has been deepening his own prayer life and intimacy with God. Recently, Robbie has been pursuing God for extended times of silence and solitude. Learning to use his time alone with God not to accomplish something but to be with someone.
How is your prayer life? If I am being honest, my prayer life needs a revival. I need to get back to the discipline and intimacy I once had in my own prayer life. For me, this means blocking out an unhurried time to be alone in God’s presence. It helps for me to put my phone on airplane mode and set a one-hour timer. This ensures that I will not be distracted and gives me some structure. I encourage you to find a Bible reading plan, develop a plan for scripture memory and put together a prayer list of specific requests that you are asking God for. I spell out how I do these in my free ebook The Big 5: Foundational Habits For Discipleship. For more encouragement in your prayer life check out these messages called Prayer That Changes The World and How To Pray With Confidence.
Don’t be afraid of discipline. Discipline is not legalism. I believe one of the lies the enemy uses to stop people from being consistent in spiritual disciplines is “you are just being legalistic.” Pursuing spiritual disciplines doesn’t earn God’s favor. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5) God doesn’t love you more if you had your quiet time today. Spiritual discipline is not about checking off boxes but about connecting with the Lord. Many have called spiritual disciplines “means of grace” because they put you in the path of God’s power where you can experience more of His grace in your life. Dallas Willard once said:
“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”
In addition to staying disciplined in our Bible intake and prayer lives, we must make sure we have no unconfessed sin in our lives and we are seeking to constantly be filled with and walk in step with the Holy Spirit. Personal revival is a moment by moment experience of laying aside our selfish agenda and allowing the Holy Spirit to love others through us. I have been greatly helped by the writings of Bill Bright on this topic as well as a short book called The Calvary Road by Roy Hession which will give you a great vision for personal revival. If you want to go even deeper consider taking on these challenges by Bill Bright in his short letter “How to Have a Personal Revival.”
2. Unite With Others in Passionate Prayer.
“All revival begins, and continues, in the prayer meeting. Some have also called prayer the “great fruit of revival.” —Henry Blackaby
I have studied revival history since college. I have read just about anything I can get my hands on about the subject. It is amazing to mark the different people, places and ways that God moved in power among his people. One common theme is united and passionate prayer. This can be as simple as skipping breakfast and meeting up with a friend to pray in the car before work. My mentor Max Barnett has a daily phone call with a friend for about an hour everyday where they simply pray together. Whether it’s as small as a phone call, or as big as a community gathering, the important thing is that you are praying together.
One of my spiritual heroes is Dawson Trotman, the founder of The Navigators. In the early days of his ministry, Dawson Trotman got together with a couple of his disciples at 4:30 at the top of a mountain overlooking southern California where their ministry was located. They started by praying over the people in their Bible studies, then for the cities they worked in, and the surrounding cities as well. They did this for about two hours every morning. Eventually someone got the idea to bring a world map up with them on the mountain. Here is Dawson Trotman describing this experience:
“I don’t know which one of us suggested that we get a map of the world, for that surely would give us a good prayer list for weeks to come. We bought a world map with all the nations in beautiful color and would leave it up there in the hills, covered up at night with a piece of old canvas. Each morning we would roll it out and put our fingers on China, Japan, a little island called Formosa, and the Philippines. As we moved in our prayer time, we started praying for Greece, the island of Cyprus, Egypt, and the countries of Africa. What exciting days as we covered the world in our intercession, praying by name for each nation and asking, ‘God, allow us to serve You some day in each of these places and enable us to reach men for You in every one of these continents of the world.’”
They continued this for 40 days and immediately after an exponential movement was birthed through their ministry. God has answered their prayers as they have “spiritual grandchildren” in almost every country in the world! I am an answer to Dawson Trotman’s prayer that day! The ripple effect of that 40-day prayer meeting is still being felt.
Our student leaders at Chico State have taken on the call to not only to develop powerful personal prayer lives but to pray together in small student led prayer groups. I wasn’t even aware of how many groups were started until the end of the year! Most groups met at 6am, which is a miracle itself if you know anything about college students. They prayed specifically and persistently and tracked their answers to prayer. This semester they recorded 48 specific answers to prayer, and we had over 50 students indicate a decision to follow Christ since COVID-19 hit! This generation has a hunger to experience God and to be used by him to bring revival. They are waiting for Christian leaders to model the way and call them forward into sacrificial faith! For a challenging message on revival praying check out 5 Steps To Genuine Revival by Dr. Ian Paisley.
3. Step Out in Bold Evangelism.
“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late—and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work.” —A.W. Tozer
Another common mark of revival is bold evangelism. Every movement in the history of Christianity has been marked by broad sowing of the gospel message. Recently, I have seen a lot of articles and books encouraging us to “rethink evangelism”, as if it doesn’t work anymore. I am sure most of these resources have helpful ideas in them. But honestly, someone that says “evangelism doesn’t work anymore” hasn’t been doing much of it. The harvest is still plentiful and the laborers are still few! My experience talking with hundreds of collegiate ministry leaders across the nation is that the problem is not with the harvest. The harvest is plentiful. There are hundreds of students on every campus who are just a few interactions away from giving their life to Christ. The problem is a lack of laborers. Without fail, when a team of laborers begin to intentionally and relationally “sow broadly” with the gospel, they immediately see more students coming to Christ. Crazy how that works! My friend Brian Smith at Hope Church near Arizona State has seen around a student a day come to Christ since COVID-19. The fish are still biting, Even online! There is a direct connection to how many people you share the gospel with and how many come to Christ. Jesus tells the truth! (Matthew 9:36-38)
What if the need of the hour is not new methods? What if the need of the hour is new boldness?
I am really challenged by the example of the early church. After being filled with the Holy Spirit these disciples broadly and boldly spread the gospel across the known world. The early disciples were not careful with who and how they shared the good news, but shared with all who would listen. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 5:42). As a result, the gospel went viral as the apostles modeled this radical urgency to get the word out. Even when they were faced with threats and persecution they couldn’t stop sharing about the gospel of Jesus! “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Their response was not to pray for safety. They prayed for boldness:
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” —Acts 4:29-31
So what if it is a little bit awkward when you start a spiritual conversation. What I have learned is that awkward conversations change lives! Your friend who needs Christ may be just one awkward conversation away from coming to Christ. Last time I checked no one died from awkwardness. What could God do if his people would step out in bold obedient faith and started lots of awkward conversations. For tools that might help make your evangelism less awkward check out these evangelism resources.
It is my prayer that God will bring personal revival in your own life and use you to spark a revival in your church, your community and your nation! Join us for the Roaring Twenties Fast and let us know what God is doing in your life!
This article originally appeared on Thinke.org and is reposted here by permission.