Many groups who pray for revival have a difficult time defining what revival would actually look like. It stand to reason that if we struggle to define the goal, we will likely struggle even more to define the steps we expect to see from start to finish along the journey. To revive something implies the previous state was somewhere between inadequate and/or dead.
As we discussed in Part One, revival can come forth simply as a result of the Church in America returning to obedience of biblical principles and standards. For example, if the Church in America returned to the five-dimensional model of leadership as described in Ephesians 4, the elements of our faith would be dispensed more wholly and completely. A five-cylinder engine always runs more efficiently and has more power than one running on just three cylinders. We spiral slowly toward spiritual death as we disobey the Word and the Author of the Word and we find new, revived life when obey it. God’s plan, structure, and implementation of things are perfect from the beginning.
Another issue that delays revival is what I call the magic bullet theory. When we have no clear plan of defining revival, much less quantifying it, we begin to drift into randomness, as well as phantom theories and expectations. In this vacuum of focus, the typical model begins to move towards revival accounts from past history. For example, since all the pastors of “Town X” in Virginia gathered together for prayer 150 years ago for four consecutive Fridays and the next day revival broke out, then the magic bullet is to gather pastors to pray for revival for four consecutive Fridays. If those pastors of the past just happened to sing Blessed Assurance and met at 11 am, don’t assume that some prayer leader of today might just feel obliged to follow the same detail and request the same hymn be utilized and the meetings must be scheduled for 11 am as well. So the formula appears. Reenactment with precision repetition of the past insures a repeat of revival. Correct? Not necessarily.
Revival could be defined as realigning our hearts to the heartbeat of God. When there is such a synchronization, all the oft celebrated traits of revival are realized, such as renewed life, empowerment of the Holy Spirit, and walking in the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. Likewise, the typical reforms of revival are realized, including healed relationships, sensitivity to sin, and renewed passion for evangelization and the welfare of others. Once we are closely aligned with God’s plan, He has no problem infusing and equipping our lives with the supernatural power needed for catalytic change all around us.
When Israel was trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching armies of Egypt, death and destruction seemed imminent. This sounds like life around us today. We are desperate for God to intervene and do something! We’re in trouble. The circumstances around us do not look good! So Moses response to Israel’s fear was this: “Do not fear! Stand still and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today…” (Exodus 14:13).
The first step towards revival is an awareness of our current situation. Self-dependency blinds us to our surroundings and the need for divine intervention. The key word here is indeed “self.” In contrast, God sometimes fine tunes our vision to our current state of hopelessness, fear, and brokenness BEFORE he summons the next steps of revival. As someone once said, “The holy subtraction always precedes the holy addition.” Likewise, many times before a local assembly experiences revival, some of those who stand in the way are removed.
Sometimes the best thing we can do to experience revival is not so much to attempt to duplicate a past scenario, at a past geographic location, but to first “stand still” as Moses encouraged Israel. This implies ceasing from our typical busyness, and focus on the Lord. Stand still…pray…be quiet…listen…wait…focus in His face more than His hand…ask Him to show you what He wants to do, regardless of what you SEE around you. The quest for revival is not the reenactment of a formula. It is the renewal of a relationship. Isn’t it amazing that the Creator of the Universe wants that level of intimacy with you and I?
True revival will evades us until we cease from trying to recreate a moment in history and recreate a relationship with the ONE who can, through us, make history. God wants to do a new thing!