How to Seek RevivalBy Dan Vis
February 03, 2020
We just recently launched the live version of our Revival Agents training track, and I wanted to kick that off with a memo about how to seek revival from God. Today's memo is filled with helpful tips, including excerpts from a classic article on the subject written nearly 150 years ago!
Revival is real. The Bible is filled with stories of great outpourings of the Spirit of God. Elijah on Mount Caramel. Moses and the seventy elders. Joash and the discovery of the lost scroll. Gideon and his three hundred men, Ezra and the reading of the Law of God. Some involved miracles, but most were simply the result of compelling, supernatural conviction.
And Christian history is marked by episodes of great revival too. In different locations, and in different epochs, God's Spirit has been poured out time and again. The presence of God was manifest, and thousands were converted. The great Advent awakening of the 1800's was just one of many revivals through the centuries that helped shape the Christian church.
From the beginning, God's purpose has been for His church to operate by spiritual power. Human arguments and reasoning may convince a person's mind, but they can't change the heart. Human structures and systems can help organize our efforts, but they are insufficient to bring salvation to a lost world. What's needed is the supernatural element.
The disciples clearly understood this. Jesus had told them to "tarry ... in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" and that they would "receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" enabling them to be witnesses "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Luke 24:49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high., Acts 1:8But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.). And they did just that.
For ten days following Christ's ascension, they gathered together, praying with one accord, waiting for that promise to be fulfilled. Finally, on the day of Pentecost, God's Spirit was poured out and they were empowered to preach Christ mightily. Multitudes were converted and the Gospel began to spread through the ancient world.
What's needed today is a greater awareness of our need for divine power, and a more determined pursuit of it. Until we get serious about seeking revival, our ability to impact the world around us will be minimal.
How to Seek RevivalBut just how exactly does one go about seeking revival? The following paragraphs include excerpts from an article written back in 1877 answering this exact question:
A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.
There must be earnest effort to obtain the blessing of the Lord, not because God is not willing to bestow His blessing upon us, but because we are unprepared to receive it.
Our heavenly Father is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than are earthly parents to give good gifts to their children. But it is our work, by confession, humiliation, repentance, and earnest prayer, to fulfill the conditions upon which God has promised to grant us His blessing. A revival need be expected only in answer to prayer.
The old standard bearers knew what it was to wrestle with God in prayer, and to enjoy the outpouring of His Spirit. But these are passing off from the stage of action; and who are coming up to fill their places? How is it with the rising generation?
There are persons in the church who are not converted, and who will not unite in earnest, prevailing prayer. We must enter upon the work individually. We must pray more, and talk less.
The people must be taught not to be satisfied with a form of godliness without the spirit and power. If we are intent upon searching our own hearts, putting away our sins, and correcting our evil tendencies, our souls will not be lifted up unto vanity; we shall be distrustful of ourselves, having an abiding sense that our sufficiency is of God.
The great deceiver has prepared his wiles for every soul that is not braced for trial and guarded by constant prayer and living faith... We must remove every obstacle. Let us confess and forsake every sin, that the way of the Lord may be prepared, that He may come into our assemblies and impart His rich grace.
From every member of the church a steady light may shine forth before the world, so that they shall not be led to inquire, What do these people more than others?
There is nothing that Satan fears so much as that the people of God shall clear the way by removing every hindrance, so that the Lord can pour out His Spirit upon a languishing church and an impenitent congregation.
If Satan had his way, there would never be another awakening, great or small, to the end of time. But we are not ignorant of his devices. It is possible to resist his power. When the way is prepared for the Spirit of God, the blessing will come.
Wicked men and devils cannot hinder the work of God, or shut out His presence from the assemblies of His people, if they will, with subdued, contrite hearts, confess and put away their sins, and in faith claim His promises.
I Selected Messages p. 122-124, excerpts.
A Few ObservationsHere are a few points that stand out to me. First, what hinders revival is the fact we are not ready for it. Or conversely, if we want revival, we should focus on our own personal preparation. When the way is prepared, revival will come.
That preparation happens primarily through prayer. And specifically, through confession, humiliation, repentance. Revival won't come without earnest prayer, the kind that wrestles with God. But when we learn to pray this way, we will know what it is to experience the outpouring of God's Spirit.
It's an individual work. Or at least it starts that way. In time others will unite with us in prevailing prayer. When enough people engage in this, God will answer.
Another important aspect of our preparation is to search our own heart, and then confess and forsake every sin. To remove every obstacle. The enemy uses these to block revival. But if we resist his influence, and surrender to God, the enemy's power will be broken and revival will come.
If we will engage in this work wholeheartedly, God will grant us rich blessings. We can be a steady light shining forth before the world. And there's nothing Satan fears more, because revival leaves him powerless to hinder the work of God. Revival gives certain success.
A Simple PlanRevival should be our ongoing burden before God. But there are times special prayer for revival should be pursued. At the beginning of a new venture, a big event, a new year, a training program, a new outreach effort. Or, it's also appropriate to pray for revival when we are unsure of God's will, as a way to seek clearer direction.
I like to set aside a special 10 day period, modeled on the upper room experience at Pentecost, but you can pick any length of time your like, based on your available schedule.
During this time, I try to do the following five things:
1) Consider doing a water or juice fast, or following a simple diet of fruits and vegetables, similar to what Daniel and his three friends did in Babylon. Making healthy food choices, and eating sparingly can help give you a clear mind for your 10-day prayer focus.
2) Avoid unnecessary digital distractions, including social media and worldly entertainment. Someone once suggested FAST should stand for "forsaking all secular thoughts". Clearing out this background noise will make it easier to discern the voice of God.
3) Set aside special time for Bible study and prayer every day. Look especially for promises you sense God is wanting you to claim. God is likely to answer these promises in ways you do not expect. Just ask Him to fulfill those verses as He sees fit, and submit yourself to whatever God has planned.
4) Take time to evaluate every aspect of your life. Ask God to reveal areas that are displeasing to Him, and commit to making changes. God knows our heart. Our commitment to obey must be genuine if we are going to experience revival.
5) Commit some ministry plan or project to God, and ask Him to guide your thoughts in how to take that ministry to the next level. Do this daily. Determine to come away with fresh goals and objectives, to advance the kingdom of God more dramatically.
Revival will not come by accident or chance. When God wants to work mightily, He first impresses some willing heart to get more serious in prayer. Then it spreads from person to person, until a small group is praying. And then when revival breaks out in a church at last, God puts into motion the very thing He set out to do initially--in answer to their earnest request.
You may not know exactly what God is wanting to do in your life right now, but no doubt God has something special in mind. Perhaps He is calling you to start this process, and see something amazing happen right where you are!
CommentsHow important is revival? Have you ever made a serious commitment to pray for revival? Have you seen God's Spirit poured out personally? What might happen if believers everywhere made that commitment to plead with God for more of His power? Share a thought or two in the comments below...
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/11/20|
|Theda, sounds like a challenging situation! You might want to take a look at our Rocket Goals class after finishing this. It helps us to fine tune our goals and develop a realistic strategy and plan to achieve them given our real life circumstances. God's plan is always along the lines of Matthew 11:28-3028 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.. I'm sure He has a balanced solution for you life too!|
|Posted by John Gilmore on 02/06/20|
|We know from the Bible that there will be both true and false revivals and the biggest of those will happen just before Christ returns. Many recognize that world conditions make evident the need with increasing intensity. I think of Psalm 199:126, "It is time for You to act, O LORD, For they have regarded Your law as void." (NKJ).
I'm sorry to say that "they" are not only the "worldly". Reflecting on our need of revival, we, the church, have acted like God's law didn't matter (as in Malachi 3:13-1513 Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? 14 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? 15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.). At least one "revivalist" has preached that we can have assurance of salvation as long as we have begun to seek the Lord, whatever our lifestyle. Thus he confused conversion with conviction, or even only curiosity.
Not only that, but we, the church, have attempted to lower God's standard, justifying ourselves with "relevance" and "inclusion". Yes, we need repentance! It is we who need to repent. We need the power of God to free us from our addiction to sin. I'm so thankful that Malachi continues in verse 16, "Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them...." His rebuke of the last day church is followed by prophecy of revival! That gives me hope.
I thank God for the evidences that I've seen of revival beginning in my local church. Some have confessed their need of change. Several of the believers are not just talking about it, but praying for it and working for it, and testifying about God's changes in their lives. We have more than usual involved in Bible Studies, and more than usual at prayer meeting.
But I long for the day when the majority will be seeking revival, for the day when the church, my church, will be safe for God to bring in those who are seeking Him, safe to bring in not just a few. Daily, I pray for that day.
|Posted by Carla Phillips on 02/05/20|
|Revival is needed, praying for our church to have revival soon. I really like the 5 things you have listed, and I need to try that.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/05/20|
|Praise God Emma. I'm excited at the thought of people scattered all around the world pleading with God for revival. The fact people are feeling this burden means God is wanting to do something! :)|
|Posted by Georgia Kenny on 02/04/20|
|Pr Dan, when you recommend setting aside time for study, do you mean other than regular devotional study?|
|Posted by Georgia Kenny on 02/04/20|
|Thank you for the encouragement to set aside specific time to focus on seeking revival. I have been working with a team of young people planting a new church here in Australia, but this year we are decreasing the team by half as some start another ministry elsewhere - this leaves me one of 3 that will be Bibleworkers in this area. I want to see God work miracles in people's hearts, but also my own. I need revival and especially a clearer vision of His plan for me, and courage to follow through with it. I am so glad for promises such as Romans 8:32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? and II Corinthians 5:21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. that assure us of His pleasure to grant us all we need to serve Him - even the new heart to seek His will over our own.
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/04/20|
|You are very welcome Rhoda! It's not too late for God to work a miracle in your little church. God wants a lighthouse in your town. Revival can make that happen...
Great idea Denise! I should print out these excerpts and post them in my office somehwere. I've read them so many times over the years I have much of it memorized, without really trying. It's always floating around in the back of my consciousness...
Love that verse Theda, and the verses before too: (Zechariah 8:20-2220 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.). Exciting times! And yes, serious repentance will bring in serious refreshing! :)
|Posted by Theda Phyllis Rall on 02/04/20|
|Ps Dan that is the story in a nut shell. Our since says Isaiah has seperated us from GOD. We can receive nothing into a soiled heart facing in a different direction.
.a Passage in the Bible which plays in my mind continously as a reminder is in Zechariah 8:23Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that GOD is with you"
Zechariah 8:23Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
The preceding verses it spoke about getting together to pray.... This power of the spirit to draw others to them came as a result of that prayerfulness
|Posted by Dan Vis on 02/03/20|
|So exciting to see you here online Terri! Glad these words were a blessing. We do need to keep praying for God to bless our little church in Jamestown. Vi and I are praying everyday!|
|Posted by Lynn Badger on 02/03/20|
|Thank you for this. It was just what I needed this morning. A great reminder of where my focus needs to be.|
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