Revival

Father, you are Lord and Creator. You are holy and sovereign. We pray to you because you alone hear. You alone can intervene in our circumstances. You alone are able to bring about salvation, peace, and healing.

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

As your people, we humble ourselves, pray, seek your face, and repent. When we look around our nation and world, we are heartbroken at the fallen condition of mankind. We see wickedness, despair, immorality, violence, and hate. We long for awakening. We long for sinners to come to know you. But we realize that revival must begin with us. Reveal to us our sins that we may confess them. Grant us repentance that we may turn to you.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

Psalm 51:1-2

Have mercy on us your people. When we look in our sinful hearts, we find idols: things to which we give attention and adoration besides you (1 John 5:21). Use these days to reveal our idols that we may turn from them and to you with our whole hearts. We deserve judgment for our sin, but we plead your mercy.


You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

Father, we are weak. As your people, we should walk by faith, not sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). But we find ourselves nervous, anxious, afraid. Forgive us for being overwhelmed by our circumstances and controlled by our fears. Teach us to keep our minds on you, to trust in you, and experience your peace.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Teach us to bring our anxieties to you in prayer with thanksgiving. Father, you want to hear us as your children. You want us to have your peace and presence. May we learn to pray in thankfulness and experience your peace.

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17:16-19

Thank you Father that you have changed us. Thank you that we have your Spirit living within us and our hope and future is eternal. Nevertheless, we find ourselves living in a world fractured by what is false and divided by disinformation. Sanctify us in your truth. You have sent us into this world to influence and impact. To fulfill your purposes, we need what is timeless: your truth and your Word. May we focus this day on your Word and your will.

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:18-20

Father, may we walk daily in a demeanor of prayer. May we persevere, praying when we feel like it and when we don’t. May we intercede for others. May we have boldness to declare the truth of the gospel that will redeem lost souls. The only hope for your people is revival and renewal in your Word and by your Spirit. The only hope for our nation and world is the gospel of your Son. Revive us your people that we may boldly proclaim Jesus to a lost world. In your glory and grace, grant revival to your people and awakening to our land.

Amen.

PhPhoto by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I’ve always loved sports and since my childhood, I’ve pulled for the UNC Tarheels. My love for UNC made me a Michael Jordan fan. A few weeks ago, ESPN launched a documentary from the 1998 Chicago Bulls team entitled “The Last Dance.” Recently, I’ve watched several of the episodes. The Bulls’ dynasty over that period of time was nearly unstoppable. The documentary makes for a fascinating behind the scenes look at Michael Jordan, one of sports’ most recognizable faces.

During the 1990s there was no one alive more recognizable worldwide than Michael Jordan. He was the best basketball player in the world. He was rich, famous, influential. But two scenes in recent episodes highlight the biblical reality that these things are full of vanity. In one scene Jordan is reclining on a sofa in a hotel room lamenting his fame. The hotel room was his respite from the fawning crowds and incessant media attention. In another episode, Jordan wished that he never be considered a role model because it was a no-win situation.

Fame, wealth, and influence are poor masters.

Jordan’s perspective is illustrative of another wealthy, powerful man who had reached the zenith of human potential, King Solomon.

Here are just a few samples of Solomon’s musings on vanity.

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

18 I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, 19 and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. 22 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?23 For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-23

Solomon recognized what the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s reveal: winning, working hard, and being wealthy are vain if pursued as an end. In listening to the reflection of players and coaches from the documentary, there is a distinct lack of joy. Winning could not overcome internal drama. Being the best did not ultimately satisfy the ego. Being under everyone’s microscope was too much pressure.

This documentary and Solomon’s writings are instructive for us today. While likely on a much smaller scale than either example, we too are caught up in vain pursuits. The pandemic we are experiencing spotlights our own vanities.

  • As an end in itself, work is vanity.
  • As an end in itself, wealth is vanity.
  • As an end in itself, leisure is vanity.
  • As an end in itself, pleasure is vanity.

In a matter of weeks, a once stable economy in the most wealthy nation on earth has been decimated. In a matter of weeks, work has forever been changed, wealth lost, leisure activities removed, and pleasure forfeited. If those things are what you have been pursuing, then you must know now that they make terrible masters.

Solomon’s reflections in Ecclesiastes highlight the highest potential of human experience. And humanities’ highest reach apart from God is always vanity.

As we reflect on our spiritual lives inside of our current situation, here are some evaluation questions:

  • Am I pursuing God or have I been replacing God for some smaller thing(s)?
  • Have work, pleasure, success, wealth, or anything lesser been my primary goals? If so, these lesser things are idols keeping me from experiencing the glory of God.
  • Do I desire God and the experience of revival more than I long for normality or the restoration of what I’ve lost?
  • What can I do today to pursue God singularly?

In recent weeks, I’ve written on the subject of praying for revival. Currently, I’m preaching a series entitled “Patterns of Prayer.” God has been teaching me that when I pursue lesser things, I often ignore Him. Today’s meditation and the upcoming sermons (Wednesday, from Philippians 3:1-11 and Sunday, from 2 Chronicles 7:14) highlight my own struggle to singularly pursue God.

I long for revival. I long for God. I pray that God will reveal my vain pursuits that I may seek only him. Will you join me in this pursuit of God?

Solomon’s final word in Ecclesiastes is an appropriate conclusion:

13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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This week is set aside for the pursuit of God. We are setting aside Tuesday to pray and fast for revival. Thursday is the national day of prayer. Hopefully, this week will be filled with prayer and repentance. To be revived is to experience the renewing spirit of God in our lives. Revival is for God’s people. Revival is a work of God. We cannot manufacture it. It is not a formula. The revivals and awakenings of the past came from the hand of God. 

Revival is always God’s initiative. In the Old Testament as well as through Christian history, God commanded holiness. When his people strayed from his expectation, God chastised and judged. God’s chastisement brought conviction. Then God’s people prayed. They prayed for a movement of God—revival and awakening. Praying for God to work parallels the preaching of God’s truth. The preaching of truth and the praying of God’s people are complementary. Revivals and awakenings need both. 

An important text in the book of Jeremiah reveals this. Jeremiah is the “weeping prophet.” It is evident that Jeremiah struggled with negative thoughts and maybe even depression. This should not surprise us as God gave Jeremiah an assignment to preach truth to a people destined to reject it. His ministry was largely ineffective. In Jeremiah 14, God told Jeremiah that Judah would face the sword, famine, and pestilence because they had rejected God and his laws. God promised they would mourn and weep in their experience of judgment. 

This conversation between Jeremiah and God let to a lament from Jeremiah about the false prophets predicting peace. Of course the people wanted to listen to the false prophets rather than the disturbing truths of God’s judgment. God spoke to Jeremiah,


“You shall say to them this word: ‘Let my eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound, with a grievous blow.” 

Jeremiah 14:17

It is apparent here that God is the one weeping for his people. The chapter ends on a depressing note. While God’s people had every opportunity to see their sin and repent, they did not. They were too enamored with their sins and too willing to listen to the false prophets. 

May we heed God’s voice in our circumstances and embrace an attitude of repentance and prayer. 

As we make time this week to pray for revival, let us remember several important truths. 

  1. God desires our repentance more than we do. Jeremiah describes God as one who weeps. Jesus wept in Gethsemane’s garden before the crucifixion. God does not will the destruction of any, but desires their salvation. God wants his church to hear him. God wants his church to remove idols and distractions. God wants the repentance of his people. God wants the salvation of sinners. And if God uses pestilence and disease (as he has before) to bring his people to a place of repentance and prayer, then so be it. 
  2. We need God more desperately than we think. Our part in seeking revival is prayer and repentance. A biblical view of prayer recognizes utter dependence on God. When we pray, we are acknowledging our inability and coming to God in humility. We need God. When we pray, God has already promised to answer. Our current pandemic is an opportunity to repent of sin and turn to God. 
  3. Those around us need God’s truth more urgently than we can imagine. Need is interesting concept. As humans, we need certain things—air, water, food, shelter, love. Life depends on these needs being met. Much of what we say we need is really a want. But in the awakenings of the past, sinners became aware that forgiveness only come from God. Sinners need God’s truth. They need the truth about God’s holiness, their sinfulness, Christ’s sacrifice and the offer of forgiveness available if they will trust him. 

As you make time to pray for revival this week (see the information posts here and here), keep these truths in mind. These previous posts also provide some prayer content for your times of prayer this week. 

In concluding this post, let Andrew Murray offer some encouragement on the subject of God hearing us in prayer. 

“My God will hear me. What a blessed prospect!” I see that all the failures of my past life have been due to the lack of this Fatih. My failure, especially in the work of intercession, has had its deepest root in this—I did not live in the full faith of the blessed assurance, “My God will hear me!” Praise God! I begin to see it—I believe it. All can be different. Or, rather, I see Him; I believe Him. “My God will hear me!” Yes, me, even me! Commonplace and insignificant though I be, filling but a very little place, so that I will hardly be missed when I go—even I have access to this Infinite God, with the confidence that He hears me. One with Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, I dare to say, “I will pray for others, for I am sure my God will listen to me: ‘My God will hear me!’” What a blessed prospect before me—every earthly and spiritual anxiety is exchanged for the peace of God, who cares for all and hears prayer. What a blessed prospect in my work—to know that even when the answer is long in coming, and there is a call for much patient, persevering prayer, the truth remains infallibly sure—“My God will hear me!” 

Andrew Murray, The Ministry of Intercession, 123-4.

When you pray this week, be confident that God will hear you. We pray in the name of Christ and under his provision. Because Christ died for your sins, you can pray and be certain that God will hear you. So pray confidently for revival and awakening knowing that God will hear. 

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In Daniel 2, Daniel and his three friends prayed together for God to intervene so they would be saved from a certain death. God answered their prayers.

I would like to give you a special invitation to pray together for revival and spiritual awakening in our nation.

A couple of months ago my mentor, Dr. Greg Mathis, invited me to participate in a day of prayer for revival. You can read about about the original plan for the Mountain Top Prayer Meeting here. The pandemic and shutdown orders have changed how this prayer meeting will take place.

Instead of meeting in a specific place for prayer, you are being invited to make time on Tuesday May 5 to pray for revival and awakening in our country.

This prayer time came from the heart of Fred Lunsford, a 95 year old preacher and prayer warrior whose ministry has been built on prayer. On numerous occasions, Fred has asked the Lord to let him go to heaven. God’s response, “Fred, you are still here because I want you to pray.” Fred’s passion for prayer has inspired hundreds of others to pray for God to move in our country. You can read about the invitation from Mud Creek Baptist Church here. You can read the invitation from Milton Hollifield, the Executive Director-Treasurer for the Baptist State Convention of NC here.

During the sermon on April 19, I invited our listeners to commit Tuesday May 5 to prayer and fasting. More than 100 individuals associated with Wilkesboro Baptist have already committed to pray. As of the time I’m writing this, more than 60,000 people across our nation have committed to pray!

Thousands of believers all over our country will be praying at 10 am on Tuesday May 5. If you are able, would you give at least an hour to prayer at 10 am? If your job or responsibilities make the 10 am time untenable, would you commit an hour at another time during the day to prayer? Oftentimes fasting and prayer are connected. By fasting on May 5 you are acknowledging your complete dependence upon God. Would you consider fasting as well and giving even more than an hour in prayer?

You can reply in the comments of this blog or on the social media platform you read this from that you are going to pray with others for revival and awakening in our land. 

Revival is for God’s people. Praying for revival is praying that God will bring his followers to repentance, surrender, and holiness.

Spiritual awakening is for unbelievers. Praying for spiritual awakening is praying that God will open blinded eyes, soften hard hearts, and bring sinners to salvation.

Here are some specific ways you can pray for revival and awakening: 

  • Father, you are holy. Would you help me to bow before you as King and Lord? 
  • Father, I am in need of revival. Would you show me my own sins? Help me confess and repent. 
  • Father, your people need revival. We need to have a renewed vision of your holiness, a renewed pursuit of your glory, and a renewed surrender to your will. Will you bring your followers all across our world to a place of surrender and repentance? Would you send us revival? 
  • Father, our land is hurting from a pandemic. Would you intervene in this pandemic by healing the sick, providing treatments and vaccines, and granting strength to those who are caring for the sick? 
  • Father, would you use the disruption caused by this pandemic to bring us back to you?
  • Father, many millions in our nation and billions in the world are dead in their sins. As bad as this pandemic is physically, our sin is far more terrible spiritually. Would you reveal your holiness and love through Jesus Christ and bring a spiritual awakening to sinners all over the world?
  • Father, would you give wisdom to our government officials (local, state, and national) that they might make the best decisions for the health and prosperity of our communities, states, and nation? 
  • Father, would you continue to bless our churches with wisdom, provision, and spiritual growth through the midst of these trying days? 

You don’t have to wait until May 5 to begin praying. Let’s seek God together for revival and spiritual awakening.

Photo by Amaury Gutierrez on Unsplash

Before the Exodus, God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. Before Ezekiel prophesied life to dry bones, God met with the prophet. Before the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost, the disciples met together for prayer in the upper room. Before the revivals in Europe and the Americas centuries ago, Christians met in prayer seeking God’s intervention. 

While our prayers and pleadings and preaching do not guarantee the work of God in revival, they are our only recourse. God alone can send a revival among his people and an awakening among the lost. Our part in God sending an awakening is prayer. 

Recently, my mentor and friend, Dr. Greg Mathis invited me to join him and other pastors for a special time of prayer on Tuesday May 5. I plan to attend. On Monday May 5, pastors from across North and South Carolina will gather on the property of Rev. Fred Lunsford to pray for a spiritual awakening. 

Fred Lunsford is a 95 year old preacher who believes in prayer. A WWII veteran who stormed the Normandy beaches on D-Day, Lunsford earned several medals in the service of his country. As Lunsford led several pastors to his place of prayer on a cold January morning, he did not discuss his military service. Rather, he talked about the burden God had given him to pray. He said, “The reason I am still here is because God has left me here to pray for a spiritual awakening.” 

This May 5 prayer gathering is a time to pray together. Private prayer is important for our individual lives, but corporate prayer is vital to the church. When the gathered church prays, God intervenes (see Acts 4). Praying together is a humble, corporate acknowledgement of our desperate need for God. 

This May 5 prayer gathering is an opportunity to pray together in a certain place. We can pray anywhere, but having a certain place is biblical. I’ll never forget one of Dr. Kenneth Ridings’ most famous sermons in Luke 11 where he emphasized the “certain place” where Jesus was praying. Fred Lunsford has a certain place where he goes to pray regularly. Every day when Fred wakes up, he takes the two mile drive to his “certain place” to pray.

On May 5, pastors and church leaders will gather at Vengeance Creek Baptist Church in Marble, NC at 10 am. From there we will trek to Rev. Lunsford’s special place of prayer atop the mountain for a time of concentrated prayer for revival and spiritual awakening. The event has been organized by Perry Brindley, JD Grant, David Horton, Michael Horton, Greg Mathis, Ralph Sexton, Jr. and Don Wilton. You can find out more information or register at the Mud Creek Baptist Church website.

What if you can’t make it? Will you take your lunchtime on that Monday May 5 to add your voice in asking God for a spiritual awakening in our land? 

You can read more about this invitation from Milton Hollifield, the Executive Director-Treasuer at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina here.