Revival — Something for which to Pray
by Joseph Franks
As a worshiper, I long to see revival in my own heart. However, personal revival is not something I can manufacture. It is the gracious gift of God sovereignly bestowed according to his secret and sovereign will. Today, I will utilize the means of grace in hope of a fresh touch by his Spirit. I will read God’s Word, I will pray, and I will wait. I might even sing, “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me … melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.” I will do my part to fan into flame the Holy Spirit who dwells within. However, my ultimate hope of fresh spiritual vibrancy is not situated in my labors, rituals, or disciplines, but only in the sovereign working of omnipotent God.
As a father and husband, I long to see revival in my own family, but how can I work in my loved ones that which I cannot work in myself? I will love, teach, model, disciple, and supplicate, but my family’s revival rests in the sovereign prerogative of God. Sure, I am the patriarch. I am the priest. I am the pastor of my home. Their spiritual care is my responsibility, but to change their hearts — this is above my pay-grade. I have not the skills required for this spiritual surgery.
As an evangelist, I long to see revival in my neighborhood. However, my biblical theology and experiential practice shows me I can preach, share, care, debate, befriend, model, and plead. I can sow seed here, there, and everywhere, but unless my sovereign God affects the hard hearts and blinded eyes of my friends and family, regenerative revival will not take place. My hope is not in work ethic or techniques; my evangelistic hope is only in the Lord who turns hearts in accordance with his designs.
As a minster, the same holds true for my congregation. Oh how I would love to see fresh wind and fresh fire in the luke-warm assembly I shepherd. Like me, my brothers and sisters are neither hot nor cold. Following my leadership, my people have lost their first love. It seems like many within my congregation are “prone to wander … prone to leave the God we love.” I am their pastor. I am their shepherd. Their spiritual development and zeal is my responsibility. However, that being the case, I cannot seem fix that which ails us.
However this week, I was encouraged by the reading of God’s Word. I was reminded of God’s reviving work in 2 Chronicles 30:1-22. In this passage, my confidence and hope was increased:
Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel … for they had not kept it as often as prescribed. So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the Lord God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” So the couriers went from city to city … but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord. And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread … They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the brook Kidron … For Hezekiah had prayed for them … And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with all their might to the Lord. And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the Lord, the God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 30:1-22)
As a leader, Hezekiah was troubled for his people. Touched by the Lord, he was determined to see revival and lead a people who more faithfully worshiped God. Therefore, waht did he do?
- He utilized the means of grace — reading, preaching, prayer, priests, ceremonies,
- He experienced rejection — many scorned and mocked
- He experienced revival — many were given hearts by God to worship more properly
Friends, why don’t you meditate on this passage for a day or so?
Personally, remember that which God has required. Work his plan. Utilize his means of grace. Do not deny human responsibility. Do your part. Read the scripture. Gather for corporate worship. Pray, pray, pray! God reserves the right to impact people as he did the Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. He can operate outside his means, but he most often uses the Word, prayer, and corporate worship in his bestowing of revival fire. Do your part; put you and yours under the influence of his means of grace.
Then, do not be arrogant or depressed. You are not good enough to make revival happen. Therefore, you do not get to take credit for any spiritual growth occurring in you and yours. In addition, there is no reason for you to be despondent when the sovereign God does not use your efforts to bring about glorious results. Rejection and revival are decreed by God — for he decrees whatsoever comes to pass. Work seriously, but don’t take yourself so seriously. Revival, as it happens, is the work of God alone.
Finally, rejoice, celebrate, worship, and throw a party as the Lord does his fantastic work in your heart, home, neighborhood, and church. Why are you tender today? It is because the Lord is working in your heart. Why are your children interested at all in Christ and his will? It is because he is their Heavenly Father, he is in command of their affections, and he is drawing them near. Why is your neighbor asking questions and interested in visiting your church? It is because God is messing with his or her unregenerate heart. He is seeking worshipers and bringing in the sheaves. And why is your church hankering for something more? Why are they not satisfied with the status quo? It is because Christ is the Head of his church, and he is not abandoning his people. The Good Shepherd is fanning into flame the hearts of his congregation according to his own sovereign prerogative and timing.
Friends, God has promised never to abandon his people. He has promised to finish that which he has begun. Christ’s Spirit will fan into flame the person, family, neighborhood, and church of Jesus Christ as he is good and ready. He is the God who plans. He is the God who performs. He is the God who always wins.
Now to him, let us pray