Thursday, October 24, 2013

Praying for Revival

Praying for Revival
by Rev. Greg Schermerhorn – October 24, 2013

We hear many people, both pastors, evangelists, and lay people alike, talk about revival.  But, what is revival?  In like manner, we also hear the term "spiritual awakening" used, frequently in conjunction with the word revival.  We certainly need to be praying for both revival and spiritual awakening, but we also need to know what we are asking the Lord to perform in our lives, in the life of our "church", and in the lives of people in our communities...our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.
Revival is the sovereign work of God among His people that draws them closer to Himself and restores, renews, and refreshes the depth and intensity of the relationship.  Revival is initiated by the Lord in the heart of the individual believer.  It has nothing to do with "revival meetings" or other external forces, save the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer as revival can only occur in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ.

Spiritual awakening is the sovereign work of God among those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior to bring them to a point of saving faith in Him.  Spiritual awakening can be the result of many different influences, so no one factor can be cited except that the Holy Spirit was involved in the process.  Many other factors could have played a part in the spiritual awakening of a man, woman, or child.  It could have been the Scriptures themselves without any assistance from mankind.  As the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The seeds of spiritual awakening could have been planted by the fervent prayers of righteous people over the years.
James 5:16b (NKJV)
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
It could have been the personal testimony of a friend or loved one.  Or the testimony of the lifestyle and actions of a believer living out their life that made an impact.  The point is this, the Holy Spirit of God is the one who orchestrates the conviction of sin in the life of a sinner who must then choose how to respond to that conviction.  They can respond by hardening their heart and turning away from God, or they can respond in repentance by asking Jesus to be their Savior.  This is spiritual awakening, the realization of a person that they are hopelessly lost in sin and facing eternal damnation because they don't know Jesus Christ.  Then they can respond to Jesus and receive His gift of salvation and eternal life.

As Christians, we have failed to stand upon the truth of the Scriptures.  Just look at the moral decay in our American society!  Look at the despicable things that are considered "normal" and "acceptable" today.  Abortion is more than okay today, it is encouraged!  Adultery is more than okay today, it is encouraged!  Homosexuality is more than okay today, it is encouraged!  Lying is more than okay today, it is encouraged!  Our American society is reeling from the mantras of "If it feels good, do it!" and existential philosophies like "The ends justify the means."  These  mantras fly in the face of a holy God who said:
1 Peter 1:15–16 (NKJV)
but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Where are God's people?  Why have we allowed things to go so far in this nation of ours?  We were not called to sit idly by while America crumbles in moral decay all around us!  We have been called to stand on the TRUTH of Scripture and to oppose sin.  Why should we allow sin to be crammed down our throats?  Why should we allow Christianity to be persecuted on these shores?  Why should we allow our nation's Christian history to be rewritten?  Well folks, it's being done right now before our very eyes without hardly a whimper from the Christians of this nation.  Why?  I suspect that the Christianity of many of our countrymen has been too Americanized to allow them to act.  You see, the Americanized version of Christianity allows for any "Christian" to be "excused" from doing anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or takes up too much time.  Things like praying, attending church when it interferes with a ballgame, or when you want to sleep in because you stayed out drinking the night before is okay in Americanized Christianity.  In Americanized Christianity, we are "all inclusive", so we are willing to have a look and feel more like the world so you won't feel uncomfortable in church.  You also won't have to worry about those uncomfortable messages about sin or hell either because we will only talk (not preach) about positive and uplifting things in our services because we are here to cater to you.  In Americanized Christianity, we have forgotten about God and wouldn't know what to do if the Holy Spirit showed up in one of our services...He might disrupt our time schedule and we can't have that!
Too many Christians, churches, and denominations have forgotten that JESUS is supposed to be the focus of our worship!  I'm an SBC pastor and I am speaking to SBC folks too.  We need to abandon this idea that Christianity is easy, that we can cater to every whim, and that we can be like the world without becoming tainted by it.  We can't be the light in the world if we are trying to be like the darkness.  The ends DO NOT justify the means.  We are lacking prayer in our churches, which is probably indicative of a lack of personal prayer time in our lives.  If we want to truly see revival in ourselves and our churches, as well as, spiritual awakening in our communities, the prayer time MUST START WITH US!  We must pray with confidence and boldness before the Lord knowing that He can and will hear us.  This is a prayer that is in accord with His will in Heaven and on Earth (Matt. 6:10).  This is a prayer that needs to be heartfelt and continual before the Lord, until He tells us to stop praying for revival and spiritual renewal or He answers our prayer.

To help us pray for revival and spiritual renewal, I have added below the FIRST day of the ARISE 30 Day Prayer Challenge from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, courtesy of Dr. Chris Schofield.  You can download a complete 30 day copy of the ARISE prayer guide, in .pdf format, directly from this link:

ARISE 30 Day Prayer Challenge:

Most rearview mirrors have a disclaimer attached that says, “Objects in this mirror are closer than they appear.” I used to have a sticky note attached to my calendar that read, “Events on this calendar are closer than you think.” A good dose of reality is always helpful to jolt us back to the real priorities and circumstances in which we live. For many centuries (700 BC-100 AD), the city of Sardis in Asia Minor had a rich history and name for being a luxurious and highly fortified city. Its location served the notion well since any approaching army would, at first glance, not welcome the opportunity to lay siege to a city with three sides being cliffs and only one side approachable. The inhabitants of Sardis also believed their city was easily defendable and impregnable. Appearance is sometimes deceiving, as was evidently true concerning Sardis. The city was conquered several times throughout its history and destroyed by an earthquake in AD 17 – so much for being impregnable.

The church at Sardis (see Revelation 3:1-6) also needed a good dose of reality. It evidently had a reputation for being a spiritually “alive” congregation. In reality, it was “dead.” The Lord knew that the church’s reputation was only an outward sign with no real evidence of a genuine inward spiritual life. How this death came about was not the real issue at hand. What mattered most was that they needed to come to grips with a true picture of their spiritual condition. In the eyes of man, it appeared that they were one way, and in God’s eyes, reality was spoken. Reputation among men led to a false sense of security; it always does, until God speaks truth into the situation. What did God say? Their reputation did not match reality. That is why it is important for us to hear from God through His Word on a regular basis. It becomes a reality check, which we all need. Reputation or reality – where are you? Where is your church? What is God saying about your spiritual life? Do you need to “wake up” and have a reality check?
PRAY:  Ask the Lord to search your heart for areas where you have not been “real” before Him concerning your spiritual life. Pray that you will hear God’s truth, wake up and return to Him through repentance and obedience.