Words blazed in my soul this morning with such force that I had to scramble to my feet to find paper. I’d prayed a few minutes earlier out on my front porch for true revival: for such a groundswell of souls saved that we’d have no earthly explanation, and for believers to be flooded by the Holy Spirit in such a way that our souls would be purified with a holy, selfless, unstoppable fervor. I have prayed those kinds of things before but this time I called upon the Lord with my whole heart to rip away this ceiling that seems to be over our heads. The Holy Spirit is moving with breathtaking force in parts of the world and in segments of the church. Why not among all of us?? And why not now? We love Him, too!
So many of our pastors, leaders, evangelists, and teachers are crying out for it. We see glimpses of it. We feel it pressing on the walls of many of our churches. The paint is beginning to crack. We sense a change coming. The roof shifting. We know the sun of righteousness is rising on a different kind of day and the horizon beaming with a new shade of color on young and old, on rich and poor. On all who would let Him lift their chins despite their sins, for our redemption draws near. I feel the stirring of a fresh work of the Holy Spirit in my own congregation and sense that He’s ushering us step-by-step and person-by-person and Sunday-by-Sunday to a place of open-armed willingness for whatever He would give us. For many of us who have felt the breezes of revival stirring, we can’t often define how the Holy Spirit is working or explain the difference between one gathering and the next. All we know is that there are times when we are left to say, “Only God could do that.” We taste it. It’s on the tip of our tongues but our throats are still parched. Our voices may be hoarse and our volume weak but, at the sound of His yes, the mute would find speech.
I cried out this morning for Him to remove the obstacles that hold us at bay on the damp edges of a mighty torrent of revival when, before us, is the deep. We have seen drops of rain but, if we’re willing to be honest, most of us know that we have not yet seen what the living Lord Jesus Christ is capable of doing when He has a mind to pour His Spirit out on millions and wreak the holy havoc of true revival with innumerable souls. We have blamed our government and every secular institution possible when revival has ever remained a matter between God and His own people in the pages of Scripture. They are not our problem. We point fingers at our pastors when many of them have nearly broken their backs trying to drag us to revival. We hold worship leaders responsible for our own small worship and say that it must be the songs.
My heart burns with a sense that part of this ceiling over our heads is our demand that God must bring awakening and revival within our means, keep our rules, and respect our boundaries. If Christ is to do what He longs to do, we must relinquish all our expectations and formulas for revival. Lest we think we can’t leash a work He’s willing to perform, the words of Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:5-6 won’t peel off the gospel page. We keep getting together and rehearsing for a revival He’s not yet fully attending. Why?? Why does He wait?
I think one reason is that we are afraid for Him to do whatever it would take. We are scared of the uncertainty of revival. We don’t trust God with the work of His own Spirit. He might embarrass us. Or make us change our minds. God won’t work contrary to His Word but many of us must admit that it is not His Word we are worried about Him working contrary to. We are worried about Him working contrary to our tastes. We are worried that He will not use our methods. I said we. I have done the same thing. I want Him to work in a way that makes me feel comfortable. But maybe a true outbreak of revival is not comfortable. I don’t know. I can’t say I’ve ever seen what I believe God may want to do in our day. Meanwhile, numerous gatherings of believers dwindle and die or rust for the sake of routine. Generations are falling away as revival clings to our doorposts. It’s there. It’s close. But why won’t it come on in? We feel it. We hunger for it. Why does it delay? Perhaps there are many reasons why revival waits and we could write more blog articles and list the possible hindrances and deliberate over them and mull over them and debate them and exert more and more energy while we have less and less time.
Or maybe we could say today,
Lord, if Your time is now – and it’s the only time countless millions have – remove the obstacles, whatever they are. Shove them out of the way and COME, Lord Jesus, with a torrential downpour of Your Holy Spirit.
I’m just looking for anyone out there who would be willing to echo a prayer something like this one. I bring it to you in humility, lacking much, wanting much. I do not wish to put words on any tongue detached from a heart. Vocabulary is meaningless without volition. If this is not you and if these sins are not yours and these aches find no place in your soul, you are not who I’m talking to. But this is me and I wondered if it might be anyone else, for where two or three are gathered in His Name, crying out for a cracked-open heaven, that ceiling that we feel shifting over our heads could shatter to our feet. I’m tired of giving God an inch and expecting a mile. I want to go with Him wherever He’s going.
Most glorious all-powerful, merciful God,
Your Son died for more than these. We thank You for what You’ve already done but we beg You to do infinitely more. Look upon this ailing planet, pulsing with the hopeless, helpless, the hiding and the dying. You have willed that people would not die in their sins but be saved and redeemed through Your Son, Jesus Christ. You promised that the Cross was big enough for us all, with stakes pointed northward, southward, eastward, westward, reaching everlasting arms to the ends of the earth. We know what Your Word says You can do and we confess to You that many of us have not yet seen it with our eyes but we feel it stirring in our souls. Hosanna, Lord! Save now!
We who are willing confess to you our sinful arrogance. We have prescribed to You by what means You, the solitary Healer, should heal souls and You have refused to sign Your Name to our prescriptions. We say to You this day, write Your Name across our sky and bring revival! Save by whatever means brings You glory. Bring it any way You like but bring it, Lord. We free You from using our methods. We free You from using our denominational names. We free You from using our buildings though we welcome You to them. We free You even from using us, though we cast ourselves before You at Your complete disposal and beg that You would. Use none of us. Use all of us. Use whatever people and whatever means honors You most but do it, Lord. Please do it!
We confess to You our appalling narcissism in asking You to mirror us. We confess to You our over-sophistication and snobbery. We confess to You that we are terrified of Your Holy Spirit. We confess our pathetic arrogance for having forbidden signs and wonders when there could be no greater sign and wonder than a tidal wave of salvation rolling on our dry banks. Oh, Jesus, that we would not leave You to marvel that You could do so few miracles among us because of our unbelief.
We repent this day for not trusting You with what revival should look like. We repent this day from prioritizing our dignity over Your downpour. We confess to You that we have torn pages from our Bibles and handed them back to You and demanded that You work through what was left. We confess to You this day that the tent pegs of Scripture are vastly wider than our imaginations and our expectations.
Lord, if souls are saved by the thousands of thousands and millions of millions, we pledge to You this day that we will not, in our sectarianism, pick apart the process and reason how it was not legitimate. We are ready even if it’s messy. Even if, atop the beautiful feet carrying the good news, are bruised and broken bodies of willing evangelists.
Open Heaven. Rain down, Holy Spirit. We repent for having asked You to respect our boundaries. We bow now to Your boundless Spirit and make room over our lowered heads for You to fall upon us with power and might and a firestorm of Your great affection. You have loved us so. You have loved us well. Scar our hearts with Your Cross and love through us, Lord. Oh, Holy Spirit of the Living Christ, come without limit. We have known You were able but begged You to be willing. All the while, we have been disabled because we have been unwilling.
To what conceivable degree we could have held them in our hands, we turn the reins of revival back over to the Rider who is Faithful and True and we plead that You would not let them rest on the neck of that great horse but that You’d bid him run.
Whatever, Lord. Do what You want but do it now. Do it here. You have no peer. Make Your name glorious. Save now. We avail ourselves.
O God, I avail myself.
In the holy name of Christ our King. Amen.
Savior, Savior, Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling, do not pass me by.