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Why I Don't Pray For Revival . . . At Least Not That Much

OK, so some of you have already branded me as a heretic. "How can this guy not care about revival?"  Others are at least curious and will read on. Maybe one or two (my best friend and wife perhaps) can't wait to hear more.

Trust me, at least here at the start, when I say that I would love to see revival in my city (Austin), country and the world. I've read about the great revivals in our past (of which there have been few) and heard many messages and exhortations to pray for the next one. I certainly don't criticize others of you who long for a revival of some sort in your lifetime.

But let me tell you why I'm not currently spending a lot of time praying for one.

First, I'm not sure what I'm praying for if I do.  Am I asking for large crowds to pack stadiums, for millions to suddenly march to their statehouses and kneel on the steps, for churches to suddenly be filled with worshipers? What would a revival in the classic sense look like?  And if revival isn't going to occur like it has in the past then what do I ask God to do today?  I would suggest most of us don't have a clue.

If some sort of spiritual awakening is going to happen then perhaps only God knows what it will look like and He wants us to simply till the soil well in our churches and communities so that fruit will easily grow.

Second, there are a lot of other things that need the passionate prayers of God's people right here, right now. In America we need our government leaders and politicians to get a grip on reality and start leading our country with wisdom, discretion and integrity. Marriages in our churches are tanking every day. Families are struggling and priorities are way out of line when it comes to the things of God and what really matters for eternity. 

It seems to me that if we pray for God to work in lives and  homes from the inside out that the revival we seek will more likely occur in some way than if we just pray for the revival itself.

Third, I don't see much Scriptural evidence or encouragement to pray for or seek revival. We are admonished to be holy, to go into the world and make disciples and to love God and people radically.  I feel more compelled to pray for those things to be true in me and in other believers and see what God does as a result.

Finally, I think we are often praying for something that God can do much more subtly and slowly. I remember a man in my former church who was put into a coma to basically save his life. I don't remember all the details but I do know that he miraculously lived but had to be revived from his coma slowly.  Revival isn't necessarily going to be quick or stupendous. We may never see the kind of revival, at least on the surface, that we've seen in the past.

However, God can still do something amazing in our churches, cities and country. Perhaps he'll do it one person or church at a time. Maybe we won't see it while it's happening but we'll look back five years from now and realize that Christians have been renewed and revitalized by the power of the Holy Spirit. I've written elsewhere that God is doing something special in my city of Austin, Texas. It's happening slowly but it's happening. Somehow I'd rather keep praying for that.

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Comment by Andrew R. Wheeler on April 20, 2016 at 7:08am

It's possible that praying for revival today might look different than the crying out that we see in the cycles of Judges and Samuel.  In those times, people did not have the Holy Spirit living within them.  The main evidence of God's presence was victory over enemies in literal, earthly battles.  The evidence that he had turned away was when Israel was conquered and enslaved by other countries.

Could it be that today the main evidence of revival has more to do with what the Holy Spirit does within individuals and how that emanates out into our society? Could it be that as we pray for a spirit of repentance and an emphasis on holiness in our congregations, we are actually praying for revival, or at least for the beginnings of it?

Certainly our individual pictures of revival may vary or may be confused - I'm not sure what it would look like either.  But if we pray not for our vision of revival but rather for God's intervention in our hearts, in our churches, and in our country, are we not praying in one accord in some sense for revival?

Comment by Gary Sinclair on July 26, 2012 at 11:35am

Thanks for your thoughts, Bill. I think we both long for a mighty movement of God.  Just not sure we agree, and that's ok, on what it might look like.  Keep praying!  Thanks again.

Comment by Bill Elliff on July 26, 2012 at 11:30am

Gary,

Thanks for your post, but I would respectfully disagree :). There is a very recognizable pattern in scripture of vitality-decline-judgment-intercession and repentance-revival among God's people-spiritual awakening among the lost. This is repeated over and over again. At the bottom of that cycle, you will read words like "and all the people cried out" (1 Samuel 1-7 is a classic example...and see 1 Sam 7:2).

If we "dont' know what to pray for" that is not really God's fault. We need to be students of the ways of God in revival. In the first 150 years of American history God graciously sent NATIONWIDE revivals every 30-50 years (1st great awakening, 2nd great awakening, prayer revival of 1858, 1904-5 Welsh revival that touched the whole world, including America). This dramatic movements brought massive spiritual and cultural course corrections that the normal work of the church was not producing.

We have many wonderful churches doing great things, but it is not stopping the moral and spiritual free-fall of our nation. We need a mighty movement of God!

I am a pastor and so I understand the need for the normal, daily work of the church and we must not relax our hand one ounce in that work. But IN THE MIDST OF THAT, we must cry out together for a mighty movement of God that can do what only a Sovereign God could accomplish in our nation. This is why I have connected my life and our people to the OneCry initiative that is currently happening. (see www.onecry.com).

Again, I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but there are a multitude of accounts scripturally that give us a pattern for this. (there is a listing of these on the OneCry website) and the overwhelming instruction to cry out for God's merciful work in revival and spiritual awakening.

I believe that revival is our only hope, honestly, for the dramatic course correction that we need. And, I believe GOD CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS. It is because we have not seen this in the last 100 years that we have little context for this understanding and little fuel for our prayers.

Graciously sent and earnestly praying,

Bill Elliff

Comment by Gary Sinclair on July 26, 2012 at 9:27am

Thanks for your thoughts and comments Linda. And keep praying!

Comment by Linda on July 25, 2012 at 1:16pm

I received a word while in prayer.  Warn my people that deception has hit the Body of Christ.  Blindness has covered their eye gates, deafness has entered their ear gates.  Observe the time, observe the time.  Gurard your ear gates, guard your eye gates. 

 

This is not the time to become the living dead in the Spirit.  WAKE UP!! and uncover your hidden secrets, purifiy and prepare for the work at hand.   He is calling for true repentance.  Today repent and do not waste another minute.  Do not beome distracted but stay on course.  We are in War. The influence of music has replaced My Word; therefore it has become your entertainment and not your worship.  Examine yourselves

Comment by Gary Sinclair on June 8, 2012 at 10:13am

I agree with you Victor.  Thanks for your encouragement and affirmation. I think for us to both pray for and then live godly lives that impact our communities, churches and culture will provide the fertile soil God can use to grow his kingdom as He desires.

Comment by Victor Najjar on June 8, 2012 at 8:52am

Gary,

I agree with your article.  I struggle to pray for revival because I don't know what it will look like and I don't know how to pray for it.  Am I praying for an "Arab Spring" type of event, or a disaster in the economy, natural disasters, etc. things that will normally turn people to God?  Or do I pray for the large tents to start to go up over all cities with fired up preachers?  Am I expecting the government to pass laws that seem to match my moral code and declare that as the start of revival? Or do I pray for my neighbors to walk up to me one day and ask me what makes me different?  Maybe I should only pray for the hearts of men to be turned back toward God starting with mine and allow God to answer in whatever way He chooses to.

I think our problem with praying for revival is that we already expect it to be answered in one way and when it is not we don't think god is paying attention.

Comment by Linda on June 1, 2012 at 10:15am

To God be all the glory.  We will continue to pray for each other.  Iron sharpens iron.  We are now in a time of great prepartion and purification.  It is crucial  that we take the blinders off our eye gates and see for real, unclog our ear gates and hear clearly from the Father.  Our private time with the Father is what will bring heaven to earth.

Comment by Gary Sinclair on May 31, 2012 at 9:52pm
Thanks for your thoughts Phillippa. And I agree we should pray for supernatural intervention. The question is still, "What will that look like?" Appreciate your insights. Keep praying!
Comment by Phillippa brown on May 31, 2012 at 8:47pm

There is some scriptural evidence of people praying and seeking for revival in Old Testament: Hab.3:2 and Psalms 85:6 are both prayers for the supernatural intervention of God. It seems to me that the early new testament church did not seek or pray for revival due to the fact the they were in revival - so to speak. Multitudes were being saved and miracles happened almost daily. We cannot settle for less.

Those 'other things that need the passionate prayers of God's people' are deeply impacted during a revival as people repent, are convicted by the Holy Spirit of any wrong-doing, and are moved towards reconciliation as an increased desire for godliness is birthed in them. A genuine visitation of God will change us, our countries, and our families.

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