I spent this past week in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Brethren assemblies’ National Workers and Elders Conference. A theme that came up often in the prayer meetings and was mentioned several times from the pulpit was our need for revival (not merely the Brethren, but the entire Evangelical church). I agree with this assessment. But how do we go from the need for revival to experiencing revival? What things are needed for revival? I share a few thoughts here which I have gleaned over the past thirty-five years in my reading, Bible study, and observation.
To begin with, I would point out that we can’t blame the lack on God. The missing part of the equation is not something He must do, but something we must do. We are not waiting on Him. He is waiting on us. “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land” (Ezek. 22:30). For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 Chron. 16:9).
Similarly, merely increasing our prayers, whether in time or in intensity, cannot bring the revival we seek. If compromise, lukewarmness, and worldliness are standing in the way, no amount or degree of prayer can leapfrog these matters and bring revival anyways. Prayers and tears are no replacement for undivided devotion. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” (1 Sam. 15:22)
So what is the missing piece that is needed for revival? It is simply going deeper into the glorious truths of discipleship of which we have been made partakers: “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24) AND “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20) Devotional writers have often referred to this deepening of our walk as the exchanged life — more living for Jesus and less living for self.
From another perspective the same truth can be illustrated with the biblical teaching of stewardship: “To him that has, more shall be given.” The Lord is not going to give us further things needed for revival if we have not sufficiently capitalized on the things he has already given us to that end.
This approach to revival can be illustrated with dry tinder. We need to ensure that our heart is dry tinder that is ready to receive the fire we are praying for. This we do by following the call of Christ upward to higher ground, ever the more harmonizing our life with His call to be a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:3) — surrendering more deeply to His love, grace, vision, purpose — until our devotion approaches that of the apostles, the Methodists, the early Brethren, the early Anabaptists, and various other groups that have enjoyed revival. A legalistic spirit will never attain such devotion, but faith can … does … will.
“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”
Lee W. Brainard