Please humor the inside ramblings of how God used prayer to plant the seeds of revival.
As the world has gotten darker over the past decade, I have gone through a lot of emotions. I was part of a church plant that started 12 years ago and I must say that we went in with grandiose ideas of how it would all go. I dreamt of lots of people getting saved and turning to Jesus. However, I found something else waiting for us. I found very hard ground. Occasionally, we would find some soft, wonderful, rich, top soil heart that was ready to eagerly accept Jesus. But, most of what I saw brought me loads and loads of discouragement and disillusionment. There were good times, but the ultimate goal of leading people to Christ in droves seemed to elude me.
We would try our very hardest and share and work and share and pray and work and work and work. I honestly started to struggle with doubts during those years of work. I started to literally say, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah? Where are the miracles? Where are the lives transformed and where is the power of the gospel?”
Even the literal ground is hard to work with here. The ground my house sits upon is a lot of red clay and hard, gravel ridden dirt and some amazingly hard bedrock. It can certainly be discouraging to spend a couple hours a day out working the ground and have very little fruit show from my hard work, sweat and literally tears. When the sweat runs down your face in the middle of July…it’s brutal.
And I think of the verse that says, (Galatians 6:9) “ Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
During that decade, I went through many spiritual attacks in my mind that tried to lessen Jesus in my eyes. If Jesus is true, then why isn’t this working? I would quickly shake off the thought, but the discouragement held on and on and on….
I even gave up a little bit. Okay. Maybe a lot. I just went into autopilot. After all, why work extra hard and get no results? After a while, I started to realize that the difficulty was not that Jesus isn’t Lord, but that the evil is increasing. What at first seemed like a bit of the twilight zone, became more and more solid inside of me. We are seeing an increase of evil and the hearts of people growing cold. I started to see that I wasn’t the only person being affected by the evil. Every Christian I know seemed to be battening down the hatches, pulling the shutters closed and thinking that it was the time where the Bible says that we are to “work while it is still day, because night is coming when no one can work.”
So, I began to think, “Well, maybe the Holy Spirit just is done. Maybe this is part of God’s judgement. Maybe he is done convicting people and maybe things are going to spiral out of control until Jesus comes back.” No. I just couldn’t hold onto that. I really discerned that was the devil trying to get me to doubt God’s ability and God’s love. But, it certainly seemed like it, with all my humanity, it seemed like it for sure.
Then things got desperate. Really desperate. ISIS came on the scene. Ebola. More and more and more persecution and darkness and depravity. In my personal circles and life, things seems very desperate. I started to despair.
But, in July of last year, I saw Anne Graham-Lotz’s 777 call to prayer. My soul felt a bit of a rise. I knew this was something we needed. I knew it was something I needed. I could only hope that someone else would want to do something as radical as pray for 1 hour, 7 days a week with me. Most people just seemed generally bored with the idea of prayer, or unsure of what that would look like in a corporate setting. And fasting? Well, that was a stretch for most everyone I talked to (including myself), but I decided to go for it anyways. We had a wonderful small group of believers who started meeting at 8am every morning. I must say that it was the most refreshing, hope building, lie-crushing, powerful, spiritual thing I had done in a really, really, really long time.
The great thing about this time, was Anne’s prayers were repentance focused. I started repenting from really bad attitudes and doubts and we started repenting together as a church body for selfishness and self-centeredness and believing lies of the enemy Satan. Immediately, we saw an answer to our prayers. God started planting the seeds for revival.
One of the truths that Jesus spoke to his disciples was this: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.”
See, Jesus didn’t want them to pray that once in a while. Jesus wanted them to be focused on HIS mission. His mission was the harvest. As far as Jesus could see, there was a WHOLE LOT of ripe wheat and NOT ENOUGH people WORKING in the harvest fields. We started praying this. Again. I want to reiterate. We had IMMEDIATE ANSWER to prayer. Within a month, God put some things into motion that started the beginnings of a great and thriving ministry that we are in the middle of today. God started calling up laborers to the fields. HE raised up people and started connecting people in powerful ways. Now, we are seeing people saved daily. We are seeing miracles and people’s lives delivered from pain and sin. Young people are rising up and leading friends to Jesus even teachers at school are noticing the difference.
One thing the Holy Spirit led me to pray during that time when we first started praying was, “God put muscle on our bones.” (see scripture below!) We had been operating with a skeleton crew, so to speak, and people were getting tired and burnt out. We needed help and we needed…something. Anything God had to give. Hope. We needed hope. I mean, we could pray for The Lord to work, but if he moved, how would we handle the influx of new believers? I would sit and try to figure it out in my head, but it never quite looked as awesome as it was when God actually took over the management of his outpouring that was getting ready to take place.
When you are in a bad place, the devil wants you to think God is done with you. He wants you to think it’s time to move on and to find something new…to go to greener pastures, where hopefully, no one has eaten all the grass. But, truthfully, God plants you where you are and is ready to use you where you are.
I had fallen into the trap that I’ve heard many Christians say, “Revival can’t come now, because America is too far gone. It will take a shaking or a catastrophe for God’s hand to move.” This is a mind frame that I have recently needed to repent of holding onto.
Do you know what really brings the work of The Lord? Prayer and fasting.
Years ago, when I started in ministry, I remember people philosophizing about how the idea that prayer moves God’s hand is a works mentality. Like we have to work so hard for The Lord. It’s all about grace! (They would say.) It seems so nice to think of it that way. But, honestly, that is not what it is like in God’s war room. God has an army. He is calling laborers to his vineyard, not people to sit around lazily eating his fruit.
I was deceived by this theology enough to make me feel confused and bad about my desire to pray with others for the move of God. (May sound silly, but now I know why Satan would try to trick me this way.) Prayer and fasting are the most powerful weapons we have as believers. These are ancient weapons that have been abandoned in this last generation. Imagine how in the natural, the politicians are trying to disarm the American citizens, (so they can’t fight and defend themselves). Ikn the supernatural, then enemy is disarming the believers in Jesus from their greatest weapons that can literally destroy his work and see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
If you still think that is works based theology, I would agree. Hey. You gotta do what works. Sitting around on your spiritual backside does not work. Throwing yourself at the feet of our Father in Heaven does. We acknowledge his power. We acknowledge our dependance. We acknowledge how lost we are without him. We repent from sin. We ask him for more people to help with the harvest and a double portion of the power of the Holy Spirit to work and to bring in the hurting, the lost and the suffering.
When you start doing this on a regular basis, YOU WILL SEE A CHANGE! You WILL SEE A MOVE OF GOD in your life. Here is the truth. God wants us to pray for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. So, if you are just going to pray for manifestations of the Holy Spirit so you can have some cool tricks up your sleeve or can “feel” close to him, then you aren’t going to experience a real move of God. But, when you submit yourself to the will of God, the true will of God, that the lost will be saved and become disciples of Jesus Christ, BUCKLE YOUR SEATBELT!
2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
I want to close this blog with a reminder of God’s power to resurrect the dead. In fact, as believers in Jesus Christ, our hope, our eternal hope and power are exclusively from the resurrection power of Jesus. If God can call up the scattered children of Israel from around the globe, re-birth the nation in a single day, and defy all human understanding by restoring the Jewish people to their homeland after thousands of years, God can certainly raise up a human heart from death to life.
God is moving! God is moving! God is moving! He is moving in human history right now, he is still calling up Jews to come home from around the globe. Why oh why would be be focused on hunkering down and riding out the storm? Jesus wants us to to be a part of his revival and his movement. He wants us to get on our knees and pray. He is looking for people who are willing to commit to pray, commit to share the gospel and commit to serve those who come to Christ out of their brokenness. When we do this, we won’t have to cajole and manipulate to get people into God’s kingdom. We will see the results, when The Holy Spirit replaces our own imaginations and the power of our flesh.
I will leave you with the most depressed prophet in history. Jeremiah. God showed him hope in the middle of his despair over the sins of the nation. We need to remember what God will do when we seek him, repent, pray and walk in the power of his Holy Spirit. Please. Please. Please. Do not wait for a tragedy or a catastrophe to petition God for more oil for your lamp. Remember what Jesus said about that.
Ezekiel 37 New International Version (NIV)
The Valley of Dry Bones
37 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”