Do we REALLY want revival?
Revival is when God’s Spirit works to bring large numbers of people to Christ, so that whole churches and communities are won over to the reality of Jesus and transformed lives are seen.
In the past, this country saw many evangelical revivals. And now, the Spirit of God is bringing revival in places like South Korea. It is hard for us to imagine in the secular west. But think for a moment what it would be like to have thousands of people rising early in the morning to go to their churches and pray together. And churches of tens of thousands growing up in cities. For a powerful reminder of what this looks like, read this article: 2 reminders from the Korean church about prayer.
The writer who visited the church there said that prayer is done with ‘a constancy that seems strange to the American eye, but feels absolutely normal in Korea.’
Revival is closely linked to seeking the Lord in prayer constantly and treasuring the Scriptures and orthodox* Christian faith. That is what I heard one Korean pastor say in a recent online interview. And it has been borne out of suffering; and the presence of the rogue northern state, where many people have relatives and Christians are persecuted.
Yet, revival is more costly than we can imagine. Because prayer is hard work and necessitates ‘wrestling’ in prayer like Epaphras (Colossians 4:12). It means a greater dedication than I normally give to it in my comfortable western Christian life. And yet, I myself, my community and my country desperately need revival.
So do we want revival?
I was recently challenged by words from R.A. Torrey in his spiritual classic, ‘How to pray’.
‘Much prayer is insincere. People ask for things which they do not wish…. Many a church is praying for revival that does not really desire revival. They think they do, for to their minds a revival means an increase in membership, an increase in income, an increase in reputation among the churches. But if they knew what a revival meant, what a searching of hearts on the part of professed Christians would be involved, what a radical transformation of individual, domestic and social life would be brought about, and many other things that would come to pass if the Spirit of God was poured out in reality and power; if all this were known, the real cry of the church would be: ‘O God, keep us from having revival.’’
Now, this is really very inciteful. Because, even though we might not use the word ‘revival’ we are probably all if we are praying people, asking for growth; but we could be doing so insincerely!
Can I encourage us to prepare our own hearts? Are we going to ask God to challenge our diary and so have the time that we need to seek him for revival? To love him more than our devices and distractions? Are we prepared to change personally; to change in the home, the church and our society?
When we have answered these questions, I think we will know what it is we are asking for.
Note: *By orthodox, he meant the faith as passed down to us, as opposed to modern liberal interpretations.