Thinking Out Loud
Not long ago, a brother with whom I was praying, to my surprise began to pray for a revival in America. To my shame, it had never occurred to me to do so. It just seemed rather futile at the time. However, my heart was pricked and I have not been able to put that idea out of my mind ever since. Is it right, or is it realistic to pray for revival in the United States? Have we gone beyond the point of no return? Is it too late to expect God to do a mighty work in our midst? The following are some of my thoughts on the matter. I pray that it will provoke you, not only to think about your prayer for our nation, but that it will provoke you to in fact, pray.
First off, let’s establish the obvious, we are not God! Therefore, we do not know if the US has gone beyond the point of no return, therefore we do not know whether it is too late to expect God to do a mighty work in our midst. After all, the city of Nineveh was spared God’s destruction, in spite of Jonah’s reluctance (read Jonah 4:2). Or consider the account of David praying for the life of his young child whom the Lord afflicted. It teaches us that until the Lord brings a matter to a close, we can and ought to pray for Him to intervene (2 Samuel 12:15-23). It is fair to say that we must pray for our nation and its leaders until the Lord returns.
Second, if we are to pray for revival, we do well to consider what exactly revival is, and what it would look like in America and in your own life? If your idea of revival is some sort of utopia where everyone will be at peace with one another, you’re sadly mistaken. Universal peace will take place only when the Prince of Peace sits upon His throne for a thousand years. Both biblical and secular history reveal that some of the greatest revivals have taken place in the midst of persecution against God’s people. Consider the fact that one-third of Israel will be saved in the midst of the tribulation (Romans 11:26; Zechariah 13:8). Or that the early church continued to grow even as it was scattered because of persecution (Acts 8:1-8).
Because revival is that which takes place in the hearts of God’s own, God normally takes great pains to separate the goats from the sheep, often through suffering. Even the “go to” passage for revival, 2 Chronicles 7:14, is in the context of God’s judgment on the land and on His people. Revival is God’s work in the life of His people calling them to holiness.
So although revival is desirable for the sake of God’s glory, be well aware that when it comes it may in fact cost you everything… leaving you with nothing… but Jesus.
Finally, because revival is best applied to God’s people, a more accurate prayer for the nation might be for enlightenment (use whatever word you’d like). But for genuine change to take place in the US, there must be a mighty work of God by His Spirit to illumine the eyes of the lost. Pray that men and women might be saved either one at a time or en masse. However, God uses the proclamation of the gospel to bring people to Himself (Romans 10:14-15). So a more biblical understanding and prayer for our nation would be, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:37–38. And then, having prayed for this, know that YOU are the laborers God has sent into the harvest.
It IS right to pray for revival… and it IS right to pray for enlightenment. But know that praying for revival and enlightenment is not merely a nice sentiment. Looking for the Lord to work in our nation entails acknowledgment and willingness for God to begin with you. It is knowing full well, that if revival and enlightenment is to ever take place in the United States of America, it must begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17-19). It must begin with… you.
Soli Deo Gloria!