When I say the word, revival, what comes to mind? Perhaps the first thing we think about is something from the past becoming popular or important again, such as the revival of board games or the revival of drive-in theaters.
From a religious standpoint, however, a revival is the “reawakening of religious zeal or enthusiasm”. I remember as a child when revivals were held in our community. Sometimes it was initiated by our pastor who felt his members needed a “spiritual jumpstart” to either usher in the new year or finish up the old one.
During the summer, it was not unusual to have traveling evangelists come into our community. With large tents and wooden platforms, they would preach “fire and brimstone” in true “Elmer Gantry” style, until someone came down front to “repent and turn from their wicked ways.”
We hear of revivals even today, but probably with less frequency, as people choose more convenient and less demanding ways of “stoking their spiritual fire.” The question is, however, is what we’re doing enough to truly “maintain the spiritual fire” we need in our souls? Do we need revival?
In both my prayer circle and Bible study group, “the buzz” is all about the need for revival—in our nation, in our churches and in our homes. Although the actual word “revival” is not used in the Bible, there are many instances cited where revival or spiritual awakening occurred (1 Sam. 7:1-6; 2 Kings 18:1-7)
Revivals are not new in the economy of God. The largest recorded revival occurred in Nineveh where it is recorded that 120,000 souls repented and were saved from God’s wrath (Jonah 3:4-10). Revivals are often preceded by a major moral crisis that has plowed the soil of people’s hearts, readying them for the fertile seeds of revival: God’s Word and God’s salvation. Are we currently experiencing similar crises in our nation?
We have become desensitized to the social needs of people in our community. Our entertainment choices reflect a tolerance for moral depravity and disregard for human life—not much different than Sodom and Gomorrah.
Man has “deified” himself over God. Society continues to attempt to redefine God, trivialize family, and devalue Christ’s church. And what have we gained in return? Broken and wounded people feeling hopeless, in despair, without joy. Are we in need of revival?
Preparing for revival
To this point, we have described revival as a noun; an event that stirs up religious faith. Revive can also be a “verb”, which in Hebrew, means to bring to life or cause to live. Do we need to be revived—brought back to life?
As I look around, I believe we are in desperate need of “spiritual CPR.” We need new breath and true life that can only come from God (Ps. 85:6-7). Using Jonah 3:4-10, below is a “CPR” acrostic to communicate how we can prepare for revival.
Confession. Readiness for revival always begins with confession of sin. The people of Nineveh proclaimed a fast of which everyone participated, “from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” (v. 5) Confession recognizes the need for change and realization that the only true source of change is God.
Prayer. Prayer is the most powerful force God has given us to implement change. The city of Nineveh, “both man and beast were covered with sackcloth and cried mightily unto God.” (v. 8a) Prayer prior to revival prepares the way for the preaching of God’s truth. God’s truth defeats the lies of Satan and provides light to expose the darkness of sin (Acts 26:18).
Repentance. Repentance requires two actions: the turning away from sin and the turning to God. The people of Nineveh “turned from their evil way.” (v. 8) The turning away from sin begins with accepting Christ as both Savior and Lord. Repentance should lead to transformed living—one of good works and service (Eph. 2:10).
Where do we begin?
I heard a minister state that individuals should “draw a circle on the ground and then step inside it—it is here where revival begins.” Confess, pray, and repent. Revival starts with us. Are we ready to begin?