Why I Don’t Pray for Revival
My iTunes is filled with a lot of songs whose lyrics I don’t understand. Even some of my favorite tunes. For instance, what is “Werewolves of London” about? What is the meaning of all the OK Go songs I love? I don’t know. I’m not sure I get the point of any of the Counting Crows songs in my playlists, either. Heck, I’ve got music in languages that I don’t comprehend. They just sound cool.
Every once in a while, though, the lyrics of a song stop me in my place. Recently, I’ve been wearing out “More to this Life” from Steven Curtis Chapman’s Re:Creation album and “Live While We’re Younger” from JOHNNYSWIM’s Diamonds record—because of the lyrics. In that second one, Abner Ramirez sings, “While you pray for revival, I’m already living in one.”
That lyric prompted a thought that surprised me. Outside of a whole-city, multi-church prayer event last year, I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard someone pray for revival. That wouldn’t be a big deal, except I heard that prayer all the time during the two decades before I got married. I heard it from the pulpit, from the radio, from commiserating adults who thought that was the answer for the woes in the news.
The word revival isn’t in the Bible. Neither is rededication. The idea of a jump start to a dead battery that once was alive rarely makes the Bible’s pages. You’re far more likely to read tales of dead things coming to life. Resurrection. Jesus even disclosed that the reason he left heaven was to bring life and life more abundant.
I haven’t heard people in my current spiritual ecosystem pray for revival, because we’re seeing new life all around us:
• severed marriages being sewn together
• sex slaves being rescued
• people walking away from the chase of The American Dream®
• victims of rape and molestation finding healing from their scars then agency in their story
• mourning parents worshipping with abandon after losing children
• chains of addiction getting sledge hammered
• atheists becoming evangelists
• brokenness being redeemed for kingdom work
• children confronting generational sins
• people asking God for his plan rather than blessing on their agendas
• faith moved from political parties to supernatural powers
• doubts being expressed and exposed so they can be overcome
• orphans getting new last names
In my inner circle alone, I’ve seen worldview changes lead to behavioral changes. New believers continually swirl into our life stream, and mature Christians tell stories of recent growth—not bygone tales.
We don’t pray for revival. We pray that God would reveal what he’s doing in and around us. He answers that prayer. Well, he’s answering it for us. And it wows us. Worship breaks out all around us—any day of the week. Tears, too. Multiple times in the past few months, I’ve participated in spontaneous prayer huddles, where we placed hands on a friend in their time of need. Grown, entrepreneurial men are texting each other to ask for accountability, encouragement, or intercession.
Every week, we ask one another what God has done in and around each other since we last met. In our group texts and scheduled gatherings, we’re experiencing God’s presence. It’s often uncomfortable, sometimes awkward; but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struggled to reenter the work grind or wind down for sleep at night because of the excitement pulsing through my veins.
It’s energy. It’s life. It doesn’t need re-anything—other than recording, relaying, and retelling.
It’s also contagious, and you can start it where you are. When you lean into God’s assignments—the hard stuff of life—he makes himself known. He brings life. As my friend Woody says, “When God showed up in the Bible—whatever it was—it wasn’t boring.” As you tell the stories of what he’s doing around you, others will be drawn to that, inspired by that, enabled by that. The movement expands.
And people stop praying for revival—not because apathy has calloused them to the concept but because they’re already living in one.
Stock photo purchased from iStockPhoto.com