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Earlier this month more than 75 church leaders from around the country gathered in Chicago to discuss revival and pray for God to send it. Just two years ago the same call for such a gathering fell on largely deaf ears. Organized by the National Revival Network and held at Moody Church in Chicago, the meeting pulled together a diverse group—young and old, North and South, Arminian and Calvinist—committed to the common pursuit of asking God to revive his church.

“Despite our philosophical distinctives there was a palpable shared urgency for genuine wide-scale revival and spiritual awakening—for the church to ‘come fully alive to the glory of Christ’—that was heightened by this remarkable gathering of leaders,” says organizer Byron Paulus, executive director of Life Action Ministries in Buchanan, Michigan. For more about the vision behind this unique event, check out “An Urgent Appeal.”

Echoing these leaders sense’ that the church needs spiritual awakening, I asked several others to explain why they ask God to send revival.

Harry Reeder, senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama; Council member of The Gospel Coalition; and author of From Embers to Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church:

Because we desperately need it. The Scripture is clear, men cannot bring revival, and revivals certainly do not arrive from cosmetic manipulations but are the work of God alone. The Scriptures affirm this in many texts such as Habbakuk 3:2: “O Lord I have heard the report of you and your work O Lord do I fear. In the midst of the years revive your work and make it known. In wrath remember mercy.” Yet it is also clear that God’s work of revival comes through the divinely appointed ordinary means of grace. Therefore, while we cannot bring a revival we certainly can preach for revival, pray for revival, and seek revival in our own hearts so that a heaven-sent revival would begin with us and then overflow from us.

Why do I long for revival? I live in a nation in desperate need of a gospel awakening that will only come from a revived church. Revived churches come from revived leadership resulting from an unalterable commitment to being Christ-centered, gospel-driven and Spirit-filled. Revival from the Lord brings not only the breadth of influential impact but also the depth of divine intimacy. True revival transforms lives, transforming families, then communities, and finally nations. The revived church that throbs with divine passion will be marked by authentic God-centered worship and an intentional and unstoppable commitment to the Great Commission. One of the founding fathers of the United States in observation of the 18th century Great Awakening said “it seemed as if the whole world was going to church.” The reason that phenomena was observed so poignantly is because the whole church was going into the world. My prayer is not only that such a phenomena would occur again but that it would begin in me.

We don’t love one another, nor do we love the lost as we ought, because we don’t know the love of Christ as we ought. Divine-sent revival brings the preeminence of Christ in the lives of redeemed men and women transforming the landscape of society. Or as a frustrated pagan in Europe once said according to Acts 17:6, “these people have turned the world upside-down.”

Revival, simply put, is ordinary people doing extraordinary things in ordinary places bringing many to Christ and giving glory to God alone. “Will you not revive us again that your people will rejoice in you” (Psalm 85:6)

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July 2011