Revival essentially is an open heaven. It’s when God ‘comes down’ and manifests his glory. It’s when he reveals himself in all his splendour and fullness. Our hearts begin to burn with his passion, set on fire by his incandescent nature. We catch alight like combustible material in the midst of roaring fire. And yet, by his mercies we are not consumed! Instead, ignited with his glory we become charged with his power and offer our lives totally to him as our only Lord and God. Laying everything before him, we overcome our resistance until our will becomes completely his.
Revival in the early church
The environment of your birth can have a great affect on you; the early church was born in revival and will never be truly satisfied with anything less.
We were made for the presence of God so we should aspire to live under an open heaven, knowing God’s presence and seeing the fruits of revival in our lives. We should seek to live under the same power and blessing that they experienced in New Testament times.
What is revival?
When you look at the early church you see evidences of the presence of God everywhere. The disciples went out and preached the word everywhere and the Lord worked with them confirming his word with the signs that accompanied it (Mark 16:20). God was with them, they were living in his manifest presence. He was working with them and vast numbers of people came to Christ. On the day of Pentecost we read of 3,000 being added to the church, and in Acts chapter 4 we discover 5,000 men as well as many more women and children coming to faith. The church grew daily.
These were not just those who thought it might be a good idea to attend church, or who wanted to be loosely associated with some new fast-growing and popular religion. Rather, they came through deep conviction of the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost they were cut to the heart when they heard Peter’s message and cried out, “What must we do?” This was real conviction of sin and it was the touchstone of apostolic Christianity.
Every revival of history has been birthed in prayer and sustained by prayer. For the church of Acts, prayer was paramount. The 120 met together in the upper room to pray and to wait for the coming of the Spirit. They taught their converts to continue steadfastly in prayer and they supported the great public prayer events in the Temple. It was not just that they went to the prayer meetings to say their prayers but they developed a lifestyle of prayer. It was part of them – as natural as breathing. This kind of prayer is both a cause and an effect of revival. Prayer brings revival because prayer brings God. But also, revival brings prayer. When God draws close he awakens in us a desire to pray.
Revival is a call to stir yourself up to pray, to seek the face of God and to pour out your soul to him. Prayer will give you strength for the battle, it will keep you close to God in the time of trial and will protect you from the onslaughts of the enemy. That was the experience of Peter and John as they went back to their people to report what had happened during their arrest and trial at the hands of the Sanhedrin.
As soon as they heard an account of the events, the believers rose up in prayer. It was their first and most natural response. They were passionate about their contact with God through prayer and so they prayed with one accord lifting up their voice to God (Acts 4:24). They prayed fervently as if the very destiny of their city depended on it. They prayed in unity, their many voices becoming ‘one voice’ before the Lord. How the Church needs to respond like that today! Wherever you find people praying like that you find revival. God wants us learn to pray like that – with unity of purpose, with persistence and with desperation.
It is clear that these were a desperate people, but their desperation was not due to their adverse circumstances. They were in danger and they knew it. But their real concern was not for themselves.
They were desperate for God – to see him act, and knowing his purpose, they wanted to see it fulfilled. They had a single eye for the glory of God and longed to see Jerusalem saved.
Revival is born out of such desperation. When we know that there is nothing we can do but cry out to God from the depth of our being, and when our hearts are ablaze with spiritual passion to see the lost saved and Christ magnified having no thought to ourselves, then revival will come. It’s time to carry that fire in our hearts, to be desperate for God to come.