Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Prayer, Prelude to Revival

I am going to start posting some of my sermons. I will do this via a blog form and the weekly sermon link at The Virtual Pew will be up and running soon. Note that the regular video sermons, once they start, will be much shorter.

I am hope you get something from these. I ask that anyone visiting remember the sermons are available for use, but they are copyrighted and credit should be given when using them. I know some Christians have issue with this, but over the years I have seen people take all/or part of various writings and use them for purposes other than what they were intended for, and even in some cases change the meaning. Feel free to use part or all of the text if giving credit and a link.

I really believe this is a critical message for Christians. I have seen churches and lives changed when applied. This sermon normally is a longer Revival preparation sermon, taking around an hour and a half to present. All of my sermons are normally done in outline form and have been put in narrative form for purposes here. If wanting it in outline form, along with worksheets feel free to contact me.

I realize many accessing The Virtual Pew are from other parts of the world. While the following is specific to an American audience, as you read, you will see it is not just America, it also addresses revival and change from around the world. I believe, certainly in the West, the situations described in America, aren’t much different than those around the world. I primarily use America as an example for two reasons. One; Most of my speaking experience has been in America. Two; Many Americans think her early history was rooted in Christianity. While there were some Christians, and some Deists involved in the early development of America, she also had many problems. Problems not much different than the problems the world faces today.

Now the Sermon

Prayer, Prelude to Revival

1) What is Prayer? It is actually quite simple; prayer is Communication with God. It is an expression that helps illustrate the “Love affair & Friendship with the Creator” we have when we know Jesus as our Forgiver and Leader or as some would say, our Lord and Savior.

My closest and most committed relationship on this earth is my relationship with my wife. How would I be able to maintain that relationship if I never spent time alone with her? In over 26+ years of marriage, we have found ourselves at times, thinking the same thoughts, ordering the same food at restaurants, wearing the same matching clothes, and sometimes finishing each other’s sentences. If the relationship with our spouse can grow to this level of closeness, so can our relationship with Christ. We can have the same passion and desire to see the lost come to His saving grace, or see ourselves or brothers and sisters grow to be more like him as He had when He willingly gave up His life on the cross. I challenge it starts with getting to know him, and getting to know him starts with prayer.

Just as communication between a man and a woman can increase the love for each other so it is in our relationship with Christ. We need to remember in the process, that it was God who first had that desire for relationship with us. Despite what many say about a evil, judgmental God, we need to realize, the purpose of the creation of humanity, and the rest of what Scripture tells us.

Regarding the fact that God first loved us, we can look at various passages of Scripture from the Bible. Those passages include, Romans 8:35-37, Deuteronomy 30:19-20, John 3:16, John 14:21, 1 John 3:16. Let’s now begin to break down and look at those verses.

Romans 8:35-37 - Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? It is exactly as the Scriptures say, "For you we face death all day long. We are like sheep on their way to be butchered."

In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 - Right now I call the sky and the earth to be witnesses that I am offering you this choice. Will you choose for the LORD to make you prosperous and give you a long life? Or will he put you under a curse and kill you? Choose life! Be completely faithful to the LORD your God, love him, and do whatever he tells you. The LORD is the only one who can give life, and he will let you live a long time in the land that he promised to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Joshua Is Appointed the Leader of Israel

John 3:16 - God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.

1 John 4:19-21 - “We love because God first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this commandment: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

1 John 3:16 - We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That's why we must give our lives for each other.

God has done His part in seeking fellowship with us. He first loved us and loved us so much that he sent his only son, Jesus, to die for us. He shows us His love but do we do our part in showing Him our love? If we really love someone, or God we communicate with them.

Prayer is 2-way communication. Not just us speaking to God but God speaking to us. It is vital that we have a place and time that allows us to listen to God. For me I designate a time every day when I go to the gym. It is usually in the steam room. It isn’t the only time, but it is a designated time.

Prayer is not just something we do 2 or 3 times a day, it is a relationship with God. When we pray we are present at the throne of God, the creator of the entire universe. We are present with his son Jesus Christ and we are able to hear their direction through God’s Holy Spirit. It is amazing to get to those places at certain times of prayer, that is realizing that you are at the throne of God and He there with you, giving you personal time. I can’t think of more memorable times in my own life than when I have been at that place. I wish it was every time, but truth is, I have to work to get there, putting away the distractions of life, which isn’t always easy.

Jesus, quoting from Deuteronomy said the greatest commandment of the law is “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30. As we come to understand God’s direction through prayer, we begin to walk and do the things He wants us to do. A slack prayer life indicates a poor love relationship with God. It is difficult to love others or God if we aren’t spending the time we need to in prayer.

If standing before God could, we say to His face that we love Him with all of our heart and know that we have practiced and exhibited that love? God wants no competition for His love. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6:24

Genuine prayer does not lead to an encounter with God; it is an encounter with God. God commands us to pray and spend time with Him. If we have an obedience problem, we have a love problem.

2) Children Exhibit Great Faith in Their Prayers We Must Become as Children to Enter the Kingdom of Heaven

There are numerous comical Examples of a Child’s Prayer that I found when working on this message.

A woman invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to her six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” I wouldn’t know what to say,” the little girl replied. “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” the mother said. The little girl bowed her head and said, “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

A pastor said to a precocious six-year-old boy: “So your mother says your prayers for you each night? Very commendable! What does she say?” The little boy replied, “Thank God he’s in bed!”

“And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 2-4

“Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ And after laying His hands on them, He departed from there.” Matthew 19: 13-15

“But then Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them. ‘ Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder for them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them.” Mark 10: 14-16

We are called children of God. 1 John 3: 1, 2 - Think how much the Father loves us. He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world did not know who Christ is, they don't know who we are.

Jesus referred to as a male child or boy. Revelations 12: 5, 6 - The woman gave birth to a son, who would rule all nations with an iron rod. The boy was snatched away. He was taken to God and placed on his throne.

3) A Child’s natural, non-confrontive, non-ashamed, trusting faith produces results.

The Price of a Miracle - Sally was a small girl, only 8 with a brother named Georgi who was very sick. His parents had done everything humanly possible to care for him but being poor and with no insurance, their hopes were running out. Sally overheard a conversation to this effect and heard her mother and father say that the only hope was an expensive operation and it would take a true miracle from God for that to happen.

Sally went to her room and in a short sweet prayer asked God to help her brother. She busted up her old glass piggy bank and collected $1.11. She knew that she had exactly enough money to buy a miracle She later snuck out of the house and went down to the nearest pharmacy to buy a miracle. She went to the pharmacist and was waiting for him to notice her because she was so small. He was speaking to another well-dressed man at the time Sally approached him.

After grunting and making other noises to get his attention, the pharmacist finally noticed her and asked if he could help her. As she held up her coins wrapped in cloth, she told the pharmacist “I am here to buy a miracle for my brother.”

The pharmacist, looking annoyed told Sally that the pharmacy did not sell miracles. Sally starting to cry said, “but it’s for my brother he needs a miracle.” as she started wiping a tear from her eyes.

“Well there is nothing I can do.” Said the pharmacist, “besides can’t you see I’m talking to my brother.”

By this time, Sally had started to cry. The well-dressed man bent down to ask what was wrong with her brother. After asking her this question, he asked her how much money she had and she replied “$1.11.”

He then responded in a kind voice to her that, “that $1.11 sounded like just the right amount to buy a miracle.” That person’s name was Dr. Charlton Armstrong a renowned physician. After hearing the little girl’s story, he arranged for and performed the operation. Dr. Charlton Armstrong later became known for specializing in Georgis Malady, the condition later named for Sally’s brother.

After the operation Sally would often overhear her mother and father telling about the episode of events and asking about how much the operation would have normally cost if they would have paid for it. Sally would tell the story as she got older, that a miracle cost the faith of a little girl and $1.11. While that $1.11 may not sound like much, it was all the little girl had. She was willing to give all.

Marathana and Snuggles - My daughter Marathana had a cat that we had gotten as a kitten in Kansas named Snuggles. Snuggles was a Russian Blue and one of our all time favorite pets, not because of anything other than what God taught us about faith and the prayers of a child.

We had recently moved to South Carolina and was living in a wooded residential neighborhood. There wasn’t much traffic, but there enough homes and woods surrounding the home that we had to be careful about letting the pets out.

We hadn’t been in South Carolina long when Snuggles disappeared one day. After several months we had given up on our cat. It was then I decided it would be a good time to teach my daughter about death. Marathana, less than 6 at the time, refused to accept the death of the cat. She simply asked, “Papa, can’t we just pray about it?”

Her mother and I reluctantly agreed to let Marathana pray for the cat. She prayed a sweet innocent prayer, one that was simple, yet believing. She simply asked, “God if Snuggles is still alive can you bring him home.”

Right after that prayer, her mother and I looked at each other, knowing deep in our hearts that after so long, it was likely the cat was dead and we would never see it again. We had regretted our decision to let our daughter pray for the cat.

Well the very next day we get home from work and school and there on our front porch, some months later, was Snuggles. I’ll never forget Marathana’s response, “I knew God would bring him back home.”

To say the least, some years later when Snuggles died, we all had a tear in our eye, not as much for the loss of a pet, but because of the way God had used our daughter and that pet to teach us a lesson about the power of prayer for a child.

My son’s gift to his Grandma - Children have wisdom and insight because they believe in God’s ability to change lives. I haven’t seen that demonstrated in many places better than in my son’s gift to his grandmother several years ago.

For those that have read my book The Keystone Kid you know why it would be difficult to have a positive and loving relationship with my mother. Over the years God has continued to work on that, and make a difference. Healing, albeit gradual, and love, albeit different, have begin to occur.

Several years ago my mother was visiting us in Kansas and out of the clear blue, she asked for a Bible. My wife and I, as well as the rest of the family was rather excited at her request. We decided to immediately take her to a Christian bookstore in Tulsa called Mardels.

While there, I told my mom to pick out any Bible she wanted. Now understand, she is not one who has read much of the Bible, and didn’t complete her high school GED until she was in her 50’s, a feet which I am proud of her for. She was looking for Bibles and was over in the section of The King James Version Bibles. Now I love this Bible, but I am not one who believes it is the only Bible. In fact I really appreciate the words of old time preacher J. Vernon McGee on the subject. He stated when asked which translation was the best, “The one that you read.”

I asked my mother, “Can you understand that Bible when you read it?”

“Not really.” She replied. “Is there one I can get that I can understand.”

I took her over to some other translations, and yes paraphrases in that I wanted her to at least begin to understand Biblical concepts. I saw several translations and paraphrases that I thought were appropriate and I encouraged her to look through, and find what ever Bible she liked and pick it out and we would buy it for her. She proceeded and picked out a New International Version. It was a slim line Bible with Virgin leather bindings that set me back almost $60. It was worth it though.

While at home that night we decided to inscribe it for my mother. I won’t go into a lot of detail, other than to say that our relationship over the years has been strained. I wrote something in it like, “Hope you enjoy your Bible.”

My daughter and wife wrote something like, “Love You.”

Then my son, the youngest of the group wrote in it, “Grandma, I love you and hope to see you in Heaven someday.”

To say the least, I had to leave the table with tears in my eyes. My son, the youngest of us all understood the gravity of the situation more than anyone. He understood the need to say what needed to be said. In his child like way, he said more, and preached more than I ever could.

This is a bonus, regarding communication for those checking out the sermon. This section is not in the original Outline. Women tend to be better communicators than men. Many of us already know this, but it is good to look at some factual concepts that we don’t often realize or think about.
A recent study showed that on average, men speak 12,500 words a day, women 25,000. Women are talkers, much more than men. They are touchy feely individuals. Here as an example is the Story of Hannah.

I Samuel 1:1-15 gives an account of the yearly trip Elkanah and his wife, Hannah, made to Shiloh to worship and make sacrifice to the Lord. During this time, Hannah had been distressed that she was not able to bear a son for her husband. This passage gives quite a descriptive account of her time in prayer concerning the barrenness of her womb. It says that Hannah wept. More than this, she wept until she was sore. She poured out her soul before the Lord. Her heart was grieving; she was bitter of soul, provoked, and of a sorrowful spirit.

Now that's a pretty good list of afflictions - sorrow, hardship, and everything else that came upon this woman. But the key to the whole situation is that she was a praying woman. In verse 20, it says that she reaped her reward. "And it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, 'Because I have asked him of the Lord.'"

God makes His best people in loneliness, despair, and difficulty. Praying in secret is a key to a successful prayer life. “When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.” Matt. 6:6. You can't show off when the door's shut and nobody's there. You can't display your gifts. You can impress others with your display of pride, but you can't impress God. Remember the deepest, most important prayers are not so much what is done in public but what is done in private. I challenge that we can tell a person who don’t pray in private by their long winded prayers and prayers about self when praying in public. If praying in private like we need to be doing, we won’t need to pray so much about ourselves in public. Think about it.

4) The Faith of a Mature Believer Produces the Intercessor

The dictionary defines Intercessor as the following: Entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer or petition to God in behalf of another.

Mediation in a dispute

The Church needs the support and intercessory prayer of mature believers. That’s right, those of us in the church, whether in a community church, or The Virtual Pew needs the prayer of each other. I know that some for example are inclined to be more of an intercessor than others. I have noticed on the boards at The Virtual Pew for example that Bobe, and Mary are two that do this. I must say, that the downfall of the last church I pastured at, United at the Cross in Wichita, begin to lose it’s power when we lost an older couple, former missionaries, David and Martha Fast who were intercessory prayer warriors. When I say we need this, I mean it from the bottom of my heart, we need it.

Titus 2:1-15, 3: 1-8 - These passages gives examples of how mature believers should assist and help in the growth of young believers. They give examples of ways mature believers can learn through experience and then share that experience with others. This is important to understand for various reasons.

Mature and often older Christians make the best intercessors due to their faith in Christ. They have developed this faith over the years because they have seen God work in numerous ways in their own lives and the lives of those around them. They know the reality of God’s power, and the reality of the power of prayer. They understand the importance of being an intercessor, and when available, an older believer, who has value of prayer should be used in this capacity, especially if they have gifts in this area.

Now this isn’t to say that younger believers can’t or shouldn’t be used in this capacity. God has also used young people. Notice the stories above. I know for a fact that a child still has faith and belief in the Kingdom of God and in God’s abilities like no other. We should ask kids to pray, why? Because they believe what they are praying for and haven’t developed the lack of faith that so many of us as adults have and obtain as we get older.

5) Revival is Always Preceded and Supported by Prayer

Revival is a new beginning of obedience with God and that starts with prayer. Often times we get to places where we are content and complacent with the things of God and our own spiritual walk. This is a dangerous place, and we start getting out of that place with prayer. When experiencing God and becoming obedient, we get to a place in our own lives that we have joy, no matter the circumstances, and hope, no matter what the obstacle. This isn’t all revival is, but is a vital starting point.

A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the individual & church. When we get to the place where we are content and complacent, we see areas of sin, and lack of sincerity and conviction start to enter into our walk with God. I challenge, that revivals aren’t just for churches, they are more so for the individual Christians who make up the church. As a part of revival comes growth, and salvation, but it starts with those who are the church, deciding they want to be the church that Christ has called them to be.

Is Revival really needed for the individual Christian and those that make up the Church?

Let’s look at the need of past revival throughout history.

During the wake of the American Revolution (following 1776-1781) there were 5 million people in the American territory. Of those there were 300,000 Confirmed “Drunkards” or alcoholics 15,000 of those died in a given year. That resulted in approximately 6% of the population being alcoholic. Today the number is estimated as high as 25%-30% alcoholic or drug problems. You tell me, do we have a problem that has developed over the years? Have things gotten progressively worse?

One of my favorite quotes of the early church in America during this time frame was that profanity was “of the most shocking kind.” Today, there is the adjunct of television, movies, music, radio, all sources where there is more and more profanity than ever before. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the concept that, “The English language is too limited to not use the words that best fit the situation.” I am not repulsed by language as much as some would think. My point is, that language and concepts that could be considered as being vulgar are now presented and spoken more now than ever before. If for no other reason it is easier to access. Thus, as a result, people are using more and more coarse language.

In the early days of America, women afraid to go out in the dark due to the potential danger they would face when they went out. Today it is estimated that 1 out of 4 women will face sexual assault in their life. It is believed that there are more sexual assaults in America than ever before. While some recent trends have shown a decline in some violent crime, sexual assaults continue and continue at an astronomical pace.

In the early days of America, bank robberies were a daily occurrence. Today, high tech robbery, plus banks, automobiles, home etc. at an all time high. Today there is identity theft, hacking of banking accounts, and on and on. There are more ways that we can be robbed than ever before. From Scammers, to Spammers, there is always someone trying to find ways to get into our pocketbooks.

Church in early America were virtually empty with many of them closing. Thomas Paine stated that “Christianity will be forgotten in 30 years.” Today the church in many countries cannot preach sin due to the threat of not being “tolerant,” It’s popular to use the church and Christianity as the brunt of public jokes, television shows, and more. For every new church, that starts 4 close. I as well have seen the lack of concern of some when a church closes it’s doors. It is one of the reasons there is such a need for something like The Virtual Pew.

This is of course not to take away from the needs of the local church, the truth is though, that the local church is not meeting the needs of many within its congregations. At that point, those of us who chose to be Revolutionaries find alternative ways, like The Virtual Pew to obtain and get our Spiritual nutriment. That doesn’t mean that we don’t find ways to fellowship, face to face with others, and where we can, even plug people into the a local body of believers, but the church has to provide an environment where the needs of it’s people are getting met and the truth is, fewer Christians are in a church building now than ever before, and more are taking that road. That isn’t to condone it, but it is to show that it exists.

In early America, at Harvard there was not 1 Christian in the student body. Princeton only had 2 believers and there were only 5 students who did not belong to the filthy speech movement. There were mock communion ceremonies along with anti Christian plays at Dartmouth. Princeton students burned down Nassau Hall. There were students who took Bibles out of a local Presbyterian Church in New Jersey and burnt them in a public bon fire. Today even at Bible Schools and Christian Funded Schools, legitimacy of Scripture and basics of faith such as deity of Christ are debated and rejected.

There is blatant and critical attack on Scripture, Christianity and those who follow Christ. The truth is, that while our schools are higher places of learning, it is not unusual that the biggest critics of Christianity are on the campuses of many of those schools.

In early America many Christians often met in secret in fear of facing public persecution. Today, many individuals deny Christianity and those that do profess Christ often use excuses to not meet at all. There are always many reasons to not go to and/or be a part of church. Today many deny their faith when confronted in public with jokes and ridicule of Christianity. When put down and confronted on message boards, or in public, we simply sit back and take it. While there is value in turning the other cheek, we should never forget the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:33 - But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

I challenge that when it comes to standing for our faith, we stand firm, out front, and with the love for a Savior that was willing to be stripped down naked, ridiculed, and made fun of because of his love for us. Sure there is a way to do it, but that doesn’t change the fact that we stand for our Christ while in the fullness of his attitude, we show love to others. Don’t deny the faith, be bold, but in the same process, love.

How did the situation in early America or at any point in society that has gone through these types of event change? It came through a concert of prayer and revival by those that had a deep passionate love for Christ. Prayer and revival are the only way it can change today. Whether those changes come about for a society that is falling apart, or within the lives of the individuals the Bible says are called to be salt and light to the communities of which they live.

The following are a few examples of Revival from around the world:

In 1739, there were astonishing moves of God in England. The Wesley’s and Whitefield along with about 60 others held a prayer meeting in London. Immediately following these prayer meetings England begin to experience a move of Christianity and service to the poor and needy like at no other time in history.

In 1800, a powerful outpouring and revival touched America, especially the frontier territory of Kentucky. Thousands were converted. From this rural community in Kentucky, many thousands became Christians and the revival spread all across America.

Jeremiah Lanphier started holding noon prayer meetings in New York in September 1857. By October, it grew into a daily prayer meeting attended by many businessmen. By March 1858, newspapers carried front-page reports of over 6,000 attending daily prayer meetings in New York and Pittsburgh. In Washington, five daily prayer meetings were held at five different times to accommodate the crowds. All of this started by a little prayer gathering that was started to involve at first a few friends in New York.

Charles Finney was preaching in the early days of America. New England was profoundly changed by the revival and in several towns, no unconverted adults could be found! Imagine, whole towns getting saved and coming to know Christ.

The Ulster revival of 1859 brought 100,000 converts into the churches of Ireland. It began with four men starting a weekly prayer meeting in a village school near Kells, in the month of September of 1857, the same date that prayer began in New York led by Jeremiah Lanphier mentioned earlier. Coincidence that these movements begin to effect these two countries that was started with prayer? I don’t know, what do you think?

The awesome moves of God continued and increased in the 1900's around the world. A few of these outpourings were: The Welsh revival, 100,000 were converted in Wales during 1904-5. Then there was the Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906. It drew people from around the nation and overseas. There were awesome miracles and manifestations of the Spirit of God. There are still components of the Azusa Street Revival that continues to take place.

The move of God didn’t stop with the above mentioned places though. God's power visited Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, on February 3, 1970. While it was almost 100 years later from the earlier revival that had started in Kentucky, the Asbury Revival was astonishing. It is said that the chapel was filled with students in prayer, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for months upon months, even after school was out of session and during breaks.

The Jesus Movement exploded in 1971 among hippie and counter culture youth in America. Out of this movement came many of the choruses and hymns we sing today. There was the leather and decorative Bible covers where followers displayed with pride the Word of God. There was Contemporary Christian Music, one-way sign originated by hippie and Jesus Music Icon, Larry Norman, and my salvation. It was during this movement of God that I came to know Christ. I, as many were called out of the life which involved drugs and the streets to a loving relationship with Christ. In the early days of the Jesus Movement, there was no doubt as to the fact that God was calling and touching people that the church had neglected. While many in the church ignored the street people of the time, that wouldn’t stop God, His Spirit, or the life changing ability of His Son. The term Jesus People came about and for many the love and devotion over the years has stuck.

Revival swept Cuba in 1988, although few in America and other parts of the world heard about it. One church had 100,000 visitors in 6 months! A miraculous healing in one church led to nine days of meetings in which 1,200 people were saved. The pastors were imprisoned, but the revival continued. In another church over 15,000 accepted Christ in three months. In 1990, a pastor whose congregation never exceeded 100, who was meeting once a week suddenly found him conduct 12 services a day for 7,000 people. Yes, while only a few miles from the shores of America, the reality of revival and life changing ability of God continued in one of the most depressed, and controlling societies on the planet, Communist Cuba.

In East Germany, small prayer groups of ten to twelve persons started to pray for peace. By October 1989, 50,000 people were involved in Monday night prayer meetings. In 1990, when these praying people moved quietly into the streets, their numbers swelled to 300,000 and the wall came down. While many gave credit to Ronald Regan, the truth is it was the life changing and transforming power of Christ that brought the wall down.

While we are engaged in the “War on Terror,” around the world we don’t realize that in many of those countries, more Muslims have come to Christ in the past decade than in the previous thousand years combined. While the Church continues to go through massive amounts of persecution in some of the Muslim countries around the world, it doesn’t change the fact that praying and believing former Muslims are converting their friends and family. For many of them this is at a great price as many of them are imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for their conversion to Christianity.

There is an estimated 3.5 million people a year who become Christians in Latin America. Films such as Transformations have shown that the power of prayer in these communities have brought down drug cartels. Whole communities have been transformed and again, the revival started with prayer.

In Benin (West Africa), on January 26 to 31, 1999, in a six-day evangelistic campaign 640,000 people came to hear the Gospel, and some 200,000 called upon the Lord for salvation. These mighty movements of God where thousands of people receive Christ in their lives as their Forgiver and Leader or Lord and Savior continue.

According to many groups there is an estimated 12 million a year who are becoming Christians in China now. Again, despite the illegality of Christianity and the persecution of Christians over the years, the Spirit of God continues to move, and the driving force according to most all you speak to, is prayer.

In Argentina, it is estimated that evangelical Christians have tripled in five years to three million, about one tenth of the population. This is taking place despite the leadership and opposition to Christianity of many within those countries. There is not room in the churches for everyone to meet that wants to meet there. Some have removed the seats so more people can be packed in. Thousands of people attend open-air meetings every night of the week in large cities.

Over two billion people have seen the Jesus film, the full-length movie based on the life of Christ. Showings have occurred in 230 nations and territories. Eight hundred twenty-one organizations use the evangelistic film, in addition to Campus Crusade for Christ International, which coordinates its international translation and distribution. Eighty seven million (87,000,000) people as of 2003 have indicated their decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Leader and Forgiver. The numbers from the use of this film continue to grow. Again, many of those within Campus Crusade and other groups will tell you that the primary reason for success to this effort is prayer.

As we look at some of the above mentioned areas, we need to understand there are basics of Revival throughout history.

The following are ten characteristics of the revivals mentioned above that took place in early America, England and Europe:

1. Prayer. Evangelicals recognize that corporate prayer is a prerequisite for outpourings of God's Spirit. In many places, revivals were preceded by days, sometimes weeks, months, or even years of prayer and fasting.

2. Leadership. God raised up strong leaders to guide the movement. John Wesley was an administrative genius who established an extremely effective small-group structure of "class meetings" which kept the revival fires burning in his time.

Another example is Charles H. Spurgeon who was converted at the age of 16 and began preaching in London at the age of 19. When he was 27, they built him a tabernacle seating 6,000, which was packed twice on Sundays, that's 12,000 people and once on Thursday nights for a weekly total of approximately 18,000 people. There is some speculation as to the numbers because there were many times that the crowds spread into the streets as there was no room for them in the church. How? He waited on God. He got alone with God and prayed. He studied, and he prayed some more. He also had a room within the church called the “Power Room” where he always had around 700 members of the congregation praying for the service. He never had an alter call yet God created Revival due to dedication to prayer. I love the fact that Spurgeon also read his sermons. Some say that one of the miracles is that he wasn’t a great speaker, in fact he was rather monotone. For others, it gave indication that God could use anyone who surrounded themselves with the study of God’s Word, preparation, and of course, prayer.

There was one occasion where Spurgeon was asked to speak at a large revival meeting for the city of London. There were thousands present and the program had been printed prior to his arrival, and his knowing what his role would be. Upon arrival, Spurgeon seeing the revival schedule saw he had been given the task of preaching. Others had heard about the power of his services and the lives being changed. He saw where others on the bill were scheduled with various tasks. Upon seeing those he approached the coordinators of the revival. “If there is only one thing that I may do tonight, I want to offer the prayer for there is no greater honor than to go into the presence of God and ask his blessings.”

3. Doctrine is another critical area. Revival preachers focus on Reformation doctrines of justification by faith and the atonement of Christ. They emphasize God's judgment and then His grace. While we serve a loving God, we can’t deny the historical record of many of the great revivals. Yes it is true that God loves us so much that he provided a means of salvation for us, but, individuals need to know what God is providing salvation from. The truth of the matter is, that once making this association, many respond in ways that we can’t comprehend.

4. Emotionalism is another tool used in the history of Revivals. Many don’t like this concept but again, the history on these issues speak for itself. Revivalists unashamedly appeal to people's emotions. Their listeners' problem is not a lack of knowledge but a need to take action. They abandon the formality of manuscripts or notes and preach as the Spirit leads. We see this concept being carried on in much of Christianity as we go from day to day. More and more of our great leaders who speak to us, move us, and touch us, are not seminary trained. It is as if God is using individuals to touch the common person again. Why? Because the life experiences that we can speak to and touch relate better to the emotional make up of how God has created us.

5. Music has also been a major factor in the history of revival. Evangelicals note that music is an effective way to stir religious affectations. With each generation, music has come about that speaks to that particular generation. Finding that common point of neutrality has assisted in getting people to think about the meat of the message they are being presented. While the musical tastes are not the same, the impact of music from within that generation cannot be ignored.

6. Open-air meetings. These are not necessarily outside but are meetings that are open to all to attend. Effort is made to reach the lost. Individuals overlook the component of denominationalism and look more so at the message of the Cross. The message of Jesus is universal, and while certain aspects of those teachings may be interpreted differently, and applied differently from one group to the other, the underlying theme of who Christ is, what He has done, and how we respond, is universal. Gatherings like The Virtual Pew and others where all people can come together, pray and build up the kingdom of Christ, can produce life changing results, and yes, revival.

7. This is not a fun one to think about but yes, persecution. At times opposition from hecklers, gangs of attackers and the press will occur. Many will be critical of the reality of Christ. There are even the now infamous Harvard Studies on prayer that look at prayers from all people, as opposed to specifically prayers from legitimate followers of Christ. There is the open ridicule on groups of atheists, or Satanists that come into Christian environments to put down and mock Christians, there is even the efforts of many to silence Christianity. One thing is certain. If seeking after God, spending time in prayer, and serving him, you are going to ruffle some feathers. The journey is not always pleasant, and in the study of revival, persecution is a constant that we can expect, and as Paul states, in some ways, look forward to.

8. There is also the testimonies of the people who have been changed by the power of Christ. There are reports of revival in many other places within the United States, and around the globe. One of the compelling things about those revival messages that brings power, is the testimony of those who have been touched by the hand of God. One of the thing that people can’t argue with is seeing and knowing a life that has been changed by the power of God. The willingness of people to share with others about what Christ has done for them, again, centered and rooted in prayer, is a condition that will occur with revival.

9. The Holy Spirit has always been displayed in powerful ways. Revivalists expect the Spirit to manifest His presence in powerful, visible ways. This concept is not something that is common for a traditionally non charismatic like myself. Some of my great friends and family within my faith systems often cringe when they hear about the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet, in all great revivals, the Holy Spirit has done things that cannot be explained. There is specific prayer and request made of the Holy Spirit. We ask God for things in the name of Jesus when we pray, but seldom do we distinguish and ask for power and helps from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to assist today as much as it was there to assist during the day of Pentecost. All great revivals have experienced this move, bar none.

10. This is one that I love as one supporting Anabaptist Theology and thought, but every revival has had as a part of its reality, social action. A greater concern for the poor and downtrodden often results from revivals. It is no coincidence that you can see great social changes that came about in history as a result of the need for social change preached by many who were effected by the revivals of their time. It is unfortunate that many would rewrite history and blame Christianity for Slavery, or female oppression, racism, and on and on, without ever looking at the role that Christianity had in either improving the conditions or situations of many who were oppressed. While there were many who professed Christ, you can also see many, whose life was changed as a result of the revival period of which they lived, and thus stepped out, and touched the lives of those oppressed. One of the beautiful concepts of revival is the caring and love towards the poor, the down and out, the persecuted and on and on. In reality, revival, and prayer, produces more of a Christ like attitude, than it does a attitude that resembles The Pharisees.

There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer. Whether that prayer be in Europe, The United States, Asia, or Central America. The prayer is not just for the society of which we live, but for us individually, for us to know more about God and for us to fellowship with God. He revels in our company and prayer is the primary way that we can communicate with God. While we learn truths through Scripture and other means, the component of talking to God is something that we as Christians have to get back to doing.

There are always the questions asked about how to pray. There are numerous models out there but there is a fairly simple one that I find myself using quite often. It is called the ACTS Model of Prayer. Many have heard of it and it is one I recommend using if just looking and trying to start your prayer life in a vibrant way that will produce revival.

6. The ACTS Model of Prayer
Before looking at the Acts model, realize that the reason we are using the ACTS acronym is because of the emphasis of prayer used in the book of Acts. Acts is actually the book that talks about the first days of the church where we see unprecedented growth in Christianity despite the persecution and execution of many of the Christians of the day. In the book of Acts we can read about the concept of prayer over 300 times. An unusual point of knowledge is that in the Gospels prior to that, prayer is mentioned less than 20 times. It is critical that the church, in its history and growth, understand the importance and place for prayer. The book of acts is a great place to start.
Here is the acronym to use when praying.

Acknowledge/Acclimation/Affirmation - Different people use different approaches on this first one. I see the first part of my prayer as a time to give praise, glory, admiration, acknowledgment,, acclimation, or affirmation to God for all He has done. Not just for me but for his creation, his power, his majesty and then some. Just start thinking about what God has done, from His creation to His love. Then, praise him and tell Him what you think.

Confess – The truth is we are all sinners and have done things that are wrong. I like getting this out of the way right off the bat. If I can be honest with anyone it is God. He knows all I have done, all I have thought anyway. I can’t explain it but I know there is relief in sharing these things with God. He knows and discovers that I am honest with him about my sin. I always experience relief and weight off my shoulders after I am complete with this area of prayer.

Thanks – This is the place where I thank God for what ever I can think of. Forgiveness of sin, that job, the person he gave me to share my faith with. The help someone gave me, whatever. This helps me get to the place where I realize that God is the giver of all good gifts. While there may be others involved, I still thank God, I might even thank him for the person who was willing to love me or help me in some way. It don’t just go there. It might be a pretty rainbow on the eve of a storm, or even a cold snow that allows me to have fun with my son or daughter.

Seek – This is where I seek out God’s direction, His help and His Love or whatever it is that I need from Him at that point in time. I must state here, that often times, this is the only place our prayer go, it is as if we go to the Give me God. I like keeping it last because while I have needs, and he wants to meet my needs. I just find it appropriate to give some worship, love, and thanks prior to asking. I don’t want God to think that all I go to Him for is to give me stuff. Like any father, He likes to hear I love you, and God your awesome. So I try to give it to him first, after all, even if He gave me nothing, the fact that He is God deserves some recognition on my end. He did after all create me and give me the air to breathe that I breathe.

Now on this note I also want to be careful that people understand that we serve a loving and caring God, He wants to give to us, whether those gifts be people we come into contact with to share the Gospel, or the things we really need. Remember though, I really believe that God will give us our needs, not our wants. Anything else we ask for, should be for the sole purpose of bringing glory to him, or helping others. Learn to not be greedy; learn to recognize the difference between needs and wants. Realize the difference between our daily bread, and our anniversary dinner.

In closing I want to state that the challenge to pray for revival will start with ourselves and spread to those around us. In other words we can’t really expect God to work in those around us, until He has worked in us. The good news is, that he sent His Son and His Spirit to do just that. He gave us a ultimate love manual for life, the Bible. Now, in order to make all things complete, we just need to talk to Him about all of that, our lives, our purpose, and our direction among other things.

Jesus, the anointed Son of God, made prayer His custom we can see many times where even the Son of God went off to pray to His Father.. Paul, with his background and intellect, depended on prayer because he said he was weak. David, the king, called himself a poor man and cried to the Lord. Hannah prayed for a son and gave birth to a prophet. The prayers of a handful of young men and women have sparked revival at various times on our planet to lead to history.

There's nothing more transfiguring than prayer if we truly want revival in our own lives. We must follow the example of others, we can look at Scripture and our heroes of the faith as we should, but we can also look at history and at the things that have worked at changing our world. Once our own lives find a new love, while growing in love with Christ, then we will be able to reach our communities and revival will spread. Even via the internet and ministry like here on The Virtual Pew.

We as a church need to pray. I value your prayers, and enjoy the opportunity to pray for you. We can receive blessings but also in manner resembling of Spurgeon’s power room, praying for each other in a ongoing constant fashion. You can pray for others when you see that they are online, even though they might be a guest. You can pray for the person making the post above you. We also need to constantly lift up each other in prayer. Through praying for each other we will learn to love each other more. Pray for the names on the membership list, and the thousands of others who visit here, both those needing the Lord and Christians. If we love each other, we must pray for each other. My prayers are with you. May God give us the revival that starts with prayer.

God bless this message, God bless your word. God bless each person reading this. May we grow so much in love with you that we can’t help but share that love with others we come into contact with.

In Jesus Name the giver of life and salvation I pray. Amen.

To become more a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more indepth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately video ipods for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at mike@furches.org or mike@thevirtualpew.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.


Shaquille said...

well this is good could u please read my story its called teen stress and my name is shaquille cameron thanks and u have a great day

jatico said...

Much better! I was having problems with the format on your myspace blog.

Interesting what you have to say, I confess due to time limits, I was unable to read more than half, I'll visit again in the furture to read the whole thing. I hope you don't mind, I posted a link on my 'blogger' site, so I won't forget to check in. Prayer is a hot topic for me, I've written a few articles about it. They're posted in several places on the net (including SRR_Arizona: Prayer Lifeand also SRR_Arizona: The Purpose of Prayer here on Blogger.) I have other articles posted here

Anywho, I liked what I read, I'm interested in reading more.