Pastoral Articles

Why God Will Answer Our Prayers for Revival

Why God Will Answer Our Prayers for Revival
Dr. Jeffery VanGoethem

It is clear that the churches across our land are in need of revival and renewal. Consider some of the following observations:

  • Statistical studies show very little conversion related growth in evangelical churches across the U.S. It is much higher in other parts of the world. Common experience teaches us that it seems harder and harder to win a hearing for the gospel in our society.
  • Much of our church planting is being accomplished by marketing rather than evangelism. Although new churches are needed as population grows and shifts, we are seeing relatively few churches started because of the conversion of souls in a given area.
  • Unprecedented numbers of people are changing churches and moving from church to church for reasons of style, preference and personalities. We have a generation of disgruntled and discontented Christians.
  • Statistical studies indicate that the vast majority of churches In North America are declining or in a long plateau. Relatively few churches show growth and much of their growth is attributable to the decline of other churches – we are moving people around by church transfer but few churches are growing because of significant awakenings among the lost.
  • Large numbers of pastors are leaving their ministries – one source reports that fifty pastors per day or 1500 per month are resigning their positions.
  • The number of church fights and splits seems very high.
  • There have been many books and articles written about the apparent decline in doctrinal and moral soundness within the evangelical churches.
  • There are many strange gospels around today including very prominent preachers who preach prosperity gospels (God wants us healthy & wealthy) and comfort gospels (God wants us happy & comfortable). Sad to say ministries which highlight such ideas at the expense of the true teaching of the gospel and discipleship are often the most “successful” in attracting worshippers.

Some of these thoughts are based on my own anecdotal observations, some are based on more scholarly research that I have read.  This seems to be very discouraging information. However, I also read the Bible.  And in the Bible I see a glorious and gracious God of spiritual power who has often revived His people and awakened the lost just when it seemed to be the most unlikely season to do so.  I believe God will send revival awakening – in fact I would go so far to say that God must do so. Here is why:

  • The Lord is good to His people and tender hearted toward them. When He sees us in our weakness and sorrow calling out to Him, His heart is moved
    (Ps. 103:11-14).
  • The Lord Jesus has promised that He will build His church (Matt. 16:18).
  • Our relationship with God is based in grace – that means God does not deal with us according to what we earn or deserve.  We can appeal to Him on the basis of His own desire to grant what is good to His children (Luke 11:11-13).
  • God has an interest in His own glory, therefore He will not allow His people to languish in decline forever (Ezek. 36:22-23).
  • As we study the pattern of God’s dealings with His people, the testimony of God’s previous dealings displays frequent seasons of power and outpouring.  God is unchanging in His purposes and faithful to His own glory (Neh. 1:5f).
  • God honors honesty, faith, trust, obedience and a wholehearted devotion to His will – as we seek these things in our lives, God will hear our prayers from heaven (John 14:12, 1 John 3:21-22).

I think most church historians agree that God has visited our land in significant and widespread revival three times, in the first great awakening (1730s), in the second great awakening (1800) and in the layman’s  prayer revival of 1858.  Moreover an argument can be made that there were seasons of awakening around 1905 (about the time of the Welsh Revival) and in the period between 1950 and 1975, although perhaps not at the same level and intensity as in the earlier three seasons. God has moved before, He will move again.  He must do so to keep His own promises to us.

What we must do is put ourselves in the place of His blessing as best we can. To cultivate our need of Him, to humble ourselves, to put our lives in obedience to His revealed will, to repent of our sins and backslidings, and most of all to pray fervently.  Let us be hungry for God to visit His people again.

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