By Dr. Michael L. Brown
Revival is often birthed when we get to a place of spiritual desperation, when we are sick and tired of the way we are living, when we have had it with our halfhearted commitments, when we cannot live any longer without a breakthrough.
Revival can also come when we are grieved and burdened over the state of the society, when the sins of our generation mount up to heaven and we know that judgment is near. That also drives us to our knees in intercession and repentance, leading to an outpouring of mercy from on high.
But there is something else that can spark revival, something else that moves us to prayer and grips us with deep travail: jealousy for the reputation of the Lord. Our hearts are broken because our Master’s name is maligned. Our souls are grieved because the people of the world despise their Creator. And it is all because of us.
When We Make Him Look Bad
The Lord’s name is mocked because of our failures, because of our poor witness, because of our sins and divisions and scandals. His perfect name is degraded because we, His children, make Him look bad.
Jesus gave His life for a rebellious race, sacrificing Himself so unworthy sinners could live. Yet we drive those very sinners away from Him by our compromised conduct and loose living. Isn’t this enough to break your heart?
Leonard Ravenhill touched on this when he wrote, “The true man of God is heartsick, grieved at the worldliness of the Church, grieved at the toleration of sin in the Church, grieved at the prayerlessness in the Church. He is disturbed that the corporate prayer of the Church no longer pulls down the strongholds of the devil.”
Edward Payson (1787-1823), known as “Praying Payson of Portland,” expressed it like this: “I do not believe that my desires for revival were ever half so strong as they ought to be; nor do I see how a minister can help being in a ‘constant fever’ … where His Master is dishonored and souls are destroyed in so many ways.”
Yet here in America, where our Master is so dishonored and souls are destroyed in so many ways, so many of us are nonchalant, casual, and unconcerned — really anything but living “in a ‘constant fever’” — and this applies to many of us who are called to be leaders in the Church. We have so little anguish. We carry so little burden. Our messages are so often lightweight, calculated to entertain rather than to convict.
Whatever Happened to Anguish?
As for our prayers, how often do we cry out with sobbing and tears? How often do our hearts burst with the pain of a dying world? Whatever happened to brokenness? Whatever happened to anguish? Whatever happened to holy jealousy?
Listen to this impassioned cry from David Wilkerson, taken from a message he preached September 15, 2002. He asked:
Whatever happened to anguish in the house of God? Whatever happened to anguish in the ministry? It’s a word you don’t hear in this pampered age. You don’t hear it. Anguish means extreme pain and distress. The emotions so stirred that it becomes painful, acute deeply felt inner pain, because of conditions about you, in you, or around you. Anguish, deep pain, deep sorrow, and agony of God’s heart.
All true passion is born out of anguish. All true passion for Christ comes out of a baptism of anguish. You search the scripture and you’ll find that when God determined to recover a ruined situation, he would seek out a praying man, and he’d take him down into the waters of anguish. He would share his own anguish for what God saw happening to his church and to his people, and he would find a praying man, and he would take that man and literally baptize him in anguish.
It is this kind of anguish, this kind of jealousy for the honor of the Lord that can stir our hearts to cry out for a massive revival in the church of America today that, in turn, will lead to a national awakening.
The fact is that the reputation of the Lord has been terribly damaged in recent years in our nation, from the fall of prominent Christian leaders to a series of very public, failed prophecies — and much more. And so, our shortcomings make Jesus, our Master, look bad, and that is a terrible tragedy indeed.
The Amazing Redeemer
But it is not the end of the story, because our God is an amazing Redeemer. He can take the bad and turn it for good, and in our brokenness, He can be exalted.
The hour is urgent and the situation is critical, but it is absolutely not too late. Will we seize the moment and act? Will we pray as if there was no tomorrow? Do we have a choice?
May a burning jealousy for the Lord’s name stir your heart today and may a deep burden for His honor flood your soul and mind. And let us all pray together, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name!”
Adapted and excerpted from Michael L. Brown, Revival Or We Die: A Great Awakening Is Our Only Hope.
Dr. Michael L. Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter, or YouTube.