My husband and I have been working on decluttering and organizing our home and garage. The piles of “stuff” in every crevice has been overwhelming, and has made finding things difficult at best, and impossible too often. The Lord placed on my heart my need to clear out clutter from my heart and mind as well. He led me to a book, Revival: 6 Steps to Reviving Your Heart and Rebuilding Your Prayer Life by Christi Gee that I can’t recommend enough. For those who attended Willow Drive Baptist Church in Lake Jackson, TX, you might be interested to know that Christi Gee attended Brazosport Christian School — yes the one directly behind our church! I want to share some of what I learned in the first couple of chapters with you, and encourage you to begin the first step. I also want to encourage you to read this jewel.
“Prayer is powerful. And praying with purpose — grounded in truth from God’s Word — will result in renewal, revival, and regaining ground the enemy has stolen.”—Christi Gee in Revival: 6 Steps to Reviving Your Heart and Rebuilding Your Prayer Life
According to Christi Gee’s book, Revival: 6 Steps to Reviving Your Heart and Rebuilding Your Prayer Life, the first step to revival is getting our own hearts right with the Lord. Tony Evans says, “How do we know whether we need a revival? Historically, revivals are preceded by spiritual decline, marked by divisiveness, anger, continuous crises, addictions, and service without passion. The need for revival is simply a result of sin in our lives.”
As we look at our communities, nation, and especially social media, I believe we are desperately in need of revival. Scripture tells us that there is a remedy: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14) Seek Him and allow Him to show you the sin He wants you to turn from. In doing so, you can ultimately usher in a revival in your soul.
Christi Gee says, that Step 1 is to clear the rubble, much like I’ve been doing at home. Until we do that, we will be hindered from moving forward to revival. Confession and repentance is what is required to “clear the rubble” from our hearts, minds and lives. We must stop and be still before the Lord ask to be shown anything in our hearts for which we need to confess and repent. I love the phrase Christi uses, “Repentance moves our God and it launches revivals”, which clearly is what the Lord calls us to do.
This principle was also addressed in the study we finished earlier this year in Anne Graham Lott’s book, The Daniel Prayer: Prayer That Moves Heaven and Changes Nations. Mrs. Lotz said, “to experience revival, we must look to our own hearts and the spiritual ground that had perhaps become hardened over…we must plow it up”. “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers His righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)
In desperate need of divine forgiveness, the sinner can do nothing but cast himself on God’s mercy. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Ps 51:1) Gills Exposition Commentary notes: “The people of God are never cast away from His favour, or out of His heart’s love; but they may for a while be without His gracious presence, or not see His face, nor have the light of His countenance, nor sensible communion with Him … By sin, the Spirit of God may be grieved, so as to withdraw His gracious influences, and His powerful operations may not be felt …”
In Daniel 9 we learn that before Daniel asked God to move on behalf of Israel, he first confessed his sin and the sin of the people. His prayer moved the Lord, the people were set free and went on to experience revival. So if we want to see revival in our hearts, homes, churches, state and nation, we must call on the Lord, beginning with confession and repentance for ourselves and our people. Billy Sunday said, “When may a revival be expected? When the wickedness of the wicked grieves and distresses the Christian.”
Phillip Yancey said, “Repentance, not proper behavior or even holiness, is the doorway to grace.” “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) Christi Gee suggests components for “A Rubble-Clearing, Revival-Starting, Repentance-Marking Prayer”.
- Ask the Lord for a holy discontent: It’s too easy to go through our lives without pausing to think about how complacent we have become with our own language, that which we hear on television, and sin we are called to accept from worldliness. To become more in tune with His perspective, we should ask Him to remove any satisfaction we may feel about the status quo in our lives, homes, and communities, and replace it with a holy discontent. Sounds pretty radical? Earlier this year I was called to pray in an urgent manner for discipleship in our churches, and to continue prayer without ceasing until the Lord gave me peace. I had a holy discontent that drove me to my knees, and I called on the Lord to spread that same holy discontent to specific others. The Lord didn’t need my prayers for Him to act and move, but I had the opportunity to come alongside Him using His Word in prayer, asking for what His will to be done. It’s also important that we ask Him to give us compassion and empathy for others who are held captive to sin, lest we not become prideful.
- Confess known sin and repent: We are all born into sin. If we have believed in Christ as our risen Savior by faith, we are being perfected into His image. But as long as we are on the earth, we aren’t yet perfect. When we confess our sin to the Lord, we are agreeing with Him that we aren’t without sin, and we acknowledge His perspective about sin. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10) The John MacArthur study Bible says, “Confession of sin characterizes genuine Christians, and God continually cleanses those who are confessing. Those who are confessing are always walking in the light and continually being cleansed. The two are inter-related.”
- Forgive others: When we ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, we need to understand that we must also forgive others “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). To fail to forgive others is prideful, and “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). C.S. Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” When we hold on to an offense, it poisons our heart and mind and opens a foothold for the enemy, giving him access to destroy your testimony for Christ. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)
- Ask God to restore the joy of your salvation: Nehemiah reminded his people that although God punishes sin, He also blesses obedience. That’s something to celebrate “for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (v 8:10)! We participate in joy when we reach the essence of all joy: the Lord Himself. God’s majesty is His radiating joy, and that joy is what He promises to us. The strength we need for this life is found in the essential joy of God. Jesus said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11) We are not just rejoicing over what we know about Jesus, we are to rejoice with the very joy of Jesus.
I want to encourage you to spend time asking God to let you see yourself and your situation from His perspective. Let Him reveal to you why He has allowed what He has in your life, in your family, community and nation. Discover the meaning in the mess as God draws you near to Him in your own personal revival. “Christians in revival are accordingly found living in God’s presence, attending to His Word, feeling acute concern about sin and righteousness, rejoicing in the assurance of Christ’s love and their own salvation, spontaneously constant in worship, and tirelessly active in witness and service, fueling these activities by praise and prayer.”— J.I. Packer “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Ps. 85:6)