The practical problem that many of us encounter when responding to God, is that we get discouraged because we do not see how we will manage some of the steps further along the journey, when we should be concentrating on taking the first steps, without which we will never get to those later steps anyway.
This is perhaps particularly true when confronted with the need for revival in our churches. Anyone who has read about the revivals that God has wrought in the past, will be painfully aware that all revivals have been preceded by months and even years of prayer. For those of us who have struggled with a ten-minute prayer time, there is just no way that we can contemplate the heartrending hours of prayer that consumed believers’ lives before outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
The fact of the matter is that we cannot do it. There is no way that we can simply move from a tepid form of Christianity to one that is white-hot. It is like trying to move from first to fifth gear in a car. And revival prayer is like fifth gear, it is the place where the Spirit engages all our faculties to speedily accomplish the purpose of God in the Church and the nation.
Students of past revivals, and those committed to future revivals, will know that there are steps (or gear changes) that must be made before God will bring his people to persistent, prevailing prayer. Whilst there might be some adjustment to the order in different circumstances, essentially the first steps are:
A forsaking and confession of all known sin.
Restitution, or putting right those things where we have offended others.
Forgiving all those who have wronged us, and, where possible being reconciled to them.
A total surrender of every area of our lives to Jesus Christ.
Ongoing obedience to the Holy Spirit and a confessing of Christ.
Few of us will make any real progress until we come to grips with these things. It is worth remembering, that in one of the most quoted passages of scripture on revival, II Chronicles 7 v 11 – 14, when the people are told to pray, they are first told to humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways.
The fact that we take these first steps does not mean we have arrived; there may be much that God still wants to do in our lives, and also there is no guarantee that we will not subsequently fall or fail and need to retrace those steps again. What is certain however, is that revival will not come – however much we pray, plead, sing or dance about it – unless the people of God first make these steps foundational in our churches.