Friday, January 28, 2011

How Does Awakening Come?

Oh how my heart longs for God to do something big. There have been a few times that I have seen him move unusually. I know that there are places in the world where he is at work mightily even now. But here...while there are small victories that can be found—victories for which I am extremely thankful—for the most part it seems our nation is, in the words of Robert Bork, “slouching toward Gomorrah.”

So many scriptural references could be seen as speaking to our time. Are we experiencing a great “falling away” and our love growing cold (2Thes. 2:3, Matt. 24:10-12, 1Tim. 4:1)? Are we being “given over” by God “in the lusts of [our] hearts to impurity,” “dishonorable passions,” and “debased mind[s]” only to “receive the due penalty for [our] errors” (Rom 1:18-28)? Truly we resemble the last verses of Romans 1, as we are “filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (vv.29-32). We also look a lot like what’s described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

Wow. It’s easy to be doom and gloom, isn’t it? I know some preachers who seem to enjoy it. But I refuse. We should look at the world like Christ did: aware of the evil (and angry about it), yet determined to bring light.

First, we don’t know when Jesus is coming back. He could come tomorrow. But he could wait. And until he comes, the four horsemen in Revelation 6 (the expanding church, war, famine, and death) continue to ride through human history. Don’t forget, Christ has given us a commission: Go make disciples of all nations...I am with you always, even to the end. I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail.

The book of Acts shows us how God’s Spirit can use unexpected people and sweep through cities and regions...even to rulers of nations. History shows how God’s truth can change empires. Our own nation’s history is marked by awakenings which made us who we are. In our case, we are great because of these spiritual revivals. They gave us our form of government, our morality, and our work ethic. That means God did. Because we can’t engineer awakening. God gives awakening.

Now we’re in a downward drift. We’re long overdue for another awakening. If we can’t engineer it, what are we to do? There’s only one thing. Pray.

I’ve been praying for awakening for over 20 years. For the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been praying harder and more desperately. And more regularly. I think even the desire to pray comes from God. “God give me more desire to pray. God give others a desire to pray.” That became my prayer. It still is.

The pastors of 12 evangelical churches in Knoxville have decided to offer a simple way for people to pray. On the last Monday of each month this year at noon, a different church will open the doors for silent prayer for awakening.

So Monday is an opportunity. We’re first. I’m praying for God to give people a desire to pray. That’s how awakening comes.

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