(EDITOR’S NOTE – This first-person is part of a series in anticipation of the 40/40 Prayer Vigil for Spiritual Revival and National Renewal, an initiative of the North American Mission Board and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission to encourage Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to pray for 40 days from Sept. 26 to Nov. 4. To learn more, visit www.4040prayer.com.)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In my almost two years in the role I now hold, I have traveled a great deal across our nation and some across the world. I am met with an almost universal understanding by God’s people that we are in dire need of a Holy Ghost revival in our nation, in our churches and in our lives. This refrain is repeated over and over.
I have long stated that God has a plan for our nation, for our churches and for our lives. I also constantly state that Satan has his own plan for all of the above. We all agree that he has won far too many battles. God’s desire has been thwarted too long.
Psalm 85:6 asked the question, “Will you not revive us again?” This cry from the psalmist is a question that all of us must ask today. When this was written, conditions in Judah were desperate as God’s people had shortly returned from the Babylonian captivity. People had expected great things from their deliverance and homecoming but the harsh realities of their return brought bitter disappointment and discouragement.
There is much discouragement, disunity and hopelessness today. We find ourselves theologically and methodologically divided. We find ourselves thwarted on every hand to see our nation touched for the Gospel. One of the saddest realities of today is that personal evangelism has reached a new low of emphasis in many of our churches and has led to disengagement from lost people that frightens me deeply.
Many people are asking the same question today that was asked by the psalmist, only rephrased: “Is revival coming?”
Our 21st century churches to a great extent have become ease loving churches. Such being the case, too often churches are not willing to pay the price that revival costs. It is true for individuals as well. At times we hate our deadness, our lack of spiritual vitality, but we hate still more to be bothered into action. That may sound a bit pessimistic and unkind, but I am confident that this is the reality in which we live. There are many, no doubt, who would like to have a true revival, but many would also ask that revival come without much serious alteration of behavior and priority. We must understand today that revival is costly. It always has been. It always will be.
My main point in this article is simply to help us realize it is time to quit talking about it and start doing what God tells us to do! His Word is clear. He has told us what must take place for revival to come. His precious Word gives the outline, highlights the need and provides the answer. Look at 2 Chronicles 7:14: “[If] my people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” Where is humility? Where are earnest prayer warriors? Where are those who seek His face? Where is genuine and life-altering repentance? Are there hearts being broken as we realize the answer to those questions? We fall far short of what God would wish.
May God break our hearts and bring us to the point where we not only see the need, but we are willing to do whatever it takes to see the Holy Ghost revival fall upon our people!
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Frank S. Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.)