Prayer gathering emphasizes need for personal revivalby Chad Austin, BSCNC Communications
Revival must take place in the hearts of God’s people before it will take place in America.
That was a recurring message shared by pastors and ministry leaders at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) statewide prayer gathering, sponsored by the Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening and held Friday and Saturday, March 10-11 at Osborne Baptist Church in Eden. The event’s theme was “Awaken” based on Joel 2:13 and included a series of messages and times of focused prayer for revival and spiritual awakening.
“We need a revival in the church that will usher in a spiritual awakening in the land,” said K. Marshall Williams, senior pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, in the gathering’s concluding sermon.
Williams’ message summarized a common theme shared throughout the weekend. While many Christians say they want to see revival take place, God’s people aren’t desperate enough or willing to pay the price to see the hand of God move.
Gordon Fort, former missionary and senior ambassador for the president of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention, said America is “spiritually sick” and lamented over the fact that although North America is saturated with the gospel, it is not penetrating our communities.
“How much more gospel do we need to have the evidence of God in our nation?” Fort asked.
Fort said the church has lost its influence and impact not just in the community, but within the congregation, as well. Fort said that every sin that can be found in the community can also be found inside the church in the lives of unrepentant members.
“The people in the house of God know the sin that exists in their church,” Fort said. “Those individuals who come in the house of God living in known rebellious sin sit comfortably in our midst, sing along with us, read along with the Scriptures, hear the sermon preached, the invitation given, and they leave and go out and have their lunch, and they are not changed and not under conviction in one bit.”
Fort said the great need of our day is for individuals to become broken over sin and desperate for God, recognizing that He is our only hope as we return to Him in prayer.
“We have only one hope,” Fort said. “This is not a problem that we can fix ourselves. It’s not a problem that can be fixed from Washington, D.C., by government. This is only a problem that can be fixed by the people of God when they are desperate enough to call on Him in the power of God.”
‘A desperate condition’
Mel Blackaby, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Ga., followed up on Fort’s theme of desperation by explaining that God often places His followers in seemingly impossible situations to demonstrate His glory and power.
Citing the biblical examples of Moses at the Red Sea, Gideon’s army of 300 soldiers and Joshua at the city of Jericho, Blackaby shared how God often “creates impossible situations that require faith.”
“Sometimes God has to get you to the end of yourself so you will see Him like never before,” Blackaby said.
Blackaby noted that throughout history, God has never brought about revival through prosperity. Instead, revival has come through persecution, poverty or some other great need.
“Sometimes God takes you through an impossible situation just to get you on your knees,” Blackaby said. “God just may create an opportunity to cry out to Him like never before. So don’t get discouraged at the condition of America. God may be answering your prayer for revival by creating a desperate condition. That may be what it takes for the church to become a house of prayer.”
‘Awakening always requires change’
In the opening sermon, host pastor Steve Griffith posed the question to attendees that if God desires His people to experience spiritual awakening, and His people say they want it, then what’s the problem?
“Is the problem with God, or is the problem with us?” Griffith asked. “What we think we want, we don’t really want because we’re not sure we want to pay the price.”
Griffith preached on “How to Have Spiritual Awakening” from Jeremiah 1:4-19. Griffith warned that believers and churches seeking revival and spiritual awakening would face challenges and opposition.
“Awakening always requires change because God is doing something new,” Griffith said. “What has to change in your heart for there to be awakening?”
Griffith said when God begins to work in the life of an individual or church, so does Satan. He said opposition often comes from some of the most unexpected places, even inside the church. Griffith encouraged attendees not to give up hope in the midst of trials and to trust God for victory.
“God is doing things on your behalf right now that you can’t see,” Griffith said.
‘God is calling His people to pray’
Williams concluded the event with a message on revival from 2 Chronicles 7:14. He outlined several prerequisites for revival, which emphasized a passionate pursuit of personal holiness and a brokenness over sin.
“God has to break us before He can make us,” Williams said. “He has to drive us to the point that we recognize all we need is Him.”
Chris Schofield, director of the BSCNC’s Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening, said he hoped attendees were encouraged and motivated to pray for God to bring revival, starting in the church.
“God is calling His people to pray, and we’ve got to heed that call,” Schofield said. “But we’ve got to heed it out of a righteous heart. That’s what this (weekend) has been about.
“Revival doesn’t start with somebody else. It starts with me.”
Editor’s note: For more information and resources on prayer for revival and spiritual awakening, call J. Chris Schofield and the BSCNC’s Office of Prayer at (919) 459-5514 or visit praync.org.