Throughout the Bible, we see that there is only one remedy – one solution, one cure – to rekindle a dead spiritual life: revival. Revival is when we till the soil of our heart through brokenness, humility, and surrender via fasting, prayer, and obedience. God responds by rending the heavens with a spiritual downpour and reviving our parched soul: "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you" (Isaiah 64:1)!
During seasons of spiritual awakenings, the atmosphere will be overwhelming – the demonic realm is being crushed, and countless lives are being changed. As the old saints used to say, "God heard our cries and showed up!"
Although Westside Christian Fellowship has always experienced short seasons of what is commonly referred to as "revival" or a "spiritual awakening" during our Sunday services, there are times we set aside every night to continually seek the face of God. We refer to these seasons of consecration at our church as Rend the Heavens Week. (You can view these services here).
Like all Christians, if we're not diligent, disciplined, and desperate, the fire of God can begin to fade. But there is hope.
Sought, Not Fought
Many wrongly assume that God's presence (fire) has to do with judgment rather than blessing. God's presence is frightening in regard to judgment, "The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence" (Isaiah 91:1), but it's very good in relation to His presence in the life of a believer: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Matthew 3:11). The fire of God should be sought, not fought against; embraced, not omitted; allowed, not forbidden.
Sadly, jealousy often arises in the hearts of those who are not aflame with the fire of God, and they often come against genuine works of the Spirit. From Whitfield to Wesley and from Evan Roberts to Duncan Campbell, there was (and is) always a word spoken against legitimate spiritual awakenings. Hard hearts cover their lack of spiritual hunger with excuses such as, "Why are we singing so much – isn't that brainwashing? Why are the songs so emotional? Those people at the altar must not be spiritual. I don't need to come to prayer and worship services – I can do that at home. We don't need all this emotionalism, we have the Word!"
Yes, I've heard these excuses and many more from those with hard, calloused hearts. The very thing they need is the precise thing they are running from – God's manifest presence … His revival fire.
Whether it's a pastor, a leader, or a believer, those with the fire of God often convict those who are not on fire because "they have left their first love" (Revelation 2:1-7). They must repent and return to the prayer closet to rebuild their intimacy with God. As David M. McIntrye once said, "As the electric fluid which is diffused in the atmosphere is concentrated in the lightning flash, so the presence of God becomes vivid and powerful in the prayer chamber." Return to God in the prayer closet (Matthew 6:6), and He will rekindle and reignite His fire in you.
Hungry but Not Starving
It's been said that when the prodigal son was hungry, he ate with the pigs, but when he was starving (desperate), he ran home to the father who embraced him with open arms – "My son who was dead is alive again" (see Luke 15:11-31). When God opens the heavens through a spiritual awakening, it's always because Christians spent countless hours praying and fasting.
They paid the price! They didn't work revival up. God brought it down because His people sought Him. He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Are you desperate for more of God? Are you starving for more of His presence? As A.W. Tozer said, "Why does God manifest His Presence to some and let multitudes of others struggle? Of course, the will of God is the same for all. He has no favorites within His household…The difference lies not with God but with us." God is no respecter of persons, but He is a respecter of principles – the principle of repentance is life-altering. We must confess that our fire has faded and ask God to rekindle it.
Don't Fear the Fire
Although some have misrepresented His presence through weird behavior, there is nothing weird about experiencing the presence of God. In the midst of pain, there is relief. In suffering, there is sweet surrender. In fear, there is incredible joy. In uncertainty, there is a God who will never leave nor forsake. In the midst of confusion and chaos, there is stability and hope.
Bring your dead dreams, broken children, failed marriages, declining health, and shattered hopes to Christ and drink deeply from the Fountain of Living Water. When you drink His water, you will never thirst again (John 4:14). When your fire fades, ask God to reignite it.
If you need additional hope and encouragement in this area, watch the sermon, Timeless Truths from Rend The Heavens, here.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Chrisitan Headlines.
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Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California and the WCF Radio Network. More can be found at ShaneIdleman.com, including free downloads of his eBooks. Visit him on Facebook and Twitter. Subscribe to his new podcast, Idleman Unplugged. You can also follow Pastor Shane on the new free speech platform Parler.