How to Start a Revival
Have any of you ever asked God to change the world? I’ve prayed some big prayers, asking God to bring revival to our nation, but the more I pray those things, the smaller my prayers become. Not smaller in the sense of not asking God to do those big things, but more focused. It went from asking God to bring revival to our nation to asking Him to bring revival in this city, of Wilmington, NC. From there it went to asking for a revival in our church, and eventually, my prayers worked their way down to, “God, bring a revival in me. Revive my heart for You!”
The more that I thought and prayed about this idea of revival, the more I realized that it has to start somewhere. Someone has to be the first one to seek after revival, not in others, but in themselves.
So what is a revival?
Dictionary.com defines “Revival” as an improvement in the condition or strength of something, or an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again.
If we want to see revival in our cities, and in this nation, it has to begin in our own hearts.
We must be the ones to put God back into the place of Lord in our hearts and our lives.
In 1 Kings 18, Israel is completely wrapped up in idolatry. The nation that is supposed to be God’s own has turned their backs on Him. There is only a small remnant of people seeking God, and all but one of them are in hiding. All of them but Elijah.
Elijah goes to the King, Ahab, and puts him on the spot for his rebellion against God. It hasn’t rained in 3 years, and Elijah puts the blame on Ahab for leading the people away from God.
Elijah challenges Ahab to a duel of the gods. He says, “Hey! Why don’t we let what we’re worshiping decide for us. They can’t both be God.” So they set up this contest.
The 400 prophets of Baal set up their sacrifice, but they aren’t allowed to bring fire. They have to ask their god to bring the fire. So they have this whole elaborate worship service to Baal. They’re going at it for 3 hours. Nothing happens.
So it’s Elijah’s turn. He rebuilds an altar to the Lord, and then he makes it interesting. He has some people get water, and pour it all over the sacrifice. The wood is soaked, the animal is soaked, the water even fills a trench around the altar.
And then Elijah prays. 1 Kings 18:36-37, “And at the time of the offering of oblation, Elijah the prohet came near and said, O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back.”
Simple prayer. Elijah asks God to show up and defend His name. “Show them that You’re God!”
“Show them that You’re calling them back to You!”
Any guesses as to what happened?
Fire fell from Heaven, and it consumed the offering, the wood, the stones of the altar, and the water around it. It even burned up the dust!
When the people saw it, they shouted out! “The Lord, He is God!”
God showed up in a major way, and He defended His name. There was a revival in the nation. But it started with one person. It started with only Elijah. A man willing to take a stand and say “this isn’t okay.”
Notice that in 1 Kings 18:30, “Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down.”
For revival to come, the altar had to be rebuilt. It took work. For there to be change in our lives, it takes work. We have to rebuild some things that have been torn down. Maybe it’s your devotional life, your prayer life, or your marriage.
Maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum, and there are some things in your life that need to be torn down…
If that’s the case, keep reading 1 Kings 18. In verse 40, Elijah takes the 400 prophets of Baal, and he kills them.
Maybe you’re thinking, “that’s a bit harsh!” But think about it. These were men who had led the nation away from God. They needed to not be able to do that again. Deuteronomy even says to kill false prophets who lead people away from God.
It’s a serious thing.
But think about this with me. There might not be 400 prophets following your around every day, pulling you away from God. That would be kind of weird.
But there might be things in your life that are pulling you away from God. Maybe it’s the group of friends you hang out with, or your entertainment choices.
Just like Elijah did, it’s time for us to put those things to death. If we want to see revival begin in our hearts, we need to build up the things of God, and tear down the things of this world.
And watch. When you do that, when you take a stand for Jesus, the world will notice.
“Lord, let revival come in my heart. Help me to see the things that need to be rebuilt and the things that need to be torn down. Give me the strength by Your Holy Spirit to make these changes, to follow You with everything I have. Help me to live for You, and for You alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.”