For the past ten months the Holy Spirit has been reordering my priorities and rearranging my perspective on the Christian life, and one aspect of that life above all others—my love and hunger for the Presence of God. If there is anything I feel called to in these days, it is to reignite in the Church a hunger for the Presence of God. I was born to see revival, as was every Christian on the face of the earth, and I have resolved to live my life with the aim and the expectation of nothing less.
If our aim is revival, we need to know exactly what it is that we are aiming for. I would venture to say that many of us would probably include masses of people coming to Christ, meetings that last for hours, and miracles in our definition of revival. But if you were to ask my opinion based on hours of studying past revivals and revivalist, as well as my own experience, those things are not revival—instead they are the effects of revival.
When you study revivals throughout history, whether it be the First and Second Great Awakenings, the Welsh Revivals, the Hebrides Revival, the Azusa Street Revival, and even recent revivals like the outpouring that happened in Brownsville in the 1990’s, they all have defining characteristics. Some are characterized by repentance. Some are marked by a renewed hunger for the Word and for holiness. Some are distinguished by miracles and mass conversions. But despite the small differences between revivals, they are all unmistakably marked by one defining factor: an unprecedented level of the manifest Presence of God.
A.W. Tozer once said, “The difference between revival and every other state that is spiritual is that the Church may know the manifest presence of God.” Until we as the Church resolve that, like Moses, we will not move forward until the glory of God’s presence marks the body of Christ once again, we will live without revival. Until we, like Moses, prize the presence of God Himself above all else, we will live without revival. In the words of John Kilpatrick, “Our desperate cry is for God’s glorious Presence. This is the measuring stick of revival. We might conduct prolonged church services, hold meetings, and orchestrate events, but if there is no hunger for and encounter with the glory of God, we are continuing to do Church as usual.”
When you study the lives of revivalists like John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, William Seymour, Evan Roberts, and those of today’s generations like John Kilpatrick, their cry is the same as King David’s when he said, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).
Revival is not as much about an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence as it is about a return to what is supposed to be the normal Christian experience. The Presence of God is supposed to mark the people of God. Moses knew this when he said, “[If Your Presence does not go with us], what else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
Until our great and desperate cry as the people of God is once again for the “One thing”—the Presence of God—I believe I can confidently predict that revival will evade us. As stated by Leonard Ravenhill, “As long as we are content to live without revival, we will.”
But let that not be so! Let it not be said of us that we were the generation that missed revival because we hungered for lesser things than God Himself! God does not pour Himself out on perfect people—because such people do not exist. He pours Himself out on desperate people. He pours Himself out on faith filled, surrendered people. May we be that desperate generation.
God create in us a hunger for Your Presence that nothing else can satisfy! For this hour of history requires nothing less.