As I was seeking the Lord for the topic of this article a thought seemed to go through my mind. How would I describe to a single individual the path to personal revival? I have preached countless sermons on the subject through the years, always under what I was convinced was direction from scriptures and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. However, to communicate to an individual or to write an article on the process left me in the good place of praying for the Lord's help.
My definition of revival to churches where I preach is that churches need to return to the practice of Biblical Christianity. Multiple "isms" have negatively affected churches and their growth for centuries. A repetitive sin in every generation is to allow the world's culture to creep into the church. At that point, the church more resembles a secular organization than a living Christ-like organism.
As a revivalist with many years and many miles since I was first saved I would first challenge an individual by looking at their prayer life. They need to look at not just the amount of time or frequency of the act. I would ask them if they are actually seeing prayer as spending quality time with God. Often at an altar service when people have gathered at the end of the sermon to seek the Lord for a closer walk with Him, I whisper a question in someone's ear. "How's your prayer life?" Or "Do you meet regularly with Jesus in prayer?" Very often the response is, "Not like I should!" Or "I need to set apart more time in my life for God."
Once I happened to be standing between two ministers who were arguing about doctrine. One was taking the position of unconditional eternal security, and the other was arguing the Armenian free will position, saying a Christian could fall away from the faith and lose their salvation. As the argument became more and more heated, I silently prayed for a chance to get a thought in edgewise. Finally, with a joking demeanor, I let out a whistle and stepped in saying "Whoa, timeout!" I then said to the one minister; "Have you ever thought about what you both agree on here?" They both shook their heads no. I said "My brother, in your camp you believe that if someone is living like the devil, then it's obvious to all, that they were never truly saved right?" He shook his head yes. Then to the other minister I said and in your camp you believe that they were saved but have backslidden to the point of losing their salvation correct?" Then he shook his head yes as well. My next comment was "Brethren do you know who you are both saying this individual needs? You are both saying whether he is backslidden or whether he never really came to Christ to begin with he needs Jesus! They both smiled and shook hands and went on their way.
I tell that story to illustrate a simple principle of revival. We all need more of Jesus in our lives and at whatever level, if your spiritual life takes one step, or ten steps closer to Jesus, then you, my friend, have been revived!
There are many different things, which can cause us to become lukewarm in our faith and drift away from God. Many times unforgiveness, and bitterness against someone, are common reasons. Being angry with God is another big one. The one most of us think of is fleshly indulgences of various forms, from gross immorality, to Internet pornography. We all understand that those things will cause us to drift away from God. Getting involved in false doctrine that causes us to side step the true path God has chosen for our lives will also harden our heart to intimacy with Him. Moving toward a path of religious works and away from true worship and a healthy prayer life can also cause callouses on our hearts. The sad truth of all of this is I have found often the individual like having some form of hidden cancer does not even realize how much they have drifted away from God.
Whenever you have a close friend that you have watched over time drift gradually away from a closeness of God it breaks your heart. We must first never forget that prayer is a powerful tool and sometimes when it comes to a relationship with a close friend, it is the only one we have in these up close and personal situations. Its often a secret type of spiritual illness that progressed over time the person who is inflicted by it does not even know how much they have moved from where they once were spiritually. Trying to reach them by confrontation will probably only drive a wedge in your friendship. You may be accused of judging them or having spiritual pride if you suggest that they check the oil level in their Holy Ghost tank. If you try using scripture in any authoritative way it will more than likely just make them angry and defensive. Often the best thing to do is to just intercede for them, love them, and continue to live for Christ!
If, however, it is you that is truly seeking a revived spiritual life then God is at your doorstep. He is just waiting for you to open the door with all your heart and let Him in. Jesus said in Revelation 3:20 (KJV) "Behold I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and will open the door I will come into him and sup with him and he with me." Begin by finding the most private prayer place you can and just open up your heart and be honest with God. Revival for us as individuals really is getting back to a one on one with Jesus!
"Search me oh God and know my heart"! Psalm 139:23a