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10 hindrances to a national awakening

Attendees participate in a revival event organized by the young adult ministry Pulse on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
Attendees participate in a revival event organized by the young adult ministry Pulse on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. | Pulse

Christians everywhere hope for a national awakening that will preserve and revive their nation. However, an awakening does not merely come because people hope and pray for it. Certain preconditions must take place before a nation experiences a spiritual awakening.

(By awakening, I am referring to masses of people in a community, city, or nation turning to Christ, resulting in human flourishing and societal reform.)

The following are 10 hindrances to a national awakening:

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1. There is a lack of true oneness in the church

Jesus gave the precondition for the world to be awakened to the truth of the Gospel when He prayed, "... that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-23).

Hence, fragmentation and disunity amongst Gospel preaching churches must be healed in a community for the gospel witness to awaken sinners effectively.

2. Corporate prayer meetings are based on a cause and not seeking God. Prayer must be earnest and focused on seeking God's face.

Too many corporate prayer gatherings I have seen in the past several years were more focused on winning political elections rather than seeking God’s face. This is contrary to the clear precondition for healing the land, as found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. For an awakening, believers need to be focused on seeking God’s face rather than solely His hand.

3. There is a lack of holy desperation

A deep, pervasive sense of the need for God often precedes awakening. The book of Joel speaks about the urgency for corporate fasting and prayer so great that the bride, bridegroom, and mothers nursing their infants were commanded to assemble to seek the Lord so the land would be healed (Joel 1-2).

Jesus also made it clear that those He would fill had to have the precondition of holy hunger (Matthew 5:6). A complacent attitude in the Church can stifle spiritual awakening.

4. There are many compromising church models

Faithfulness to God's Word is crucial for true spiritual success. Jesus rebuked churches that tolerate sin, have left their first love, and are neither hot nor cold. He even called out a church that had a reputation for being alive but were truly dead. (Revelation 2-3). Unfortunately, too many contemporary churches are built merely to attract crowds that do not make disciples. These churches often quench the Spirit of God and fail to provoke passion for God, resulting in maintaining the (cultural) status quo rather than igniting the flames of revival and awakening.

5. There is a lack of sorrow for national sin

The prophet Amos rebuked those in Israel who lived complacent lives despite their society’s moral decadence and looming doom (Amos 6:4-6). The prophet Ezekiel spoke about God expecting His people to wail and groan for the sins of their nation (Ezekial 9:4). When the preponderance of Christians in a nation are not burdened by the lukewarm state of the Church and spiritual decline of their nation, they cannot expect a national awakening.

6. There is a lack of the fear of the Lord

Reverence for God is foundational to wisdom and spiritual awakening. For a nation to return to God, it needs a spirit of wisdom and fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). The Gospel spread in the city of Ephesus because both the church and the city experienced the reality of the fear of the Lord (Acts 19:10-17). Many contemporary churches emphasize an informal, seeker-sensitive atmosphere in which they have lost the fear of the Lord. (I have heard of churches that hit beach balls during the worship service so that it can be a fun experience. In other churches, many talk, joke, and drink coffee during the service.) Consequently, a diminished fear of the Lord leads to moral and spiritual laxity and will not catalyze a spiritual awakening.

7. The Gospel of self-fulfillment is predominant

The Gospel calls for self-denial and Christ-centered living. Many in the church fail to live the cross-shaped life and have recalibrated the gospel to meet their fleshly needs and desires. Much preaching is based upon the false trinitarian Gospel (“I,” “Me,” “My”) instead of on the Lordship of Christ. This is despite the fact that the prerequisite to overcoming demonic forces has to do with offering our life as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). As the Scripture says, "And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death" (Revelation 12:11). Consequently, churches that focus primarily on appealing to the desire for “self-fulfillment” rather than the cross, distort the Gospel, weaken its power, and will never result in a spiritual awakening.

8. Many churches neglect their community

The biblical mission of the church extends beyond its walls (Acts 1:8-9). Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). Congregations that are only self-focused hinder broader community impact, gospel outreach, and fail to awaken the surrounding community.

9. Many prophetic voices have been compromised

One of the preconditions for a national awakening is prophetic preaching that proclaims God’s heart to turn people to righteousness. When a nation’s primary prophetic voices appeal primarily to its political, cultural, or financial base, that nation will fail to experience a national awakening.

Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry ‘Peace’ when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths” (Micah 3:5).

10. There is much national division

When a nation is divided against itself, its ideological divisions and moral drift can preclude the ability to experience a national awakening. Jesus said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand" (Matthew 12:25). May God raise wise, uncompromising bridge builders who bring the message of reconciliation so that a national awakening can break out (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally-known author, consultant, and theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence culture. He is the founding pastor of Resurrection Church, and leads several organizations, including The U.S. Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and Christ Covenant Coalition.

To order his books or to join the many thousands who subscribe to his newsletter, go to

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