By Brock Bondurant
I long for a great move of God in my city, state, and country. Some call this revival, or corporate renewal. In the 18th century, they called it a “Great Awakening”. Each title could be described as an outpouring of Holy Spirit where all at once or over time many come to know the Lord in a deeper way. Lives are changed, generations look different; even the land experiences the benefits, something akin to Romans 8:21. I long for that to happen at this time, in this place, with this people.
But the revivals in Church history each started with the personal renewal of one or of a few people who had a profound experience with the Lord. Central to this experience was no doubt the presence of God, which became accompanied by a reformation of the lives of those individuals around the Kingdom of Heaven in the obedience of faith.
One man at the heart of the Great Awakening (known as the Evangelical Revival in England) was John Wesley. John himself writes that his heart was “strangely warmed” at Aldersgate in London. Moved by this experience of the Lord’s presence, Wesley would go on to lead a movement that would transcend both sides of the Atlantic to know the Lord more deeply.
Personal renewal begins with what Dallas Willard calls the “renovation of the heart” – becoming the type of person who does the right things for the right reasons.
3Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?
4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
Holy Spirit has the primary role of this renovation towards a pure heart; without him we are hopeless. But we ourselves have a role to play. This was Wesley’s strength, bringing form (methods) to accompany the Holy Spirit’s fire (presence of God). We form our lives to encounter the Holy Spirit by adopting the narratives of Jesus, participating in Gospel-centered community, and engaging in “soul-training exercises” (see James Bryan Smith’s “triangle of transformation”) which are also known as spiritual disciplines.
By God’s grace alone then we begin to see verse 5 play out:
5He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
I like how it says that righteousness is from God – a good reminder that righteousness does not come from our works. Christ’s righteousness is gifted to us by his work on the cross.
As each individual heart is renewed, it becomes a corporate experience in verse 6:
6Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
A whole generation turned toward the Lord! What if our nation began to repent from our wrongdoings – to clean our hands and seek his face? God promises that ‘if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). ‘My people’, says God – national revival starts when the Church decides to step into her identity as the Bride of Christ.
The identical verse of 7 and 9 have become my prayer for my city:
Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
This is a prayer for an open heaven, perhaps something like Jacob experienced when he saw the angels of God were ascending and descending (Genesis 28:10-22). ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven,’ Jacob exclaims in verse 17. I believe this still happens, and I’m praying to see that happen in my city – that Heaven would touch earth in this place and spark revival!
Maranatha – come Lord Jesus! Heal our land!