Before the Life Action team arrived in my church, I preached for about three years on revival and what God needs to do in our hearts and lives. We talked about seeking the Lord, and about having our lives lined up with His so that He could use us for the accomplishment of the Great Commission.
We started praying in our services and small groups for the upcoming meetings; we even hosted special prayer gatherings to begin this process. When the team arrived, there was an air of expectation and excitement about what God might do among us.
The third night into our meetings, the presence of the Lord was so strong that a time of spontaneous confession began, which continued night after night. What we’d originally scheduled as an eleven-day gathering extended for what became six weeks of nightly meetings.
We desperately wanted to be a people with “clean hands and pure hearts” so we could be used by God to engage the world with the gospel, not just locally but everywhere. We were sensing our great need to become the sort of people God could really use! The presence of the Lord became so overwhelming that people just had to respond.
Some of our worship and prayer times lasted for hours; in one instance I stayed in our prayer room for more than two hours, dealing with one person after another who was under conviction. On many occasions the presence of the Lord became so overwhelming that people just had to respond because the conviction of the Holy Spirit was so real to them.
By the second week, we recognized that our church was committing “corporate sins” that required repentance as well:
- Prayerlessness and relying on activity and ministry
- Superficiality with God and with one another
- Preoccupation with money and “stuff”
- Overlooking sin and failing to practice biblical church discipline
- Programmatic or non-Spirit-led worship
- Lukewarmness, apathy, lack of commitment
We publicly acknowledged these sins and read Daniel 9 as our prayer of confession. When the six weeks of special meetings were over, we started addressing these sins one by one. We had conversations like, “What’s making us a prayerless people? How has prayer been displaced by activity and ministry? How can we change that? How do we adjust superficiality with God and with one another?”
Revival has changed and is changing our church! It’s brought us to a place of greater usefulness to the Lord, a place of holiness, a new place of commitment and devotion to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
It’s also compelled us to make some practical changes. We’ve revamped our whole weekly ministry schedule, dedicating a whole day to prayer. We’ve placed more emphasis on house-to-house ministry. We’ve encouraged our people to simplify their lives and ignore the pressure from society to accumulate “more and more.” We even lengthened our service times so that we wouldn’t feel pressure to just run the “program” of worship anymore.
Even though we had this experience and have made a lot of changes, we recognize that the process of seeking the Lord never ends. We continue to pray that He would do a fresh work in each of us so that we’re walking in the fullness of His joy and being used for His glory, to the ends of the earth.
Jamie Work is the lead pastor of Candies Creek Church in Charleston, TN.