One of the greatest challenges facing the American church and its ability to impact lostness in our culture is the lack of a vital spiritual life in believers and churches.
Many churches in America are either dying, declining or have plateaued. The power of Christ and His Spirit is not often experienced in many churches or communities. Believers seem to be content with a lack of the manifestation of God in the midst of their worship services and in individual lives.
Through our sins of apathy and negligence of spiritual things, we are diminishing our ability to shine the light of Christ in our world.
As a result, the church is having less and less impact on the culture. In fact, the opposite is true. Sin, darkness and evil are increasing every day in our communities and in many churches.
In order to address the lack of the vital spiritual life in the church, we must begin to long for God’s mercy, humble ourselves before Him, pray, seek His face, repent and turn from our wicked ways so that He can hear from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our churches and our land.
Spiritual famine and the need for the church to be on mission together is only addressed through spiritual power.
Praying for God’s mercy
Throughout history, God has responded to the desperate prayers of His people for forgiveness and mercy through seasons of revival and spiritual awakening.
In fact, both biblically and historically speaking, God has used such seasons to rekindle the missional vitality of His church and to invite the church to join Him in advancing His redemptive work in the world.
This rekindling has certainly taken place before in America as God poured out His mercy through revival and spiritual awakening at least four times in response to the prayers of His people. These movements, the First Great Awakening (1732-1767), the Second Great Awakening (1787-1843), the Layman’s Prayer Revival (1857-1859) and the decade of worldwide awakening (1901-1910) were all pervasive and were all preceded by periods of great moral and spiritual decline. Since that time, America has only seen regional and/or seasonal or short-lived movements of revival and spiritual awakening like the Jesus Movement (1970-1973).
As noted, those seasons of revival and spiritual awakening were all preceded and permeated with desperate prayer for God and His mercy. Believers in those days focused their praying on God’s kingdom and His purposes. Their dependence on God was seen through their determination to pray first and to pray always. They knew that the Lord was their only hope and help during such great spiritual decline.
Spiritual famine and the need for the church to be on mission together is only addressed through spiritual power as God’s Spirit is unleashed when His righteous people pray and seek Him with all their hearts. May we truly unite our hearts together in the days ahead toward that end.
For the 10th consecutive year, the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) is calling on all N.C. Baptists to unite in 30 days of focused prayer for revival and spiritual awakening during the month of October leading up to Annual Meeting.
Chris Schofield, director of the BSCNC’s Office of Prayer for Evangelization and Spiritual Awakening, has authored a devotional prayer guide for October’s “Pray for 30 Days” emphasis. The devotional is titled “On Mission Together.”
As we unite in time of focused prayer for spiritual awakening, may our prayer be, “Oh Lord, will you begin a work of revival and spiritual awakening in my heart, my family, my church, my state, my nation and in our world today?”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was adapted from the “Pray for 30 Days” prayer guide. Individuals may download a copy of the devotional by visiting prayfor30days.org. Many additional resources are also available at the website, including resources in Spanish.