Three years ago his research told him that by 2003 America would either experience massive spiritual awakening or total moral anarchy
Two years ago he discovered there were as many shortfalls inside the church as in the society as a whole. One year ago his findings warned us that nearly 40 percent of those belonging to evangelical congregations are in need of genuine conversion. This year, George Barna published a stack of statistics describing the condition of the church in the year 2000. In his concluding essay he minces no words:
Americans seem to have become almost inoculated to spiritual events.. ? . Overall, Christian ministry is stuck in a deep …. .. Too many Christians and churches in America have traded spiritual passion for empty rituals, clever methods and mindless practices. The challenge to today’s church is not methodological. It is a challenge to resuscitate the spiritual passion and fervor of the nation’s Christians.
Desperate for a “spiritual shake-up” in our nation, Barna was driven to use the graphic word “resuscitate.” In the brief for a national Christ-awakening recently drafted by Mission America (An Urgent Appeal. . . available at wwwnationalprayer.org), 26 different terms and metaphors are used to define revival. Among them are: quickenings, visitations, jubilees, latter rains, fires falling, reformations, and refreshings. No one came up with “resuscitate.” But can you think of a better word?
The dictionary defines it simply: “to set in motion; to stir; to revive from apparent death or from unconsciousness.” But think “mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.” What do you envision? I see one person flat on his back and another responding with urgency One face gets very close to another; one mouth is set on top of another; the air from one set of lungs flows rapidly and repeatedly into the other. Then there are groans, cries, and shouts of excitement as the victim sits straight up and laughs. Alive! Revived! Restored!
That’s something we should be praying for as we intercede over the complacency of today’s believers. Seek God for the kind of resuscitation we read about in Jn. 20:22. Face-to-face with fear-paralyzed disciples, the resurrected Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” That set in motion a mission that changed the world.
At recent National Prayer Committee meetings in Washington, D.C., nearly 150 leaders agreed that a sense of urgency is what the national prayer movement most needs. As the booklet An Urgent Appeal puts it, “Urgency is not too strong a word. We are standing at a crossroads moment in the life of the American church. Many believe we are at the threshold of a season of either revival or further judgment. We must give this immediate attention.” What will this require?
1. Diagnose the condition. Come to grips with the critical condition of the church. Recognize that for the vast majority, the true spiritual passion (vs. fleshly emotion) has gone. We’re unconscious toward Christ.
2. Invite the Rescuer. All intercession for divine intervention clears the way for the Head of the church to “come upon us” in our helpless state. It’s like dialing 911 and shouting out “Please come, quickly!”
3. Identify the remedy. The living God has to come very near in order to breathe on us-face to face, mouth to mouth, Spirit to spirit. Allow the scriptures on revival to grip your soul like an ER specialist, filling you with unshakable confidence that Christ can save us.
4. Plead for the breath. Don’t settle for anything less in your prayers. If an ambulance showed up and offered a stretcher but did nothing to restore the victim’s breathing, we would shout, “Resuscitate! Mouth to mouth if necessary!” Be that persistent with God as you pray for revival.
5. Mediate the contact. In God’s kingdom economy, our prayers are the point of contact between the mouth of God and the people of God. We reach up to an all-sufficient heaven and back to a fainting church, bringing the two together, in intercession.
6. Celebrate the signs. While we pray, even as the breath of God infuses the victim, we continue to monitor the victim’s condition. For every single evidence of stirring, renewed passion, increased fervor, or restored affection for Christ and His glory in the church, we give immediate and enthusiastic praise.
7. Rehabilitate the patient. As we come out of spiritual complacency, returning to full consciousness of things above (Col. 3:1-4), the church will need to regain its bearings. Discipleship for resuscitated Christians, now ready to take fresh action for the kingdom, will have a whole different feel to it. The rituals, methods, and practices now in vogue won’t suffice. Intercessors must be prepared to provide leadership in this critical return to obedience to the gospel.
Become resuscitators! That’s precisely what we do when we pray fervently for revival: We pray for an urgent and complete return to Life in the church.