Revive Our Hearts Podcast

What God Is Doing Around the World

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Leslie Basham: Dave Butts invites you to get excited about what God is doing.

Dave Butts: You are living in the midst of the greatest prayer movement that the church has ever seen. In 2,000 years, there has never been anything close to what is going on in our midst today.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, April 12, 2012.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What comes to mind when you hear the word prayer? Dave Butts says that a lot of people have an incomplete perspective on prayer. To him, prayer includes crying out to God in desperation.

Dave Butts is the chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee. I’ve known him for many years and have been really impacted by his teaching on prayer. He’s also involved now in a new initiative that you’re going to be hearing about over the next couple of days called OneCry for Spiritual Awakening.

Not long ago I heard Dave give a message at a conference hosted by Life Action Ministries. That’s the parent organization of Revive Our Hearts, and the OneCry campaign is an initiative of Life Action.

As you’re about to hear, Dave Butts traveled a long way to deliver this message, just a short message, because he was so passionate to describe the new OneCry campaign and to encourage others to begin praying earnestly for revival.

I was in the audience that night, and when I heard him speak, it gave me a fresh desire to seek the Lord and to call out to Him about our nation’s deepest needs. We’re about to hear that message, and I think it will encourage you to pray with a new sense of desperation as well. Let’s listen.

Dave: Why in the world would someone ride on a bus for five hours to speak for twenty-five minutes and then turn around and get in a car and ride back five hours? Why would you do that? It’s the same reason that years ago God called my wife and I out of an eleven-year pastorate with people that we loved and who loved us. It was growing, and it was good.

But He called us to travel all over the nation teaching on prayer, and that didn’t sound very exciting. But something had touched my heart many years ago that basically said, “I want to be in on whatever God’s doing.”

There was a point in time in which I made a commitment that I was no longer willing to sit on the sidelines. I didn’t want to read in a magazine or watch on TV what God was doing. I wanted to be in on it. I wanted to be right in the middle of whatever God is doing.

Now, the question is: What is God doing in the world today? And you might ask: How in the world could anyone say that they know that?

I think, in fact, it’s a rather easy thing to do. I think when you start looking at what is happening all over the planet, it becomes very obvious that God is doing, mainly in the church, three things. I want to tell them to you.

The first thing is He’s calling the church to prayer. Now, it is true, God has always called His people to prayer, but there is something special going on. There is something unique. You are living in the midst of the greatest prayer movement that the church has ever seen. In 2,000 years, there has never been anything close to what is going on in our midst today. It is phenomenal.

Honestly, I could go on for twenty-five hours, not twenty-five minutes, just telling you stories (I won’t, honest) of what’s going on all over the planet. Everywhere—in any nation I get to, I hear preachers preaching from Isaiah 56:7, where God Himself said, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Everywhere, preachers are preaching from that. It’s as if the Holy Spirit has underlined it and said, “I want to make sure you get this one. Preach on it. Live it.” We’re seeing gatherings of prayer like the church has never seen.

On another level of prayer, if I were to take the pastors of the ten largest churches in the world, none of which, of course, would be in the United States, and asked them the key to their success, all ten of them would tell you, “It’s simple. We pray. And they pray at a level that most of us can’t even comprehend.”

When I was in Seoul, South Korea, visiting the world’s largest church, it’s a church that at that time was only running 800,000. It’s grown since then. They were telling us, “If you’re going to be on staff at this congregation, you must sign a covenant that you will pray three hours a day.” You can’t even be on staff unless you commit to praying three hours a day.

Beyond that, and I mean beyond that, there is a movement—a day-and-night prayer—in our day and age that is going on, that is accelerating, that is growing. I think it’s a movement we’ve not even begun to see the tip of the iceberg of what God is doing in day-and-night prayer.

In South Africa there are over 5,000 houses of prayer that are committed to twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week—in South Africa.

In Indonesia, there’s over a thousand. Indonesia’s the largest Muslim country in the world, and over a thousand prayer towers have been built that are dedicated to day-and-night prayer.

It’s a fulfillment of the passage in the World of God in Isaiah chapter 62:6-7 in which God says,

I have stationed watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.

By the way, that’s a prayer that’s all about revival, but that’s another whole lesson. Okay, we won’t go there.

There is a huge movement of prayer that I would love to tell you more about but here’s what I want to say: This movement of prayer is ultimately not about you and I figuring out how to get God to give us what we want. That’s not what this movement of prayer is about. This call from God to us to pray is about the other two things God is doing in the world today.

The second is He’s calling us to revival—not another week of meetings, but rather the church waking up to the presence of Christ in her midst. There’s a lot of great definitions of prayer. Speaking of Life Action Ministries, it’s hard to even think about trying to define it considering that’s what you all do, and the teams that travel all over teaching on revival and calling people to that.

I have a very simple definition—it’s when God comes to church. It’s when the church of Jesus Christ begins to experience the presence of Christ in our midst. Another way of saying it is it’s when we begin to experience what we already believe theologically. It says where two or more are gathered together, then Jesus is here in our midst. You believe that, but Sunday after Sunday and congregation after congregation, all over the planet, Christians who believe that come in, have services, leave, without ever experiencing what they believe.

That’s the reason why so often revival is called an awakening. It’s as though we’ve fallen asleep. We believe something, but we’re sleeping through it. And, excuse the picture, but it’s as though God reaches out and shakes us and wakes us up, and we go, “Oh! You’re here! You really are here!”

Here’s what I want to simply say, and what I will tell you now is what any student of revival will tell you. I know that you all believe this firmly: There has never been a revival, biblically or historically, the seven major revivals of the Old Testament, whether you look at Pentecost or on through church history, there has never ever been a revival without there first of all being a movement of prayer. God always sets His people to prayer in anticipation of revival.

Now, if you and are living in the midst of the greatest prayer movement in the history of the church, can revival be too far off? God is calling us to pray in a way that does not force the hand of God, because we have no ability to do that, but in a way that prepares a landing strip for the Holy Spirit. It prepares the ground for God to do something significant in our midst.

But you need to know that the purpose of revival isn’t for the church just to have better meetings. It is not for Christians to walk around with smiles on their faces. The purpose of revival is the third thing that God is doing in the world today, and that is He’s calling the church to finish the task of world evangelism.

Jesus said to the disciples, “Go into all the world. Teach, preach, baptize. Make disciples.” And we’ve been chipping away at that task for thousands of years.

I tell you. I’m among those who believe that we are about to experience and in some ways are already beginning to experience the greatest harvest the church has ever seen because the church is beginning to wake up. We’re beginning to move, not in our own strength, not depending on some new technique or method or a new class we had, but the power of the Holy Spirit that has awakened us in revival. And we move out as the body of Christ in powerful, effective evangelism.

And that leads me to the fourth thing that God’s doing. And you say, “Wait a second. I thought you said three.” Yes. There are three things that God’s doing that leads to a fourth, and the fourth has to do with the second coming of Jesus.

I don’t know when Jesus is coming back—in case you were wanting to figure that out. I have no insider information, but here’s a fascinating passage of Scripture. In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “This gospel will be preached to all nations as a witness, and then the end will come.”

I don’t know what “then” means. Did Jesus mean the minute the last person hears, then He’s coming? Or does “then” mean later on that week, or later on that year? I don’t know. But here’s one thing that’s very, very clear: God is calling His people to prayer in order to produce revival, that a revived church may finish the task of world evangelization, and then, in God’s timing, then the end will come.

I want you to see this—this is huge, folks—this is the purpose of God. This is the plan of God, and He’s calling you to take part of that. He’s calling you to literally be a world changer, to jump in and be a part of His plan to bring all things to a culmination point. Our job isn’t to figure out when. It’s to jump in now and be a part of what He’s calling us to do.

Just this last week I met at Colorado Springs with members of the National Prayer Committee, our executive group. And with God’s weird sense of humor, for the last eight years I’ve served as chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, which oversees the National Day of Prayer and a number of other things within the nation. It’s an amazing group of people.

They came together where God had already been working in their hearts to establish some conferences this year that they wanted to call: Can Prayer Save America? The whole focus of this was not so much a political thing. It was about revival.

And as they’re talking to me about that, I’m saying, “Time out, guys. Let me tell you about something else that God’s doing.” And I began to tell them about OneCry, and they’re going, “Where do we sign up?”

Now, the eighty ministries that represent America’s National Prayer Committee, literally touches the lives of tens of millions of believers in this nation. Those leaders are all saying, “We’re going to be a part of OneCry. We want to do this. We want to work together. How can we do this?”

The reason I’m telling you all this is you need to understand that OneCry isn’t from Life Action. It’s from God. Life Action, I believe with all my heart, has been chosen by the Lord to shepherd this, to steward it, to pull together partners to work together in a way that releases the power of God to bring about revival in our nation. I’m praying, far beyond that—to reach the world.

These are exciting days. Some people look, and all they see are the dangerous things that are out there. They see the things that are intended to bring fear. Jesus said there will be terrible times in the last days, and the hearts of some will fail them, but not those of us who choose to look to God and see what He’s doing, to see His hand at work.

So, why drive five hours here and five hours back to speak for a few minutes? For the same reason why I think many of you, and maybe every one of you, is going to end up saying, “I’ve got to be in on this. I’ve got to be in on what God is doing.”

Not a new program. Not a new plan. But something I believe sent from heaven to call us to that place of greatest effectiveness—when we’re on our knees, humbling ourselves before Him and saying, “God, we desperately need You. We have no new plan. We have no new thing that we can offer to the world or to our nation. What we need is for You to show up.”

So my very simple plea to you is: Do you want to get with what God is doing? Pray. But I want to tell you from personal experience, it never ends with prayer. That’s always the beginning place, but it’s never the ending place. Let’s pray.

Father, I thank You. I thank You for allowing us to be a part of what You are doing. Lord, You could do this all on Your own. You don’t need us. But You invite us to join You, and we are so grateful. Lord, thank You.

Thank You for calling us to prayer. Thank You for calling us to serve You in prayer, first of all in a place of humility, in a place of repentance, and a place of recognizing that we really have nothing to offer You, but You have everything for us.

So Lord, we commit ourselves to seeking Your face, and we offer to You our voices, our minds, our hands, our knees, our feet. Lord, here we are. Like the disciples so long ago who came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray,” we, too, would simply say, “Lord, teach us to pray. Show us how to pray in a way that releases Your power to bring increased honor and glory to Jesus, to bring about that awakening among Your people that accomplishes Your purposes in our day.”

Thank You, Lord, for allowing us to be a part of that. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: That’s Dave Butts. He’s chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee. He’s also helping provide leadership to a new initiative called OneCry for Spiritual Awakening. We’ll tell you more on that in a minute.

First, our team followed up with Dave and asked: You hear a lot about the importance of prayer meetings. Do we really have to pray together? Is it any different than praying alone at home?

Dave: For the last twenty years, I’ve been traveling around this nation and others, teaching on prayer. One of the things I find about American Christians is that there is almost no push back on prayer. They’re all for prayer until I start talking about coming together and pray, and then there’s a lot of push back. There’s a lot of resistance to that.

Part of that is our American culture and our sense that, “Hey, prayer’s very personal, and I’m going to pray. You want me to pray? That’s great. I appreciate your teaching, but I’m going to go home and pray now.”

We don’t come together to pray. But here’s what I want to say: The model of the New Testament is of the church coming together to pray. Acts chapter 1, Acts chapter 2, Acts chapter 3, Acts chapter 4. Now, it’s not in every chapter, but it’s in most of the chapters in the book of Acts—where Christians come together. Matter of fact, I often will challenge a congregation after I’m done preaching, after I’m done teaching. I say, “I want you to go home. I want you to read the book of Acts. And I want you to ask this one question: What happened when the church came together?”

Far more than what we call worship. You’ll see they came together to pray. The model of the New Testament church is a group of people who came together and spent time with their resurrected Lord in prayer.

So I tell people, “Look, I understand you being uncomfortable. Okay? I understand you need to do it on your own, and you need to do it on your own some—but if you want to be a New Testament Christian, you have to put your shoulders back and say, ‘Okay, I can do this because I want to be a New Testament Christian.’”

That’s where the power is. When we say we want to pray and see revival come, it rarely happens because individuals are off praying. It’s because Christians gather together. It might be in small groups. It might be those groups are four and five who are praying together. It may be large groups. That’s not the issue. The fact is there is something that happens when Christians come together to pray that doesn’t happen on our own.

It’s not saying one is better than the other. It’s simply saying these are two different experiences. These are two different encounters, and in the American church we’ve been so used to the individual that we’ve tended to discount the public coming together, the group coming together. We’re uncomfortable with it.

We’ve got to go back to a biblical model, and that is, “Man, I’ve got to pray. I’m going to learn how to pray differently cause I’m praying with you, and you’re going to learn how to pray differently because you’re praying with me,” and that’s where the power is.

Leslie: That’s Dave Butts, chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee. He’s been opening our eyes to some of what God is doing around the world, drawing people together to pray for revival.

Dave is helping provide leadership to a new initiative of Life Action Ministries. Life Action is the parent organization of Revive Our Hearts. OneCry is all about mobilizing people to pray for revival, a cry that’s close to the heart of our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: When I was a young girl, about twelve or thirteen years of age, I think, I began reading some accounts of how God had moved in revival and spiritual awakening in the past. It was unlike anything I had heard before. I was mesmerized as I saw the stories of what it was like when God visited His people in a supernatural way.

I can remember as I read these accounts, thinking, “What’s happened? Why aren’t we seeing that kind of thing today?” I was in Christian school, evangelical churches—good churches—but I thought, “This is not like what we are seeing today. It seems that in times past, God has done so much more.”

That was the beginning for me of what has become a lifelong passion to see God visit His people in true revival and spiritual awakening. I remember thinking, “Lord, You’ve done it before. You can do it again. Please, Lord, would You do it again?”

Well, a few years after I graduated from college, I joined the staff of Life Action Ministries and discovered a group of people who shared this passion for revival. In fact, at the time, I thought I had died and gone to heaven because I just didn’t know other people who had that kind of burden and vision.

That was nearly thirty-five years ago, and a lot has changed at Life Action over the years. Ministries like Revive Our Hearts has been launched, but one thing is still the same—a desperate desire to see God awaken His people again.

And that’s why Revive Our Hearts is partnering with Life Action in this OneCry initiative. In fact, there are a number of national ministries and many national Christian leaders who are joining together to invite God’s people to join in in this initiative. I hope that you’ll be one of those who will join thousands of others all across this country in crying out to the Lord with one cry, pleading with the Lord to come and visit this land in our day.

Byron Paulus is the executive director of Life Action Ministries. We’ve served together in this ministry for over thirty years, and he’s the one in whose heart God had originally placed this burden and vision for what has become the OneCry movement.

So, Byron, I wonder if you would just take a moment to share with our listeners how God put this burden on your heart and what it is that we’re believing Him to do through this OneCry movement.

Byron Paulus: Thanks, Nancy. I’m so excited to bring OneCry to the Revive Our Hearts audience. OneCry is a movement of believers who are urgently asking God to revive His Church and transform our nation.

This isn’t a program or event. When you join this movement, you will be doing three things:

  • You’ll turn. 
  • You’ll pray. 
  • You’ll unite.

What exactly does that mean? First, you’ll evaluate your own heart and turn from any sin God reveals to you. We’ll help you walk through that process.

Then you’ll begin to pray, to urgently call out to the Lord for spiritual awakening in the Church. We’ll give you some ways you can pray.

And you’ll also unite. You’ll connect with other believers who are praying for revival. You can start your own OneCry prayer group or join an existing group, including one led by the Revive Our Hearts team.

Thousands have already joined the OneCry movement. Will you?

Nancy: For details on how you can be a part of this important new initiative—I don’t know if there’s any initiative in this country in this season that is more important than what is going on through OneCry—so, for more details about how you can be a part of OneCry, just visit our website, ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Well, Pastor Bill Elliff began to cry out to God with this prayer: “Lord, let me see revival before I die.” And then he watched God do something incredible. Bill and Holly Elliff will join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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