This transcript is taken from a Stand in the Gap Today program originally airing on Feb. 21, 2023. To listen to the program, please click HERE.
Hello, and welcome to this Tuesday edition of Stand in the Gap. I am Dr. Steven Harrelson, president of the Virginia Pastors Network, the Virginia Chapter of the American Pastors Network. I also serve as the lead pastor of Mount Lebanon and Baptist Church in Culpeper County, Virginia. My co-host today is Dr. Dave Kistler, a regular host on Stand in the Gap, and also a very dear friend. Our special guest today is Evangelist Harold Vaughan, the founder and director of Christ Life Ministries, a revival focused ministry based in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia.
Brother Harold has a heart for personal, family, church and nationwide revival. Now, the title of our program today is Creating an Atmosphere for God to Bring Revival in America. And this is part of a two-year revival emphasis here at APN that we call the Seeds of Revival. Now, as we get started today, whenever we take a look at the spiritual landscape in our nation, we find that the results of the first and second Great Awakening really are pretty much distant history and we are in desperate need of revival.
You see, God has been removed from almost every area of public life, whether we speak of universities or government, public schools, the workplaces, and whenever God is allowed in, it’s normally on secular terms. Now, the effect of intentional secularization has been utterly devastating in our nation. Christianity, I believe all of us would agree, has been the dominant faith from America’s beginning, but NPR has forecasted that within a generation Christianity will be the minority.
The effect of expelling God in society is just plain obvious. 13% of Americans 12 and over admitted to illicit drug use in the last month. The homicide rate in the US continues to be high, but watch this, with four major US cities ranked among the 50 cities with the highest homicide rate in the world. The nation is probably more divided and yes, more polarized than it has been in generations.
There is still a Christian residue in our nation, but if the church continues on its present decline, that residue will be wiped away. But here’s the bottom line, the church is supposed to season society. The church is the light of Jesus Christ in this world. The church in its infancy turned the world upside down, and I am convinced that God wants to bring revival in our day. I’m convinced that a third Great Awakening is possible in this generation.
Today, on Stand in the Gap, we are going to evaluate the current spiritual atmosphere in America. We will establish what the atmosphere of revival truly looks like. We will observe the atmosphere in our churches that actually works against revival. And finally, we will address church leaders and discuss how we can create an atmosphere that God will move in. Again, our theme today, creating an atmosphere for God to bring revival. And with all that being said, it is my honor and privilege to introduce our special guest today, Brother Harold Vaughan. Welcome, Brother Harold.
Well, thank you so much. What a privilege to join with you.
Well, thank you. Brother Harold, you travel the country day in and day out, you know the pulse of the American church. Can you take just a couple of minutes and describe what you see when it comes to popular Christianity and where it’s trending in our nation?
Well, I think we’re trending toward a generation of unbelief that has overtaken the conservative element of Christianity. Of course, you have the liberal wing, you have all kinds of things going on out there, but we’re just going to kind of stick with those of us who believe the Bible is the word of God, and claim to preach the Bible. What I sense Steve is a lack of hunger, a lack of spiritual hunger, satisfied with intellectual sermons, satisfied with the motions, traditions, so on and so forth.
Back when COVID hit, I thought this is going to be it. We’re going to have a universal call to repentance. There will be a universal call to brokenness. Churches will put wrongs right. People will put things right. Restoration, reconciliation. I thought we were on the verge of the third Great Awakening, and obviously I’m not a prophet, because by and large that did not happen.
So you have those negative things. But on the bright side, there are places where revival fires are burning. Right here in our home church, our pastor got stirred up. He got in a revival atmosphere. And by the way, a revival atmosphere is not conjured up. The atmosphere for revival is the presence of God, the manifest presence of God. We came to church Wednesday, a week ago. He was so broken giving his testimony. The prayer meeting turned into a prayer meeting. The prayer meeting turned into a prayer meeting. He called for three days of prayer and fasting. He called prayer meetings at seven o’clock, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. They grew with intensity and grew in quantity.
Sunday morning was a quite unusual, unusual service, brokenness, reconciliation, putting things right, repentance all over the place. Things happened. It was incredible. Then he called for another meeting Sunday night at six o’clock, same thing, kind of a repeat of what was happening. And these prayer meetings were characterized by deep heart-searching, deep heart-searching, deep humility, deep repentance, getting to the root, not just the fruit.
I mean it was pretty intense. And then he called a meeting for last night. Well, we had a pretty good house full last night of people coming from the local church and from the area, God hungry people coming in, packing in, and now he’s called for meetings for the rest of this week through Thursday night. So some things are happening in some places. Not much is happening in some places. Lord, while on others you’re calling, don’t pass me by.
Brother Harold, this is Dave Kistler. It’s delight to be on the program with you today. You and I have spoken on the phone, but we’ve never actually met face-to-face, but I’m so thankful for you, for the ministry to which God has called you. And I’m so thankful for your emphasis on revival. I’m delighted that Steve asked me to be a co-host on today’s program.
But I am seeing exactly what you’re seeing as a general trend across the United States of America, we are in tremendous need. The church of Jesus Christ is in tremendous need, but there are high spots, phenomenal high spots across the United States where God is moving. I’m wondering if you could address the issue of apathy in many of our American churches. Are you seeing that? You’ve kind of already alluded to it, but could you just kind of flesh that out a little bit more? What are you seeing as far as the apathetic state of some churches as opposed to some of these bright spots that you just described?
Well, I believe that we’ve been trained in unbelief pretty much. We have these theories that pretty much negate any supernatural intervention from God that have become very popular. That we’re in an age [inaudible 00:07:25], where we shouldn’t expect much. One guy went to Bible college and the professor told him, he said, “Don’t expect to see over three, four or five people saved a year.” I mean, what kind of a training is this?
We’ve been trained in maintenance rather than in building, and we’ve been trained with non expectation rather than expectation. I know all about the dangers of wildfire. I’ll tell you what’s worse than that, no fire at all. And I’ll tell you what, I’m just fired up. My heart’s just tender as can be here lately, God stirring me up. And I believe that-
… the pulpit, the American pulpit is the biggest problem and the biggest hindrance of revival.
That’s right. Ladies and gentlemen, whenever we come back after our first break, we will discuss what revival actually looks like when it comes. Please stay tuned as we continue with our guest Evangelist Harold Vaughan in just a few moments.
Well, welcome back ladies and gentlemen. This is Pastor Steve Harrelson. I’m here with Dr. Dave Kistler as my co-host. And we have with us our Evangelist Harold Vaughan today, as our special guest. And we are discussing an atmosphere for God to bring revival in America. In our last segment, we talked about the state of popular Christianity. We touched on apathy that’s happening in many churches.
In this segment, we’re going to focus in on what the atmosphere of revival actually looks like when it comes. I’m sure a lot of people are curious about what’s going on at Asbury and Cedarville and other places like that. It can be argued that the first Great Awakening in America with Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards, the Wesley Brothers and so many more, that it was so influential that it helped give birth to our nation. It helped produce the American spirit and world missions.
The effects of the second Great Awakening were also really impactful as well. But I think that you two men would agree with me. One thing I’ve realized in ministry is that no amount of programming or natural talent or manipulation will ever produce the presence and the power of God. You simply cannot manufacture the Holy Spirit. It’s also important to note that revival itself is for Christians.
The laws don’t need revival. What they need is resurrection. Why? Because they’re spiritually dead. The living need to be revived at times, because as the old hymn writer put it ‘prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love’. Here’s what we know. We know that revival is a movement of God. He is the one that brings it. Brother Harold, you touched on this at the local church that you’re a member of what was going on there? Can you give us a good general 20,000 foot view of what revival looks like whenever it comes?
Well, Ken Conley defined revival like this. He said, “Revival is a sovereign, sudden, selected, sensational operation of the spirit of God descending in the midst of prayer, which produces purity and reaches the perishing. And I think that’s a real good definition of revival, sovereign, sudden, selected, sensational operation of the spirit of God descending in the midst of prayer which produces purity and reaches the perishing. So there’s a revival definition, and I would say that’s what’s going on here.
There’s a longing for heart purity, heart holiness. There’s a spirit of repentance. There’s a willingness to put things right. There’s an eagerness to obey God. There’s an expectancy. We hardly know what’s going to happen next. And this is what happens in the middle of revival. If I could just say this, that we don’t create any atmosphere. Revival is when God is free to be Himself, when He’s not grieved, He’s not quenched, and He’s not resisted. His spirit is manifest. Jesus becomes precious to our souls. We’re walking knee-deep in love.
So it’s not anything that we need to produce or conjure up or manufacture, which we can’t. It’s getting thoroughly right with God, thoroughly right with man, so that God is able to be Himself among His people to settle down, and be at home in our hearts by faith. I believe that’s what revival is.
Dave, you as an evangelist, you also are in and out of churches all the time. Can you take a minute or two and add some further insights into this very important question that we’re posing right now?
You know I will, brother Steve. And I just want to say this, that definition Brother Harold just gave is one of the most amazing definitions of revival, because it is accurate. I heard this definition years ago by an old preacher. He said, “Revival is the fresh infusion of God’s life into a body that’s threatening to become a corpse.” And I like that definition.
But if you look over the history of revival, whether it’s the biblical history or even what we would call even the more modern history of revival, maybe going all the way back to the first Great Awakening, second Great Awakening, the revivals that took place in the United States, the Fulton Street Prayer revival, the Welsh revival that occurred over in the United Kingdom in 1904, and spanned about 18 months to 1906. If you look at all of these revivals, there are some common elements, and Harold has already really touched on them.
I just want to kind of reiterate them if I could. Number one, every revival is preceded by prayer. You can always trace every revival to at least one praying individual, usually more than that. Following that prayer, there is an awesome awareness of God’s presence. It’s not manufactured. Harold was so accurate about that. We cannot work that up. We cannot make that happen. It’s just God descends and his presence becomes almost overwhelming. As a result of that, there comes times of repentance and confession, people making things right, first and foremost, with God and then making things right with one another.
And then when that takes place, you have this component, there is exuberant joy. It’s reflected in the singing, in the praise, in the atmosphere of every meeting where revival is occurring. It’s just exuberant praise. And then this last component, the revival will continue to have an impact, though no revival is permanent, there is a temporary nature to revival.
And what I mean by that is this. The great revivalist and one of the great preachers you’ve already alluded to in the first Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards wrote a treatise on the nature and the need of what he called periodic awakenings. We’re human individuals revival comes, it continues, it impacts, and then it wanes. And we don’t want it to wane quickly, but the fact of the matter is we as human beings are in need of periodic awakenings, touches from God that we just absolutely need. And apart from them, the church will live in doldrums and that’s really not what God wants us to experience. So those kind of elements, Steve, I think are the key components of what a revival looks like.
Very good. Brother Dave, I’m going to continue with you for just a second. When it comes to Christians being revived, we have that aspect of it. But it seems to me that when Christians get revived, they’ll begin to start taking the Great Commission of Christ more seriously. When Christians get on fire for God and they go out and engage their world for Jesus Christ as we’ve been called to do in the Great Commission, do you think that lends itself to an awakening in a country or in an area?
Absolutely does. Let me give you an example. I heard someone say this, “If God sets his church on fire, the community will come and watch it burn.” One of the revivals that has most impacted me as far as the study of it. And I actually went over and visited the place where it began in the little town of [inaudible 00:15:08], Wales. But the Welsh revival spanned about 18 months from 1904 to early 1906. When I was in England, my first of 20 trips to preach over there, a 94-year-old man gave me a book that chronicled the day by day happenings of the Welsh revival.
In the back of that book, by township, by hamlet was every community that had been impacted by the revival. In that book, Steve, they gave a record of every public profession of faith in Jesus Christ, by township, by hamlet, by community. And the revival wasn’t even over when that book was published. But Steve, I tabulated up the number of known public professions of faith during the Welsh revival, and Steve was over 200,000 people.
Now, mind you, the revival wasn’t over yet, but 200,000 people that were lost were impacted by God’s presence, God’s power, the word of God, the praise, all of those components together. And they were almost swept in large numbers into the family of God in conversion, understanding their need of Christ. So yes, if revival comes, it comes to the Christian, to the church, but the impact of it is much broader reaching and far-reaching into a community, into a state and even into a nation.
Amen. Amen. Brother Harold, I’m going to toss back to you now. We talked about what genuine revival looks like. Can you take just a minute and describe characteristics of counterfeit revival?
Well, I guess there’s a lot that you could say about it. Emotionalism by itself is not revival, doing strange things, barking like dogs, all these kind of manifestations are pretty exciting, but they’re not the real thing. But in real revival, the emotions are touched. And I think that a lot of Baptists, we’re so stoic, we’re so afraid of something might get out of control here. And we act like Spock on Star Trek, emotionless, passionless, desireless, just a monotone, just no fire of God whatsoever.
So I think that we’re not looking to work up something by some external stimuli, but when God works in the heart, tears flow very freely. Tom Farrell used to say, “When’s the last time God touched your heart, and it came out of your eyes?” And I believe that there’s a stirring, which is God-given. So some people believe that revival is extinct, it’s for bygone days. It’s neither possible or even desired. The days of great spiritual experience are over.
I don’t believe that for a minute. I don’t believe that. Other people say, “Well, revival’s impossible in a multi-cultured environment.” I don’t believe that. And I don’t believe that we’re foreordained to be lukewarm, half in, half-baked, half… I just don’t believe that. And we can’t let the counterfeits and the extremes of some and the fatalism of others rob us of the hope for revival in our day.
Amen. Brother Harold, I don’t know if it was you that said this, but it sounds like something that you would say that, “Sometimes it’s easier to calm down a fanatic than to try and resurrect a corpse.” Would you agree with that?
Well, yeah, it’s a whole lot easier to steer a boat that’s moving than to get a ship that’s sitting still to start moving. Of course, momentum is a good thing. We need spiritual momentum, and that’s what we have happening here in our local church, a small country church here. But there’s a spiritual momentum.
It started in the heart of the pastor. He did unconventional things, calling us to fasting, calling us to prayer, calling us to repentance, calling us to heart-searching, things like that. And I’ll tell you what, there’s a group of people here whose hearts are hungry and open, and God is moving and blessing.
Amen. Amen. Well, folks, whenever we return, we’re going to shift gears and discuss why revival tarries sometimes, why we sometimes have an atmosphere that works against revival happening. You won’t want to miss the next segment of Stand in the Gap today.
Dr. Dave Kistler and our special guest Evangelist Harold Vaughan, the founder and director of Christ Life Ministries. It’s been a great program so far. We have covered the spiritual landscape in America as well as what genuine revival looks like when it comes. Our focus today is on creating an atmosphere for God to bring revival in America. And in this segment, we will focus on an atmosphere that actually works against revival.
Now, we all live in a fast-paced world today, and to me, it seems like we are living in a world that is just on fast-forward. We have all the modern conveniences. We have all the bells and whistles of technology. Many Americans, probably most Americans, have at least one copy of God’s word in their homes, often multiple copies. We have so many free online Bible study helps and apps at our disposal. My goodness, we even have fog machines in our churches, concert lighting, money, staff. We still enjoy a semblance of religious freedom.
Having said that, we are perhaps more powerless than we have ever been. The apostles and the early church fathers had none of these things I just mentioned, yet they turned the world upside down. But it always seems to me that God has a faithful remnant. If we compiled a list of reasons why revival tarries in the individual, in the family, in churches, in our nation, there’s a host of things that could be on that list from sin, preoccupation with entertainment, social media, the busyness of life, a thousand other things. But Brother Harold, as an expert on the subject of revival, you’ve been studying this for four decades now, in your opinion, why does revival tarry among God’s remnant?
Well, Steve, I’m not an expert on revival. I do have a PhD in repentance, because I’ve sinned so often and so much I had to learn the way of the cross. I have a few ideas here I’m going to throw out kind of quick, because I want to cover this, what I’m calling revival barriers. Revival barriers. Number one, self, self, self, self-sufficiency, self-satisfaction, satisfaction with the current level of vitality and spirituality. Self-sufficient people don’t pray, they don’t cry out, they don’t repent. They sense no need. They have no high view of God. And consequently, this is a barrier to revival.
What about a limited frame of reference, a barrier to revival, a limited frame of reference. People are suspicious of anything outside their box, but brother, there’s been no widespread outpouring of the Holy Spirit for a century in America. Revival, real revival is so rare, it seems like something bizarre. And among many failure as seen as the benchmark for faithfulness, I’m tired of hearing this, “You don’t have to be a success, but you have to be faithful.” Well, yeah, we need to be faithful and we should. But what about some spiritual success? What about some spiritual ambition? What about some holy desire and initiative?
Another barrier, I would say would be a preconceived mental framework of how God must work. In other words, dictating to God the terms on which he can and must work. We set the parameters. And it’s got to be through our preferences, our training, our experiences. These people talking about the weakness of the Welsh revival. Hey, look, they had a revival. And we haven’t had one, who are we just said in judgment for cry out loud?
I say another one, a main barrier to revival is unbelief, is unbelief. The belief that it’s over. Somebody said, “We believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs.” But Jesus didn’t do a whole lot of mighty works in His own hometown because of the atmosphere of unbelief. Now, if we expect to see a better day, we got to believe for a better day. The old Puritan Richard Alleine said that, “God normally answers us according to our expectations.”
But let me get to this one right quick here on barriers to revival, the fear of revival. The fear of revival. The fears of revival. You say, “well, what is that?” Well, the fear of exposure. There’s a fear of exposure. Roy Hession said that, “Revival is when the best people in the church start acting like sinners and confessing their sins.” And this fear of exposure, “Man, I don’t want to get in a spiritual hot house, because I’ll have to deal with…” We’re going to have to deal with it at the judgment seat of Christ, how much better to deal with it right now?
And I would just say this, when was the last time you were in a service where the Spirit of God was so thick that the only thing you could see were your own sins brought up before your own face, and not the sins of others. So there’s the fear of exposure.
There’s the fear of man. The fear of man sets a trap, it brings a snare. What will people think? And one reason there’s no revival is because there’s more fear of man than fear of God. And we’re afraid to offend. We’re afraid to confront. We’re afraid to be bold. I’ll tell you what, the time is right for judgment day honesty and the presence of God.
Another fear is the fear of total surrender. “Well, what if I sell out, where maybe God will send me to the Congo or something.” There’s this distrust of God. And what about this? The fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. I think some pastors are afraid, “What would I do with a revive church? I don’t know how to navigate this. I’ve never been through this.” There’s a fear of the future. This is new territory. But if your fear of change is greater than your desire for God, you will never see revival.
What about this one? The fear of abandoning traditional and safe structures. Oh, I’ll tell you what. If your fear of wildfire is greater than your thirst for holy fire, you will remain fireproof. Listen, brethren, the cemetery is calm and peaceful, there’s no surprises. And some, I think, prefer the calm of the cemetery of more than the chaos of a delivery room. And God wants us to just get out of the boat and trust him and believe him to do things. And maybe it’s beyond our frame of reference.
And then there’s the fear of God cleansing his church, more concerned about the reputation of the church than the glory of God, in the midst of His own house. Some people are kind of like politicians. It’s about damage control. We don’t want the sins of the church exposed. Well, everything’s going to be revealed. The secrets of men’s hearts will be revealed. And you know what? We’ve got to deal with sin as ministers, just like church people.
And then if I can throw this out, the paralysis of analysis. Just, we are paralyzed, just critical about everything rather than being open-hearted recipients. And an analyst of revival is never a candidate for revival. Somebody said that that criticism is the death rattle of a non-achiever. Constant criticism is the death gargle of a non-achiever. So we need to be discerning. We need to have the word of God as our guide, but don’t overanalyze everything. Let’s just trust God, cry out to Him, and believe Him. God’s not giving us the right to judge, but He’s given us a mandate to love.
And I believe if we stopped analyzing and started agonizing, things might happen. And if I could throw one more thing out here, a barrier to revival, is pride, spiritual pride. Jonathan Edwards wrote a treatise on spiritual pride. I believe it’s on our website, tremendous. But pride is not just thinking that you’re better than somebody else. Pride is not just thinking you’re better than somebody else. Pride is thinking you’re better than you are.
And I want to tell you that pride causes us to deal with what’s respectable rather than what’s real. Pride causes us to deal in generalities rather than specifics. And there will be no revival as long as we’re blame shifting and rationalizing and overanalyzing everything. So these are some of the things I think that that is holding back the power of God in revival, in local churches in these days.
Brother Harold, some of the things you just mentioned are some of the criticisms that have been leveled against what’s been going on of late in a multiplicity of places around the United States of America. I’m talking about Asbury, Kentucky. I’m talking about Tennessee and Lee University. I’m talking about Ohio Baptist University. Talking about what’s going on at Cedarville University. And even here in the western part of the state, where I live in North Carolina, there is a Bible college, small Bible college called Fruitland Baptist Bible College. They have had an outpouring of God’s presence and God’s power.
I am watching things happen in Uganda. One of our co-hosts on this program right now is in Africa. He’s preaching in lieu of a crusade that we’re going to do, Lord willing, if Jesus hasn’t come back in 2025, in two locations over on the African continent. And God is moving, and yet you have people that are critics of it. And if everything is not perfect or if it doesn’t fit, what you’ve already alluded to is their idea of what a revival should look like, then they condemn it.
And I think that is prideful in and of itself. And rather than being prideful and condemning and analytical and trying to critique everything we need to be on our knees in prayer. One gentleman said this, it was one of the wisest statements I’ve seen with respect to the revival at Asbury, he said, “what we need to be doing is being on our knees asking that God would fan this flame and cause it to expand all across the United States of America.” So he’s talking about prayer in prayer meetings. I’m curious if you could just share with us a little bit from your experience about how prayer meetings, passionate, revival oriented, God blessed prayer meetings can be resurrected in the church of Jesus Christ today.
Yes. Yes. I believe we’ve got to get away from problem-based prayer meetings to worship-based prayer meetings. The prayer bulletins in the churches where I go are nothing but problems. And we should be praying. But listen, before we get to daily bread, before we get the forgiveness of sin and deliverance from evil, the model prayer teaches us to hallow the name of God, to pray for the advancement of the kingdom of God, and to implement the will of God upon the earth.
That’s worship-based prayer meeting, hallowing the name of God, advancing the kingdom of God and implementing the will of God. The whole purpose of prayer is to bring the future into the present. It is to realize God’s will on Earth in time as it is in heaven. And I think we’ve got to start with a worship-based prayer meeting. It’s got to be spirit led.
Amen. Ladies and gentlemen, whenever we come back for our final segment, we’re going to take some time and encourage our pastors and church leaders about breaking the status quo and getting fresh wind and fresh fire. Stay tuned. We’ll be back in a moment.
All right. Welcome to our final segment on Stand in the Gap Radio today. Before we get started, have you checked out our YouTube channels? We have three great YouTube channels, the American Pastors Network, Stand in the Gap TV, and Stand in the Gap Radio. Check them out to see our archives and all the great content that’s being posted. Subscribe to our YouTube channels by searching for American Pastors Network, Stand in the Gap Radio, and Stand in the Gap TV, search and subscribe to these channels so that you can be notified when new content is posted.
All right, gentlemen, in our final segment today, we want to turn to Christian leaders. We want to give some practical advice to pastors and elders and others on how to create a revival welcome atmosphere in our churches. I still believe that beyond its imperfections, the bride of Jesus Christ is beautiful today, but that beauty can be hidden whenever revival is desperately needed.
I think that you two men would agree with me that churches need to be led by men of God who are a part of the fellowship of the burning heart. Brother Harold, can you take some time and offer pastors like me a hopeful challenge to those who are listening? Can you admonish us in how we as undershepherds can lead our flocks toward personal and corporate revival?
Well, yes, Steve, I believe the best way to promote revival in the local church is for the man of God to be revived himself. We need a touch from God. One seminary graduate from a fundamental seminary said, “Harold, in seminary, I got more reasons why God doesn’t answer prayer than reasons why God does answer prayer.” We’ve got to shake off this fatalism, this doomsdayism, this super sovereignty that relieves men of any responsibility.
EM Bounds said that, “Unction in the preacher puts God in the gospel. Unction in the preacher puts God in the gospel.” And I believe that the quiet place, God laid on my heart to get one of these little Amish sheds last fall, I believe it was an impression. I know that makes some people nervous, but I’ve got it. And my goal is to spend an hour alone with God every day to still my heart. I need quiet. I’m so distracted. I’ve got to get out there and just get in silence, listen, worship, sing, talk to God. But a lot of listening.
And I would say on the prayer thing in the local church, several things. We talked about being God focused, God focused. Second, we’ve got to be word fed, word fed. Instead of us starting the conversation in prayer, why don’t we let God start the conversation by some aspect of his word as we read through and we pray through the scriptures that God burns into our heart. So a prayer needs to be God focused, worship-based.
When Paul and the Silas were in prison, beat up for preaching the gospel, in stocks, they prayed and sang praises at the midnight hour. So a God focused prayer meeting. A word fed prayer meeting. Word fed prayer meeting, not problem based, word fed. Third, spirit led, spirit led. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of prayer. Oh, how we need the spirit of… You don’t need a spirit of burning, when they mourn when they look on Him, whom they have pierced. It’s called the spirit of prayer. Oh, how we need this spirit of prayer to melt our hearts and the presence of God.
Fourth, as far as prayer meetings go, they need to be shepherd directed. I personally believe that in Acts 6:4, when they gave themselves to prayer and ministry of the word, that was not talking about their personal prayer life, but they gave themselves to the oversight of the prayer ministry in the local church. So if there’s 20 hours of preparation for Sunday morning, and five minutes of preparation for Wednesday night prayer meeting, no wonder it’s dead at four o’clock. We need the heart of God, the mind of God, to get the burden of God, and what aspect of this God focused prayer, the model prayer, he wants us to concentrate on.
So I believe that it needs to be shepherd directed. God burdening the heart of the pastor on what to focus on in the prayer meeting, so they’re not all the same. Now, they should all be different. The Holy Spirit has moods. He has moods and He has desires, and He has burdens, and He wants to translate them to our hearts that we might pray.
And I would say the fifth thing is that prayer meetings personally and corporately need to be faith filled, faith filled. According to your faith, so be it unto you. All things are possible to him that believes. Let’s just cast that to the side and come up with all kinds of reasons why nothing is going to happen. No, if you’re praying for something, we need to believe God to answer what we are praying about.
My son and I were listening to a broadcast of a worldwide prayer meeting they call it, 220 countries that tuned in. They said they have 39,000 specific answers to prayer as a consequence of this particular weekly prayer meeting that’s been going on for years. And my son said to me, he said, “Dad, what’s the difference between them and us?” I said, “Well, I think the difference is when they pray for something, they believe they’re going to get it.”
And you know what? If we’re going to ask God for something, we need to quit praying with question marks. We need to start praying with exclamation points. We need to believe God that we possess what we ask for in prayer. I do not believe that when you believe you’ve got what you asked for in prayer, I don’t believe that’s presumption. I believe the Bible calls that faith. And if whatever we can believe, Jesus said, “Ask in faith and we shall receive.” Think about the fig tree. Think about the mountain moving faith. Think about all of that. All things are possible to him that believes.
So God focused prayer meetings, personally and corporately. Word fed prayer meetings, let God start the conversation. Spirit led prayer meetings, let the Holy Spirit. He’s the only one who knows how to pray anyhow. Let’s get filled with Him, controlled by Him, and allow Him to lead us in prayer. Then the corporate prayer meeting needs to be shepherd directed. Never stand up and say that, “Just pray as you feel led.” Man, if people are not filled with the Holy Spirit, they don’t have to say anything. We need to prep the people that this is a serious thing. And not just start mouthing off pre-recorded prayers that we’ve rehearsed a hundred times. No to get still and allow God to pray through us, shepherd directed prayer meetings. I believe in that.
And then faith filled prayer meetings, faith filled prayer meetings. Believe in God. I’m just telling you, we’re in an atmosphere here where we’ve asked God to come and He’s come, and we’re asking God to come again and to manifest Himself. We’re asking Him on Thursday night that there be an outpouring and the net be drawn in evangelism. We’re believing that sinners will be converted as a consequence of our Psalm 51 [inaudible 00:38:14].
So I’m just encouraged, and I just think that these are days, these are days just to believe God, to do the impossible, to do the unimaginable. I believe there’s a latter rain, and I know that’s a theological thing, but hey, listen, God’s not in a box. He’s not foreordained to us to lukewarmism. I don’t believe that. I believe that great things are possible and all things are possible to him that believes and ask in faith.
So my challenge would be, let’s get quiet, get in a quiet place, get direction from God, get teachable. If I could throw this in just real quick. I believe a teachable spirit is one of the protocols for prayer. And Jesus said, “Come and learn of me. I’m meek, lowly of heart.” And you know what every leader, every Christian ought to be praying? “Lord, what would you have me stop? Lord, what are we doing in our church that has no fruit in it? Lord, what would you have me to stop?”
Number two, “Lord, what would you have me start? Lord, what I need to begin doing that I’m not doing?” And then question number three, to humbly ask of God, “Lord, what should I change? Lord, what needs to be changed? And what do I need to stop? Lord, what do we need to start? And Lord, what needs to be changed?” And follow the flow and direction, flex with the Spirit of God as he works in your heart to lead your congregation into a new day, a new day of revival blessing.
Amen. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all the time that we have for today. Please visit the website of Christ Life Ministries at christlifemin.org, again, christlifemin.org. There you’re going to find some invaluable resources, books, pamphlets, videos. I use them in my church. I’m sure that you’ll want to use them in yours. See the website for the men’s, women’s couples, and student prayer advances. May the Lord bless you. I’m Pastor Steve Harrelson. Thank you to Dr. Dave Kistler and Evangelist Harold Vaughan for tuning in today and being with us on Stand in the Gap Radio.