PRAYER | Phil Miglioratti
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of posts on prayer and spiritual awakening. Read the first, “2015: The Year of Prayer,” here.
Read the headlines in Christianity Today and you’ll being praying for a revival. Read Time magazine and you’ll plead with heaven for a spiritual awakening.
From the church, we have reports of plummeting Sunday attendance: Polls once claiming 40% or more are now reporting a more accurate 17%. And the statistics about disappearing youth are even more appalling.
And in the culture: States are redefining marriage. Economic collapse is rooted in a corrupt banking system. And for more examples of why we are desperate for a spiritual awakening, we need only to watch the evening news.
The Church needs to be revived. Not merely your congregation, but the Church across North America. A revival that spills out of our sanctuaries and brings spiritual awakening to the tributaries that feed and fuel our culture. Education. Business. Media. Family. Health Care. Entertainment.
But have we considered this: What if God is responding to our prayers for a revival and our pleas for an awakening, but we are failing to notice?
What if God is answering our calls for reviving the Church by His work of revising the Church? Could the revising work of the Holy Spirit be a preparing of the Church for some kind of non-traditional impact on our culture? Should we be looking for new ways the Church is influencing communities with God’s good news?
Since the 1980’s leaders have commented on how several trends have brought correction and health to the Church.
- Worship has become, well, worship. We are learning to sing songs as an expression of praise and petition rather than as performance or for our entertainment.
- In many congregations, prayer has matured from reciting lists of sick members to listening to the Spirit; from me, myself, and I, to the least, the lonely, and the lost.
- Church planting has become a top priority in a growing number of evangelical denominations. The churches my daughters take my grandkids to are new and vibrant, unhindered by traditions and systems designed for 19th century cultures.
- Cities are no longer merely zip codes. God has raised up “city reachers,” leaders with a citywide vision who call the Body of Christ in a community or city to serve better together in collaborative evangelism. The “100 Cities Invitation” hopes to catalyze acts of kindness and justice to demonstrate the Good News in 100 cities in 2016.
- That same year, RESET, a new initiative led by under-35 leaders, will call young people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for repentance and revival. Could spiritual awakening of their generation be far behind?
In all this, I see God answering our pleas for revival by revising the Church in a Romans 12:2 way. Our methodologies are being transformed by the Holy Spirit’s renewing of our minds. We are rethinking the need to reconnect evangelism and discipleship. Even very small congregations realize they need to get our of their seats and into the streets with the prayer-care-share lifestyle of Christ-followers. We read more and more of a new generation of leaders who bring good news in very different ways that relate to our radically changed culture.
I see signs that God is responding to our “revive us again” supplication and the seeds He is planting for spiritual awakening. What signs do you see?
Phil Miglioratti heads the National Pastors’ Prayer Network and serves as IBSA’s prayer ministries consultant. This column first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Resource magazine, online at http://resource.IBSA.org.