This last few weeks has brought people a lot of stress, worry and grief. For many, the certainties of the world have been shaken, as systems on which we have all got used to depending have been shaken by a tiny, invisible yet very potent threat. A few weeks ago mankind seemed invincible: now we don’t.
There are clear signs that people are beginning to explore faith. Our own on-line services at Jubilee Church seem to be reaching many more people than we normally reach on a Sunday morning: and that same phenomenon is multiplied around the worldwide church.
At the ENOUGH on-line prayer meeting on 15th May Terry & Wendy Virgo shared their thoughts on revival. They spoke powerfully about the times that God has broken through into our own land in revival from the times of Wesley and Whitfield onwards: into a land even more broken and evil than ours.
A common feature of these times of revival, says Terry, is that they began in the church, when people were stirred to pray more. Here at Jubilee we have stepped up our corporate prayer meetings, and our weekly sessions on a Monday night have been powerful and exciting times: a good step in the right direction, but we need more.
During the last section of ENOUGH, which concentrated on the theme of revival, our praying was inspired by 2 Chronicles 7 v13:
‘… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ NIV-UK
This theme of ‘humbling’ ourselves has been with us throughout this period, and doesn’t seem to want to go away. We often think that for our land to be healed, for revival to come, it is mankind outside the church who need to humble themselves and call out to God. But who does God say actually needs to do that? ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray…’ If we call ourselves Christians, we are called by the name of Christ. It is we, not others, who need to humble ourselves and pray, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways for God to ‘hear from heaven… and heal our land’.
I mentioned in my sermon a few weeks ago that I believe by ‘humble ourselves’ God means to give up our own agendas that seem so important to us and give ourselves over to God’s agenda. What happens next? Well, the instruction is very clear. Humble ourselves: and pray.
We want to see God’s power unleashed to do amazing things in our land and in our time. Just as we plant seeds in the garden in March and by May see delicate green shoots appear, so seed was planted in March as people wondered what on earth is going on and sought somewhere to take their fears. Those little green shoots in May are the increases in people ‘attending’ on-line services and otherwise more actively seeking God’s face. But as Wendy Virgo said, what we don’t want to see at the end of all this is just a few extra people in our churches. We want to see our land healed.
Let’s take courage, let’s get excited about those little green shoots. And let’s allow them to inspire us to humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways. Then, God promises, he will hear from heaven, and will forgive our sin and will heal our land.