One of my favorite movies of all time is an old John Wayne western titled THE SEARCHERS. It tells the story of a bitter former Confederate soldier named Nathan (Wayne) whose young niece is kidnapped by a tribe of renegade Indians. For five years he and his nephew search the plains to find and rescue the girl. I won’t say more about what happens, but it is truly a great film.
Today, we continue our search for great movements of God. In our first installment we defined a “God Movement” as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a specific time and place, sent by God the Father and focused on Jesus Christ, that produces all or some of eight specific characteristics. Today we look at the first two which involve the internal preparations necessary for a God Movement to occur in an individual, a church, or a nation.
1. Strong commitments by Christians to prayer and genuine reliance on God’s power for spiritual living.
The Bible and Christian history indicate that whenever there has been a great movement of God it has always been predicated with the prayers of God’s people. When Christians pray and dedicate themselves to holy living, they allow God’s Spirit to work among them, and in the hearts of others, in remarkable ways.
Jesus often went aside to talk to the Heavenly Father before making important decisions such as choosing his disciples or facing the cross (Luke 5: 16; 6:12; 22:42). Even Jesus relied on the power of the Holy Spirit to give Him strength and wisdom. Prayer was His access point. How can Christians do less?
In the book of Acts, especially, we see the model of the early church. In Acts 1: 23-24 before they selected a replacement apostle, the disciples prayed. Acts 2:1 implies that the believers were together in prayer when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Peter then preached his first sermon and 3000 were saved. It says that after that “they were continually devoting themselves to…prayer.”(Acts 2:42)
The believers prayed diligently for Peter’s safety in prison, resulting in his release (Acts 12). And, when the church in Antioch needed missionaries, they prayed intensely before the Holy Spirit set apart Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13).
A good contemporary case is the incredible growth of Christianity in Korea in the 20th century. It is said that Korean Christians would gather each day at five in the morning to pray. Even now, the Christian movement continues to expand in accordance with dedicated prayers of God’s people there.
2. Sincere expressions of personal confession of sin, repentance, and accountability by Christians indicating a deep desire to walk closer with Christ.
Another key predicate to a movement of God is when God’s people approach Him in humble confession of their failures to obey Him. Again, in Scripture and history, when we see great God movements unfold, a deep sense of God’s holiness and our sinfulness draws God’s people to their knees in repentance.
When Isaiah, for instance, saw God sitting “high and lifted up” he didn’t say “Wow!”, but cried out: �
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts…
…Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Sincere, heartfelt repentance, within the body of Christ, frees God’s people from the burden of unconfessed sin that hinders fellowship with Him. It allows believers to experience anew the forgiveness and peace of their salvation in Christ (1 John 1:9). It allows the Holy Spirit to fill believers with peace, joy, and power that spill over into the lives of others.
These two principles, then, are the initial, and internal, prerequisites for true God Movements: prayer and repentance. No real movement of God can exist without them. In the next installments we will see how and what they produce in outward practical expressions.
© Tal Davis 2011