by Jennifer A. Miskov, PhD.
If we knew ahead of time that the Azusa Street Revival (1906) was coming, how would we prepare for it? What about the Welsh Revival, the Jesus People Movement, the Protestant Reformation, or the Great Awakening?
There’s been prophecy after prophecy about another great awakening, a billion soul harvest, a third great wave of revival approaching. From my years of studying revival history, there are a few insights I wanted to share that I believe will help us all to position ourselves to catch the next wave and prepare for this incoming move of God.
1. REMAIN OPEN
It is important to remain open and to realize that revival in our day might look different from what we expect. In the 1970s, many were not prepared for revival to come through the hippies in the Jesus People Movement. In the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, people began to speak in tongues, which was a newer manifestation in their day. Many who led the previous revivals were the first to criticize this new move of God because they didn’t understand what was going on (see Ignite Azusa). However, those who remained open and hungry for all God had for them even if it looked different from what they expected were able to embrace the new move of God in their day.
We need to be careful not to miss what God is doing because it comes in a different package than what we imagined. I want to encourage you not to throw out the baby out with bath water. Beautiful babies are born with a mess all around them. Don’t be afraid of a mess. Keep your eyes on what God is doing, not on the counterfeits or on what He’s not doing. If you don’t understand what’s happening, seek understanding and then yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit even if it feels uncomfortable.
In Matthew 14, Jesus came out to the disciples walking on the lake in the midst of a storm. Their friend was standing right there in front of them but they mistook Him for a ghost because He came out of context and not how they expected Him to come. Don’t let the storms distract you from seeing Jesus (see Walking on Water).
2. KEEP FOCUSSED
When you do find Jesus in the midst of the whirlwinds surrounding new moves of God, keep your eyes fixed on Him no matter what’s going on around Him. As we stay focused on the One Thing, our heart will burn with greater passion and fire for Jesus than ever before (Psalm 27). The origin of the word focus is influenced by the Latin word used for fire. “What we focus on shapes our lives and determines who we will become” (see the chapter called Focus in Walking on Water).
When we focus on Jesus and on those things He has entrusted us with in each season, this will help make us ready. It’s also important to make sure we’re not holding anything that's not ours to carry this season or else we won't have open arms to receive what God is bringing next. A great and regular prayer you can pray to stay in the fire of His love is, “God, send Your fire in every area of my life and burn away anything that is not of You for this season. Refine and bring to the surface the gold.” It’s important to steward holiness and a consecrated life because the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8).
3. STAY FULL OF THE OIL
God wants us to stay full of the oil. It’s so important that we steward the Secret Place in our hearts and spend time deepening our relationship with Jesus so that when the time comes to enter into greater depths with Him, we are ready (Matthew 25).
We are living wells and it is important to steward, guard, protect, deepen, and open that well. Wherever we go, out of our bellies will flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-38).
4. INVEST IN FAMILY
Family houses the revival fire. Relationships are so important, which is why Jesus always referred to God as His Father. There was connection there.
“Ministry and fruitfulness flow from intimacy with God and also from a place of being knit together with the family of God. When not just one person seeks first the Kingdom of God, but a community does this together, it expands our capacity to carry what God wants to release. Seeking Him first in and with family will take you places you could never go on your own, beyond your wildest dreams” (excerpt taken from Walking on Water).
5. CHOOSE LOVE
Unity with the whole Body of Christ is crucial. Carrie Judd Montgomery (1858-1946), a healing revivalist who founded some of the earliest healing homes in the nation including the Home of Peace in Oakland, CA (still there to this day), chose to embrace the new experience of speaking in tongues many associated with Baptism of the Holy Spirit during the Azusa Street Revival. She in fact, encouraged her friends to have this same experience. When her friend, founder of Christian and Missionary Alliance, A.B. Simpson, did not speak in tongues like all of her new Pentecostal friends, she didn’t cut him off or think of him as lesser. She maintained and continued to grow in friendship with him because she valued relationships more than debates about non-essentials (see Life on Wings). We can learn from her example to choose relationships over and above denominational ties and differences in manifestations. Love is the key (1 Corinthians 13).
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHINE
I don’t believe in a nameless faceless revival. While we want Jesus to be the name above all other names and for everyone to participate, God will appoint and anoint leaders to help lead this generation into the more. There was a Moses, a Joshua, a David, an Evan Roberts, a William J. Seymour, and other leaders who played a significant part in partnering with God to lead their generation into all that He had for them.
I am saying this to encourage myself just as much as I am exhorting you. Don’t be afraid to shine, to lead, and to be a voice. If God has anointed you as a leader, then LEAD! If people are following you then you know you're a leader whether you want to admit it or not. Don’t hesitate to step into the fullness of leadership God has called you to walk in out of fear that you will become prideful or steal God’s glory. Trust in Him and trust yourself. If God has appointed and anointed you, He will walk with you through the favor. True leaders are servants and walk in great humility. The more you are honored, the more crowns you will have to throw at the feet of Jesus. If your influence grows, what an incredible opportunity to use that influence to impact even more people for JESUS!
Steward, embrace and accept the gift God has entrusted you with. I urge you not to sacrifice the gift God has given you or sabotage the calling on your life because you’re afraid to shine or you feel inadequate. Don’t lay down the gift that He gave you to use and steward for His glory. He has given you your unique gifts to serve your generation in humility and love. Embrace the gifts He’s given you so that you can become all He’s destined you to become and to lift His name higher.
I bless you to step into your rightful position in this generation and to lead with great love and humility, fixing your eyes upon Jesus always and stepping out in great faith as the Spirit leads you. And finally, I exhort you by the power and the blood of Jesus to rise up. This generation needs you to be all who you are called to be. Today may you
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you...”