My Journey Out Of Revivalism

journey“We’re right on the verge of tremendous judgment unless we have a tremendous, tremendous, earth-quaking revival… You’lI get revival when you meet God’s conditions” (Leonard Ravenhill)

“But we are still too careless and ineffective in our prayer lives. We need to recruit many more of God’s children for serious prevailing intercession for revival. It will probably be the regret of millions of Christians throughout eternity that they failed so tragically in their prayer lives. How ashamed they will be when they stand before Christ’s judgment throne. But, oh, the joy of those who wake up now and invest quality time and an adequate quantity of time in earnest intercession, particularly for revival.” (Wesley Duewel, Revival Fire)

Many streams in the body of Christ are driven by the goal of revival. But what is revival? Today, while revival is passionately discussed and prayed for, the term – which cannot be found in the New Testament – is often undefined and we are left to fill in the blanks with whatever cultural ideas we inherit related to the word. From my experience, the concept of revival was generally equated with large scale signs and wonders, mass societal and national transformation, the overturning of evil legislation, the church prospering and being a powerful influence in the world, etc. These were the common ways revival was defined in the streams I grew up in. I heard statements like, “We have to launch an assault on the kingdom of darkness through prayer. If the body of Christ doesn’t respond then America is doomed.” I grew up inspired by a dominating dream that our nation would “turn back to God” and that prayer would “win the battle in the air”. I believed that if I “pressed in” enough, I would get “the breakthrough”, shift things in the Spirit”, and “change the spiritual atmosphere” of a region. I was taught that America was always on the edge of great “crisis” (God’s judgment for our sin) and the only prescription was “solemn assemblies” (a biblical term related to the corporate repentance of national Israel). If we prayed enough we could “push back darkness” and delay this crisis. Since more intercession would “prevail over the works of darkness” and “pull down the promises”, the only logical model for the church was continual intercession. We needed to establish houses of prayer that would “contend with every other house”. I believed I was a part of a special movement of “forerunners” ahead of the rest. I was the “tip of the arrow” that would “change the world”. These were the charismatic buzzwords I grew up with and they shaped how I understood my mission. I was excited to be a part of all this and I viewed anyone on the outside, those content with church as usual, to be sleeping or in compromise. They didn’t get “what God is doing in our generation”. But I did.

I had fear that if I didn’t weed out distractions like TV and secular music, I wouldn’t experience encounter with God (what I had at the time perceived to be the goal of my faith). These “lesser pleasures” would not only “dull my spirit”, they would also disqualify me and cause me to miss out on my special calling to be a prophetic messenger, awaken the church, and bring in revival. I remember one leader encouraging others to fast by recounting how God told him that if he didn’t give himself to adequate fasting, he would be useless to God in the days to come. Time and time again, I was exhorted with warnings of crisis mingled with promises of revival. But they weren’t just little subjective prophetic words. They were said to be really important. While not explicitly exalted to the level of Scripture, these words formed a storyline, a controlling narrative by which I was exhorted. God went out of His way to give these special revelations and I believed that I was bound to them. The nations were hanging in the balance, the boat was sinking, and if I didn’t respond correctly I would have to talk to God about it at the judgment seat. Would I stand before God filled with regret at the failure of my prayer life and lack of dedication?

But as I read my Bible and questioned what it meant to be a Christian, I discovered that Jesus and the Apostles did not talk like this, pray like this, or exhort the church like this. I was always focused on the next crisis, the next solemn assembly, the next election, the next great move of God, or if none of that was at the immediate forefront, I was consumed with more ways to feel and encounter God. But these things proved to be nothing more than a hamster wheel – the harder I ran the more disillusioned I became. Time and time again, the promises of revival or experiencing God were held out as a carrot on a stick in place of the true “hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23). They were a distraction – shiny trinkets I gave myself to seek after. Spinning my head, I tried to find out what God was doing in my generation. Yet all the while there is one central thing God is doing in this and every generation – “the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27). This was the faith of the Apostles. This faith did not consist in believing for revival, a nation turning to God, or even cultural influence for positive change. Rather, it was a bearing witness to the truth of what God has done and what He has promised to do. For the Apostles, this primarily consisted in pointing back to the death and resurrection of Jesus as well as pointing forward to the fixed day when all things will be restored. Their mission was to “make disciples” (Mt. 28:19) and “bring about the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5), that is, people who believe these things to be true, place their hope fully in the return of Jesus, boast only in the cross, and live a life of obedience typified by love. They warned us to beware of those who would lead us down a different path or point us to a different hope. There is “one faith” (Eph. 4:5) which was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jd 1:3).

Now, I am not questioning whether the Apostles relied on working of the Holy Spirit to empower the witness of the gospel and mature the church. They absolutely did and so should we. What I am seeking to point out is how they never prayed for this modern concept of “revival” or exhorted us to contend for it. That wasn’t their agenda. They didn’t set out to change the world, overturn evil legislation, or get “God’s man” in political office – their writings made it clear that those things were not part of their God-given mission. For them, the only solution to the ills of society was the bodily return of Jesus, the One who alone would change the world and order it in righteousness forever. Bearing witness to Jesus as God’s appointed king was their guiding mission (cf. Acts 10:42) When praying, they uttered specific prayers related to the maturity of the Church in faith, hope, and love. They prayed for boldness in the preaching of the Word. In short, they prayed in agreement with the will of God; the One who set them apart “to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles” (Rom. 1:5). Unfortunately, when people pray for “revival”, they may have this biblical mission in mind but they often blend it with agendas such as “binding the evil one” or “taking the land” – things the Apostles never prayed for.

Language shapes reality and when our language departs from that of the Apostles, we should ask ourselves, “Are we playing the same game?” When the coach says, “Kick the soccer ball in the goal”, you would have to be somewhat concerned to hear the players talking about how to capture the flag. In the same way, when the Apostles use language exhorting us to “contend for the faith” (Jd 1:3), why are we so eager to contend for revival? When the Apostles tell us to fight the good fight of faith, laying hold of eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12), why are so concerned about laying hold of societal transformation in this age? For years, I was caught up in the hamster wheel of revivalism, thinking this was the true Christian faith. But in doing so, I was actually calling myself to something God had never called me to, binding myself to something God had never bound me to.

“God never binds people to error or uncertainty. Only inerrant, authoritative, special revelation is binding on all Christians. The only ‘words from God’ that fit that criteria are those found in Scripture. It is abusive to make personal words from God to be special revelations of God’s will either to an individual or to a church. These ‘words’ never have the quality of being ‘certainly from God.’ When we take them to be that when they are not, then we have become false prophets to our own selves or to the church.” (Bob DeWaay, Critical Issues Commentary)

If you have ever been placed under the burden of prophetic words related to judgment or revival, I want to tell you very clearly: You are not responsible for turning a nation back to God or averting imminent crisis through prayer and fasting. Neither is your confidence on the day of judgment tied to the quantity or effectiveness of your prayers, it’s tied to faith in Christ Jesus, abiding in Him, and putting your boast in His free gift of righteousness (cf. 1 Jn. 2:28, Phil. 3:9). Your responsibility is the obedience that flows from faith in Jesus, a life of submission to “the law of Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2; cf. James 2:8; Jn. 15:12) summed up in self-sacrificial love. Instead of fearing distractions that would keep you from experiencing encounter or disqualify you from being used by God, you can learn to enjoy the beauty and goodness of creation while simultaneously refusing to be intoxicated by its wickedness. You can learn how to be sober in faith, hope, and love, recognizing the devil is waging a war to destroy these things (1 Thess. 5:8; 1 Pet. 5:8). In short, you can just be a Christian.

This has been my journey. I am grateful for the way past leaders in my life have valued the Scriptures and encouraged me to question their teaching on that basis. This Biblical investigation has been my aim. With a humble awareness that I have much to learn, I hope this post bears the marks of gentleness, kindness, and godly concern. I don’t want people to be caught up with things the Apostles weren’t caught up with. I don’t want people binding themselves to subjective prophetic words that distract them from the prize of eternal life. May we contend earnestly for the faith of the Apostles and imitate their prayers for the maturity of the church in faith, hope, and love – our faith grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus, our hope anchored in His return, and our lives bearing the fruits of sacrificial love.

23 thoughts on “My Journey Out Of Revivalism

  1. You wrote,
    “I was always focused on the next crisis, the next solemn assembly, the next election, the next great move of God, or if none of that was at the immediate forefront, I was consumed with more ways to feel and encounter God. But these things proved to be nothing more than a hamster wheel – the harder I ran the more disillusioned I became. Time and time again, the promises of revival or experiencing God were held out as a carrot on a stick in place of the true “hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23).”

    As a 4 yr ihopu grad and someone who has followed the ministry for a while I am well aware of some of the struggles and frustration you are feeling. I know the buzz words and I know the prophetic history and the buzz words.

    Perhaps you are correct in that certain things have been overemphasized to the effect that you and other began to take these to be the ihop equivalent of “the hope of the gospel”. However, i have never heard any of the leaders equate revival or experiencing God’s manifestations or presence to the hope of the gospel. Maybe a reference would help here for clarity.

    As for the prophetic history, I think it is very fascinating and cool, as well as non-authoritative (the ispiration and accuracy are not certain like the Bible is, although I think it is quite likely to be a true story). I have never heard it presented as cannon (as you admitted) and have heard many sound guidelines from MB about interpretation of modern prophecies which preclude treating anything as totally trustworthy authoritative. But if God sometimes communicates in dramatic ways still, there is nothing to say he may not.

    In all my years of involvement I have never seen revival as the hope of the gospel or the prophetic words as having a significant bearing on biblical priorities. As MB often says… it is mostly an encouragement not to quit when things are difficult and your tempted to prioritize comfort.

    If you were always focused on the next crisis, the next solemn assembly, the next election, the next great move of God, the next encounter…, then perhaps they were overemphasizing it, perhas you were over emphasizing it, or perhaps the ministry has matured a lot since those days (if I am correct, you were a part right from the start?). All the above things are important, but are not the gospel but are also not bad or unbiblical (they are just more myopic in the sense of national and local interests.

    You coninued…
    “What I am seeking to point out is how they never prayed for this modern concept of “revival” or exhorted us to contend for it. That wasn’t their agenda. They didn’t set out to change the world, overturn evil legislation, or get “God’s man” in political office – their writings made it clear that those things were not part of their God-given mission. For them, the only solution to the ills of society was the bodily return of Jesus,”

    Not with the word revival, but I think Paul’s prayer that the word of the Lord would run swiftly and be glorified, or Jesus exhortation for the church of Ephesus to return to their first love, and many other instances would fall into what I would call revival. And why not pray for the lord to release effective witness that turns hearts and transforms communities?

    The apostles did not set out to change laws and elect godly poititions, but they had no power to either. The political environment was totally different and it is no surprise that they would not put energy in things outside there sphere of influence. It was not part of their god-given mission, and it is not central to ours either… but setting these things against each other is not necessarily.

    These are what seem to me as false hypothesis suggested by the article:

    The promise of revival vs. The hope of the Gospel (Jesus’ return)
    Solemn assemblies and experiencing God vs. just being a Christian
    Fearing distractions that would keep you from experiencing God vs. Learning to enjoy the beauty and goodness of creation while pursuing righteousness.
    National interests vs. Universal Christian interests.
    Cultural influence for positive change vs. bearing witness to the truth of what God has done and will do.

    Maybe some of these things have been distractions for you and others, but these are false antithesis/ non-sequitur dichotomies… none of the premises excludes the other.

    …But if some of these things are distracting you from the simplicity of devotion to Christ, then by all means cut the distractions and put the first commandment in first place.

    1. Hey Donovan,
      It’s a loaded topic, for sure.

      1. While the Prophetic History is utilized as “an encouragement not to quit when things are difficult”, what is the not quitting about? Is it about quitting your faith in Jesus or is it about quitting a certain form/lifestyle of day and night prayer? I’m not presenting a false antithesis, I’m simply asking what comes to people’s minds related to IHOP’s emphasis on “staying steady/being faithful”, etc. In the Prophetic History, “doing it” = staying in the middle of the stream until the flood of the Spirit comes. It’s about “embracing the vision and values that people 3 min down the road have given up on”… It really ends up being faithfulness to a elitist form of Christianity.

      2. The next crisis. I have been in plenty of staff meetings where the topic was how bad things were getting and how we may be able to buy more time and push back darkness if we press in and stay faithful. Other times it was about the promises over the city/region, google fiber, and how things are lining up for us to be a part of something epic and globally impacting. But there was no motivation unto the hope of Jesus’ return, no emphasis on the Cross of Christ, no gospel. In their writings, the apostles exhorted believers a certain way. Whereas, at those meetings, believers were exhorted in a very different way. It’s great for the Lord to use prophetic signs and divine appointments, but they have to tie back into and point to the apostolic message of the Gospel. In my experience, the message of the Gospel was not central. Our assignment was central (e.g. partnering with Jesus to push back darkness, a concept foreign to the New Testament).

      3. “Why not pray for the lord to release effective witness…?” I am all for praying the Lord to empower the witness of the gospel. I am all for praying prayers that reflect the prayers the apostles prayed. But when you start using language like “revival”, a lot of different ideas are on the table. I want people to THINK about what they are praying for. Are we praying in accordance with the will of God? God’s agenda, His central agenda is the glorification of His name in the restoration of all things on the last day. All things are moving towards that conclusion when the living and the dead are judged, the righteous rewarded and the wicked punished. Right now, the wicked are not punished and the righteous are not rewarded. God is restraining from judgment and calling all men to repent before that day (cf. Acts 17:30-31). Now, if Jesus sent us out to solemnly testify of His identity as the One who will judge the living and the dead and the Source of forgiveness from sins (cf. Acts 10:42-43), why would we focus our agenda on gathering enough people into stadiums in order that enough prayer would move God to somehow heal our land? I know when the land will be healed. I know when the world will be changed and made right. There is a real nationalistic agenda going on that is DIFFERENT than the Apostolic agenda. And the language really does matter. Some Christians are organizing their people to “take over the seven spheres of society”… But God is not trying to take over. None of the Apostles prayed like this. God rules over it all (Ps. 103:19) and He will judge it all on the fixed day of Christ. We are simply called to be witnesses of Jesus and the world will either reject or accept our message. Nowhere are we called to “tear down principalities” or “get our hands on Satan”… When Paul speaks of warfare, it’s a matter of personal steadfastness in in faith, hope, and love (cf. Rom. 13, Eph. 6, 1 Thess. 5), not ending abortion or changing laws… There are foreign agendas that get added to the pot of prayer and sure, God can filter our prayers and He knows our hearts, but when we start building ministries and movements around these foreign agendas, something is amiss.

      It’s as simple as a different aim. A different goal. Are we shepherding the flock towards the prize of eternal life? Is that the controlling narrative we are framing into people’s conscious? Or it something else? In my experience, there was a very real “something else”. It was a different controlling narrative. And I sum that up in “revivalism” (with both an internal and external facet = “personal experience/encounter” and “national transformation/averting crisis”), a hamster wheel Jesus never called me to run. And how do you know when you aren’t bound/called to something? If you can’t see it with your own two eyes in the Bible.

      1. Truman, you are such a great communicator. This is probably going to sound odd but just consider that I am speaking in broad strokes. I have said for years that one of the differences between IHOP and the local church was indeed the green house effect. You are living proof that my take is correct. Young zealous lovers of Jesus who want to be the most wholehearted in their pursuit of Him and who view the IHOP lifestyle to be just that, come and they run HARD. Part of this zealous pursuit yields a certain hitting of the wall, so to speak, at a much higher speed and a much younger age than you would being in the local church. I have observed it many times. You run so hard and fast that when you do hit the wall (Namely; the revelation of Jesus,) it breaks all that junk off that you have so eloquently described. Since you have nothing to compare it to (since you grew up at IHOP), you will just have to take me at my word. For you to come into this type of understanding and revelation AT YOUR AGE is the evidence that it (that passionate, high octane, crazy youthful zeal driven by all that you outlined) has indeed produced some very very VERY good fruit. I don’t know how to say it any other way, but the mandate and the zeal of IHOP has been extremely successful in your case. Well done! If you can see it this way and I pray you will, you will not be offended when you encounter your SOS chapter 5 seasons. God in His wonderful, beautiful grace counts it as wholehearted devotion no matter how lame it appears to us when we look back on our immaturity. He knows when and how those things we thought excellent and noble will fall away, nothing else matters. IHOP is indeed fulfilling it’s purpose. So is the local church just on a different time table.

      2. “1. While the Prophetic History is utilized as “an encouragement not to quit when things are difficult”, what is the not quitting about? Is it about quitting your faith in Jesus or is it about quitting a certain form/lifestyle of day and night prayer?”

        The encouragement to not quit related to prophetic history is as you say, related to personal or corperate(within the ihop missions base) assignment. Which is keeping the perpetual sanctuary and the duties related to that which often seem mundane after a while. Just because the assignment is not for everyone, does not mean it is elitism. It just means that the work is valuable and worthwile, all comparison aside. In fact, MB has corrected this idea many times including from the Onething stage… that IHOP is a very small part of what the Lord is doing, that we need the whole body of Christ, and that IHOP is a ministry that serves and resources the body of Christ. I have found this to be very true.

        While calling the body of Christ to wholehearted devotion, to a life of prayer, to a depth in understanding the Bible, etc. I have only ever heard a nuanced presentation that excludes elitism. Mike says “Don’t try to be like us… we are weak, we are small, and we are mostly unannointed… from what I have observed, the leadership has been quite careful in trying to diminish elitism.

        Say an orphanage has am amazing God story as to how it was established… that ministry’s God story would be an encouragement to those who are evolved as well… especially when the kids are difficult, don’t behave, and take a long time to mature in Christ.

        Do they preach about not quitting faith in Jesus? Of course they do, but from the Bible, and not from the prophetic history, because the history is irrelevant with respect to us keeping the faith which is so much more fundamental. You know this as well as anyone.

        2. The meetings were full of temporal concerns “But there was no motivation unto the hope of Jesus’ return”. That really is unfortunate, but also puzzling because it was the leadership of IHOP (Allen, MB, Sliker, Venable, others). That really showed me how central the hope of Christ’s return is to the Bible (which I had hardly heard a word about otherwise, outside IHOP). I know what your talking about with the emphasis on the power of prayer and solemn assemblies to make a difference in geographic regions… I believe there is biblical basis for this, but I always heard and knew that our ultimate hope is Christ’s return. It is George Ladd’s “already not yet” interpretation that we can se God’s kingdom manifested in part right now, we can pray for it and believe for it, though we know that our blessed hope is the coming of Christ Himself. For me, involvement in the temporal does not negate hope for the eternal. Why wouldn’t we want to see spiritual awakening and Godly laws and the power of the gospel unto salvation having its work and the power of the spirit manifest unto that end (which the apostles prayed for as well)… even if that is not our ultimate hope.

        3. Sure revival is understood differently by different people… maybe we do need to stop using the word, or define it better. The word heaven and the word God means a lot of different things to different people as well. Such is the nature of semantics… we use jargon (like the word trinity or revival or other words) to condense a larger idea that takes a long time (even a phrase) to explain, and we condense it to a word in order to make communication efficient. If the word revival is not working well for  clear communication we can either define more clearly what we mean by it or ditch we word with its baggage and use another term (like spiritual awakening or something idk).

        You said,

        “Are we praying in accordance with the will of God? God’s agenda, His central agenda is the glorification of His name in the restoration of all things on the last day.”

        Amen, let’s stand!

        You said,

        “why would we focus our agenda on gathering enough people into stadiums in order that enough prayer would move God to somehow heal our land?… there is a nationalist agenda going on”

        Stadium christianity only works in USA… people have tried to export it to other countries and it doesn’t work… but it is somewhat effective in the USA.

        However, I think solemn assemblies have done great good for the body of Christ, and that praying and fasting for one’s own nation is actually a healthy thing to do. 

        You bring up a good question though; does intercession move God do do things? I am curious as to how you answer this question. If so, then why not do large unified corperate prayer meetings? If not, the why intercede at all? The interplay of God’s sovereignty, His will, the requests of men, and the response of God that occurs without contradicting His will or violating the free will of man (in the case of salvations) is indeed mystifying. All I know is that the Bible commands it, the apostles and early believers gathered for fasting and prayer (unto spirit empowered witness), and therefore we should too. (A discussion of relavant oft quoted texts in 2 Chr. and Joel might be good too… should our concern for our nation parallel in any way the concern Israel had for itself if the Bible?)

        While ending abortion was not an agenda of the apostles, do we not know God’s desire related to injustice and the sanctity of life… does it not follow that we should desire to change such laws should we have any influence? Is there not a cultural political difference just by the fact the we are in a democracy by wich each voice matters? Was Wilberforce wrong to fight for the end of the African slave trade? Do involvement in such national interests preclude the centrality if the gospel?

        Are you called to the external facet of “revivalism” it seems you are not… and that is just fine.

        However, the internal facet of experiencing or encountering God is something we all should long for even in this age. Maybe we can talk more about his later, but I see an abundance of Biblical precedent as well as an immense history of testimony that such experiencial knowledge of God is possible… though all will have that season (aka dark night) where it seems like your on a hamster wheel, up against a wall, and you don’t feel his presence like you used to. This has been my situation for the last 6-7 years (before I started IHOPU). It is hard, but I am not content to just accept this and resign to Sunday morning christianity (the American dream with a little Jesus sprinkled on top). My faith is still as strong as ever (despite lack of recent experience) because the Bible is trustworthy, and because I know the Lord is near and still has a purpose even when I feel nothing.

      3. Hey Donovan, thanks for your reply.

        I appreciate a lot of things about IHOPKC and I don’t want to get into too much regarding it. Zooming out for a minute, I simply believe that the ways crisis/revival is talked about in several streams of the Church is so far removed from the language of the Apostles that I think it creates a new controlling narrative that divides our hope and distracts our faith in the gospel. It’s a rallying message with no mention of the Cross, centered on our assignment, our finest hour, our glorious victory in this age. Now, I understand our disagreement may be more theological (for example, I don’t see a correlation between modern “solemn assemblies” and the OT passages on the subject) and that’s fine. But this is not a matter of me saying, “I’m just not called to revivalism”, it’s that I actually think aspects of the modern drive for revival create a new narrative and a new guiding mission that becomes an obstacle to people’s faith (Rom. 16:17). I think it really hurts and undermines faith in the gospel.

        Now, of course God answers prayer. And of course we can get involved in national interests such as ending abortion and human trafficking. But as believers in Jesus, all things should be in context to the controlling narrative of the gospel. At least that’s healthy Christianity. In focusing on these other things, there is a sense in which they should NOT be our focus. Because I don’t want a narrow faith like “America being saved”. For one, it’s an unreliable faith since there is no guarantee that will happen in this age, regardless of subjective prophetic words that keep telling me to believe for it. I don’t want to bind myself to a subjective prophetic vision. I want my faith widened and shaped by the glorious hope of the restoration of all things and the call of repentance for forgiveness of sins being proclaimed in all the earth until that day. It’s not that revival and societal transformation are bad, as much as they are narrow minded. Revival is idolized as we lose sight of something much greater and more glorious. Revival gets all the hype, when it’s not actually the goal.

        Maybe I will write more later. But this is kind of the center of what I am trying to get at…

      4. I think we are in agreement on what the Gospel is and what is most central to the faith… however, I have not found the national expressions or prayer for revival to be contradictory, but complimentary so long as it remains in its proper place. It seems to me that the Lord has given the leadership of IHOP-KC this calling to serve as sort of a watchman for America, but the glory of Jesus has always out shined that assignment in my perception.

        You said,

        “I think it creates a new controlling narrative that divides our hope and distracts our faith in the gospel. It’s a rallying message with no mention of the Cross, centered on our assignment, our finest hour, our glorious victory in this age.”

        I simply have not experienced that at all. All the solemn assemblies and conferences have actually done the opposite: they have centered my hope on Jesus, shown the power of the gospel, communicated the message of the cross in the post powerful ways, and given vision to read the Bible, pray, serve the Lord, and live him wholeheartedly in this age.
        That is where I see the false antithesis… I have never seen prayer for revival and solemn assembly set against Jesus and the Gospel, but I have seen them used to magnify Jesus and proclaim the Gospel.

        The new narritive and the new guiding mission that i have heard again and again has been the Great Commission accomplished through a people consumed with the great commandment.

        Will America be largely saved like Africa now is… like Mr Bonkke says in in faith? Who knows… it seems incredible to me, but I do appreciate that he has faith for that, and I think being hopeful is better than the attitude that says “why polish the brass on a singing ship… America is going to hell and there is nothing we can do”.

        If he is wrong and there is no big revival, yet more people take evangelism seriously, and more people get saved than if people just resigned to video games and comfort, then it is still a positive.

        In all honesty I have not taken a good look (exegetically) at the OT passages regarding solemn assemblies and national judgement/repentance. I just figure the principals still stand true regarding how God responds to intercession and repentance on a national level. As such I am not dogmatic, and would love to hear your take on these passages and your hermeneutical conclusions as to why which principles may be applied today, which may not, and why.

        You said,

        “It’s not that revival and societal transformation are bad, as much as they are narrow minded. Revival is idolized as we lose sight of something much greater and more glorious.”

        I would rephrase that as follows,
        “It’s not that revival and societal transformation are bad, as LONG as they are narrow minded. Revival is idolized IF we lose sight of that which is greater and more glorious.”

        So I believe our difference (as stated in my first comment) is that you tend to view rival and national concern necessarily as a distraction from the centrality of Jesus and the Gospel, while I belive it may be complimentary and serve as a healthy concern for those do not idolize them, but see them as a means to further the cause of Jesus and the Gospel.

  2. This is the same conclusion we came to years ago…there is such joy and peace in knowing we are not under condemnation for not “doing enough.” We were on the same hamster wheel for many years and God has gloriously revealed the gospel of grace to us. I’ve never known such joy and love- you are on the right track, dear Truman. Your disillusionment (with what you’ve been taught) will probably continue to grow – I know mine did, but Jesus is soooo kind as we walk through these transitions, to bring us into the light of normal Christian living. It is filled with His grace and love- you WILL enjoy life so much more!!! We need to hang out!!

  3. Enjoyed your piece, there does seem to be an almost idolatry of revival in some streams, I think it’s because revival is the highest thing many can see. It is the highest expression of God on earth to them. I don’t necessarily think this is wrong, but rather becomes distorted becauseiit’s incomplete. At least this has been my experience. Have you considered the full application of the feast of tabernacles at the end of the age? Or maybe what William Branham spoke of as “the bride’s revival?” When I came into these revelations I understood what was originally behind my lost zeal for revival, namely a union experience with the Lord made possible by a special end time revelation of himself. I know that might sound like IHOP language but it’s not. You might be interested in some of the articles at white dove ministries or on Neville Johnsons site

    1. Amen. Let it be. But the reality is that this is not always what people mean when they talk or pray for revival. Sometimes they blend biblical ideas with things the Apostle’s weren’t concerned about. Because revival is such a loaded word that wasn’t even used by the Apostles, I wonder if we will be ok not using it…

  4. Tru, thanks so much for posting! Grace and peace to you as you process others’ responses (both public and private). I appreciated hearing some of your insights from the “other side.” Though I don’t line up with you on every point (and isn’t it wonderful to be able to disagree!), I do agree with all you had to say about revival. It’s been and still is such a challenging process for me to reconfigure my understanding of what it looks like to be a Christian and even what role prayer and intercession have in the life of the believer. I don’t think I’m there yet, but I have come to a confident conclusion that what I’ve called “revival” is not what I see in the New Testament or in the last 2000 years of church history, and I will not be spending my energy in that regard anymore.
    I love being free of thinking everything is in peril at every moment and it’s up to the strength of my spiritual discipline to avert it. I love being able to turn to brothers and sisters in Christ on the “left” and honestly see them as legitimate Christians rather than pawns of the spirit of the age. It’s freed me to truly see people, hear people, and love people. It’s enabled me to reconnect with family members who had distanced themselves from me bc of what they perceived (rightly) to be arrogance and an unrealistic black-and-white view of the Bible and of life itself.
    May the Lord bless you and Lauren as you continue to make efforts to forge a different way for your family. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

  5. Truman,
    I appreciate your thoughtfulness and articulation of things pertaining to prayer, fasting, and revival. I agree with so many of your points, and am at the same time confused by the overall tenor of your article. While you have valid concerns for the way in which prophetic words concerning revival should be stewarded and responded to, there seems to be an air of frustration (at the very least) with the “stream” that you’ve come from.
    Having been a part of the same stream as you for many years, I have to say that I don’t remember a prayer meeting or service where I walked away feeling the personal responsibility to revival in our nation apart from the greater need for the reviving of the corporate Body of Christ. As a matter of fact, I remember often feeling personal conviction and desire to live more wholeheartedly for God, and that my prayers and fastings were both a reaction to that sentiment and served as action steps in a quest for more of Him. I felt a responsibility to the great commission, a concern for souls inside and outside of the Church, and a fascination with legitimate times in history that God has previously moved in what many would call “revival”.
    Perhaps my greater concern is the insinuation in your article that desiring a move of God in our generation is neither necessary or biblical. Perhaps you’re not making that jump, but a word of clarity from you on this point would be helpful.
    I would submit to you that while the apostles did not use revival-like language as we know it, they were no strangers to contending for God to move among their Jewish brethren for the sake of a national returning to the God of Israel through the Jewish Messiah. They also seemed to be fervent in word and deed to a similar end, concerning the surrounding gentile nations. Consequently we do see that entire cities and regions were mightily impacted with the transforming power of the gospel in a revival-like fashion. Finally, we do find in some of the epistles and especially in Revelation 2 and 3, that the first generation of believers and congregations did require a return to the foundational things – which included wholeheartedness toward Jesus. Perhaps “revival” in that light, was something desired by the early church leadership and needed in the Church.
    Thanks for your diligence in the word, we need more honest conversations like these.

    1. Thanks Jeremy, some great thoughts. Amen to that. About what you asked for clarity… What is “a move of God”? Again we are using popular, instead of biblical language as the framework for our mission. We pray for “the word of the Lord to run swiftly and be glorified” that God would “grant to His servants that with all boldness to speak [His] word”, that people would “bear the fruits of repentance” in light of “the wrath to come”.  If that’s what you mean by “a move of God”, then I’m down.

  6. Well said. I came to the HOP in my early 20’s and was happy to go along with the flow at the time as there was a great deal of energy and buzz around it at the time. But as the years rolled on, life kept happening and I began to wonder if the “breakthrough” was ever going to come. –> [Insert your essay here]

    In speaking with a number of Metro veterans that had done well for themselves on the back end (still loving Jesus, unoffended and generally successful) a common sentiment was that while the way the HOP (and surrounding movements) sells itself is great for getting “the hook” into people, they haven’t done a great job helping people get that hook out when it’s time to move on.

    I still love the prayer aspect of the movement, but I’ve found if you want the HOP to be anything more than 84 two-hour prayer sessions in a week, you’re likely going to be disappointed. There were a lot of opportunities for me to get offended/bitter along the way, I just decided to go to med school instead.

    As for the prophecy bit, I have found a tendency for people to speak more out of a charismatic culture than the Spirit of the Lord (ie: ‘the nation’ or that other perennial favorite: the ‘Esther season’). Some of this is inevitable as folks begin to learn how to move in the gift, but it still makes me want a shirt that says: “Any mention of ‘the nations’ will be immediately met with a neck-punch.” I could go on and on about the state of the prophetic but it could and should be it’s own series as opposed to a comment.


  7. Truman, I like what you’ve written. I never have thought of “revival” in that way, but I’ve long felt in my spirit, a message I would call “Beyond Revival”. I just felt that “revival”, even when we have it is not enough. It’s only a beginning…an awakening…that should be followed by a lifestyle that expresses the life of Christ in loving relationships with one another. And that would be ongoing, not just a temporary stirring.

  8. A coworker told me to check this out. Thank you. As someone who constantly failed at the pursuit of revival (fasting, long hours in prayer, experiencing manifestations, having emotional responses to the bible, etc.) but loved Jesus, this was incredibly encouraging.
    I was originally told to check this out because it seems like you’re bashing a particular ministry and we all love some good drama, but when I read the blog I did NOT see that at all. This wasn’t angry or bitter, but a reminder of what it truly means to love Jesus. Thanks again.

  9. Hello, my brother. Are we members of the same body? Are you a member of the body of Christ and are those you’ve differed with members of that same body? Did you ever find the way to offer these things in a way that was “but of course” and “please do”? in other words, something more “in the body” than this note 🙂 (your note). It’s not easy. It reveals where we are. Am I really “just concerned about the purity of the gospel” or was it a little (or a lot) of something else? Good question. That’s why we need to stay in rank, so that these urges, drawings, disconnected (from others) rumblings can get corporately dismissed, as needed 🙂 or brought into the counsel in a way that doesn’t hurt. (I thought of your note as offering frozen bison dipped in blood, uh, yuck, probably a awful exaggeration, I hope humourous and not mean to you or the imagined mammals 🙂 Some of these academic theories that you seem to have encountered (“narratives” from an old failed English major) is not really the gospel truth either. Now, I don’t mean to scare you. We’re on the same team 🙂 Body-checking one’s own teammates 🙂 Those folk who say, one meeting a week, such as it is, is really an abundance of Christianity, isn’t it? Yes, what is called Christianity by many is that. The Lord loves you, and I will be held accountable to do the same and don’t want to get called out for that, so turn up the love, loud. Amen 🙂 I watch more movies than ye all (as of late–not justifying it) and sometimes lift my hands (once when the Iraqi’s waved after passage into Iran in “Three Kings”) and do not want to end up not raising my hands any more.

  10. Thanks for writing this Truman. I feel like this accurately sums up my feelings about revival in such a respectful and open manner. I find that many people have these sort of ideas but in realizing them they get stuck in bitterness and offense at wasted time or whatever slights they might have. I sure did for a minute there! So then the message gets lost in anger and they never move past that place of hurt at disillusionment. Anyways this is great because it doesn’t stir up anger toward anyone or any establishment, it’s just a shift of thinking. Beautifully done.

  11. Thanks for your post. I was apart of IHOP for 7 years plus another several years in that particular stream. I appreciate your desire to conform to the biblical standard and to stay true to biblical language. I also appreciate your positive regard for the many good things you learned from your past.

    I have noticed throughout church history theology sometimes can become a mere reaction. I have seen so many people especially people in there 20s react to their past christian tradition. Reaction is ok sometimes but careful thinking is better. It seems like your trying to do the latter.

    I grew up in The Episcopal Church and when I came in contact with the revivalist stream I forsook my past. I didn’t want anything to do with it. Some on this was an overreaction. I have now come to recognize many good things about Anglicanism. I am now attending an Anglican seminary. It took me 15 years to come back around to appreciating my past.

    I am also trying to sort out my past time at IHOP. Honestly after so many years at IHOP the prophetic stories and the grandeur of the chosen generation became less important for me. I really enjoyed taking classes with Stephen Venable, focusing on the life of Christ, and following along with the worship with word sets. I loved the years of Jon’s team following John 1 and Tim’s team on Philippians 2.

    For me I guess I don’t see anything inherently wrong with praying for a nation or asking God to do amazing things. Or even large prayer meetings. I want to believe for these things but I don’t want the extra prophetic stuff to drive my life and vision.

    I have seen so many react after leaving IHOP. Like with me and many others, it takes time to process our past.

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