One of the things that stops a move of God is that people are locked in themselves and God can’t move the way He wants to. People say they want a revival, but it has to fit their denomination. They’re waiting for God to move in a way that fits what already exists.
I’ve prayed for thousands and seen God move with such power that is sweeps through the people. He moves with great power, like a mighty rushing wind.
But there are always people that come up in every service who, no matter what God does, stand praying, “Thank You, Jesus, thank You, Lord,” with a pained look on their face. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if its your habitual response to God and nothing is happening, maybe you should change your response. But you can’t if you’re locked in yourself and God is locked out.
Waiting for God to move in the church system that locks His presence out is part of the problem. Although millions of Christians are hungry for an experience with the presence of God, they don’t understand that His presence will not fit the present system.
All over the world people tell me how hungry they are for God and how hard they are trying. I’ve never met a pastor who said, “I’m not really that hungry, but would you pray for me anyway?” They tell me, “Oh, I’m just so hungry for God.” But when you pray for them, you can tell that they’re all locked up.
Thousands have told me, "I’m so hungry for revival," but they still haven’t got it after many years. It’s time to stop standing with your hands in the air, waiting for something to fall out of the sky, and start figuring out what’s wrong with us.
Accommodating the Stronger Presence
When the presence of God comes, His presence should be stronger than any other presence in the room. You know how difficult it is to minister in your church, even though you’re all fired up and you want revival. Every one carries a presence with them. Some of you have a stronger presence than others, but everybody’s got it. Some people in your church have a strong presence when God wants to move by his power. We want His presence, but you can’t have multiple presences. His presence has to be the dominant presence in the room.
The presence of God is not the stronger presence in most churches. It’s not hard to get the power of God to come down. He wants to come down. But it’s the conditions that you try to get Him to come down in that makes it hard. Throughout the Bible, He wants to be the God of a people. He wants to come and walk among us. God wants to come down in your church and your life, but the circumstances you require or beg Him to come down in don’t fit.
Churches don’t get a move of God because the people are locked up in their opinion. Revival has to fit their opinion, their presence, their way, their music and their denomination. You’ll never get God to move in your church if you want your presence more than you want His presence.
Competitors With God's Presence
You may try to preach a strong message, but a person on the board or somebody who has been there a long time sends out their presence that is resisting the message. In the middle of the wonderful sermon, you’re locked into this battle. Are you going to preach your strong message or will you back down?
The presence of men or women with money—who sign your paycheck and who could instantly vote you out if they don’t like your message—is a terrible presence. Many of the people who preach in our churches live under this terrible, ungodly presence. We’re accustomed to churches where the presences of people dominate the service. You feel that presence and you back down from what God wants to do.
A challenge of being a man or a woman of God is to not be dominated by the presence of visible people, but to be moved by the presence of an invisible God. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to experience the presence of God because He’s not going to come down in that atmosphere and share himself. He just backs away.
If you want to be a carrier of revival, there’s something you need to do. If you want the presence of God with you, then your presence must decrease. He’s not going to lay His presence on top of your presence. People want the presence of God to come down while they carry their own presence, style and being. They’re putting forth their own presence constantly—their wants, likes, moods, emotions, how they feel and what happened to them in my past. You’re not going to get the presence of God until you’re willing to live without your presence. You need to want His presence more than you want your presence. The Bible says you need to lose your life, and then you’ll find life.
Losing Your Presence for His Presence
Pastors say they want to walk in revival, and they ask me, “When you walk into a service where you sense it’s not going the way God wants it to and you need to do something different, what do you do?” Before I walk in the church door, I have to lose my presence; I “don’t exist.” It absolutely makes no difference how I feel. It doesn’t matter if I’ve preached for four days, eight hours a day. My mood doesn’t matter. The songs I like or don’t like don’t matter. I absolutely must lose my presence because I want the presence of anther, and you can’t walk in two presences. One presence has to give.
I can’t lead a revival and say, “I want my special song" or “I don’t like green carpet.” I don’t remember when God asked my opinion or what I thought. He tells me what He thinks. I can’t hear what he things if I’m preoccupied with my thought and ideas.
My goal is to walk into a service and have His presence come in. When you walk in His presence, you do what he wants. Only then will you have a service where the presence of God comes to help and change people’s lives.
A lot of people say that y want revival, but I’m not convinced that they are ready to give their life up. Its more than just saying theoretically, “I must decrease; He must increase.” No, you disappear. You’re here in your body, because He needs a body. You’re here in your mind because He needs a mind. You’re here in your spirit because He needs to work through your spirit. But as far as your existence, you disappear.
One of the greatest revelations you can have is that heaven doesn’t care what you think. God is not like one of those TV talk show hosts that asks the audience what they think. He’s never going to do that. He’s going to tell you everything. His presence will dominate your entire life—which is why you want to be a Christian. You want to be a follower of Jesus because you’re ready to lose your life and walk in the presence of another.
Christianity is losing yourself to walk in God's presence. You bow out to honor Him. Many people can’t walk in the presence of God because they will not give up their presence. They love their own presence more than His. You need to not like yourself so much and love Him so much that you just let your presence decrease. When John said, “I have to decrease; He has to increase,” it’s not just that our ministries have to get smaller. We need to be smaller in our own eyes.
When His presence comes on me, my presence backs away. My presence says, “Who am I, God, to speak such lofty words?” But then when I get on the platform, the message comes boiling through. The flow of God has nothing to do with me because I died, I decreased, I disappeared.
I’ve entrusted my life to Him. I’ve come to Him and said, “I am Your servant.” Once I said that to Him, He quit asking me what I think. Many people want revival, but they don’t understand that revival doesn’t sweep you along and make you feel wonderful. You’re going to lose yourself in it.
The Presence of God Comes to Empty Vessels
Until you learn to empty yourself, you’ll never get filled. The most wonderful times I’ve ever had with the Lord is when I’ve walked in complete emptiness and absolute abandonment.
My presence is not precious to me. His presence is. My presence is not that important on this earth. I’m a mist and a vapor. Millions of people came before me, and if He tarries, millions will come after me—but His presence remains.
I have to decrease before He can increase. Are you able to say to God, “I want revival more than anything else in this world, including myself. I want you more than I want me. I want your presence more than I want my presence”? Can you honestly say that? Until you can say that, you don’t know what you’re dealing with here.
I must decrease; He must increase. I must die to myself, lose my life and be crucified with Christ. My presence is no longer required, but His presence is very needed. I have a body, but now it’s a vessel and a temple. I have mind, but it’s the mind of Christ. I have a spirit, but it’s a spirit set on things above.
Jesus had to deal with James and John, whose presence and sense of importance dominated their life. The presence of God is with them, and they’re arguing which one of them is the greatest. Jesus may have been thinking, “Don’t you understand I'll be gone and you won’t have My visible presence anymore? You’re going to have to walk with the invisible presence of God.”
My presence is no longer required, but His is, and I want to be a carrier of the presence of another. Christianity is not saying a prayer so I don’t burn in hell. Christianity is living in the life of another for somebody else’s glory—the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
It’s as though He is saying, “I’m looking for someone who I don’t have to compete with. I just want My presence in this place. I don’t want to compete with yours.”
Jesus doesn’t want to wrestle with your presence. When you get done wrestling with yourself, all your opinions, how important you are, how special you are, and how needs you are—when you get through all that and hit bottom, lift up your arms, and the presence of God will come.
Steve Gray is the founder of World Revival Church in Kansas City, formerly known as the Smithton Outpouring. Gray is a best-selling author, Emmy Award-winning producer and filmmaker.