Year after year I hear the same prayers rising to heaven from many denominations, flows and camps across the body of Christ: "God, pour out your Spirit. Send revival."
Yet, that fervent prayer seems to be ineffective. Those prayers seem to go unanswered. What gives? Doesn't God want to send revival? Doesn't God want to see the church wake up and rise up? Doesn't God want to see the flood of souls come into the kingdom that results from an awakening?
Why won't God answer our intercessory prayers? Doesn't James 5:16 (AMP) say, "The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]?"
Are our prayers not heartfelt enough? The prayers for revival I hear sound heartfelt to me. Do we lack persistence? Not so that I can tell. Do we lack righteousness? Not in Christ. Does God lack the power to bring revival to our nation? Of course not! So what gives?
The Church Divided
I believe the culprit is division, a lack of unity—the absence of harmony. I've long noticed a lack of unity in the body of Christ, especially in my region of South Florida. It has long grieved me. But the Holy Spirit has recently given me a keen awareness of the gravity of this lack of harmony. It grieves me deep in my spirit—and if it grieves me I can only imagine how it grieves the Holy Spirit.
Back in April 2012, I wrote a column entitled, "Why Is the Body of Christ Divided Into 38,000 Parts?" In it, I discussed how nearly a decade ago the Holy Spirit told me denominations were a tool the enemy uses to bring division in the church. I found out later that the very definition of denomination is "a division of part of a whole." Selah. It's been said that Jesus didn't come to start a religion. Well, I don't believe Jesus meant for His body to be sliced and diced into 38,000 disagreeable parts, either.
Many, if not most, believe other denominations are flowing in some sort of error, whether that's speaking in tongues, baptizing in the name of Jesus only rather than in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, how to receive salvation or the path to heaven, whether or not women can preach or some other doctrine. You know me. If there's major delusions going on, I call it out. But there are some issues over which it's not worth making a mountain out of a molehill. There are open-handed differences and closed-handed differences.
A Call for Unity
I don't have time in this short column to give you all the Scriptures on unity but I want to share one with you that really stirred my spirit—and I hope it will stir yours. It comes from the five-fold ministry mandate in Ephesians 4. As I read these verses it struck me how much we focus on equipping but seem to fail to recognize what we're ultimately equipping folks unto. Read the passage for yourself and see if you catch what the Holy Spirit illuminated to me.
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-13).
We usually stop after the "equipping the saints for the work of the ministry" part. But if we can equip the saints for the work of the ministry all day long and that won't necessarily bring revival. You can't work your way into revival. The anointing will flow in our churches when we come to the unity of the faith. Sure, we may disagree on whether gifts of the Spirit have ceased or whether women can preach but we can still unite under the Apostle's Creed. And if we want revival—not just powerful meetings but sustained revival that brings true change—we must.
The Real Reason We Don't See Revival
Saints, I am convinced this disunity in the body of Christ is causing more problems than we can see even with a discerning eye. I am convinced people are dying and going to hell because the church isn't walking in unity. I don't want this blood on my hands so I am challenging you—and challenging myself—to be in one accord and of one mind (Phil. 2:2); to put on love that binds us together in perfect harmony (Col. 3:14); and to strive side by side for the faith of the gospel even with those who have small differences in how they interpret the rapture, spiritual gifts and other issues that aren't central to the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27).
The real reason we don't have revival is because there's so much strife in the church that it's holding back the blessing. This will be far from the last time you hear me speak on this topic, but for now let me leave you with this:
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forevermore" (Psalm 133). Amen.