WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–The hindrance to revival in the United States does not reflect God’s unwillingness to bless the country, but the unwillingness of God’s people to repent, pray and seek the Lord, Richard Land said on the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11.
Land, in a Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel message, said Christians must examine their hearts and pray for revival, awakening and restoration of the country. Speaking from 2 Chronicles 7:14, the president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission, said Americans cannot expect government to effect change; rather, government is the “caboose” that reflects change in the American people.
Revival in the hearts of Americans must begin with taking seriously the Scriptures, Land said.
“‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land,'” Land said, quoting the 2 Chronicles passage. “The revival we are seeking will not start in Washington or with the government. Government is a lagging indicator. It reflects change, it doesn’t bring change. It’s a caboose.
“God’s people must be the locomotive.”
Land said revival will start when God’s people recognize that their problems are God-sized and that only He can solve them. It must begin with prayer and reflection, with God’s people humbling their hearts.
“Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue,” Land said. “It starts with us. We have to get our hearts and souls right with God.”
One of the hindrances to letting God change His people’s hearts is their own “stiff-necked rebellion,” Land said. “We have allowed the culture to change us, rather than changing the culture.”
Citing the example of high divorce rates even within the church, Land said many couples know they are disobedient to God by divorcing, but they do it anyway. “How’s that for stiff-necked rebellion? Too many Baptists have been quoting the Bible by the yard and living it by the inch,” he said.
Praying for revival begins by asking God to reveal Himself, committing to put one’s relationship with Him above everything else, asking Him to reveal any sin in one’s life and earnestly seeking God’s pleasure.
“Revival then ripens into awakening,” Land said, noting that the last awakening happened in 1858 when, on average, one out of every 26 people in the northern states became a follower of Christ.
“A revival is what happens when God’s people get right with God. An awakening is what happens when lost people start getting saved and finding Jesus as their Savior and Lord,” Land said. “And a reformation is what happens when the evils of society are rectified by the people of God, old and new, applying the truths of Scripture to the evils and the wrongs and the injustices in their society. That is what we must have.”
Land noted, “You can’t have reformation, then awakening and then revival. It doesn’t work that way. It always starts with you.
“As long as society is unrepentant, we cannot have revival. Whether or not we have it doesn’t depend on Washington or who gets elected president. It depends on you and me.”
When God’s people humble themselves, pray, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, Land noted, “There is some divine ‘tipping point.’ There is some divine ‘critical mass.’
“When some percentage of God’s people get right with God, He is going to lean over from heaven and pour out a ‘heal the land’ kind of blessing on America. It won’t happen without prayer.”
Lauren Crane is a writer for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.