Sometimes we let God into some areas of our lives while keeping others off-limits... We may keep a tight reign on our finances, marriage, or parenting. Or we may keep God at an arm’s length when it comes to our career. Whatever the area is, we need to surrender it to God.
You can see it in the headlines across the nation. People are hungry for God. They are desperate for fresh fire from the Lord, and he is more than willing to give it. Some are traveling for hours to get a glimpse of what God is doing at Asbury Chapel and experience it for themselves. Others are witnessing a revival in their own churches and towns and witnessing God’s power to move in hearts that earnestly seek him.
Others may wonder, “How do I experience this for myself?” Is it necessary to travel to a specific place? Can revival happen in my own heart, apart from what he’s already doing at Asbury or the other churches across the world? And the answer is yes. Each of us can experience revival in our own hearts. God is willing and able to replenish what is parched and in need of renewal.
Here are five ways to prepare your heart for a personal revival:
1. Repent of Any Unconfessed Sin
When we have unconfessed sin in our lives, it is like static that interferes with the Holy Spirit’s communication with our hearts. Yes, all of our sin is forgiven when we accept Jesus as Lord of our lives. But when we hold onto our sin and try to hide it or keep living in it, it affects our ability to hear from God. It’s as though we’re telling God, “I want all of your blessings on my life, but I’m going to keep wearing this filthy rag.”
God doesn’t work this way. He desires obedience, and the good news is that his Spirit helps us in areas where we’re weak. When we come to him and admit our shortcomings, he strengthens us and gives us the ability to withstand temptation. Then, his joy floods our souls in ways we never imagined possible.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 ESV
2. Worship God Amid Hard Seasons
If we are walking through a mountaintop season and things are going well, it’s probably easy to see God’s abundance in our lives. But when we continue to worship him through hardship and suffering, our faith is taken to a new level. And while God loves hearing our praise, worship is for our benefit, not his. It aligns our hearts with his and prepares us for a personal revival. Our worship also reminds our hearts that God is still with us. It tells our forgetful selves we will see his goodness, even if we don’t understand what we’re going through.
In the book of Acts, Paul and Silas are thrown into prison for preaching the Word of God. They could have easily let their circumstances keep them from worshiping, but instead, they praise God and sing to him right there in the prison cell. Take a look at the power their worship has:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” Acts 16:25-26 NIV
3. Surrender Each Area of Your Life to God
Sometimes we let God into some areas of our lives while keeping others off-limits. This tendency looks different for everyone. We may keep a tight reign on our finances, marriage, or parenting. Or we may keep God at an arm’s length when it comes to our career. Whatever the area is, we need to surrender it to God.
God wants to reign in each area of our lives, not just the portion we decide to give to him. He longs to see us live in fullness and wants to take back what the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But God will not invade our lives if we’re unwilling to invite him in. Revelation tells us he stands at the door, but it’s up to us to open it:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20 NIV
This passage is not written to unbelievers but to the church. It serves as a reminder that each of us can call ourselves followers of Jesus but keep him outside the door of our hearts. A life surrendered to God means an awareness of our tendency to try to take control. We must be intentional about searching our hearts daily and giving any areas we’re trying to keep off-limits to God. The amazing news? When we do, he will come inside and eat with us.
4. Linger in God’s Presence
If we want the benefit of God’s presence and revival in our lives, we have to take time to foster our relationship with him. Our days are filled with carpools, meetings, and errands, but God often speaks in the margins. He speaks in the stillness and in the moments when we have a moment to breathe. This will look different for each of us, but the important thing is that we’re intentional about creating time to connect with God.
Psalm 37:7 (NIV) tells us, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him....”
David knew that apart from God, he wouldn’t have peace. Several years of his life were spent fleeing King Saul, who wanted to kill him. But through his repeated decision to linger in God’s presence, God revived David’s weary heart. And he can do the same for us.
It’s okay to start small. The amount of time isn’t as important as the heart behind it. But when we are intentional about making space, God honors this commitment and speaks to our hearts. He revives our weary souls and reveals his presence all around us.
5. Gather with Others and Share What God Has Done
While God is able and willing to bring revival to us individually, he also longs to see us gather with others. He did not create us to do life alone but to live in community with his body, the church. When we hear others’ testimonies and witness his power in the lives of our brothers and sisters, it encourages our hearts. We realize we are not alone in our struggles and that God is still working.
We can also be a blessing to others when we share our stories of God’s faithfulness. Doing so not only encourages others but brings life and revival to our own hearts. It gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, and we see the ways God can use our struggle for his glory.
Peter knew the power a person’s testimony had to transform lives and had witnessed thousands of people give their lives to Christ. He speaks about the responsibility every believer has to share what God has done in his or her life:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect....” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV
Friend, if you are in a dry spiritual season and long for God to pour out fresh fire, tell him. Come to him thirsty and aware of your need. He will not turn away those who earnestly seek him. Ask him to reveal any area of your life where you’re not allowing him in. Then, relinquish control to the One who is making all things new.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Layland Masuda
Abby McDonald is a writing coach and the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God. Her mission is to empower women to seek God in the middle of life’s messes and to share their faith with courage. Abby writes regularly for Proverb 31 Ministries’ daily devotions team, and her work has been featured in numerous publications. You can connect with Abby on her website where you can grab a free worship playlist to help you shift your focus toward God. You can also connect with Abby on Instagram.