We can cooperate with God in having a personal revival in a number of ways. I will mention only three main ones here.
The first is what we’ve already discussed: by nurturing our first love for Jesus, especially by personal worship using Scripture—that will bring further revelation of His glory as the Spirit uses the Word in our lives. The Spirit will than use the light of God’s glory to expose of our sin and sins, just as He did with Isaiah; He will then bring a deepening grasp of how much we are forgiven and loved in the Lord Jesus.
Second is simply asking God for a revival in our lives. Ask for it every day. Since that’s what God wants, He is going to answer. However, we need to be committed to this, for it can be painful as He begins to strip away the layers of our “goodness” and shows us what lies underneath.
Personally I began asking God for a revival several years ago, and He began answering by giving me an illness—I spent five days in bed, so weak I could only pray. During this time the Lord showed me 9 different sins He wanted me to deal with more severely. Among them were laziness, lust, negative thinking/speaking, selfishness, fear of man, worry, fear and jealousy.
It was painful to see how much of a role these played in my life, but as I embraced this revelation and committed myself to dealing more severely with these in the Spirit’s power, obeying what I knew to be true, there was definite movement forward. [there is a more complete explanation of this in my book Knowing Jesus is Enough for Joy, Period! available at www.edifyinservices .com]
As one example, I began to wholeheartedly edit out the negative comments that came to my mind—and there were a lot of them, like, “look at that ugly house, who’d ever want to live there?!!” or “What was she thinking when she bought that dress, it looks awful!” After a couple of months my wife commented that I wasn’t talking to her as much as I used to. “Yes,” I said, “I’m cutting out about 50% of what I’d like to say because it’s negative and judgmental!”
I found that saying those judgmental things had brought a burden and darkness in my life. Now things were lighter and I had more time to think and speak positive, edifying things, plus found myself more alert to the Spirit’s guidance.
As I walked in obedience to what I knew of my sin, the Holy Spirit began to point out other sins I needed to confess and forsake. He brought them to my notice one at a time, so I learned to pay attention to the “next sin to be dealt with.” The Spirit begins by convicting us gently of a sin, but if we don’t pay attention, He will lovingly bring increasing pressure. It’s much better to listen carefully and respond early.
The third thing we can do to nurture revival is to “confess ahead.” That is confess our tendency to sin before we sin. I have a list of the sins the Spirit has shown me in my personal revival; it has grown from nine to forty-one! And remembering the Apostle Paul’s example, I’m sure there’s more to come.
I will take a portion of that list during confession in my quiet time and pray like this, “Lord, you know my tendency to worry, help me instead to flee to you, to praise you and trust you. You know my tendency to complain, help me instead to praise. You know my tendency to speak negative, critical thoughts, help me to spot those right off, reject them and to think and speak edifying things to people.”
As I continue to practice these three disciplines (nurturing my first love for Jesus, asking for revival, and confessing ahead), God is answering and moving me on. There is an upward progression each day, a deepening understanding of God’s holiness, my depravity and how much He loves and forgives me. The black velvet of my sin accents the beautiful diamond of God’s character, sparkling in love, forgiveness and acceptance for all who come. Without the backdrop of knowing my sin, I could not appreciate or understand the wonderfulness of being forgiven, and how much it cost Jesus to buy it.
As I stand in the light of His presence in worship, accepting His revelation of His goodness and my need for forgiveness, the revival spirals on upward, bringing new insights, new joys and a deeper walk with Him.