God wants to send real revival. More than just a banner stretched across the front lawn of a church and more than a few conversions, He wants to send the kind of revival that finds entire cities falling under a canopy of His glory.
Why do we so often approach the level of revival we dream about but never quite get there? It is as if we are missing one ingredient. I've come to the conclusion that the missing ingredient is true unity. It is God's catalyst for revival.
When a recipe is created, there is often a single catalytic ingredient. A catalyst is something that triggers or initiates significant change when it comes into contact with other things. If that particular catalytic ingredient is missing from the recipe, then the whole cake collapses.
I remember that when my sister was first learning to cook, she failed to understand the difference between baking soda and baking powder. For the uninitiated, it is more than mere semantics. It is the difference between a cake that rises as it should, filling the house with its flavorful aroma as it bakes, or one that smells good but doesn't look or taste as it should. One ingredient can make the difference between success and failure, between victory and defeat.
The cars we drive now in the United States have a special pollution-control device called a catalytic converter. This device contains a single catalytic ingredient; in most of those converters it is platinum.
When toxic gases cross this grid of platinum in the converter, the platinum changes, or converts, the chemical structure of these toxic gases into something nontoxic. That single ingredient is the catalyst required for the process to work.
Unity at Pentecost. The original "recipe" found in Acts 2 at the birth of the church says they were in "one accord in one place" (v. 1, NKJV). Then the "suddenly" of God came. Fire filled the house. It says, "They were all filled" (v. 4). This is in fulfillment of the promise in Acts 1:8 where Jesus said, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you."
The Greek word in Acts 1:8 that we translate as "power" is dunamis. A derivative of that original Greek word is our modern English word "dynamite." It is interesting that the dynamite of God came when the unity of believers was present.
It is very difficult for us to pray for power and receive it if we do not have the basket to hold it. Unity is the basket. The size of our basket will determine the volume of visitation.
History tells us that approximately 500 people heard Jesus' historic instructions to go and tarry in the city of Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high (see Acts 1:4). But when the power came, there were only 120 present. What happened to the 380? I would not want to have been one of those who left the upper room the day before the day of Pentecost.
Can you imagine how they must have felt the rest of their lives? I am sure some of them joined in later, but they weren't there the day it happened. It would be like a father missing the birth of his child.
Could it be that God was waiting until some left before He could come? There is such a thing as a ministry of subtraction. I have often wondered if by the time the number got to 120, all who were going to leave had left and unity was achieved by the sheer attrition of those whose purposes were not as in tune and in step with God.
Throughout the book of Acts we see a church that was virtually unstoppable as long as it was in unity. As soon as division set in, however, the church's impact on society weakened. There is only one place in Scripture where a blessing is commanded. Psalm 133 reads: "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, emphasis added).
If you want to put yourself in a position where legions of angels stand ready to bless what you are trying to do, then get in step with the unity of God.
The primary catalyst for revival. We often have the mistaken concept that unity is the result of revival. I propose to you that unity is the cause of revival. When we pursue unity, we create the framework necessary for God to send revival. I am concerned when many of the crusades have thousands of conversions, but we never see the new converts enter a church again. This would not take place if there were true unity in the body of Christ.
This kind of unanchored mass evangelism is roughly equivalent to having babies on a public sidewalk. If there is no one to care for these babes in Christ, I am not sure God can truly bless this type of crusade.
I know this much: God is not pleased with the loss of spiritual babies. These new believers may experience some legitimate contact with God, and they may pray genuine prayers seeking His Lordship. However, if there is no basket to contain and nurture them, they will die. If we really want to see God move upon this generation with the kind of magnitude we have dreamed about, then we must do what it takes to create a "container" in which God can place His precious harvest.
What God wants to do is to weave us together to create a "basket" that is able to carry the volume and weight of true revival. If He cannot weave us in and out among each other--because we "rub each other wrong"--then what is He left to do?
Do you know how baskets are made? The reeds are softened in water so that they become pliable, so they can be woven in and out among their "brother" reeds. The process of weaving these water-softened reeds in and out creates a basket that is then allowed to dry and assume strength.
I think God wants to soak us in the water of His Word and the oil of His Spirit until we become flexible enough for Him to weave us together, so we can become a safe carrier of revival.
I am convinced that sometimes it is necessary for God to knock the rough edges off of us. He is more interested in the development of our character than in the expansion of our comfort zones.
Do you know how God knocks off those rough edges? He will place you in the "sack of covenant relationship" along with all of your rough edges. Then He will place me in the sack, too (complete with my own set of rough edges). He may add from one to several thousand more individual believers before He finally closes up the sack and begins to shake us up and down and all around. He will continue to shake the church until our jostling against one another has removed all of the rough edges. We will emerge from God's "shake and bake" sessions either cracked and bitter or polished and better.
The gatekeepers. The term "gatekeepers" can refer to pastors, intercessors, teachers--virtually anyone who exercises spiritual influence. The same term is equally valid in both the spiritual and the secular realms.
There are certain influential people in the secular realm--including bankers, lawyers, professors and doctors--through whom influence is channeled into and out of a city. This universal pattern tells us that if we want to affect the spiritual atmosphere of our cities, then there must be spiritual gatekeepers.
Jerusalem has always been perceived as a type of the church, and the Bible confirms this. This great city had 12 gates, and each gate had a name. Which gate is yours? Have you taken your place? Where are the gatekeepers who will stand in the gates of the city in unity?
What good does it do if you guard your gate, but I don't guard mine? The city is still vulnerable because of a lack of unity. If you lock your gate but I refuse to lock mine, then there is at least one major entrance into the city that is accessible to the enemy.
The book of Ezra paints a beautiful picture of God rebuilding the church, while the book of Nehemiah pictures the walls and the gates of the city being restored. Jerusalem, the type of the church, had been attacked not by external enemies but by internal terrorists competing for control. They valued individual agendas over God's agenda. When the church was restored, then the city could begin to be restored.
That is what I am pursuing today. We have seen what happens when God visits the church, but the members of my generation have never seen what happens when God Himself visits a city. Before the glory of God can flow into the streets of our cities, it must first flow in the aisles of our churches.
There is something within me that cries out: "Preach to us, Ezra! Tell us how we are to build the church!" I can also hear another message coming. God wants to send the kind of revival that Duncan Campbell witnessed in the Hebrides outbreak. He said, "Of the hundreds who found Jesus Christ during this time, 75 percent were saved before they came [to the church building]."
That kind of supernatural soul conversion can only happen where there is an incredible amount of unity. It only happens when the entire church is crying out for revival. When the gatekeepers stand in the gates, a city begins to be rebuilt.
The book of Nehemiah contains wonderful allegorical comparisons in which the prophet calls out the different names of the 12 gates of Jerusalem and then calls out the people who are to begin rebuilding them. It was particularly interesting to me that perfumers built gates, goldsmiths built gates and even priests built gates. Everybody took the gates that were nearest to them, gates that had been burned, that had ruined reputations.
The church also stands with a tarnished reputation, but the gates can be rebuilt. It's time to restore the integrity of Jerusalem, which represents the church.
The final passages of this account in Nehemiah 13 relate that it was time to restore everything to its proper place, and then the prophet Nehemiah closed the gates. The Bible says that some of the merchants who wanted to desecrate the Sabbath by selling their goods on that holy day lodged just outside the gates two or three times until a spirit of spiritual violence came over Nehemiah. He told them if they did it again, he would use force against them. It then says, "From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath" (v. 21).
The enemy has enjoyed free passage in and out of our cities, in and out of our lives and in and out of our churches because somebody wasn't guarding their gate. Either I wasn't guarding my gate or you weren't guarding yours because the enemy always seems to be able to sneak in through some back door. It is time to close the back door of the church. It is time to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other gatekeepers throughout the city and create the container for God's glory.
The Word says that Lot sat in the gates of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is as if God gave him the potential to redeem a wrong choice. This has all the appearance of a true outworking of Romans 8:28. God had made something good come out of a bad situation.
Sodom and Gomorrah were bad cities, the original twisted sisters. Lot shouldn't have been there in the first place, but perhaps God said, "Maybe a good man can affect a bad city," and raised Lot's position in the city until he "sat in the gate."
In Lot's day, that was the equivalent of being a modern-day judge. The gatekeepers controlled all of the entrances and exits of the city. Everything came in and went out through the city gates, so to sit in the gate was a position of influence. More than that, he judged matters and determined whether righteousness and unrighteousness would prevail. You are an influencer if you are a gatekeeper.
Lot should have opened the gates of the city to things that were good and righteous, while trying to close the city's gates to things that were unrighteous. It is obvious he recognized righteousness; after all, he opened his home to the angelic visitors despite the risk. But what about the question, How often did he close the city to the things of unrighteousness?
The truth is that Lot eventually lost his family because he wouldn't take a stand. If a city is to stand and its walls be unbroken walls of integrity, then the gatekeepers must work together to jointly guard the city.
Satan would love for the gatekeepers of the church--pastors, people of spiritual influence, intercessors--to be in such disunity that gates are left unguarded so evil can come and go at will. Satan's hopes are dashed when the gatekeepers take their positions faithfully with a clear vision and goal of redeeming the city. This gatekeeping mentality will create a network strong enough to hold the harvest.
The only prayer the church can answer. So far, we've only talked about the recipe and ventured into the dreamscape of commanded blessing. Can you imagine angels ever ready in eternity with buckets of blessing and the standing command to pour them out--but only in the container of unity? How long have they stood on the balcony of heaven with full buckets ready but nowhere to pour them?
It is time, my friend. It is time.
How long has the Lord's prayer for unity gone unanswered? How long will He continue to wait upon the weak hand of flesh to say yes to His ways? Only you and I can answer that. The only unanswered prayer of Jesus is also the only prayer the church can answer.
Let me conclude with an axiom an old teacher once taught me: "If it is to be, it is up to me." Jesus is waiting patiently and longingly to see His prayer for unity in the church come to pass.
If it is to be, it is up to you and me. Let us choose unity. It is time to link arms and hearts in one accord. The season for prayer and supplication for unity is upon us.
The time for talk is over. Now is the time to act. It is time for the Lord's prayer to be answered.
Tommy Tenney is the founder of the God Chasers Network. He has spent 10 years pastoring and 17 years in full-time traveling ministry. He is also the author of The God Chasers (Destiny Image), God's Dream Team (Regal Books) and God's Favorite House (Destiny Image).