Rev Malcolm Macdonald, author of Saturated With God and vicar of St Mary’s Church, Loughton, Essex, explores why the UK is still waiting for a major move of God
For years, we have comforted ourselves with the thought that revival is just around the corner. So, I want to ask; where is it?
We have seen stirrings and blessings, but not nation-changing revival as yet in our lifetimes. This is the time of the ‘missing revival’ since we have not seen a move of the Spirit touching the UK since 1859, when one million people came to faith in Christ across every part of the country. We are overdue an amazing outpouring.
Have you noticed this missing revival? We are incredibly busy, well organised, expertly managed and are full of creativity, yet we remain largely spiritually impotent. The nation drifts further away from God each year. Where is the manifest presence of God?
We have now had decades of charismatic renewal in churches, but have also become easily-accustomed with our lack of impact outside our church walls. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Don’t we want more than maintenance and management for our churches? Don’t we want more of God!
Have we become perhaps over-familiar, glazed over and far too bland, boring and predictable? We need to recover passionate prayer, anointed worship, bold witness and the power of the Word and Spirit.
A number of years ago I received this email from a member of the church. “Since joining St Mary’s it has felt that we are on the edge of moving into a deeper more powerful and supernatural relationship with Jesus – yet there is something holding us back.”
Yes, there is something holding us back. I think lots of churches are in this place.
A dehydrated church has no answer for a parched land
More than minor amendments are needed. If we are honest we know that currently our churches are powerless to touch the spiritual needs of our communities; because we are trying to do it in our own strength.
Our churches are not turning communities upside down with gospel-life as once happened under John Wesley, George Whitefield and William Booth. Sadly, many churches are focused on their own needs first. The consumer church collapses inwards on itself as it only serves itself. We need to own this tragedy and repent.
Millions of people in the UK need the gospel. Our culture is disturbingly self-absorbed, acutely self-sufficient. This is our post-truth, post-Christian world of mix and match pluralism and indifferent agnosticism. The world around us is spiritually parched. Water is the ultimate symbol of life, yet we are living in “a dry and parched land” (Psalm 63:1).
Sadly, a dehydrated church has no answer for a parched land. I honestly think the need of our time is radical repentance for our self-reliance. How central is Jesus to how we actually live and how our churches operate?
Now is the time to prepare the way for the Lord in the UK. God loves to move in deserts. The desert can be transformed and become a place of preparation and hope.
We are not ready and we need to repent
We need much more of Jesus. We need to want more of Him in our lives, our homes, churches and communities. In revival we see communities transformed, Jesus at the centre and God’s power come very near.
Why no revival yet? We are not ready and we need to repent. God longs to pour out His Spirit, but we need to wait on Him in prayer; just as the disciples did at Pentecost.
Revival is a stream in the desert that is coming! But, only when we earnestly repent, pray, seek God and put Jesus at the centre of our lives. God wants to saturate us with Himself. The Hebridean revival leader Duncan Campbell described revival as “a people saturated with God.” That is my dream.
Bring the day, Lord, where this nation will be saturated with God.