America’s greatest need is spiritual
revival. The United States has seen an awakening in every century of its
existence—except this one.
In the 18th
century, the First Great Awakening swept thousands of colonists into the
kingdom of God, and the courage to break free from Great Britain germinated in
the soil of awakened hearts.
century witnessed the Second Great Awakening, which shook the American frontier
with dramatic results. Entire denominations doubled their memberships in just
In the 20th
century, the Pentecostal-charismatic movement had a global impact. During the
last 100 years, nations of the world have been touched, and more than 640
million people now claim to be Spirit-filled.
history has been informed consistently by significant spiritual renewal.
However, we are now one-tenth of the way through the 21st century and, as far
as we know, the U.S. has yet to experience a fresh awakening.
ineffectiveness of the American church pushes us to ask some hard questions of
God and ourselves:
Have we allowed ourselves to be preoccupied with political, social and
peripheral issues more than with the nation’s greatest need? Have we spent
billions fighting political and social battles while losing the spiritual
battle for the souls of a new generation? Have we chosen the easier way of
carnal weaponry while neglecting God’s more challenging way of spiritual
picketed more than prayed, fought more than fasted and lashed out more than
loved? Have we been duped into hoping that righteousness would be installed
from the top down rather than recognizing that true awakening comes from the
Does the church
in America need to experience a fresh grace through repentance? Do we need a
deep cleansing and renewal?
I believe that
the answer to these questions is a painful and convicting yes.
is desperate for a deep and transformational revival that will change the
spiritual landscape of our country again.
is, what would an awakening in 21st century America look like? What would
happen if God shook this nation during the next decade? How would we know if
revival and awakening were occurring?
Answers to these questions were discussed several months ago in
Northampton, Massachusetts, during a gathering of more than 75 Christian
leaders in the city once known as an epicenter of the First Great Awakening.
These leaders identified 20 significant indicators of a contemporary
awakening—10 in the church and 10 in the culture. You can read their
conclusions online at Awakeningamerica.us.
The leaders, who represented a broad spectrum of evangelical denominations
and ministries, also banded with several hundred ministries in the Awakening
America Alliance to seek God for a new Christ-awakening in the United States.
Now, as a way to pursue the spiritual renewal we need, we have an
opportunity to unite at the start of this second decade of the century to
humble ourselves through fasting and prayer.
America Alliance has designated January 1-21 as “21 Days for a New Awakening”
to answer God’s call through the prophet Joel to “declare a holy fast” (see
Fasting from a
pure heart with proper motives will help lead us into the brokenness required
to receive God’s next move in our nation. Fasting brings spiritual benefits
because it helps us humble ourselves, presses us toward personal cleansing,
focuses our hearts and weans us off earthly distractions.
It allows for
heightened sensitivity to God’s voice and positions us to bring deliverance to
the captives. Fasting and prayer facilitate a personal renewal of our
connection and intimacy with Jesus. His presence and pleasure become our
the renewal of the church and of the nation will depend on people who respond
to His call. True spiritual awakening in this century will be a grass-roots
movement in which intimacy with Jesus is restored one heart at a time,
producing the fruitfulness and freshness we all desire.
Why not let
the 21st century awakening start in your church. More importantly, why not let
it start in your heart?
Billy Wilson is executive director of the International Center for
Spiritual Renewal and executive officer for Empowered 21: Global Congress on
Holy Spirit Empowerment.