Asbury University in Kentucky made the news a few weeks ago. After a chapel service on February 8, students stayed to sing and pray and worship—and they never went home. As word spread about college-aged humans excited to be praising God together, people came from around the U.S. and the world to join in. The “revival” went on for 12 days.
My faith community does not hold revival services, so I wasn’t familiar with the tradition. I mean, my family stays around after worship to talk to people and have a few snacks, but worship doesn’t last for 12 days. (Though we might gently tease the pastor if the message runs a little long.) The more I thought about it, though, I realized I’m really familiar with revival—and I came up with three aspects of revival that are vital for all of us. (Actually, I found them in Psalm 51, so I’m borrowing them from King David who came up with them about three thousand years ago.)
- OG revival—as Gen Z might call it. We are not on Team Jesus when we are born. Psalm 51 tells us some hard news: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (verse 5). Because our mistakes and failures and sin separate us from God, the first, the original, revival we need is in our relationship with him. When we are baptized or read the words from God or someone tells us about Jesus or we hear the truth in songs and hymns, the Holy Spirit uses that to create faith. This faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior revives us from spiritual death to spiritual life. We are transformed from God’s enemies to his allies, from strangers to children.
- Everyday revival. Once we believe in Jesus and our eternal status has been changed, it’s so very tempting to think we now have some sort of happy magic potion that will make our lives easy. But that’s so very wrong. We still struggle and get discouraged; we get weary and worn—sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes other people are the cause. That’s why we pray for everyday revival: “Restore to me [Revive in me!] the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12). God’s everyday revival carries you, comforts you, and guards your heart and mind with his peace.
- Reviving others. There’s a story in the Bible about a time when people were starving. Some people found an empty town full of food and began to eat. They said, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves” (2 Kings 7:9). They went back home and shared the food with everyone. King David shared the same thought. Though his words sound a little harsher, after he was revived, he knew he had a job to do: “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you” (Psalm 51:13).
With the peace that comes from revival, we get to share the good news, turn sinners like us back to God, and revive one another through love, prayer, encouragement, devotion, instruction, and forgiveness.
A group of women I’ve been meeting with are living this out. Each Tuesday, they meet in the basement of an Irish pub to talk about God’s Word and how he revives their lives. Then, revived by each other, they head back home to revive their families and friends and neighbors and communities.
God starts the revival in our hearts—and it continues every day in campuses and living rooms and pubs and churches throughout the world. What does revival look like in your life and your community? I’d love to hear!
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who really does want to hear your revival stories.