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Digging out the Wells of Revival: The Need for Time with Jesus

Tuesday online prayer rooms 
8am prayer 30min
9am prayer 60min

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him.

John 1:35-39

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” 

Revelation 3:20

As we continue our journey of digging out the wells of revival, praying through the barriers and hindrances to revival in our lives and in the church, we must pray about time. 

Jesus wants to spend time with his people. Quality time. When the two disciples of John saw Jesus, they asked him where he was staying. Rather than give them an answer, Jesus invites them to spend the day with him. Their lives were changed by that afternoon with the Lord. 

There is no substitute for time with Jesus. Time is indispensable to any relationship. It is simply not possible to be intimate with anyone on any meaningful level without spending significant time with them. We only truly know the people we spend time with. We are only influenced by the people we spend time with. We are influenced for example by Donald Trump, Elon Musk and others (for better or worse) when we spend time with their twitter feeds. Likewise, we are influenced by Jesus when we spend time with him in the word and in prayer. 

Sarah and I try our best to do some sort of regular date night. It doesn’t always happen. Some dates are amazing, some are ordinary, some are distracted by the worries and cares of life. But unless we set aside the time to be together, to talk, to connect, it is easy to lose touch with one another. Time with another person is a necessary (if not always sufficient) condition for intimacy with them. 

Time with Jesus is a prerequisite for revival. Look back at any and every revival in history and you will notice that the people God used and touched and activated and brought to a deeper level with him to bless the church and the world around them have at least one thing in common…they spent time with Jesus. Significant time. 

Evan Roberts went to a prayer meeting almost every night for thirteen years before the outbreak of the Welsh Revival. Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” Moses built the tent of meeting after the Golden Calf incident in Exodus 32, and he and Joshua lingered there, speaking with the Lord. Joshua never left the tent. Perhaps these examples seem extreme, but even if it is not three hours a day in God’s presence…we need significant time in God’s presence. 

If we truly want revival. If we want the presence and power of God in our lives, families, neighborhoods, workplaces, church…and in our nation we might start by asking this question. Are we spending enough time with Jesus? Are we blocking our time for him? We may not know what exactly to do in the time we block out. We may not know what to do on our “date night” with Jesus – but if we have not set aside time for it, one thing is for certain, there will be no date night.

Two of the most significant breakthroughs in my spiritual life happened when I set aside time for Jesus. The first was when Sarah and I decided to set aside Tuesday nights to build an “altar of prayer” in our living room. It was a sacrifice. We gave up our usual habit of netflix, to seek Jesus in the presence of friends. Some nights it was costly – but it became the primary driver and space for renewal in both of our lives and has yielded so much fruit over the years.

The second was when I decided to actually commit to spending time with Jesus first thing in my workday. We had small children and so waking up before them was not an option. It was hard for me to take precious work time when we had childcare/school and not do “work.” But Jesus so honored my decision and my resolution to set aside time to be with him. I experienced the truth that if we abide in him, we will bear much fruit. 

In Revelation 3, Jesus comes to the lukewarm church of Laodicea. It is a church in many ways like the American Church. Proud,, wealthy, and spiritually lukewarm, like the water in the city that had to travel five miles from a hot spring through the Roman aqueducts. By the time it got to the city the water was lukewarm – just like the faith of the Laodiceans. (And perhaps much like the faith of the church in America.) What is the solution to lukewarm faith? It is time with Jesus.

“Behold,” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Jesus wants to have a meal with us, a coffee with us. And he wants to talk with us. And this requires time. 

A while back, my wife started correcting me about time. When I’d say to her, “sorry honey, I didn’t have time to do that thing you asked me to,” she’d start replying, “what you mean is that it wasn’t a priority for you.” And though I hate to admit it, she was right. For much of the church, many of us included, spending time with Jesus has not been a priority. It’s time to repent. There is no way revival will come unless a group of people resolve to spend time with Jesus. Regular, quality time with Jesus. Every day. 

For Reflection:

When can you spend time with Jesus in your life? Extra grace goes to parents of young children and people with non-predictable schedules. But even here, creativity is possible. Consider looking at your calendar and adding up the time you spend with Jesus, versus time you spend on your newsfeed or social media or watching TV. Ask God to show you what you could eliminate so as to be with him more.

For Response: 

Consider making a commitment to a regular space in your life for time with God. Many in the church are rediscovering the power set hour prayer…praying in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Try this out for a season and consider making it a lifelong practice. 

For Prayer:

Let’s repent for not making time with Jesus a priority. Let’s ask him to rearrange our priorities and our schedules to reflect what Paul calls “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3) Let’s ask him to fill our time with him with his Spirit and stir our hearts to want to be with him. Let’s pray for the lukewarm faith of the western church to become hot as we spend quality time with Jesus. Let’s ask God to guide our time with him so that it becomes a space of soul refreshing. Not only that, let’s pray that we grow in spiritual power and authority and character and Christ-likeness as we spend time with Jesus in the word and in prayer. Pray that you and the wider church will hear the sound of Jesus knocking on the door and will get up and let him in and eat with him. On the regular.  


Unstopping the Wells of Revival: Clearing Away Distraction

Tuesday online prayer rooms
8am prayer 30min
9am prayer 60min

7pm, 12 Bassett St

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42, NIV

In Isaac’s day, the Philistines dumped rubbish in the wells to keep Isaac and his family from obtaining the water that would sustain their life in the desert. In our day, the enemy has been at work in a similar way, stopping up the wells of revival with all sorts of rubbish. And so this season, we are continuing to “re-dig” these wells of revival through our prayers. Our assignment is to pray through, repent of and renounce the various barriers and hindrances to revival that are keeping us and our declining Western church from the infusion of divine life which God has poured out on his people in past seasons of revival.

As we look into the metaphorical wells to start digging, an obvious barrier comes into focus: distraction. We live in an age of noise, constant activity, and total distraction. This distraction and noise is not inert…it is actually demonic. This past Sunday during worship, Father Len Cowan shared his deep conviction that distraction is a primary strategy of the enemy in our time. If he can keep our eyes off of Jesus our example, off of the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1-4), and onto political chaos, a 24 hour news cycle, endless binging opportunities on Netflix and Prime, a schedule jam packed with activities and work and social events, so that we don’t even feel we have time to pray…then he has succeeded. 

Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist once remarked that “hurry is not of the devil, it is the devil.” And surely it is not overstating things to say that one of the key outcomes of us being worried and distracted and overly busy with less important things is to keep us distant and separated from the life and power of God. Pastor Andrew pointed out on Sunday that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches (John 15), the only way to a life that is fruitful (and there is a world of difference between fruitfulness and activity) is to slow down enough to abide in Jesus and life in the awareness of his presence and our union with him. If we are overly busy and distracted there is simply no way for us to practice the presence of God. 

In the scripture above, Jesus comes to visit Mary and Martha. The two sisters could not have responded more differently to his visit. Each made a choice as to how to honor Jesus as a guest in their home. Martha decided to do what she believed was expected of her as a hostess, to busy herself in the kitchen, making food, and all that goes into entertaining a special guest. Mary, however, chose not to busy herself in the kitchen, even though this was likely what was socially expected of her. Instead, like the rest of the male disciples, she sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his words. This was her way of honoring Jesus.

If we are to sit at Jesus’ feet and pay attention to his words, it requires that we say no to other things. Even things that are convenient or amusing to us, or perhaps even things that are culturally expected. When Brother Lawrence was asked by some of his visitors, what must I do in order to practice the presence of God, he replied that the answer was quite simple. All one must do, in order to dwell in the constant awareness of God’s presence, was to say no…to renounce everything that leads us away from God’s presence. Simple indeed. Easy? Not so much.

Mary renounced her duties in the kitchen, choosing instead to sit at Jesus’ feet. And this bothered Martha to no end. “Lord,” she said, “tell my sister to come help me in the kitchen!” But Jesus responds, “Martha Martha, you are worried and distracted about many things, but only one thing is necessary.” 

This is what the Lord is saying to us today. To his church in New England. “Friends, your lives lack power and authority and wisdom and peace and the anointing of my spirit because so many of you are living worried and distracted and stressed out.” We are living lives cut off from the vine because we are out there trying to crank out fruit on our own. Some of the stuff we are doing is expected of us by others. Some of our busyness is just to cope with our own exhaustion – like binging shows or doom scrolling our newsfeed or getting lost in tiktok and social media. Jesus’ words to Martha are for us. “You are distracted. But only one thing is needed.”

And then he says, “look at Mary. Mary has chosen the better part. Instead of distraction. Instead of busyness…whether it was extra or expected of her…Mary has chosen to sit at my feet. To spend time with me. To pay attention to me. To focus on me. And it will not be taken away from her.” 

And for us to participate in revival – we need to activate our inner Mary. We need to discipline ourselves to say NO to the hurry and distraction of our age and to find time to sit at Jesus’ feet. Every day. 

For Reflection

As you look at your life, what keeps you distracted? What occupies your thoughts and time, keeping you from focusing on the Lord? What makes it difficult for you to consider something like fixed hour prayer? Ask God to help you renounce what does not help you abide in Jesus.

For Prayer

Pray for yourself and the church to be like Mary. Pray for God to strengthen our resolve to spend time with Him, listen to Him, and linger in the secret place. Pray for the church to recover the spiritual habits and practices of prayer and abiding that nurtured the saints in generations past. 

For Response

Resolve to spend time with God this week and to reorder your days, schedules, and activity so that you have time to be with God and remain in communication with Him daily. Find a spiritually buddy and hold each other accountable to prioritizing Jesus and reducing clutter from your lives.


Tuesday online prayer rooms:  
8am prayer 30min
9am prayer 60min

Men’s night – 7pm at 12 Bassett St

Unstopping the Wells of Revival – the Post-Modern Philistines

“Isaac accumulated flocks and herds and many, many servants, so much so that the Philistines began to envy him. They got back at him by throwing dirt and debris into all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham, clogging up all the wells.

Finally, Abimelech told Isaac: “Leave. You’ve become far too big for us.”

So Isaac left. He camped in the valley of Gerar and settled down there. Isaac dug again the wells which were dug in the days of his father Abraham but had been clogged up by the Philistines after Abraham’s death. And he renamed them, using the original names his father had given them.”Genesis 26:13-18, Message Version

Over the last few weeks, we have been exploring the theme of redigging the wells of revival. We are doing so by looking back to this story from the life of Isaac because of its usefulness as a metaphor for the present state of the Christian Church in our post-Christian, secular milieu. Isaac and his family face a life and death situation. It is a time of famine, and they are exiled in the Valley of Gerar in the Negev Desert. 

The existential challenge they face is the lack of water, without which no person or community can survive. If they don’t find water, they will die. And in the same way, the Western church today faces its own existential challenge. We need spiritual water, we need God Himself. His presence, his power, his infusion of divine life…or we will waste away. In our state of existential threat, we are so often tempted to look for a novel solution (eg. A new strategy, technology, or approach that will somehow reverse the snowballing decline of the church in our current moment. A silver bullet that will change things. Is it a better website? Is it cooler sneakers for the preacher? Do we need more smoke machines during worship?) 

Isaac responds to the crisis with great wisdom. He does not look for a novel solution. He doesn’t send for prospectors. He doesn’t send for water diviners. He doesn’t seek out a new location to dig a well. Because Isaac knows his father has been here before, and that he found water. And so Isaac thinks ”in our crisis we must go back to those old wells because we know we will find water there.” 

In our current moment, this is what we must do. The church has found water before in past seasons of decline. She has been renewed by the presence and power of God. She has been refreshed with past seasons of revival. In Providence, for example, there was a mighty revival in the year 1820. Somewhere between 5 and 10% of the city’s population joined the church in that one year. Today, if we consider the population of our metro area, this would be equivalent to somewhere between 75,000 and 150,000 men, women, and children joining the church. In a year. Can you even imagine? But this is what happens when the church finds water. 

But when Isaac goes back to those old wells, what does he find? He doesn’t find water. He finds the well, but he can’t get to the water. Why? The Philistines, in their envy and antagonism towards the people of God, took revenge on Isaac by “throwing dirt and debris into all the wells that his father’s servants had dug.” The wells are clogged and useless. Isaac knows the water is down there somewhere…but it is hidden beneath all the rubbish of the Philistines. 

As Martyn Lloyd Jones notes in his book Revival. The ‘Philistines’ have been very busy not just in Isaac’s time, but in ours as well. Our need is the same as it was 200 years ago. God is the same as He was 200 years ago. The gospel is the same as it was 200 years ago, just as relevant now as it was then. The same water is in the wells, but when we go back to these wells, we find them clogged. What has happened? Over the past 200 years, since revival swept Providence in 1820, the enemy has thrown dirt and debris and rubbish in the wells of revival. This is the work of the Philistines. 

It is important for us to go back to these ancient wells. To look there for the same power and life of God that has renewed God’s people in the past. But we have work to do as well. We must also clear away the ‘work of the Philistines.’ What is the work of the Philistines? This is some of what we will explore in future weeks as we continue to pray and seek God for revival. We must unearth the false ideas about God that we have unwittingly embraced. Popular beliefs that contradict the gospel but which dominate the spirit of the age. And there are sins, and patterns of sin that are contradictory to the gospel that we have agreed with and participated in. As we continue to pray for revival, a large part of that work involves repenting, renouncing, breaking agreement with the work of the Philistines. 

For reflection: 

What are the false unBiblical  ideas about God that are floating around in the atmosphere? That you and other believers are tempted to agree with (knowingly or unknowingly) embrace or live by? What vital truths about God have been lost or forgotten in the 200 years since revival came to Providence in 1820? Ask the Holy Spirit to shed light on these things? What habits or patterns of life are preventing the church (you included?) from experiencing more of God.

For prayer:

Let’s name and renounce these lies about God we and the church have agreed with and declare the truth as we pray. Let’s repent for ourselves and on behalf of the wider church for the patterns of sin we have allowed in? One sanctuary Intercessor had an image of a whale caught in a net and slowly dying – where have we as God’s people been caught in the patterns of the world? Start by asking this about yourself and breaking these attachments.