Unstopping the Wells of Revival: Spiritual Thirst

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

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

John 4:13-15

This fall our theme is unstopping the wells of revival. Last week, we discussed how in Genesis 26, Isaac and his family found themselves in an existential crisis. They were in the desert without access to water. And obviously without water, life is impossible. Isaac’s solution to this crisis was to go back to the wells his father Abraham had dug, and to clear out the rubbish and the dirt that the Philistines had thrown in these wells and thereby, to stay alive. 

The church today finds herself in a similar situation – after a very long decline we are in desperate need of the most basic thing: life itself. We have become spiritually dehydrated. And if we want to see the church survive, let alone thrive and flourish as a blessing to our declining culture, we must find a way to access the same source of spiritual water that has renewed and revived the church in past generations. We need to go back to those wells and dig them out again.

This fall we are identifying and praying through the barriers to revival…the “rubbish,” as it were, that has been thrown in the wells of revival and that is preventing the people of God from accessing the life and power of God.

One of the first and foremost barriers to revival is our own lack of awareness of our thirst. 

In John 4, Jesus sits down at a well in Samaria in the heat of the noonday sun. A woman approaches to draw water at this odd hour. She is there at that time because she is an outcast. She is not welcome at the well with the other women of the town, who come in the cool of the morning. She must come in the heat of the day. The reason, we later find out, is that this woman has had five husbands and is currently living with a man who is not her husband. This is why she is an outcast. We don’t know exactly why she has had five husbands – or is living with a man who isn’t interested in marrying her. But we watch in awe as Jesus engages with her.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,” he says to her.

This woman, like all of us, is thirsty for God. But for years she has been masking her thirst with other things. In the same way that she has come day after day to draw water…she has gone from relationship to relationship to try to fill the void in her life and soul. But it clearly is not working. Her trips to the well are a metaphor for her spiritual life. She is so thirsty…but the “water” she is drinking (one relationship after another) is not actually hydrating her. 

It is a bit like when someone feels thirsty, and reaches for an alcoholic beverage. The beverage is a liquid, and on the surface seems to satisfy or mask the sensation of thirst. And yet paradoxically, the more alcohol a person drinks, the more dehydrated they become. This is how it is for the woman at the well. The more men this woman lives with, the emptier she feels inside. And this is how it is for the church today. We are unaware of our thirst, because we are masking it with other things. Things that make us more and more spiritually dehydrated and empty. And this pattern will continue until, as the woman did, and recognize that only Jesus can satisfy us. 

Thirst is a gift from God to point us to him and our need for him. But in order to feel our spiritual thirst, we have to stop masking our thirst with other things that are not spiritually hydrating us.

For Reflection

What are the substitutes for God you have used to mask your hunger and thirst for him? Is it food or alcohol? Is it social media? Is it entertainment? Is it things you shop for or buy? Is it work or school or career? Relationships? Money? Activity? What are the things you look to for life that are not Jesus? “Whoever drinks this water will thirst again,” Jesus says. “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”

For Action

Consider fasting with the leadership community of Sanctuary on Tuesdays. You could skip a meal, or two, or all three. (obviously, if you have food issues, use your discretion on this) One of the best ways to become aware of the spiritual thirst for God in our soul is through fasting. Fasting often unmasks the deeper state and thirst of our souls for God. It helps us get in touch with our hunger and thirst for him…which is what we need if we are to dig out the wells of revival through our prayers and repentance in the next season. 

For Prayer

As the Spirit brings things to mind, ask God to break your/our attachment to these spiritual substitutes. Ask God to deepen our awareness of our thirst for him. Ask God to make us so keenly aware of our thirst that we begin seeking him with greater intensity in the coming months and years. 


Unstopping the Wells of Revival

And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.” So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. – Genesis 26:16-1

In Genesis 26, Isaac faced a matter of life and death. The Philistine King had exiled him and Isaac found himself in the Valley of Gerar, in the Negev desert. The problem facing him was existential; it was the problem of an absence of water. There were no functioning wells and no running water in this part of the Negev. Human beings can survive for weeks without food, but not without water. Without water, life is not possible. 

Like Isaac, the Church in the West faces an existential crisis. According to the headline of a September 2022 Christianity Today article, “The Decline of Christianity Shows No Sign of Stopping.”. The crisis the American church faces is not something we can fix with half-measures or strategic tweaks. We need life. We need hydration. We need God’s power to intervene and hydrate us spiritually. We need water and we need it now. 

What did Isaac do in the midst of his existential crisis? He did not try to innovate. He did not seek out new supplies of water. As Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “the man who innovates in a crisis is a fool.” What Isaac did was go back to the wells his father had dug before. Isaac recalled that his father had been in this same country before and knew to dig wells and find water. So he went back to Abraham’s wells which had sustained his people in the previous generation and he redug them. 

We need to go back as well to the water of the past. This is not the first time the church has found itself in a spiritual drought, in danger of dehydration and death. We have been here many times before. In the late 1700s, from the pinnacle of the French Enlightenment, Voltaire predicted that Christianity would be extinct in 100 years. Within a decade of that pronouncement the 2nd Great Awakening began. It lasted all the way until the Civil War. The Providence Revival of 1820 was one of the waves of this Great Awakening. The Church found water. 

This same source of spiritual life and power that revived the people of God in ages past is still available to us today, even if over the years in between, our Enemy has thrown rubbish in the wells. The water of life is still down there, in the very same place it was in past times of revival. We must do as Isaac did; we must excavate the ancient wells of revival through our prayers.

Sanctuary Church is setting aside every Tuesday as a day of fasting and prayer. Over the next several months, every Tuesday we will focus on redigging the wells of revival through our prayers. We will be identifying the barriers and rubbish that are keeping God’s people from the life and power of God and praying through these barriers until we once again find the water.

Next Steps

  • Consider setting aside 30 minutes a day to pray on Tuesdays, sign up to receive the weekly prompt.
  • Consider committing to some sort of fast on Tuesdays. Many of the leadership community are also fasting on Tuesdays.
  • Come to Altar Zoom Prayer times at 8am and 9am.

Prayer Prompts

  • Ask God to pour out the Spirit of prayer and intercession on you and the whole Church and sustain us in seeking him for revival on Tuesdays (and other days) 
  • Ask God to give you and the church sense of urgency and spiritual thirst for God
  • Ask God to activate the whole church in praying and seeking him for revival.



4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9

In our last reflection, we discussed how the early church became a creative minority within Israel and the rest of the Roman Empire and how God uses creative minorities as remnants that host and usher in revival for the surrounding culture. 

In this our final first seek reflection, we want to talk about a critical but often overlooked factor in how the early church went from 120 believers huddled in the upper room to a global movement that spread to multiple continents and took over the Roman Empire. 

It took time. In fact, it took nearly 300 years for Christianity to be made a legal religion in the Roman Empire. 300 years is somewhere in the ballpark of 12-15 generations. The patient ferment of the early church that spread exponentially through the Roman Empire took 12-15 generations to accomplish. And the faith had to be passed on to the next generation. 

The rise of Christianity was an intergenerational relay race. And because of this, the early Church, led by the Spirit, took very seriously the process of raising up and discipling each successive generation of believers. 

If we want to see the gospel and the Kingdom grow in a sustained way in our own time, not only will we need to recover our creative minority mojo, but we will need to take our children seriously, prioritizing their discipleship. According to the most recent Barna study, 50% of youth who are actively involved in church in high school will walk away from their faith after college. These are not good statistics. But as it turns out, in the same study, children whose parents talk about and practice faith in the home are much more likely to remain Christians as adults. 82% of them, to be exact. What is needed is intentionality, on the part of parents and the church, to prioritize the discipleship of the next generation. 

Think of it this way. Revival could come in our time, in this place…but if the church is not committed to raise up the next generation in the way of Jesus, the fruits of revival won’t go multi-generational. So from the beginning, as we seek God for revival, we need to decide if we want this revival to be a flash in the pan…or if we are interested in its fruits and effects going the distance and lasting many generations. And if we want this (which we should) we must prioritize the discipleship of the next generation.

When Moses entered the promised land, Israel was called to be a creative minority amidst the Canaanites, Jebusites, Hivites, Gergashites, Edomites, all the surrounding cultures. These cultures were polytheistic. They practiced fertility rites like ritual prostitution. They practiced child sacrifice. They did not know the LORD, Yahweh, the God of Israel and the one true God of the universe. Israel would have to function for many generations as a creative minority. So God gave Israel the law to help them do this. But then Moses commanded the people with these words:

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

The way a creative minority goes multiple generations is by talking about our faith and God with our children.


  1. If you have children, how have you been intentional (or not) in terms of talking about God with them. How have you been intentional (or not) in their discipleship?
  2. If you do not have biological or adopted children, who are your spiritual children? Who in the next generation is God calling you to invest in intentionally? To whom is he inviting you to entrust and pass on your faith?
  3. Who are some young people you can be praying for regularly?
  4. How could you support parents or the church in discipling young people?

Prayer Prompts:

Pray for the next generation, to know and love Jesus, to walk in the way of Jesus. 

Pray for young people in your life to have direct encounters with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Pray for the parents, pastors, and youth leaders in our church to be anointed and empowered and equipped to disciple young people.

Ask the LORD if he wants you to help out with ministry to young people.

Pray for other churches to be equipped and take seriously the discipleship of the next generation.