Thus begins the spiritual meth, the prophetic word, that hooks us on hope, but then brings us crashing down into spiritual depression and disillusionment. The scope of the prophecy can range from personal to global. God is about to pour out his Holy Spirit upon the church, city, nation, or world. God is about to restore, reform, refresh, renew, or revive.
These words may not even come from people with prophetic gifts or offices. It may be what we speak to ourselves as we meditate on God’s Word, petition God, and intercede for others. We may feel the warm presence of God and the clean wind of the Spirit whispering that we are on the edge of a break through, a visitation of God.
But then we wait. And pray. Hammer away day after day in intercession. And nothing happens. Or things get worse.
I have been in congregations where we flew high on prophetic visions of a move of God that was about to happen: first in the 80’s, then the 90’s. I think after the 90’s came and went prophets may have quit announcing times. These words drew people to the church, but after a while a few fell away, but more drifted away and settled for a more present tense approach to serving God.
I first prayed for a move of God here in Myrtle Point when I was seventeen. I was leading Bible studies at the high school and at a coffee house on Highway 42. I am almost 64. Since moving back here from Kansas City, Teckla and I have been praying for city-wide revival for the last 23 years. A year ago, Teckla and I and few others in our church felt we were on the edge of a breakthrough in our congregation, but it now seems like the church has shifted into park—or even reverse.
This is discouraging. It is tempting to drag my disappointed soul into a 12-step program, find a Calvinist sponsor, and abstain from prophecies (especially my own). Why focus on what God is about to do? Let’s just sing about the wonderful things Jesus has already done for us on the cross. Isn’t this enough? Should we really expect God to be doing stuff now and in the future? He has done enough. Be grateful.
Or perhaps we can allow God the freedom to do stuff, but not expect answers to specific prayers for revival and restoration. God is sovereign and omnipotent. He will do what he wants to do when he wants to do it. Prayer changes us, not God or his sovereign will or timing. (Doesn’t this sound spiritual?)
Sorry, I can’t stop. I can only say, “Hi, I’m Mark and I am addicted to hope.” I refuse recovery and the only meeting I am going to is a prayer meeting. I simply can’t pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” and not expect his kingdom to come—come here on earth as it is heaven. James declared that faith without works is dead. I think faith without hope isn’t faith at all. And without faith, at least a mustard seed of faith, no mountains move.
Reading God’s Word only enables my addiction. There are too many stories about those like Joseph who were faithful to God when everything seemed to be going the absolute other direction. Or like Joshua and Caleb who entered the promised land even after a whole generation of Israelites perished in the wilderness of unbelief and despair. Or even prophets who died before they got to see the promises of God they had declared to Israel.
In his parables Jesus taught that we should live as servants who expect the master to return at any moment. We are told to live a life alert to what God is getting ready to do. He tells us to be aware of the times and seasons. I want to have the hope and faithfulness of Anna and Simeon who in their last years prayed, fasted, and kept believing in the prophetic promise that they would see Jesus, the consolation of Israel, before they died (Luke 2:25—38).
I am haunted by the 400 some years between Malachi and Matthew. How many Annas and Simeons prayed and looked for the Messiah in these years? Sometimes we kneel in the darkness and fling our prayers into the night—trusting in God’s goodness, not our wisdom or revelation. I fully understand that God’s people have often been wrong about when and how God will move. But I also know that many of God’s prophetic promises are invitations, not proclamations. That first generation out of Egypt refused God’s invitation into the promised land, but God did not lie.
Thankfully, I have also learned not to crash amid disappointment and perplexity, but instead lean into God’s Word and the Holy Spirit for renewed hope. However, I will also be utterly transparent and honest about mistakes I make about what I think God is about to do. Because of perfect confidence in God’s love for me, I can bring my questions and confusion to Him. I can say without too much whine, “But God, I thought you said . . . What’s up?” We can talk.
And yes, God is sovereign. He will move when and where he chooses. The Holy Spirit is like a mighty wind. However, on this hill in Myrtle Point, I can stand in the storm, lift my hands to God, and pray revival strikes here.