“You walk in and just feel this peaceful presence, and you just want to sit there. You don’t want to leave,” said Aimee Nielson who took the above photo of the revival at Asbury University.

I have watched the revival unfolding at Asbury University in Kentucky this past week with awe and anticipation. While much has been already said on this, I want to offer some personal thoughts and observations.

By all accounts, the presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable there. Spontaneous prayers, songs, Scripture readings, confessions and reconciliation have marked the occasion, but those present say it never feels chaotic or disorderly.

There are plenty of eyewitness accounts and skeptical responses being shared all over social media. There are also blogs and articles addressing the differences between genuine revival and revivalism, particularly in relation to what is happening at Asbury. My goal here is different. My three-fold aim is to: 1) fan the flame, 2) broaden the focus to a more complete view of the spiritual realities, and 3) call to action.

Fan the flame

Cedarville University also experienced an extraordinary movement of the Lord. Photo by Thomas White

The current revival ignited on Feb. 8 when a small group of students who, having prayed for years that God would move in their midst, gathered at the end of the school’s weekly chapel service to pray once again. Others soon joined them, and the crowd continued to grow.

This movement has been primarily student-led with adults present to help shepherd, encourage and remind students to go eat and get rest. Local resident Aimee Nielson said, “You walk in and just feel this peaceful presence, and you just want to sit there. You don’t want to leave.”

This revival began without flash or flare. There was no high-tech, dramatic stage production—just a handful of students praying and pleading. Those familiar with some of the great movements of the Spirit in the past recognize many exciting parallels.

Nielson emphasized that Asbury itself should not become the focus. She said, “It is not about this place. It started here, but it’s about the Holy Spirit… these students were just willing.”

Asbury is also not the only campus experiencing an extraordinary movement of the Lord. Thomas White, president of Cedarville University in Ohio, said, “The Lord just seemed to move in a unique and special way” during the university’s chapel service on Feb. 13.

During the service, without any prompting from the platform, people began coming forward.

“We ended up with an altar full, so I ended the sermon at that point,” White said.

Several students remained long after the service was dismissed. More joined them for a prayer service that evening. They held another service the following morning and, once again, the altar was full.

“It seems like there is genuine repentance and a hunger to seek the Lord in worship,” White said. “That is what we are trying to encourage without trying to fabricate anything or get in the way.”

He has strived to keep the marks of genuine revival in front of the students. According to White, those marks include true humility, repentance, confession, and salvation.

“It can’t be forced,” he said. “It has to be organic and led by the Spirit. It has to exalt the Lord and the Word.”

“The Lord’s not done yet,” White emphasized. Teams of students are now being sent out from Cedarville to share the Gospel at other universities.

These are just two examples of how God is currently moving in extraordinary ways. Others—both large and small scale—could be cited. The Kingdom is advancing. Why should it not advance in your community?

Broaden the focus

The Kingdom is advancing, and Satan hates it. In accordance with his movements throughout history, he is seeking to distract and destroy. His tactics are old but often effective in diverting attention away from what God is doing and stifling voices of truth and reason.

Followers of Christ need not fear Satan, but we do need to be aware of him. The news this week is filled with chaos – toxic clouds, school shootings, catastrophic earthquakes and more. Our hearts rightly grieve these tragedies. The headlines are heartbreaking yet not unexpected for the attentive believer. Spiritual warfare is very real and ongoing.

Without getting into a debate regarding Satan’s culpability in these events, we know that he will take advantage of any opportunity to fulfill his wicked purposes. This has been his modus operandi from the beginning. His activity, however, does not detract from God’s sovereignty, and we cannot allow it to distract us from God’s activity or our own responsibility.

Call to action

What can believers do in this moment to fan the flames of revival and fight against the schemes of the devil? I believe 2 Chron. 7:14 provides a great starting point for us. It says, “if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” God might have been speaking to the Israelites in this specific passage, but these same exhortations are echoed all throughout Scripture.

1. Humble Ourselves
We cannot rightly expect to see God move if we are focused on ourselves. Psalm 25:9 says, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.” When we humble ourselves before Him, we open ourselves up to hear from Him and be used by Him for His glory.

2. Pray
Scripture repeatedly calls and commands us to pray and to persevere in prayer (see for example Eph. 6:18, James 5:13, Ps. 145:18, and 1 Thess. 5:17). Here are a few specific things we can be praying for right now:

  • That the Lord and His Word would be exalted.
  • That this movement would spread and be fully led by the Holy Spirit.
  • That our hearts and minds would be fixed on Christ.
  • That Satan’s schemes would not prosper.
  • That distractions and pretenses would fall away.
  • That genuine repentance and salvation would occur.
  • That those who come to Christ during this movement would be discipled and become disciple-makers.
  • That God would use each of us in ways that honor Him and advance the Gospel.

3. Seek His Face
How do we seek God’s face? Prayer is one important way, but also through reading, studying and upholding Scripture. When Paul outlines the armor of God in Ephesians 6, he lists several defensive protections but only one weapon: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v.6). Scripture contains everything we need to fulfill God’s calling on our lives (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The longest chapter in the Bible (Psalm 119) speaks in nearly every verse of the beauty, perfection, and necessity of God’s Word.

4. Turn from Our Wicked Ways
If we desire to see revival in our communities, we need to pursue revival in our own hearts. 1 Thess. 5:19 exhorts us not to quench the Spirit, and Heb. 12:1-2 calls us to “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely,” so that we may run the race He has set before us. Our sin holds us back where God desires to propel us forward. Thankfully, the Bible assures us that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

All genuine revival is solely the work of the Lord, but He does allow us to play a part in accomplishing His purposes. God has poured out His Spirit in a special way on numerous occasions throughout history. And so today we cry out, “Do it again, Lord!”