To reach our cities, Christ must reach His church. He must convict our hearts of the arrogance and pride, the jealousy and selfish ambition that have clouded our vision. We must be cleansed of these sins so Jesus can unite us against evil.
Revival Follows Obedience
“And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41). If Jesus came today and gazed upon His church in its carnality and division, if He probed into our prayerlessness and lack of outreach, would tears flood His eyes over our cities, even as He wept over Jerusalem? I tell you, He would weep over our cities as well.
Even now Christ’s hands are extended in love toward our congregations and our cities. Knowing we cannot win the citywide war as isolated, individual congregations, Jesus longs to bring us together for prayer. He said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34).
Please hear Christ’s heart. He said, “How often …” He sought to unite His people! Time and again He has called us to humble ourselves and in united, heartfelt prayer allow Him to heal our land. But Jesus says, “You would not have it!” The lack of blessing in our cities is not God’s fault, nor is it only because of the sins of the world. A number of our national problems are because we as the church have been caught up in our own agendas and programs. We have disdained Christ’s call to obedience and prayer.
Maybe we are waiting for God to do something to unite us. Perhaps we are waiting for revival before we truly obey Him. We must see that revival follows obedience, not obedience after revival.
Indeed, this message is another occasion of Christ’s love seeking to gather us together beneath His wings. The question is not, will there be revival? Rather, the challenge is, when will we obey Him that revival might come? Our dilemma is not, will the Lord bless His church, but when will the believing Christians obey their Lord and join together for prayer?
The Hour of Our Visitation
God has a purpose for this country that the enemy wants to stop. Even in the midst of our fallen condition, and while many are warning of impending judgments, the Lord repeats to us what He said to Jerusalem: “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things which make for peace!” (Luke 19:42, NKJV). There are things that make for peace, even in our cities and in our generation. When Jesus spoke these words, the Jews were about to be destroyed! But even in the anticipation of coming destruction, He said there were things that would turn the city from evil and bring it into peace.
What were those things? We can see them more clearly if we note that immediately after Jesus warned Jerusalem of its fate, He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were selling wares, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den” (Luke 19:46, NASB).
Jesus rebuked the Jews because they had made His Father’s house a house of merchandise. Let us ask ourselves: Are we guilty of merchandising the gospel? As congregations, do we sometimes merchandise our spiritual gifts—tongues and healing and prophecy? Do we peddle our evangelism and children’s programs or our youth groups and home fellowships? God gave these differences to enhance us, while Satan uses them to divide us.
It certainly is not wrong to present such programs under the anointing of the Lord. What is wrong is to market our uniqueness as a commodity to lure people from one congregation to another. Christ said His Father’s house would not be a house of merchandise but a house of prayer. Corporate, heartfelt, citywide prayer for our communities and our nation is the most essential dynamic for seeing our society turned and our cities redeemed.
You say it will take more than prayer. Yes, it will take repentance and humility and, above all else, a return to the person and words of Jesus. But our cities are not worse than Nineveh. When Nineveh humbled itself, repented and prayed, destruction was averted.
The House of Prayer
You may feel your community is relatively safe, that the oppression upon our land does not concern you. Your optimism is a delusion. Unless there is a buffer of prayer and aggressive Christianity in your town, it will only be a matter of time before it is invaded by the advancing flood of evil.
Jesus is seeking to bring His church to the place where it becomes, literally, a house of prayer. The Lord will test the endurance of this newly praying church, but gradually the power of God will be released in the cities of prayer. The extraordinary presence of the living Christ will make miracles seem ordinary. Faith will once again rest on the demonstration of the Spirit and not upon the wisdom of man; multitudes will be genuinely saved.
You see, there are things that make for peace. Pastors and their congregations must repent of the independence, spiritual pride and insecurities that have kept them isolated from one another. God has wonderful, awesome plans for our cities. But the substructure of these “things that make for peace” is the citywide church becoming a house of prayer.
Jesus said that any house or city divided against itself shall not stand. It cannot stand. The only way we can stand victorious before our enemies is if we kneel humbly before our Lord together.
Will Your City Become Darkness or Light?
As the return of Christ draws near, God will release a wave of revival that will enable entire cities, and in some cases even nations, to turn to the Lord. At the same time, there will be many more cities and nations that will not turn to Him. In fact, communities will ally themselves so thoroughly with the powers of evil that a visible darkness, as in Egypt just prior to the Exodus, will actually settle upon them (see Is. 60:1-3). Even now, many large cities in the United States and Europe stand in the balance as to whether or not they will turn toward God or become places of utter darkness, great despair and destruction.
Before we presumptuously judge these cities, however, let us realize again that the deciding factor in God’s judgment is not the sin of the world but sin in the church. Judgment begins first “with the household of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). The direction of each individual city, for the most part, will rest upon the condition of the church in that city.
If the congregations in the city are united, praying together and warring side by side against evil, there will be hope for that area. If there is jealousy and selfish ambition in this corporate body of believers, there will be no successful strategies against evil or barriers against the increase of wickedness. We must understand: God has placed the responsibility for our cities upon our shoulders!
If you are a pastor, see if the Lord isn’t calling you to contact other pastors, even just one or two, on a weekly basis. Let the Lord lead you to others, without pressuring anyone to join your prayer time. God will add to this, and following His leading and “divine connections” with others is a joy.
If you are an intercessor, we encourage you to gather other intercessors and pray for the end of unscriptural divisions. Pray for the pastors and other ministries in your cities.
Let us persevere in prayer not only until we know “the things which make for peace,” but also until we are united as God’s house of prayer.
Dear Lord, I want my city to become a city of light and our congregations to be known as houses of prayer. Forgive us where we have disobeyed and failed You, and let revival come to this city. I don’t want to miss the hour of Your visitation. Amen.
Francis Frangipane is senior pastor of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is an international conference speaker, and has written many best-selling books, including the hugely popular The Three Battlegrounds and his latest book, When the Many Are One (Charisma House), from which the article was adapted.