Pause and Pray before It's Too Late

When I became a member of the Life Action Ministries' revival ministry in 1971, the founder, Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., expressed an urgency for genuine revival in the United States before it became too late and our nation was destroyed from within.

God used Del to burden my heart for America, and one of the books I read during those early years of ministry was Leonard Ravenhill's classic, Why Revival Tarries. Later, I read another Ravenhill book, published in 1979, that could have been penned by Del ~ they had the same heart passion to call America back to God. The book was America Is Too Young to Die. Both of Ravenhill's books had one important message: "It is time to quit playing church."

Thirty-three years later, I picked up the new edition of America Is Too Young to Die, and the powerful message gripped my heart again. I want to take some time and space to post some of the important words I read in Chapter three ~ a chapter with the same title as the book. I think it is especially relevant as we head into this political election season.

Ravenhill notes that, compared with ancient civilizations, America was "born only yesterday." But our nation, he said, "will be dead tomorrow unless there is a spiritual awakening." He called Americans to fear God and repent of impure hearts.

"In a day when men ignore the diagnosis of history and pretend that America does not have the disease that destroyed every major civilization there ever was," Ravenhill wrote, "it is time to tell the truth with all the passion and zeal that pure love for one's country can produce.

"America can die, but it would have to be by suicide," he said. "It would be because she thinks God is dead, and because she believes that His laws, which, when broken, have felled every nation that ever lived, do not, in her hour of freedom and affluence, include her."

In this election year, Ravenhill's words struck me hard. "America fights a battle that cannot be won at the ballot box," he said. "Her need is not the 'new morality' of the hour, but new morals based on the old laws of God."

Ravenhill called for a Joan of Arc to arise in America ... and another Jeremiah to weep over the nation's sins ... and another John the Baptist to call America back to repentance ... and another Elijah to bring fire down from heaven so the nation will cry out, "The LORD, he is God! The LORD, he is God!"

In the 1970s and until he died in 1989, Fehsenfeld cried out to God for national and church revival. In 1984, Life Action created the media production "America, You're Too Young to Die!" for national television, and the young revivalist reminded the church that revival "always begins with individual believers whose hearts are desperate for God, and who are willing to pay the price to meet him." 

God wants to avert judgment, he said, "and He's simply looking for one person who will pay the price in prayer and in faith and in commitment, whatever it takes, to get a hold of God and not let loose."

Ravenhill died in 1994, but he would tell us today that the desperate need of the hour is not conciliatory politicians but mighty prayer warriors. "We go down to our knees," Ravenhill wrote, "or we will go down to oblivion."

In Chapter 15, Ravenhill described the Laodicean church in the book of Revelation, but then made  parallels to contemporary American churches. The church, he said, is:
~ Self-satisfied, so it does not need to pray.
~ Self-sufficient, so it does not want to pray.
~ Self-righteous, so it cannot pray.
If Ravenhill or Fehsenfeld were alive today, they would no doubt call on the busy, over-committed, seldom-reflective church to put everything else on pause and pray before it's too late. 

"Let us go down to our knees," Ravenhill begged. "America is too young to die!"

NOTE: Other voices cry out for revival today.  Two who speak powerful words of truth are Nancy Leigh DeMoss at Revive Our Hearts, and Byron Paulus (Fehsenfeld's successor at Life Action Ministries), the founder of the OneCry movement ~ calling today's Christians to prayer and seeking God's face for genuine revival.

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2