The Hope at Hand:
The Ultimate Answer to Our Prayers Is Drawing Near
Note: This blog post is adapted from a message I gave in late January to 300 leaders at the 30th annual, 48-hour Pastors’ Prayer Summit in New York City. However, its heart cry and its hopeful projections relate not only to God’s people in metro New York but to the Body of Christ nationwide. That means what I share here is also about YOU and your immediate future, wherever you live.
Kairos. A time of decisive action. A moment for divine intervention. This blog post is about kairos.
The backstory: Nearly thirty years ago, I moved with my family to metro New York. I came for one reason. I was convinced that the Spirit of God was raising up an urban prayer movement here that would lead to a regionwide Christ Awakening movement. I believed that God intended for this miracle to become “a joy, a praise, and a renown before the whole earth” (Jeremiah 33:9)—for the greater glory of Christ, the revitalization of his Church, and the advancement of the Kingdom. And I was determined to join in this kairos adventure.
Over the decades, I’ve shared with leaders around the world, in many streams of the Church, that the level of Christ-ward dynamics manifested among believers in metro New York represents what may be the most spiritually significant development in any major city on the globe.
This claim is based on a wealth of evidence, such as:
- Hundreds of Concerts of Prayer events facilitated across the city and region in the past three decades
- Hosts of unified mission initiatives that have sprung up in answer to our prayers—such as various citywide evangelistic outreaches, including two Billy Graham Crusades and two Luis Palau Festivals
- The launching of Movement Day focused on urban renewal and mission, now being reproduced in hundreds of cities worldwide
- The Jesus Week phenomenon, which over the past three years has been uniting hundreds of churches to work together to directly reach over three million New Yorkers with the gospel
- Various united initiatives to serve the poor, the forgotten, the oppressed—both in the region as well as in other nations
- A visible vitality of many existing congregations, from small storefront churches to some as large as 20,000 members
- The acceleration of church plants in the various boroughs of New York City and across the region in northern Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut
- A rich diversity of denominations, ethnicities, races, and languages working together in all of these efforts (and many others)—all for the cause of Christ
This list of dynamics brings me to the main focus of my blog post: The truth is that I write this post believing it is the most important one I’ve delivered since ChristNow.com began.
I would even dare to call it “prophetic.”
Its message concerns what I’m convinced will be the ultimate answer and impact to come out of the annual prayer initiatives in New York City.
But far more, I’m writing about what’s impending in response to the larger, historic, thirty-year, national prayer movement—as throughout the Body of Christ, hundreds of thousands have sought God’s face together for the spiritual revolution our nation so desperately needs right now.
Thank you for allowing me to bare my heart to you in this two-part blog post.
Let me begin with two shocking statements.
Shocking Statement # 1: In the next ten years, either there will be a greater exalting of Christ among us, or there will be an increasing apostasy.
To say it another way, in the face of an unprecedented convergence of incredible onslaughts on our very way of life in this nation, our generation of Christians will experience one of two outcomes by the end of the next decade: Either there will be heightened focus in our churches on the greatness of Christ, or there will be a lot fewer churches.
Taking a cue from Jesus’ parable of the soils, if the current field of Jesus followers fails to extend their roots further and deeper into the person and purposes and power and kingdom of God’s Son and the wonders of his spectacular supremacy, then the crises facing our people will cause many to harden or wilt away or choke regarding the things of Christ. In other words, we will see apostasy.
In fact, this decline is already in full swing, as I’ll report in just a moment.
Shocking Statement # 2: Far too many Christian leaders today are currently in danger of being sued for spiritual malpractice.
What I mean is this: In view of the apocalyptic-type challenges confronting believers in the next ten years, Christian leaders must give top priority to refortifying their congregations and ministries with a fresh, bold, comprehensive vision of, engagement with, and passion for God’s Son in all his fullness, and for the fulfillment of his kingdom purposes for this generation.
Otherwise, overwhelmed by an avalanche of adversities, a grievous falling away from Christ will become inevitable. But we leaders will be held accountable most of all before the Throne of Heaven for this avoidable tragedy.
The warning to Israel’s ineffective shepherds in Ezekiel 3:16-19 might prove equally applicable to many of today’s Christian leaders in the gospel age. God said:
Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. If I warn the wicked, saying, “You are under the penalty of death,” but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. But I will hold you responsible for their deaths.
When you read that, it sounds like nothing short of spiritual malpractice, don’t you think?
Now, let me list a few unnerving developments
behind these two shocking statements.
The list below—not written in order of importance because all the points are important—is just a start. I have a much longer list on file.
But note this: These foreboding trends are currently descending upon us with a ferocity that analysts agree we’ve never seen before.
And note, too: Every one of these developments directly impinges upon the fulfillment of God’s purposes in Christ for his people, the impact of the gospel of Christ upon our nation and, above all, the vitality of advance of the Kingdom of Christ in this generation.
Therefore, the acceleration of these sobering trends should give all of us pause. Examples:
- Intense immigration pressures from an excessive volume of desperate asylum seekers worldwide—with more to come
- Trillions of dollars in national deficits and debt—which keep growing exponentially
- Increasing income inequality, creating an ever-widening gap between rich and poor
- Unrelenting, undiminished youth violence in many of our urban centers, as well as in suburban public squares and public schools from coast to coast
- Unsustainable increased prison populations at all levels—local, state, federal
- The opiate epidemic which annually is killing tens of thousands of Americans
- A rise in human trafficking nationally and worldwide—such as slavery and prostitution
- The rapid spread of online pornography, with our young people as the major target, exacerbating the mass sexualization of our culture
- Intensifying battles over abortion reminiscent of the abolition struggle 200 years ago that led to the American Civil War
- Ongoing, wholesale infrastructure decay, now requiring trillions of new dollars to simply restore what has been lost
- Increase in cyberwarfare seen in the vulnerable state of evolving national cybersecurity, most immediately in our electoral process
- Workforce unpreparedness to serve the multiplication of new technologies, leaving many critical jobs unfilled because of under-trained candidates
- Pervasive racism causing an increase in segregated communities along with the rise of nativism and White Nationalism
- The growing menace of worldwide pandemics in a global community, particularly as deadly antibiotic-resistant organisms flourish more and more
- America’s unending, intractable wars that continue to drain blood and treasure, bringing loss and disabilities to thousands of American homes
- The rise of a new nuclear arms race with the ever-present and growing potential of permanently wiping out whole civilizations
In addition, we must not overlook the prevailing, all-consuming, partisan political warfare—both local and national—that portends to tear apart irreversibly the very fabric of American society.
Nor can we ignore the rising fears based on nightmare scenarios from most in the scientific community regarding catastrophic disasters over the next ten years due to intensifying climate disruptions, much of it already unfolding in countries worldwide, with predictable economic and social upheavals.
But here’s the worst news of all: Like a tsunami, all of these plagues are converging upon our generation simultaneously.
Did you catch that? They are coming at us all at the same time. Leaving little time to react. Little time to catch our breath. With no place to hide.
Nothing of the magnitude of this developing draconian drama has previously played out before the human race. But here we are.
As a result, we may be reaching a tipping point that can become a breaking point—from which we may never recover.
Is the Church—is your church—adequately prepared
for the simultaneous impact of the growing crises just ahead?
As these ominous trends intensify, Christians must take stock of our situation.
What is the current moral and spiritual condition of the Church in America? How healthy is the Body of Christ in this nation? Are our people ready to survive such an hour—and, more to the point, are we sufficiently equipped to thrive for Christ in the midst of what we might call “The Coming Great Shaking”?
Be warned: The evidence is building that we may not be!
Here are a few of the red warning lights flashing, drawn from nationally respected observers:
- Gallup reported last year that churches are disappearing across the land; those that remain have had a precipitous drop in church attendance, from 70% to 50% in just the past two decades.
- Based on national surveys, we find that a significant number of people who have dropped out of the Christian orbit say the reason they did so was because of spiritual burnout—too much demanded of them in the Christian walk with too little spiritual feeding to keep them going.
- This past November, research at Barna Associates documented that 80-90% of evangelicals confessed to their fear of initiating spiritual conversations with anyone, believer or non-believer.
- Barna metrics also found a significant drop in engagement with Scripture among evangelicals. A full 96% today, it has been concluded, could properly be defined as “biblically illiterate.”
- The front pages of our papers feature the unmasking of clergy sexual abuse, not only among Catholics but also increasingly within the evangelical domain.
- Another study concluded that on any given Sunday, as many as 40% of the men sitting in our pews are struggling with addiction to pornography.
- A major analysis by the Southern Baptists, the largest Protestant denomination, found that around 80% of pastors today say that persistent melancholy is their hardest struggle in the ministry—that is, their sense of despair that nothing they are doing is making any lasting difference.
- This parallels the discovery of Dr. Ray Bakke, a foremost evangelical urbanologist, after conducting 300 citywide convocations around the world, including many in the USA. He concluded that the greatest barrier to reaching our cities for Christ is the “spirit of hopelessness” inside our churches.
I could go on. However, I’m sure you get the idea.
But first, we must grapple with the GREATEST crisis of all.
After nearly four decades of traveling into every sector of the Body of Christ across our nation and in many other lands—listening to and learning from God’s people as my priority—I have concluded that the greatest crisis of all is none of the above. None of these global threats. None of these other spiritual deficiencies among God’s people.
Our greatest crisis is what I’ve come to call the “crisis of Christology.”
I see it among Christians everywhere I go—and too often among their leaders, as well. The magnitude of this crisis is, I suggest, the primary reason that God raised up the concerted prayer movement nationwide. He’s been calling us to confront this crisis first of all by seeking his face.
This “crisis of Christology” is a sobering, pervasive, tragic shortfall in how God’s people today see, seek, savor, and speak of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in terms of who he is, where he’s headed, what he’s doing, and what his reign is all about.
It comes down to a failure of vision—a failure to grasp the full extent of the height, width, depth, and length of the supremacy of God’s Son today—with all of its implications for every facet of Christian discipleship and community and mission.
Consider the deadly consequences if believers fail to see Jesus for all he is. What if instead, we remain more concerned about Jesus providing us comfort, prosperity, and fulfilling our dreams than we are in living our lives for the redeeming reign of the Savior, whose saving purposes often bring his followers into hardship and persecution, forcing us out of self-satisfaction and personal security.
If we’re so preoccupied with ourselves now, how will we possibly find the will or courage to stand for Christ when facing real persecution in the future?
Thankfully, I’m not alone in sounding this alarm. Others are beginning to speak up about this most deadly of all crises. Listen to a few of them:
- Reformed theologian Michael Horton titled his book on the evangelical movement Christless Christianity. In it, he states that our churches are overtaken with (his phrase) “therapeutic, moralistic deism” with Christ on the fringes. In essence, Horton believes that in many ways, we have become “Christless.”
- Biblical scholar J. I. Packer illustrates it this way: In the evangelical movement today, he says, Jesus has become like Humpty Dumpty. He’s fallen off the wall and broken into a hundred pieces. Each of us has a piece of him. But very few of us are striving to put all the pieces back together.
- Shortly before he died, Chuck Colson wrote that in the evangelical movement today, the church functions as the retail outlet, the members have become the consumers, and Jesus serves as the product.
- In his last book before his death in 2011, world-renowned Christian statesman John Stott nailed our condition by writing in his introduction to The Radical Disciple: “We have become puny Christians because we have created a puny Christ.” Adding: “We need above all a fresh and true vision of Jesus Christ—not the least in his absolute supremacy. Where should we be but on our faces before him?”
- Widely known Mosaic founder and effective Los Angeles church planter, Erwin McManus, writes in his book The Unstoppable Church: “The diminishing influence of the American Church on American society is not simply because fewer people are going to church. Rather, fewer people are going to church because of the diminishing influence of CHRIST on the church itself.”
Here’s one finding my own research uncovered: I’ve attended many conferences on prayer, revival, discipleship, the Christian life, and/or theological debates during which I rarely hear the name of Jesus mentioned during the main sessions of the conference, let alone in discussions at refreshment breaks—except to conclude a prayer. Too often, even the lyrics of songs used in times of worship do not lift up Jesus. This is such a regular heartbreak to me—among all streams of Christians—that I have to assume it must be virtually embedded in the evangelical DNA.
But why not do some research yourself? Circulate among the people in your church for the next three Sunday mornings, listening to what they are talking about with one another. Observe the emphasis in times of worship. Take notes during the sermon. Ask another friend or two to do the same. Next, all of you meet to compare notes. You’ll be shocked at how rarely the name of Jesus ever comes up among believers on a Sunday morning—when one would expect that Jesus would be the main topic!
Then, recall what Jesus declared in Matthew 12: The mouth reveals what already fills the heart. This should suggest that for a significant majority of God’s people, and often their leaders, the stunning truths about King Jesus simply are not FILLING our hearts—nor, therefore, our conversations.
So what can we do about this—this greatest crisis of all? How can we turn this around before it is too late—before we are overtaken by all the other crises set to envelop us in the 2020s?
Note: The good news is that there is a way to reverse the “crisis of Christology” and prepare God’s people to not only survive but also THRIVE for the glory of Jesus in the midst of “The Coming Great Shaking.” Most of all, I want to help you understand, anticipate, and get ready for the nationwide Christ Awakening movement just ahead of us.
Clearly, in light of “The Coming Great Shaking”
much more of the wonders of Christ must FILL our hearts.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that a multitude of Christians literally cannot last three minutes talking about who Jesus IS—not about what he’s done for them but about who he actually is at this very moment, reigning at the Father’s right hand.
We know far too little about him. We know him far too little.
Consequently, twenty years ago, I began developing a whole new way to help believers lay hold of what I call a “consequential Christology”—a vision of the greatness and glory of Christ so thrilling it carries life-altering consequences that can prepare Christians not only to survive but also to thrive in the midst of the looming battles in the 2020s.
I’ve hammered out this schema in more than 600 pages of my latest book, Christ Is NOW!, and also in a credit-bearing Master of Arts course in ministry leadership for Pillar College in Newark, New Jersey.
I believe the wonders of who Christ is today can be distilled into seven little prepositions: who Christ is TO us, FOR us, OVER us, BEFORE us, WITHIN us, THROUGH us, and UPON us.
In my class at Pillar, we spend four hours on each one of these seven facets of a “consequential Christology.” For now, let me simply highlight each. As I do, ask yourself: In any sense, does this overview represent the kind of vision most of God’s people are feasting upon on any regular basis?
- Who Christ is TO us—that is, his personhood, his deity, his intimacy with the Trinity, the claims of his names, and as our identity and destiny
- Who Christ is FOR us—summed up in his four-fold, irreversible revolution: the invasion of his incarnation, the mission of his crucifixion, the re-creation of his resurrection, and the coronation of his ascension
- Who Christ is OVER us—as he reigns over creation, world history, global rulers, earth’s peoples, the dark powers, and the building of the Church
- Who Christ is BEFORE us—as right now, he goes ahead of us in four ways simultaneously: into the future, into the heavens, into God’s promises, and into the world
- Who Christ is WITHIN us—as he lives out his risen, ascended life in us, both individually, and even more so, corporately
- Who Christ is THROUGH us—as he extends his reign and ministry from here to the ends of the earth, reaching out through us individually and, even more so, corporately
- Who Christ is UPON us—as he comes upon his people now to revive, intensify, deepen, and accelerate all we already are experiencing of him, and then in the day when he comes upon the entire cosmos in his glorious, victorious, and visible return
So, let me ask you again: How many Jesus followers do you know who are living daily in the reality of anything close to these exciting dimensions of the living Christ and what his supremacy means for them?
In fact, how many of us leaders in the Body of Christ are regularly, as a way of life, seeking and savoring more and more of the majestic truths about the person, purposes, and promises of the reigning Redeemer to whom we belong, heart and soul and strength?
Next, consider this: How important do we think it is for us to return to and reclaim a much more magnificent view of the Master in order to be refortified and newly empowered to triumph in the midst of the sobering, unprecedented—perilous, even volatile—trials awaiting us?
Now, dream with me: What might it look like, if despite the gathering storm, the Spirit of God reclaimed and awakened thousands and thousands of Christians in our nation who become increasingly passionate for bringing greater glory to the Lord Jesus Christ?
What might it look like if the Father concentrated all the united prayers we’ve offered for decades in the national prayer movement and brought them back down upon us right now, but doing so “exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all we ever dared to ask or think” up to this point? (Ephesians 3:16-21)
And what if, in this hour of mounting crises, for the sake of a whole generation and for his kingdom, the living God unleashed among the Body of Christ in America a coast-to-coast, wholesale awakening to the glory and greatness, to the worth and wonder, to the majesty and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ—the King who ascended on high specifically to fill God’s people, to fill our land, and ultimately fill the whole universe with his sovereignty, his glory and his activity (Ephesians 4:9-10)?
WHAT IF at this moment we are standing on the threshold of such a “kairos” season?
WHAT IF in America, the unparalleled grace of divine intervention and spiritual revolution in the Lord Jesus Christ is the hope that’s at hand—the hope waiting for us right now?
Just ahead: a “Great Christ Awakening” as
God’s answer to a “Great National Shaking”
Instead of being hijacked by multiple crises enveloping us in overwhelming waves of spiritual anxiety, despair, paralysis, powerlessness, fatigue, and finally, retreat, what if God were to offer us a marvelous alternative?
In other words, what if his offer were to take us into a profound recovery of wholeness as God’s people by restoring to us the whole vision of the whole Christ—by saturating us with the person and presence and power of Christ, by mobilizing us to join together to advance the purposes of Christ despite the impending “Great Shaking”?
More specifically: What if God has already set before us the gift of a Christ Awakening—if only we will welcome it?
Well, he has! And we can!
I call it “the hope at hand”—a new horizon, the sunrise of “kairos.”
His offer involves nothing less than bringing our churches and us into a fresh realization of the extraordinary transformation promised in 2 Corinthians 4:6.
In my view, this verse is the most relevant one in the entire Bible for us who are standing at the crossroads of the future. Here—in one simple sentence—is the breakthrough we’ve been seeking throughout all these decades of united prayer. It proclaims:
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
I want to show you how this one verse outlines five astounding transactions involved in what I would call a genuine, God-given “Christ Awakening” experience.
What this verse teaches is related not only to what can happen with the unconverted, but it also contains the promise of what can explode time and time again after we come to Christ—doing so in far deeper, more profound ways than when we first believed—for individual Christians, or for a congregation, or for a whole generation. We find in 2 Corinthians 4:6 that:
- This awakening penetrates to the heart level—that is, to the depths of our affections.
- This awakening unfolds with the full force of the original creation of the universe.
- This awakening also unfolds with the full force of the final consummation—the day when not only hearts but also the whole earth will be “covered with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
- This awakening is all about how God’s glory is encountered today through the person of the living Christ—the “anointed one”—raised up to reign as Lord of all.
- This awakening transpires as God’s Spirit engages us with God’s Son today on such richly intimate terms that it becomes for us like seeing our Lord Jesus directly, face-to-face.
Let me be clear: At this critical juncture in Church history, only the dynamic, divinely orchestrated, wide-ranging, life-changing revolution of 2 Corinthians 4:6 will do!
This hope is extended to all of God’s people throughout the nation. Our Father is ready to reignite his people with an awakening to the matchless, splendorous sovereignty of his dear Son, summoning us to pursue anew Jesus’ righteous, radiant reign streaming forth from his very being.
Therefore, I must reiterate:
Nothing less than the miracle of 2 Corinthians 4:6 will ever prove sufficient for the building and bracing of God’s people to stand firm, to stand strong, to stand bold—to stand for Christ, to stand for the gospel, to stand for his saving mission to neighbors and nations—and to stand full of faith as we confront a myriad of existential threats.
How about you? Do you believe such a Spirit-driven Christ Awakening adventure is possible?
Let me press you further: Do you believe such a transformational inbreaking is at hand? If so, are you sure you are ready for the glorious disruptions it will bring to all of us? Are you eager for it?
At hand? Remember that Jesus came preaching that the “Kingdom of God is at hand.” The Greek for “at hand” can mean “bearing down on top of you”—like the clouds of a summer thunderstorm hovering before the rains break loose.
With that backdrop, let me rephrase my last question:
Do you believe, right now, that a Christ Awakening is bearing down on top of you, your church, your city, your region, our nation—in answer to all our years of prayer for nothing less? Is our long-anticipated kairos hour finally “at hand”?
I close this blog post
by laying my prophetic vision at your feet.
At the outset, in Part 1, I told you I think this is the most important message I have ever given to God’s people since ChristNow.com began—by a blog post or in any other way. And now you see why.
It’s because, with all my heart—and with vast amounts of hard evidence to back me up, as you’ve seen—I DO believe this wonderous Christ Awakening IS “at hand”—to fulfill our years of seeking it together all across the Body of Christ. God has not forgotten a single one of those prayers.
All that remains, all that is needed right now, is for every Christian leader and every believer to couple the enormous treasury of intercession we’ve laid at the Throne with an unwavering commitment to saturate ourselves and those we love and serve with more of who Jesus is to us, for us, over us, before us, within us, through us, and upon us—with more of the matchless, magnificent majesty of the reigning Son of God.
If you are in any position of spiritual influence—such as a pastor, worship leader, Bible study teacher, campus worker, mission facilitator, and especially if you are a parent—you and I must make this commitment to saturation with the supremacy of Christ the top priority for ourselves and those we teach and lead.
We can do so with confidence, relying on this principle:
Scripture teaches that “Faith comes by hearing when what is heard is the message about the Christ” (Romans 10:17). In turn, we know it is by faith and faith alone that any past Heaven-sent Christ Awakening movement has come to the Church.
Therefore, the most strategic ministry any of us could have today is this: to pour into our fellow believers more and more and more of the Lord Jesus Christ.
That, incidentally, is why ChristNow.com and ChristNowOnLine were raised up by God—to thoroughly equip you with an extraordinary array of free resources and social media ministry.
One alert, however: The flipside of this marvelous hope carries a warning. As I said in Part 1, in the next ten years, I predict there will be either more of Christ exalted among our people OR far fewer people in Christ among us. This should sober all of us.
Sensing the urgency of our times, therefore, I close this post urging all of us to carefully heed this admonition.
May our churches never have to hear the heartbreaking pronouncement of Jesus over a previous, indifferent, unrevived generation of God’s people when he cried out: “How often I would have gathered you to myself, but you refused. So now your house is left to you desolate” (Luke 13).
To conclude: What is Jesus saying to US? In the two parts of this blog post, I’ve set before you a “prophetic vision” that can be summed up in a paraphrase of Jesus’ core preaching—a four-point outline distilled from Mark 1:15. Personally, this is what I hear him saying to us right now:
The time for you to experience
a mighty awakening to my supremacy is fulfilled.
The inbreaking of this God-given revolution for my glory
is bearing down upon you.
So, turn from anything that will keep you from fully entering into it—
and come into more of me.
I invite you to believe and proclaim this extraordinary hope
to fellow believers throughout the Church
because it is—because I am—drawing near.
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.
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