By Dan Brownell
What happens when we cry out together for spiritual revival?
Forty years ago, Pastor Bill McLeod of a small Baptist church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada, asked his people to be part of a weekly prayer meeting and to pray daily for revival.
Adults and even children dutifully complied. They would even add a sentence about revival as they prayed together before their evening meals.
It took five years, but God showed up in power. A traveling revivalist came to McLeod’s church for meetings. Starting with 190 people, soon other churches joined the movement.
Within weeks, they were forced to move to the largest facility in town. Ultimately, over 4,000 people were meeting together, and thousands were being led to deep repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Crime virtually stopped as people sought forgiveness for past sins of stealing and cheating and beyond.
Yes, crying out to God together for revival has great impact. Are you praying daily for God to move in your city and in our nation?
This account, by Michael Pool, appears on the website of OneCry, a division of Life Action Ministries. According to OneCry’s mission statement, it’s “a movement of like-minded people, churches, and organizations who agree that our nation needs a dramatic turnaround — but not the kind that comes from different politics, more education, or a better economy. Instead, it’s a cry to God for spiritual transformation of our hearts, homes, and communities….”
To achieve this ambitious goal, OneCry has partnered with more than 60 ministries, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, National Day of Prayer, American Family Radio, Colson Center, International Mission Board, National Collegiate Day of Prayer, 40 Days of Prayer, Sherwood Pictures, and Moody Church, as well as individuals such as Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Luis Palau, and Crawford Loritts.
The Birth of OneCry
OneCry was founded 10 years ago by Byron Paulus, who recently stepped down after serving 35 years as CEO and president of Life Action Ministries (LAM). At the time, LAM was already 40 years old. Although it was focused on revival, even after four decades, the leaders hadn’t seen the national revival they had been seeking. In fact, it seemed further away than ever, so Paulus took a week to seek God in prayer, and during that time, he felt the Lord was calling him to add another dimension to the ministry. “That’s when God just smote my heart and said, ‘You’re trying to do this thing alone,’” he explained. With that, he realized that God’s pattern, based on Acts 2, had more to do with the uniting of the people of God, and that God works through people, not methods. That’s when OneCry was born.
OneCry saw an increase in prayer with the 2016 election and, more recently, has experienced a major spike following the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. For 10 years, OneCry hosted a Tuesday night telephone prayer call that typically involved 20 to 30 people, but soon after the outbreak of the virus, the ministry expanded the prayer calls from one evening to three, with several thousand on each call. At the outset, about 10 ministry leaders were participating on the calls but increased to around 600 since COVID. The calls are currently run on Tuesday evenings, with several hundred attendees and are viewed by several thousand by the end of each week.
The Biblical Sequence: First Revival, Then Spiritual Awakening
With the increased emphasis on seeking God has come a better understanding of what needs to take place. “What thrills me,” Paulus said, “is that the biblical term ‘revival’ no longer has that much confusion because the desperation that’s out there has overflowed into the correct definition and understanding historically and biblically of the terms ‘revival’ and ‘spiritual awakening’.…
“The sequence is well understood today,” he said. Biblical revival begins in the Church, resulting in a spiritual awakening among the lost. This is what happens in Acts 2. When God’s people repent, then God’s power comes, and with God’s power comes evangelism in its best form.”
According to Paulus, we’re currently seeing just the beginning of revival, with limited social change, but the potential exists for a much more extensive revival, resulting in a major transformation. “Consider America’s First Great Awakening, in which one-sixth of our country’s population came to Christ,” he said. “If that were to happen here today as a result of revival in the Church, that would be like 60 million people coming to Christ. It would create a cultural transformation.
“Politics can change the culture slowly, perhaps … but historically, the Great Awakenings had a huge ingathering of lost souls that affected every segment of our culture in a much more rapid way.”
“There’s a quote I value greatly,” Paulus noted. “It’s by Matthew Henry who said, ‘When God is about to extend great mercy, He first sets them to prayer.’
“The prayer movements are escalating. We’re getting desperate enough to seek Jesus for revival through prayer and obedience, so I believe God could be on the verge of extending great mercy to His people.”
“Here’s kind of a bottom line in my heart,” Paulus said. “I believe revival will either come through desperation or devastation, and we’re trying to do all we can for it to come through desperation.”
The Heart of the Ministry
The name “OneCry” captures the mission of the ministry, which is to form partnerships across various lines to create a ministry crying out to God with one heart and mind. The ministry crosses lines in five major areas: in gender, denominationally, ethnically, geographically, and generationally. Individuals, churches, and ministries who partner with OneCry are unified on essentials of the faith, yet are willing to set aside secondary distinctives to work together to plead with God for revival and spiritual awakening. We have discovered that believers are willing to lay down their distinctives on secondary matters in deference to what is our one and only hope.
The Lord impressed on Paulus’ heart to bring together many ministry partners. He set a goal of 50,000 intercessors, 5,000 pastors, and 500 ministries. Not in theory but truly identifiable, active, and connected. Although OneCry hasn’t kept close track of the numbers, Paulus thinks they’ve exceeded those goals.
How to Partner With OneCry
• Join the movement at onecry.com/join. When you become a member of the prayer team, you’ll receive via email a monthly prayer calendar and occasional prayer requests related to revival.
• Find and join a local prayer gathering. Visit the following link to find a map showing local groups you can join for prayer and revival: onecry.com/get-involved/pray/local-prayer-gatherings.
• Participate in prayer calls. Calls take place on Tuesday evenings 8 p.m. (CT)
• Read the OneCry Blog. Visit onecry.com/blog to keep up with ministry news.
• Listen to OneCry Radio. One-minute audio clips can be heard daily through a partnership with American Family Radio, Moody Radio, Bott Radio Network, and other independent stations.
• Join the OneCry College Ministry. For more information, visit onecry.com/collegeministry
• Pray for your neighbors by name. BlessEveryHome.com creates a detailed map of your neighborhood to allow you to pray, care, and share specifically with those who live around you.
• Download the OneCry App. Stay connected to the movement through the free app available for both iOS and Android platforms. Visit onecry.com/personal-revival/app-available
• Follow OneCry on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:
OneCry provides many resources to help individuals and churches carry out their work. Free materials include videos, e-book downloads, printable guides, and promotional materials. OneCry offers more in-depth materials for sale. They include a church kit; small group Bible studies, such as Prayer With No Intermission: 40 Days to Unceasing Prayer; and the book OneCry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening.
“Revival Champions” Church Leadership Program
The free church leadership initiative Champions: A Twelve-Session Curriculum on Revival for Leaders includes a monthly video by noted speakers such as Richard Owen Roberts, Sammy Tippit, J. Edwin Orr, Dave Butts, and Bob Bakke, followed by discussion and prayer time. For more information, visit onecry.com/champions.
A Church Success Story in Reno
Pastor Brent Brooks, senior pastor of Reno Christian Fellowship in Reno, Nevada, led a OneCry event in Reno that hosted 375 people from 60 ministries. He provides a comprehensive list of tips to leading productive events that combine different ministries. Following are just a few. To read the rest and to watch his brief video about the Reno event, visit onecry.com/get-involved/pray/reno-a-success-story.
• Start with relationships, not events.
• As long as we stay separate, the devil wins. When we are one, the church will rally, the world will take notice, and the devil will flee.
• Don’t treat cultural differences as theological differences.
• Focus on the highest common theological denominators (Father, Son, Holy Spirit, the gospel, the authority of Scripture, the cross, prayer, revival).
• Identify outliers, i.e., those who are not connected with any tribe. These will require personal contact.
• Make sure that you seek no personal credit. Keep the focus on unity, not on you.
• Find the intercessors in your community and stay closely connected with them. Everything you do must be covered with prayer.
• Keep prayer and revival at the center.
• Remain persistent.
ONECRY’S DECLARATION OF NATIONAL SPIRITUAL EMERGENCY
With heavy hearts, we recognize that the church in America is in a state of spiritual emergency. Like the churches warned in Revelation, we have become lukewarm and compromised, and the light of our witness has grown dim.
We confess that despite access to more resources and biblical teaching than any other group of believers in history, we are not characterized by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. And we acknowledge our lack of widespread impact for Christ on our lost and disintegrating culture.
But God is waking us from our slumber and mobilizing us to pray earnestly for revival. Together, we desire to travel the narrow road of brokenness, humility, and repentance.
In desperation for God, we cry out for the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit in our day. We believe that true revival is the only hope to reverse our spiritual recession and enable us once again to display the beauty of Jesus Christ and His gospel throughout the world.
Because we believe that only Christ can save, heal, and revive, we pledge to:
TURN – in humble repentance from every sin God reveals to us.
PRAY – with urgency for spiritual recovery and awakening.
UNITE – with other believers in spreading the hope of Christ-centered revival.
Lord, send revival, and let it begin in me!
For more information about OneCry, visit onecry.com, email email@example.com, or call (269) 697-8600 (Life Action Ministries’ main line) and ask to speak to someone from OneCry. The OneCry book is available at Today’s Christian Living online store scl.christianbook.com, powered by The Christianbook GroupTM.