I was neck deep in graduation planning, party planning, government issues and meetings, counseling, speech writing, shopping, and more, and I still had to fit in house cleaning before Friday. I was stressed. I was nervous about my baby girl graduating and I was tired. So, when Tuesday evening rolled around, and we were experiencing severe weather I began to consider skipping the jail service.
I mean the ladies would understand with all I had on my plate. They probably wouldn’t even be expecting me in this severe stormy weather. After all, what if the jail lost power? We wouldn’t be able to have the service anyway. Not to mention, I had a stress headache that just would not relent. It would be a good evening to just go home, rest, and focus on the remainder of my extremely long to do list.
But I couldn’t do it. I know from past experiences that when I really don’t feel like going, and especially when the enemies influences start giving me all kinds of excuses to stay away—something big is going to happen. So, I loaded up the projector, my lap top, speaker, and my Bible and off to the jail I went. It was going to be a sacrifice, but I know God honors our sacrifices.
I signed in and went into the auditorium to set up, and I waited, and waited, and waited. No one was coming. What was going on? I waited at least thirty minutes and still no one came. Had I driven an hour to get here to find no one to minister to? Finally I pressed the button and asked if any of the ladies were coming to church. The reply came back, “Yes, we are getting them ready right now.”
Finally that familiar buzzer sounded, the door opened, and in they came. A bigger group than the previous week, but still not a big group—maybe ten? I began by greeting the new ladies, and we started the worship service. The whole time I was praying and asking the Holy Spirit to lead me and give me the words to speak. I had no idea what I was going to speak on but I knew He knew what the ladies needed to hear.
And He never fails. I began to preach by the power of the Holy Spirit and before I knew it women were weeping. I gave an altar call to accept Christ, and six ladies responded. We prayed, and they repented and asked Jesus to be the Lord of their lives. I typically give them an assignment to read a particular couple of chapters in the Bible and we sing another song and dismiss. But, I always offer to pray with them individually for any needs they have during the ending worship songs.
I had just requested that they read the first two chapters of Acts, and I told them we would discuss the baptism in the Holy Spirit next week. I started the music, and one by one they came to me for prayer. As I began to pray for the first young lady, the Holy Spirit began to reveal some things about her, and as I began to speak the words He gave me she began to tremble and weep…tears of joy.
I immediately felt that I should ask her if she wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. She said, “Yes! I want everything God has for me!” I began to pray with her again, and the moment I placed my hand on her forehead she began to speak in tongues. It was flowing out of her like a river. She was rejoicing and crying and could hardly stand. This lady had just given her heart to Christ moments before this. I’m pretty sure she didn’t even understand what the baptism in the Holy Spirit was, but she simply wanted more of Jesus.
The next lady came forward and said, “Miss Donna, I want what she got!” We both giggled and the Holy Spirit began to give me words to speak to her—meant only for her. She began to weep and before I could even put my hand on her head she fell under the power of the Holy Spirit. When I helped her up she was speaking in tongues.
She ran to the back of the room and grabbed a friend and dragged her to the front. She said, “Give it to her too!” I told her I was not the baptizer in the Holy Spirit but Jesus was, and if she wanted the gift to reach out her hands to Him to receive it. I prayed for her and gently placed my hand on her head. She immediately began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave her the utterance. Now, both of these girls were jumping up and down and praising Jesus.
Then another lady came forward and asked to receive as well. In just moments she was praying in tongues and weeping tears of joy. I cannot even describe to you the presence of God that flooded that jail auditorium. His power and presence was so thick it seemed physically tangible. One of the ladies said it felt like electricity in the air. Another said she had goosebumps from the moment she walked into the auditorium.
As I began to pray with one of these young ladies I sensed she was called to be a worship leader. She wept as the Holy Spirit began to reveal His plans for her. She told me, “My dad was a worship leader, and there’s nothing in this world I would rather do.” I told her she would be leading us in worship next week. She wept uncontrollably and was so excited. I prayed with other ladies for different needs. A lot of healing, emotionally and physically, took place. And I was reminded why I must always press on, especially when I don’t feel like it.
I sat in the parking lot after that service and cried. I know it had nothing to do with me. The Holy Spirit’s desire is to woo the sinner to Christ. He also wants to empower us to live a life devoted to Jesus, and to boldly speak the truth to a lost and dying world. It’s not by any strength or ability I possess, but by the wonderful, breathtaking power of the Holy Spirit!
Oh, what a blessing I would have missed if I had chosen to stay home. I certainly didn’t leave the jail with a headache. I also had plenty of time to accomplish everything I needed to do the rest of the week, and I did it without stress or worry! This is what revival looks like. When people realize God’s love for them, and they understand their immense need for a Savior then we begin to experience revival.
(This is not only happening in the jail, but in schools, churches, in open air meetings, and various other places. I would love to come and speak a word of encouragement to your congregation. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 319-541-1385)
Quit Praying for Revival!
For years I have prayed for God to send revival. I couldn’t figure out why we were not seeing God move in power in our churches. In this last season of Covid and quarantines I began to feel more desperate than ever before. Before everything shut down I had started to feel complacent, and I felt we would never see revival.
I began to wonder if the promises God had made to me years ago would ever come to pass. I was even discouraged with my weekly jail ministry and it almost felt like a chore to go and hold services. I began to doubt if it was really making a difference anyway. But when Covid came along, and I could no longer go into the jails or other venues, my perspective began to change.
It’s so easy to become complacent and start complaining about things even when things are good. We can quickly go from blessing to blaming when our attitudes fall out of line. For me, Covid shutdowns not only prevented me from doing a lot of traveling ministry, it caused me to take a long hard look at my attitude. I could get discouraged because my schedule when from full to nil, or I could dig deeper and prepare for the next season.
I’m so glad I chose the latter because Jesus taught me some important lessons in that time. I think the most important lesson He taught me was to quit praying for revival. That’s right, He told me to stop praying for revival as I knew it. Many of us have a concept of what we want revival to look like. We often look back to grand revivals of the past and desire that kind of great outpouring.
And I definitely believe we can see and experience that again. But, Jesus showed me that our approach must be different. He began to give me dreams and visions of revival that looked different from anything I have seen before. People were coming to Jesus in total desperation and complete surrender.
Something had changed within them. The things of earth had grown strangely dim in their eyes as they began to look to Jesus. It was as if they had been sifted, and their focus had been shifted. They were desperate for something more than holy goosebumps, and personal blessings. They were desperate for Jesus.
And as they began to see their need for Him, they began to experience His power within them. It was in the realization of Who He is, and whose they are, that revival was birthed.
I have read over this Scripture again and again, and finally truly absorbed and took to heart what it means for us:
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called--his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Emphasis mine)
First we must realize whose we are. We are His holy people, and His inheritance! We are treasured. Next we must understand that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us, and His power is available to those who believe—that’s us. We often pray for revival and beg God to send His power, but He already has. We carry revival within us!
The exact same power that raised Christ from dead is in us and available to us! What if we simply believed this power is within us? What if we quit looking for revival to spontaneously erupt in our church and began to step out in the power He has given us? What if we began to do what He has called us to do? This became very real to me over the past month.
I became desperate to go back to jail. Since the Holy Spirit lives within us, and He gives us power I began to increase my praying in the Holy Spirit. I also increased my praise and worship and Bible study. I began to feel like Jeremiah must have felt—like fire shut up in my bones. I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to speak—anywhere. I was ready to see God move. I BELIEVED He was going to move wherever I went because I carry His power inside me.
In a months time I saw sixteen people saved, nine people baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, and three received a call into ministry. These took place in a school, in an open field, and inside a jail. And this only goes to prove that we carry the Spirit of revival within us. The Holy Spirit is still the same. He has not changed. Our ideas of how and when He will move have.
The Holy Spirit’s power is displayed out of our desperation. Not just a desperation to see Him perform great signs and wonders, but the desperation to see Him change and transform lives. When we desire to see God do the miraculous for others, and not just ourselves, we will see Him move. He is just longing for someone to believe in the power that is within them.
He will do the rest!
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.