God is doing something new in the UK, says Pete Greig, founder of 24-7 Prayer. Young people are more open to faith. Public intellectuals are turning to Christ. Let’s be encouraged and keep praying for revival to come


Source: Photo by Min An: pexels.com

For a quarter of a century, we’ve been praying nonstop, night and day, in over 100 nations. I describe myself as the ‘bewildered’ leader of 24-7 Prayer because I’ve been in a constant state of bewilderment - for 25 years now - and its actually getting worse. 

I’m bewildered by the fact that God can use idiots like us. I’m bewildered by the fact that God answers prayer - that always surprises and encourages me. I’m bewildered by the fact that we started just one prayer room and now we’re in over 100 nations. It was never planned. We never expected it.

Revive us again

Revival happens on three levels. There’s personal renewal, which is vital. Recently, we were celebrating the moment in Aldersgate Street, London, when John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed”. That’s where the fires of the great awakening began.

Then, of course, it has to come to churches. When we start to see renewal in churches, it seems to happen in certain hotspots and then, from there, it spreads out. We see that throughout history.

There is a markable, empirically measurable, increased interest and hunger

Finally, the thing we long for - beyond the Spirit being poured out in churches - is for society to be impacted and changed. Right now, I think we’re somewhere on that spectrum. We’re seeing God do some wonderful things.

A thirst for holiness

I long to see people following Jesus more diligently. I long for holiness. That was one of the marks of the Asbury outpouring [in the USA last February], and we’re seeing it increasingly in Gen Z and younger people; a hunger for clarity and the conviction of the holiness.

But I also long to see more miracles. I long to see the Church repopulated and the tide turn in our nation.

I had the privilege of being at Asbury and, recently, some of the leaders visited the UK. They led a wonderful few sessions at Saint Church in Hackney, where a number of churches came together and over 1,000 young people stayed up until 5am, just seeking God and crying out him. We’re seeing that increasing desire for holiness replicated around the country. At St Paul’s Hammersmith, many 18-to-22-year-olds are coming to Christ.

Something new

The fundamentals of turning towards Christ, repenting of our sins and being filled with his Spirit, all of that stuff is clearly consistent. But, at different times and in different contexts, there’s a different marker on particular outpourings of the Spirit.

Wesley’s great awakening transformed society and led to the abolition of slavery and free education for the poor. The Hebridean awakening of 1949 to 1953 was marked by the sovereignty of God and by holiness. Today, we’re seeing people come to know Jesus more easily than we were five years ago, and that’s incredibly exciting.

The couple who lead our student ministry at Emmaus Road church, Holly and Robbie, said that at the last Freshers Fair in October, every single student they invited to church said: “Yes, I would like to come.” Every single one.

That was not happening two or three years ago. There is a markable, empirically measurable, increased interest and hunger – and we’re seeing that around the nation. My friends at St. Aldates, Oxford, said that over Pentecost and Easter, they couldn’t keep up with the number of people giving their lives to Jesus - it broke their systems!

Is it everything we’ve been praying for? No. But is it something? You better believe it!

Praying for more

This move of God seems to be stirring particularly among Gen Z. Emerging from the other side of millennial Gen X angst, and with the world so messed up and confusing, they’re saying: “Could someone please just give us clarity?”

What’s also fascinating is the extraordinary rise of public intellectuals returning to theism, and New Atheism increasingly being discredited. These are people with multiple millions of followers – influencers like Russell Brand getting baptised by Bear Grylls.

I long to see the Church repopulated and the tide turn in our nation

This is significant. Some people in our church go to Crossfit. My friend Jake said to me that some lads at the gym had started studying the Bible because of Jordan Peterson. They’d read Genesis and they said to him: “Does your church do Bible studies, because we’re super interested in the Bible.”

This is not just hype. The Wall Street Journal is writing about this phenomenon. We’ve had articles in The Times. The Spectator actually said: “a Christian revival is under way in Britain”. It’s an overstatement, but they’re reporting something.

When I hear this anecdotal stuff in my own networks, when I see public intellectuals and the cultural debate shifting in our favour - after 25 years of praying – when I see the media acknowledging it, I have a reason for hope and encouragement to be praying with a little bit more faith.

Listen to Pete Greig’s full interview with Michael Fanstone on Premier Christian Radio