Revivals and awakenings do not just happen. Rather, they are first conceived in people’s hearts, then fed through prayer and fasting, which gives birth to the organization of and call for local and collective solemn assemblies—thus giving way to lasting transformation.
It is time for a birth such as this in our land—beginning in the church. The apostle Peter wrote: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?” (1 Pet. 4:17–18).
Whenever a solemn assembly or sacred gathering was called in Scripture, it was called by those in leadership: priest, prophet or king. Often, it would first be called for a specific smaller leadership sphere before spreading to the entire nation.
Here in America, our own historical records verify that prior to every national awakening, the spiritual leadership of the day placed a heavy emphasis on fasting and gathering for times of solemn assemblies, typically in smaller groups that led to larger gatherings.
These times of revival and refreshing from the Lord were experienced by people who weren’t satisfied with yesterday’s blessings. There’s nothing wrong with yesterday’s blessings; but this solemn assembly, this call to fasting and prayer, is for those who are asking God to show them something more.
It’s very similar to playoff time in the sports world. When it comes time to seek the championship, what was accomplished during the season suddenly is not sufficient. It was great that your team won enough games to make the playoffs, but now they need to show you something more, something new. For me, a solemn assembly is playoff week with everything on the line.
Through the discipline of fasting, your spiritual sensitivities and those of your people will be heightened and intensified because what normally takes up a good part of your day and your focus will be denied—set aside in search of a greater spiritual breakthrough with the Lord. You will be more in tune with God because you’ll be less distracted with worldly concerns.
Sometimes we don’t get around to hearing much of what God wants to do with us and say to us as preachers and leaders of our flocks. There are too many distractions with telephones, televisions, counseling and meetings. There are too many people talking about everything else, so we miss the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit who is longing to let us know what God wants.
The solemn assembly is designed to mute these noises and distractions so God can speak to us, having gained our undivided attention. I want to encourage you, fellow leader, to consider offering a time of solemn assembly in your local congregation.