Where was the church when prayer was taken out of schools in 1962? Or when abortion was legalized in 1973? Or when same-sex marriage started to gain momentum to the point that Christian businesses are persecuted for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple?
Put another way, when did the church fall asleep? What caused the church to fall asleep? And how can we wake up the so-called sleeping giant? I don’t have all the answers, but what I do know is the church didn’t fall asleep overnight. I recently penned column called “When the Enemy Lulls You to Sleep” that recounts how evil Delilah lulled mighty Samson into slumber. Of course, Samson was living in compromise, which opened the door to Delilah’s seduction.
Paul clearly warned us not to be ignorant of the devil’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11), which implies the Lord will reveal the enemy’s devices, schemes, plots and plans if we walk in connection with His heart—and that’s where many of us miss it. If we are living in compromise, we’re likely to become spiritually drowsy—but we won’t fall right to sleep any more than we enter deep sleep the second our head hits the pillow.
Even if the enemy does lull us to sleep through weariness, apathy, compromise, or blatant sin that threatens to sear our conscience like a hot iron, the Holy Spirit is simultaneously working to convict our hearts so we’ll wake up. Of course, it’s easier to wake up when you are just drifting off than when you are in a dream state where reality is skewed.
4 Stages of Sleep
There are four stages of sleep and each one is telling when paralleled to the spiritual realm. During Stage 1, your eyes are closed and, according to WebMD, there’s a reduction of activity.
From a spiritual sense, this activity reduction could be caused by weariness, apathy, compromise or sin. Our eyes are closed. We don’t want to see it—we may even justify it. The good news is it’s easy to wake up without much difficulty during stage 1. The bad news is this stage doesn’t last long so the opportunity to shake yourself loose from weariness, apathy, compromise or sin is short.
Stage 2 is a light sleep. WebMD reports there are peaks and valleys, or positive and negative waves, as the heart rate slows and body temperature decreases. At this point, experts say, the body prepares to enter deep sleep. Catch that! Your heart rate slows and your body temperature decreases. Can you see the spiritual parallel? In Stage 2, your heart is not on fire for Jesus like it was. Your love is growing cold. You are in dangerous place.
Stages 3 and 4 are what WebMD calls the “deep sleep stages.” This is when you dream—this is when you are disconnected from reality. You don’t see things as they really are—or you don’t see anything at all. During stage 3 you may sleepwalk. It looks like you’re going along with the church crowd but you are actually sound asleep. In stage 4, voluntary muscles become paralyzed. You may not hear sounds in the waking world or respond to activity in the environment around you. If you are awakened, you may be disoriented.
Sleeping at Critical Times
The church needs to wake up, open its eyes wide, pray and take acts of courage to ignite revival, awakening, reformation and transformation for the glory of God in our nation. We cannot be like the disciples who fell asleep at critical times—even while the Son of Man was being betrayed into the hands of sinners (see Matt. 26:45).
Antichrist spirits are rising, persecuting Christ and His church while we snooze. Some may be sleeping from sorrow (see Luke 22:45). Others may be slumbering after devlish Delilahs found a way to lull them to sleep through a compromised life. Still others may be sleeping because the devil has brought weariness to their soul and they failed to respond to Christ’s invitation to come to Him for rest (see Matt. 11:28).
No matter whether you are in a deep sleep or just dozing off, I offer you this admonishment: “Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11). And for those of you—the remnant within the remnant—that are wide awake, sounding the alarm, and interceding for the slumbering masses, take heart in these words from revivalist Leonard Ravenhill:
“Some Christians have already hung their harps on the willows, and yet others seem to delight in speaking of the Church’s present lapse as a proof of divine inspiration. But I myself believe that if the Church will only obey the conditions, she can have a revival any time she wants it. The problem of the Church is the problem in the garden of Gethsemane-sleep! For while men sleep, the enemy, sows his seed through his cults. Lest men sleep the sleep of eternal death, Oh arm of the Lord, Oh Church of the living God, awake!”
Jennifer LeClaire is news editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale and author of several books, including The Making of a Prophet and The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.