In Apopka, Florida, the fires of an “If 7:14” revival are burning.
The northwest suburb of Orlando made national news last year when, after an atheist organization complained of the high school football team’s chaplain, hundreds of community members stepped out of the stands following a game to “cover the field” in prayer.
This is a community that understands the power of “taking a knee.”
On Thursday, May 7, Apopka welcomed Bob Vander Plaats of The FAMiLY LEADER to share the “If 7:14” vision for a prayer and revival movement that can spread from Iowa, Florida, and anywhere the Spirit of God may be moving.
Vander Plaats told the story of taking his son Josh to another field – a baseball field in Sioux City, Iowa – for a Little League photograph.
Vander Plaats said he grabbed his son, got him into the car, and tried to outdrive the looming storm. But funnel clouds began descending from the sky all around – four, in fact, that threatened to form tornadoes.
Vander Plaats turned the car for home instead and gathered his family into the basement to pray.
“When the funnel clouds come toward you, and you have nowhere else to run and nowhere else to hide, what do you do?” Vander Plaats asked the Apopka prayer gathering. “You start turning your focus back to God.”
That’s what “If 7:14” is all about: God’s people turning their focus away from every other source of security, turning away from their sin, and turning back to God.
Local reports estimated 350 people attended Apopka’s 2015 Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning, including city commissioners, police and fire chiefs, pastors, and the city’s mayor.
Pastor Doug Bankson of the Victory Church World Outreach Center introduced Vander Plaats to those assembled. Bankson had met Vander Plaats on a trip to Israel.
“This man’s heart is for the people and for God,” Bankson said, according to The Apopka Chief newspaper. “You know people by the company they keep, but what’s more is by the people they influence.”
For years, Vander Plaats has influenced politics and policy in both Iowa and in presidential elections. But through “If 7:14,” Vander Plaats is seeing a message that resonates beyond politics and well beyond his home state of Iowa.
The “If 7:14” initiative, Vander Plaats told the gathering, comes at a time when America needs the healing promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
And though 2 Chronicles 7:14 was originally written for Israel and not the United States, Vander Plaats told the Apopka prayer gathering, this scripture gives a glimpse into God’s heart about spiritual revival. The scripture is not focused on our troubles or perceived enemies, but on us. Revival in America and its institutions can’t happen unless it begins in the heart.
“Revival is an ‘inside-out’ proposition, not an ‘outside-in’ proposition,” Vander Plaats said, according to the Chief.
God wants people to “seek His face” so they see things the way He sees them and turn back to Him, Vander Plaats explained. This includes repenting from indifference about God or thinking God has no permission to speak to public life, a stiff-arm of God that Vander Plaats said “is killing this country.”
“When it’s people’s turns – leaders, pastors, parents, public officials, teachers, you name it – to take to the microphone and say something like, ‘No, that’s not right; that’s wrong,’ we backed away,” the Chief quoted Vander Plaats as saying. “We backed away because it was too ‘hot,’ ‘too controversial.'”
But the healing America needs won’t be found in silencing the Word of God; instead, it will come in heeding it – specifically, in heeding the call to repentance and prayer of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
As Vander Plaats told the prayer warriors in Apopka, “I don’t think [God] is done with this country yet … this city yet … your home yet … your church yet.”