“All the true revivals have been born in prayer. When God’s people become so concerned about the state of religion that they lie on their faces day and night in earnest supplication, the blessing will be sure to fall." E. M. Bounds
Many of us pray that God will send a revival among us. We intercede not only for ourselves, but for those around us, asking God to move in powerful ways. But what does revival actually look like and how should we pray?
My husband and I had the wonderful privilege of living in Wales for more than a year. A great revival swept through the land in 1904, making an impact on the nation—and the world—in a short span of time. We had the added blessing of visiting Moriah Chapel, the tiny church building where the Welsh revival broke forth. I was amazed at how insignificant in appearance the building is. Yet the power of God spread around the world from that humble place. Believers in Wales are praying for another mighty revival to touch their land, and we have been inspired to think, study, and pray much for revival since that time.
The topic of revival brings great interest to most of us because we long for God to sweep through our country. But we must realize that it is costly, and each of us must be willing to pay the price to prepare for it.
Behind the concept of revival is the Hebrew word chayah, which means “to live.” In Strong’s Concordance, the word is translated “make alive, nourish up, preserve, quicken, recover, repair, restore, save, keep alive and make whole.” Who among us does not desire that the Church be quickened, made whole, preserved and kept alive? We must pray with heartfelt passion for this to happen. And it will. When the Church is revived, she will be stronger and mightier against the powers of darkness. She will be a brighter light in this dark world. She will be victorious and attract the lost.
When revival hit Wales, the whole community was shaken by the power of God. Crowds would go to the prayer meetings at 6:00 A.M. Because the Holy Spirit affected many people, the entire community was soon turned into a praying multitude. Evan Roberts, the young man greatly used in the Welsh Revival, would speak of four tenets or keys to walking in revival. These are helpful as we seek for personal and corporate revival in our own lives:
- The past must be made clear by sin being confessed to God and every wrong to man put right.
- Every doubtful thing in the life must be put away.
- There must be prompt obedience to the Holy Spirit.
- There must be public confession of Christ.
We live in serious times. We need to cry out fervently to God, asking Him to revive His Church worldwide. We need to be in intensive prayer, asking God to move in our cities and nations. Studying the characteristics of revival will help us prepare both personally and corporately for a great move of God in His Church. Understanding the deep need to prepare our own hearts for revival and learning how to cooperate with God as He pours into the earth will keep us from hindering the move of God as it comes. The key phrase of the Welsh revival in 1904 was, "Bend the Church and save the world."
The Human Characteristics of Revival
Spiritual preparation - Unity and prayer are two key elements needed for revival. We must pay this price of spiritual preparation. Revival will not come without a hunger and thirst after God that brings intense prayer. There must be a longing for His glory. We cannot be indifferent or apathetic but must rend our hearts with the cries that are born by the yearnings in God’s heart. Forty days after Jesus ascended to heaven, His followers obediently prepared for spiritual revival: "They all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14).
“Our essential trouble is that we are content with a very superficial and preliminary knowledge of God… we spend our lives in busy activism… The inevitable and constant preliminary to revival has always been a thirst for God, a thirst, a living thirst for a knowledge of the living God and a longing and a burning desire to see Him acting, manifesting Himself and His power, rising and scattering His enemies." Martin Lloyd-Jones
Conviction of sin - In true revival, people are seized with an overwhelming conviction of sin. Even the smallest sin seems big. Sin is not taken lightly, and God deals with both the saved and the lost. Revival is intensely personal; God convicts you of personal sin, and your soul is in the agonizing grip of a holy God. There is an encounter with God’s convicting power. "They were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37).
“The assembly appeared bowed with an awful conviction of their sin and danger. There was such a breathing of distress and weeping that the preacher was obliged to speak to the people and desire silence that he might be heard. Many of the hearers were seen unconsciously holding themselves up against the pillars and the sides of the pews as though they already felt themselves sliding into the pit.” Wallis
God-consciousness - In revival, there is a consciousness of God, an awareness of His holiness and power. On the day of Pentecost, “everyone was filled with awe” (Acts 2:43). People caught up in revival know without a doubt that God is there. They feel a divine magnetism toward His presence.
“There was nothing humanly speaking, to account for what happened. Quite suddenly, upon one and another came an overwhelming sense of the reality and awfulness of His Presence and of eternal things. Life, death and eternity seemed suddenly laid bare.” Winkie Pratney
May God prepare each one of us personally to pay the price for revival—the price of fervent prayer and allowing Him to work deeply in our lives. Let us ask Him to make us conscious of His Presence and learn to abide in Him moment by moment. Pray that He will convict us of even the smallest sin in our life. Press on in prayer and fasting for revival in the nations. A worldwide end-times revival is going to be a glorious thing, but it will be costly.
We lived on a book exhibition ship for years. In some countries, thousands of visitors came on board daily. Long hours of hard work consumed our full attention. Are we ready for the demands of revival? God must prepare us, His Church, personally and corporately for the self-sacrifice that revival entails. May we not draw back but prepare to lay hold of this glorious end-time outpouring of God with all our hearts as the radiant Bride of Christ who is willing to sacrifice all so that people might be saved.
“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you! As when fire sets twigs ablaze and causes water to boil, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you" - (Isaiah 64:1-2).
Together in the Harvest,