"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

Promises And Preparation For Revival

By James A. Stewart

    God’s promises have been claimed by martyrs, prisoners, lonely discouraged believers, and weary missionaries all down the ages when they felt their feet slipping. What stories and songs have been written concerning the faithfulness of our covenant-keeping God. Millions of believers can testify with Moses: "There was not one city too strong for us: the Lord our God delivered all unto us" (Deut. 2:36).

    Hudson Taylor, meditating on Ezekiel 34:26, "And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing," embraced this promise. God spoke to him through this verse, and on this text alone he predicted that God was going to do "a new thing," and he believed the Lord for the first one hundred missionaries.

    James Caughey pleaded and prayed and prophesied mighty local revivals throughout England on the strength of Mark 11:24. When he arrived on the shores of Great Britain from America he quietly told evangelical Methodist leaders that God was going to do mighty things. Wherever he went he preached first on this verse, "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Churches were revolutionized, and tens of thousands of souls were saved, among whom was William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. Said Caughey, "Mark 11:24 is a rich mine. What precious metal may be dug from it in experience!"

    Pastor Harms, of Hermannsberg, Germany, when appointed to his pastorate, felt discouraged because it seemed an impossible task given him. The church in the village was small and the testimony weak. His parish, ten miles square, was overgrown with unbelief and formalism. There was no concern among the unsaved. But as he fasted and prayed he received a mighty enduement of the Spirit, whereby he was able to receive definite promises from God’s Word, definite passages of Scripture which revealed to him that the whole neighborhood would be transformed. With a little band of believers he prayed through on these promises, and very soon the desert began to blossom like a rose. Large numbers flocked to hear the Word. No year passed without new awakenings. Thousands were brought into fellowship with the church, and so great was their depths of spirituality, and so great was their missionary spirit, that it has been said by deep mature spiritual minds that very few evangelical churches in any part of the world could equal the village church of Hermannsberg.

    For seven years Adoniram Judson sought the conversion of the Burmese, and when advised by the Missionary Society to surrender his mission and start in another field he answered, "No! No! I cannot and will not surrender this mission. Success is as certain here as the promise of a faithful God can make it." Then came the Burmese blessing.

    As I myself have waited before the Lord, I have received definite promises of revival, for different churches and different countries. The result has been a mighty quickening among the saints and the salvation of thousands of souls. Such promises given to me have been:

    "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert" (Isa. 43:19).

    "I will bless thee...thou shalt be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2).

    "Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you" (Josh. 3:5).

    "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jer. 33:3).

    "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?" (Jer. 32:27).

    "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?" (John 11:40).

    "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten...And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you..." (Joel 2:25-26).

    "And I will sanctify My great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes" (Ezek. 36:23).

    "For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith" (Mark 11:23).

    "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38).

    "...From this day will I bless you" (Hag. 2:19).

    A few souls in any church or school or mission field may inaugurate a new condition by praying through and standing on the promises of God. My brother, my sister, if the Lord has laid it on your heart to pray for revival in your sphere of labor, go alone on your knees with the Word before God. Make sure the desire is from the Lord, so that the motive will be for the glory of His dear Name (see Daniel’s prayer, Dan. 9:17-19). Then ask Him to seal to your heart some portion of His Word, according to that which He desires to do in your midst. Once you have obtained such a promise, stand on it unflinchingly until the answer comes.

Preparation for Revival

    God is ready and longing to send revival. "Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not," is His challenge to us today. It is true that we must wait God’s time for revival, and cannot force it; but is it not also true that His time is when the church is prepared for the blessing? There is nothing fluctuating or spasmodic about God’s desires for His people. Their unpreparedness is the only problem. The church might have revival as wide and as deep and as powerful as she please, if she would only comply with the conditions on which God can grant it.

    One of the most important things to observe in our Christian life and service is the condition attached to any blessing that we may need. "Make this valley full of ditches" was the word of the Lord through the prophet Elijah to the king of Israel (2 Kgs. 3:16). And after they had made the ditches, the Lord caused the water to come and fill them. In like manner, when there is obedience on our part to the divine condition, there follows abundant blessing and continuous victory. The depth of the ditch shows the measure of the expected blessing. The church must once again begin to dig her ditches.

Confession of Sin

    True acknowledgment and confession of sin is, as it were, "making the ditches." There are times when we must stop praying for revival and get up from our knees and deal with the sin in our midst. In Joshua, chapter 7, God’s people are blaming God for failing to answer prayer. Joshua, baffled and beaten in disgrace because of the defeat at Ai, insinuated that Jehovah was not interested in taking care of His own Name – that the cause of defeat and failure was that God would not hear and answer prayer. The Lord’s rebuke to His servant was sharp and sure: "Get thee up: wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned" (vv. 10-11). How many times God must say to believers praying for revival: "Get thee up, wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? There is sin in the camp."

    Joshua could have wasted all his energies in order to win the victory at Ai, but all would have been in vain so long as Achan’s sin was not judged in the midst of God’s ancient people. Even so, there are times in the experience of the church of God when one has to cease preaching or even praying or exhibiting the Table of Commandments; when one has indeed to "grab at the golden calf" and smash it and scatter it to the four winds. No wonder Douglas Brown, in revival times, declared, "Revival is not going down the street beating big drums, but believers with sobbing hearts going back to Calvary."

    Let no one begin to pray for revival who cannot first honestly and sincerely face this fundamental condition. The very first act of obedience to God of any human being must consist of repentance and breaking with every known sin. Breaking with sin means breaking with any bad habit, with any mode of life, with any practice or even any attitude which dishonors the Lord. Sin must immediately be judged and dealt with, lest leprosy spread abroad in the camp. God’s message for us today is: "Up, sanctify the people" (Josh. 7:13). An Achan in the camp can hinder God from blessing – an Achan of doubt, an Achan of worldliness, an Achan of selfishness, an Achan of jealousy, an Achan of pride, an Achan of covetousness, an Achan of impurity. God will not allow His Name to be associated with sin. God’s Name was too holy for Him to be associated with any evil, and so He was not in their midst.

    In Joshua 3:5 we have the challenge from God, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you." This clarion call of God was sounded throughout the camp of Israel on the eve of the memorial day, when after forty years of wilderness failure they crossed over Jordan into the Promised Land. The law which underlies this command is an eternal one. Every mighty movement of the Holy Spirit is preceded by a preparation of heart among God’s people. God does not need any preparation. He is always ready, always ready to work wonders. Prayer is neither preparing God nor making God willing to work wonders. Prayer is the preparation of the heart of the one who prays, for the wonders which God is waiting to do for him. Upon us rests the responsibility of fixing the time of God’s display of power, for there is no delay with Him. The might of His power is constant and unchanging, but the supernatural workings vary according to the receptiveness and obedience of His people.

    "Sanctify yourselves!" The word "sanctify" in this verse simply means, "put yourself in that attitude or position where God can with perfect readiness work for you." It is only when the river of God approaches human territory that it is stopped or hindered. The windows that hold back the mighty blessing are bolted on our side and not on God’s. If we will pull back the bolts of unquestioning obedience, our "today of sanctification" will be followed by "God’s tomorrow of wonders."

Oh for the floods on the thirsty land,
Oh for a mighty revival!
Oh for a sanctified, fearless band
Ready to hail its arrival!

    – Taken from Opened Windows by James A. Stewart. Copyright © 1999 by Revival Literature. Used by permission. This book is available from Revival Literature, P.O. Box 505, Skyland NC 28776.  revivallit.org