Humble Origins Of Revival
By Sarah Foulkes Moore
A. T. Pierson writes, “From the day of Pentecost there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined; and it is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been glorified.”
The day of small beginnings in revival should not be despised. A survey of church history shows that almost every great revival that has swept the world with its power had a humble beginning. In a study of the promotion and progress of revivals, it is evident that the urge, the impulse to pray for revival was first begotten in the hearts of a few who had been aroused by the deep sense of need in the church and in the world. As they have yielded to the Spirit and given themselves up as channels of intercessory prayer, revival fires have been fanned into flame, the church has been purified, and sinners converted.
The first revival in church history had its beginning in a ten-day prayer meeting. It was a small company in an Upper Room in Jerusalem, but it was a mighty union of hearts and voices continuing in one accord, steadfastly in prayer.
Every genuine, heaven-sent revival from that day to this had its humble origin in the fervent prayers of a godly few. The mighty spiritual upheavals of the great Reformation came out of the strong crying and tears of the bold Reformers, Luther, Huss and others. The tide that turned the terror and bloodshed of the French Revolution from the imperiled shores of England and precipitated, instead, a glorious work of the Spirit of God, was the heroic work of the praying, pioneering Methodists, under Wesley, Whitfield, Bramwell and their associates.
John Knox, viewing the spiritual needs of Scotland, cried in an agony of prayer to God, “Give me Scotland or I die!” D. L. Moody, seeing the cities of America in the deadly grip of vice, immorality and corruption, prayed, “O God! stir the cities of America once again.” The great need of Christendom today is for giants like these of faith, prayer and vision.
The Day of Revivals Is Not Past
The Holy Spirit is waiting to be poured out when we humbly go on our knees and ask for it. “How much more,” reads the promise, “shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Luke 11:13).
In the early part of the nineteenth century, a great spiritual awakening swept the cities of Ireland. For two years previous, four young men had met in a schoolhouse near Kells and wrestled day and night with God for the salvation of the ungodly. Their prayers turned a profane nation into a veritable holy land, for when the revival came it swept everything before it. Multitudes flocked to the churches. Buildings were not large enough to hold them. Hundreds were under the conviction of sin in every service. Criminal courts and jails were closed for lack of occupants.
Cannot these past spiritual awakenings be matched today? A study of the Word of God makes it plain that any group of seeking Christians may receive the full blessings of Pentecost for their church if sought by earnest, persistent, believing prayer. Church history amply substantiates this fact.
In 1903, all Wales was ungodly, impious. Crime was rampant. In 1904, Wales was aflame with a heaven-sent revival. For years, Evan Roberts had prayed himself, and had stirred others to pray definitely, believingly for revival. When it came, it went through Wales like a blaze.
Incidents such as these might be multiplied to show that it is not necessary that the whole church takes to its knees to begin with. These past religious awakenings have started in the hearts of a few men and women whom God has succeeded in arousing by His Spirit to believe Him as a God who hears and answers prayer, and upon whose hearts He lays the burden from which no rest can be obtained except in crying out to Him for the greatly needed revival.
Before the great revival came to Wales over 300 extra prayer bands were formed throughout the land. Wales became one great prayer meeting. If only Christian America today would take to its knees, what might happen?
Witnessing the peril of spiritual indifference, worldliness, compromise, defeat and barrenness in the church today, seeing the appalling intemperance, licentiousness and vice in the nation, and realizing the imperative need of united intercession for a widespread spiritual awakening in our land, let every man and woman of God covenant to stand in prayer at this crisis hour between the nation and its great peril and God and His great power to deliver.