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“All the mighty men (and I will add women) have been men (and women) of prayer. They have differed from one another in many things, but in this they have been alike.”

~ R. A. TorreyHow to Pray (1900), 11

“Why is it,” both ministers and churches are asking, “that the church of Christ makes so little headway against unbelief and error andn sin and worldliness?” Once more we hear God answering, “Neglect of prayer. You have not because you ask not.”

~ R. A. TorreyHow to Pray (1900), 10.

While being interviewed before a boxing match, Mike Tyson was asked for his thoughts on his opponent’s style. Tyson observed. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Likewise, everyone has a plan for how they’ll be victorious until adversity comes. Once disorientation hits, all resolved, strength, and composure vanish like a boxer’s two front teeth.

~ John OnwuchewaPrayer65.

Seven Marks of True Revival

Article by Ajith Fernando

Revival means many things to many people. I mean it to describe a situation where large numbers of people are fired up to seek God fully, yearn for obedience, confess sin in their life, and experience the joy and freedom of walking with God.

History shows us that there is no exact prescription for revival. It is an act of the sovereign God, and we can’t dictate what he should do and when he should do it. I have been praying for revival in Sri Lanka since 1975. Only once, while attending a conference, have I seen something close to revival. But I continue to pray that, in my lifetime or after, the Lord would send his showers of blessing upon our people through revival.

Seven Marks of Revival

While we cannot dictate to God what he will do, history shows us that there are some things that happen before and when revival comes that are worth noting.

1. Faithful Preaching

As all the revivals in the history of the church show, the preaching of God’s word is a key ingredient. The Holy Spirit often lights the flames of revival when pastors systematically and faithfully preach the word. Often, pre-revival preaching is characterized by a call to total commitment to God, repentance, and the extolling of the beauty of holiness.

2. Unceasing Prayer

The great historian of revival J. Edwin Orr has made famous the statement, “No great spiritual awakening has begun anywhere in the world apart from united prayer — Christians persistently praying for revival.” This is what the disciples of Christ did before the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). People with a burden recognize others with a similar burden, so they join in and pray. Many of the great revivals were preceded by united, persevering prayer by people who shared a similar burden for revival.

3. Precious Unity

Unity is often the trigger for revival, and sometimes the result of revival. Once, when Ugandan Bishop Festo Kivengere was preaching in South India, his interpreter, Samuel Ganesh, felt convicted of the need to make peace with a person in the audience. He took leave from the preacher, went to the audience, and made peace. This triggered a process of person after person making peace with each other. Revival had come; there was no need to complete the sermon. Bishop Festo left room for the Spirit to do his work.

The Bible speaks of the urgency of believers being united (John 17:21, 23; Ephesians 4:1–3). One of the most important callings of leaders is to yearn and pray for unity and do all they can to facilitate it. The Holy Spirit can use a leader’s yearning to trigger revival. Those who pray for revival should make sure that they have done all to be at peace with others.

4. Earnest Seeking

The famous revival prayer, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6) suggests a tone of earnest desire. Revival is preceded by people seeking God with all their heart and wanting to see God’s glory among his people.

My favorite example of such praying is the students at Pandita Ramabai’s school in India. The students prayed fervently, and God answered by reviving them and many others through them. The young Evan Roberts, whose ministry triggered the Welsh Revival, often prayed, “Bend me, O God.” We are open to whatever it takes for God to be totally in control of our lives!

5. Pervasive Repentance

Some so-called revivals have been characterized by exotic experiences without much emphasis on repentance. People go like tourists to such places to see what is happening. I wonder whether we could call that revival. After the revival at Asbury College and Seminary in 1971, many students came to the bookstore to return things that they had taken without paying. That is a powerful sign that they had become right with God.

Preaching against sin before the revival often contributes to revival and influences what sins are confessed. In the history of the church, there were times when some sins were neglected in revival preaching — like sexual impurity; exploitation; and race, class, and caste prejudice. This has resulted in revived churches perpetuating sins that the revival should have addressed. In other revivals, like the eighteenth century Wesleyan revival in the UK, revival helped influence social reform and attack injustice.

For Marks 6 and 7…

“God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”

~ Mother Teresa

Oswald Chambers

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”

Martin Luther said once: “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”  

For Luther, the busier he was, the mor he needed to pray. We tend to do the oppossite: We pray less the busier we are.

Luther was right about the importance of prayer and that we need to do more of it.

Martin Luther
Martin Luther by Cranach-restoration.jpg

 

“What is the American church known for? I think people might say we’re known for great programs, effective small groups, excellent resources, or good adminstration. Most people probably wouldn’t think of the American church as being known for dynamic prayer.”  

~ Cheryl Sacks, The Prayer Saturated Church19.

The Prayer-Saturated Church: A Comprehensive Handbook for Prayer Leaders (Prayer Tools CD included)  -     By: Cheryl Sacks

“If we call upon the Lord, he has promised in His Word to answer, to bring the unsaved to Himself, to pour out His Spirit among us. If we don’t call upon the Lord, He has promised nothing–nothing at all, It’s as simple as that. No matter what I preach or what we claim to believe in our heads, the future will depend upon our times of prayer. This is the engine that will drive the church.”

~ Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we pain,

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer!

~ Joseph Scriven

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