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…Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15)

May God Send Revival!

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

~ Martin Luther

June 26, 2014 

History Could Happen AgainJonathan Edwards wrote a number of books that became famous, even during his own lifetime. One of his lesser-known works was a 1746 book titled An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer, For the Revival and Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. Edwards wrote the book after learning about a group of Scottish ministers who circulated a “memorial” in 1744 calling for seven years of prayer in anticipation of God’s coming kingdom on earth.

In An Humble Attempt, Edwards argued for all believers to engage in monthly “concerts of prayer” for worldwide revival and the conversion of the unreached peoples of the earth. As a postmillennialist, Edwards believed the salvation of the nations was one of the final signs that the millennium would soon begin. His prayer was that the transatlantic revivals that had occurred off and on for a generation would “go viral” and cover the entire earth.

Though its topic was inspiring, An Humble Attempt was not very influential during Edwards’s lifetime. It did not sell as many copies as The Diary of David Brainerd, did not influence theologians like Freedom of the Will, and did not define authentic spiritual experience like Religious Affections. Nevertheless, some scholars argue that Edwards could be considered the “grandfather” of the modern missions movement among English-speaking evangelicals because of how the Lord used An Humble Attempt in the generation following Edwards’s death.

The Missionary Awakening

In 1784, an English Particular Baptist pastor named John Sutcliff received a box of books from a pastor friend in Scotland. Included among the books was a copy of An Humble Attempt. After reading the book, Sutcliff began to circulate An Humble Attempt among his fellow Baptist pastors. Inspired by Edwards, Sutcliff and his friends issued a call for the pastors of the Northamptonshire Baptist Association to set apart the first Monday evening of every month for prayer for the heathen and the coming kingdom. The concerts of prayer became popular among the younger pastors in the association and continued well into the 1790s. Sutcliff eventually published a British edition of An Humble Attempt in 1789 and wrote an introduction to the treatise.

When the Evangelical Awakening began in Britain in the 1730s, few Nonconformists were vital participants. Most of the “Methodists” were revived believers in the Church of England who were influenced by the Wesley brothers, George Whitfield, or a host of less-famous preachers in England and Wales. Calvinistic Dissenters such as the Particular Baptists were often skittish about the Evangelical Awakening due to a variety of reasons such as class differences between Nonconformists and Anglicans, concerns about the Arminian theology of the Wesleys, and the deadening influence of High Calvinism, especially among London Particular Baptists. It was not until the next generation when revival finally came to British Nonconformists in the form of what I call the Missionary Awakening.

Several of the pastors who answered Sutcliff’s prayer call became early leaders in the Missionary Awakening. Robert Hall Sr. and Andrew Fuller wrote influential treatises against High Calvinism and argued for an evangelical view of Calvinism influenced by Jonathan Edwards. John Ryland Jr. became the principle of Bristol Baptist Academy; many of Ryland’s students became strong supporters of missionary advance. Most famously, William Carey authored his influential treatise An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, wherein he argued that the Great Commission is a binding command on every Christian in every generation. In 1792, these men formed the Baptist Missionary Society (BMS). Fuller served as secretary of the BMS for over twenty years and Carey became its most famous missionary.

The Spreading Flame

From this small missions-minded “band of brothers,” the Missionary Awakening spread to other believers. Over the next decade or so, most of the Particular Baptists who had been influenced by High Calvinism rejected these views and owned the Great Commission as their own. The missions-minded Edwardsean Calvinism of Fuller and Carey became commonplace among most Particular Baptists. The Arminian Baptists also got in on the action. The recently revived General Baptists, led by the Baptist Wesleyan (!) Dan Taylor, formed their own mission society in 1816.

The Missionary Awakening also spread beyond the Baptist fold. In 1795, missions-minded Anglicans and Nonconformists formed the non-denominational London Missionary Society. Evangelical Anglicans associated with the famous “Clapham Sect” also formed the Church Missionary Society in 1799. Early leaders in the CMS included John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce. The CMS version of William Carey was Henry Martyn, who, like Carey, also served as a missionary to India and inspired many others to become missionaries.

By the early 1800s, the Missionary Awakening had crossed the Atlantic. Between 1800 and 1810, numerous local missionary societies were formed in the Northeast; many of these societies either supported the various British mission societies or focused on evangelizing Native Americans. In 1810, Congregationalists in New England formed a foreign mission society, followed by the Baptists in 1814. Adoniram Judson, the Congregationalist-turned-Baptist, was the central figure in the formation of each of these mission societies. In 1820, American Methodists established the Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary Society.

It Could Happen Again

Those who followed Jonathan Edwards advanced his original vision for prayer, spiritual awakening, and missionary advance. Between 1780 and 1820, entire denominations experienced revival, sound doctrine overcame soul-deadening error, numerous new benevolent ministries were launched (I have only referenced the mission societies), and English-speaking evangelicals became passionate about fulfilling the Great Commission. It could happen again.

Knowing how God has worked in the past can help us ask some key questions of ourselves in the present. Are we praying for revival in our own spiritual lives? Are we praying for the salvation of the nations? Are our churches setting aside a specific time for focused — even extraordinary — prayer for a global awakening through the advance of the gospel? Do we long for the Lord to move among us as he moved among those who came before us?

Like Edwards and his spiritual children, we should pray for global revival through the worldwide advance of the gospel.

For the rest of the post…

prayer-rainer

No Prayer, No Power

The early church in Jerusalem was at a crisis point.

This time the problem was not an external foe. It was not heretical teaching in the fellowship.

It was simply a body of believers that had misplaced priorities.

The church was in danger of losing its passion for prayer.

Good Question, Bad Answer

The congregation had a legitimate question. The story is told in Acts 6:1-7. They wanted to know who would take care of the Hellenistic Jewish widows. Who in the church would take care of those widows and get them food every day? Good question. After all, the Hebraic Jewish widows were getting their food. We can’t leave out one group, the church declared, while another group gets its needs met.

It seems, though, that some were suggesting that the apostles should add this duty to their growing list of responsibilities. That was a bad answer. Still, the Twelve handled the situation well. They selected seven men of godly character to lead in this ministry. The widows were fed. The church was pleased. And the number of disciples multiplied greatly.

Crisis averted.

Fascinating Response

The particularly fascinating response in this passage takes place in Acts 6:4. The apostles said: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the preaching ministry.”

They could not, under any circumstances, neglect prayer or the preaching ministry. As important as pastoral care to the widows was, prayer and preaching could not be minimized.

So we leaders in churches around the world have rightly held high the priority of preaching in our churches. That clarion call should never be silent.

But it’s the first part of Acts 6:4 that we don’t see often in churches in America today: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer . . .”

Prayerlessness = Powerlessness

Did you get that? The Jerusalem church would not just have a weak prayer meeting. Prayer would not be an addendum to their worship services. Prayer would not be simply preparation for the consumption of food.

The church would be devoted to prayer.

The church at Jerusalem had power because they had prayer.

In a study we did several years ago on the most effective evangelistic churches in America, we found one of the highest correlated factors to that effectiveness was a passion for and a devotion to prayer.

It seems like we have little power in our churches today because we have little prayer.

Not just perfunctory prayer.

Not just an offertory prayer.

Not just a hospital prayer.

Powerful churches have a passion for prayer. They are consumed with prayer. They are devoted to prayer.

For the rest of the post…

Prayer and Revival

A Compilation taken from materials found on the web, arranged and edited.

J. Edwin Orr

Dr J. Edwin Orr was a leading scholar of revivals who published detailed books about evangelical awakenings. His research discovered major spiritual awakenings about every fifty years following the great awakening from the mid-eighteenth century in which John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards featured prominently. This article, based on one of Edwin Orr’s messages, is adapted from articles reproduced in the National Fellowship for Revival newsletters in New Zealand and Australia.

There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.

Dr A. T. Pierson once said, ‘There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.’ Let me recount what God has done through concerted, united, sustained prayer.

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution (following 17761781) there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards; they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennos, Massachusetts, in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Provost, quit functioning; he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment.

The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church ‘was too far gone ever to be redeemed.’ Voltaire averred and Tom Paine echoed, ‘Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place, where they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College, and they put on antiChristian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and they burnt it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790’s that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer.

There was a Scottish Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh named John Erskine, who published a Memorial (as he called it) pleading with the people of Scotland and elsewhere to unite in prayer for the revival of religion. He sent one copy of this little book to Jonathan Edwards in New England. The great theologian was so moved he wrote a response which grew longer than a letter, so that finally he published it is a book entitled ‘A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of all God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies…’

Is not this what is missing so much from all our evangelistic efforts: explicit agreement, visible unity, unusual prayer?

1792-1800

This movement had started in Britain through William Carey, Andrew Fuller and John Sutcliffe and other leaders who began what the British called the Union of Prayer. Hence, the year after John Wesley died (he died in 1791), the second great awakening began and swept Great Britain.

In New England, there was a man of prayer named Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, who in 1794, when conditions were at their worst, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States.

Churches knew that their backs were to the wall. All the churches adopted the plan until America, like Britain was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings, which set aside the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.

When the revival reached the frontier in Kentucky, it encountered a people really wild and irreligious. Congress had discovered that in Kentucky there had not been more than one court of justice held in five years. Peter Cartwright, Methodist evangelist, wrote that when his father had settled in Logan County, it was known as Rogue’s Harbour. The decent people in Kentucky formed regiments of vigilantes to fight for law and order, then fought a pitched battle with outlaws and lost.

There was a ScotchIrish Presbyterian minister named James McGready whose chief claim to fame was that he was so ugly that he attracted attention. McGready settled in Logan County, pastor of three little churches. He wrote in his diary that the winter of 1799 for the most part was ‘weeping and mourning with the people of God.’ Lawlessness prevailed everywhere.

For the rest of the post…

“It is God’s will through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of His saints should be one of the great principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people; as is manifest by Ezekiel 36:37. and it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for His church, He will begin by remarkably pouring out the spirit of grace and supplication (see Zechariah 12:10).”

~ Jonathan Edwards

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 13,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Prayer Points:

1. That the strongholds within your country to be broken so that a new wave of revival may be released.

2. God will enable a prayer force to be mobilized to reach other unreached parts of your nation.

3.Pray that all Christians will be awakened into evangelization both locally and internationally.

4. Pray for the mobilization of Pastors, leaders, believers and intercessors in your country to awaken in prayers.

5. Pray that God will release a spirit of conviction and repentance upon your nation that millions of souls may get saved.

6. Pray for God to provide all the finances, favor and grace for all the resources thatare needed for evangelism.

7. Pray for divine protection of your Christian leaders, that God will grant them protection, wisdom and favour.

8. Pray that God will give prophetic direction for the Nation.

9. Pray for Peace, godly leadership and godly counsel to the Government.

For the rest of the post…

This blog is dedicated to the subject of praying for spiritual revival. When God sends a revival, it will begin with his people in the church. We will repent and turn back to God; and by his grace, we will be empowered to be the people he desires.

As God’s Spirit is working on the church, people outside the church will be drawn to love and glory of Jesus. In other words, there will be conversions. The words of Acts 1.8 will be fulfilled. Jonathan Edwards reminds us that God’s mission in the world is the salvation of souls…

“The work of God in converting souls out of the hands of
Satan, was begun soon after the fall of man, has been carried
on in the world ever since to this day, and will be to the end
of the world. God has always, ever since erecting of the
church of the redeemed after the fall, had such a church in
the world. Though oftentimes it has been reduced to a very
narrow compass and to low circumstances; yet it has never
wholly failed.”

One of my favorite books on the subject of revival is by Pastor Brian H. Edwards. It is called: Revival! A People Saturated With God.


The title itself is a great definition of revival. His title is based on Duncan Campbell‘s understanding of revival: “a community saturated with God” (26).

I have read this book more than once and I have marked it all up because it is both a history of revival and an encouragement to pray daily for God to revive the modern church. Edwards writes… “In revival things happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Meetings are lengthened, crowds gather, and sermons have to be preached, not because it is all arranged in advance, but because God is at work. People will arrive without warning for a meeting, moved by an unseen hand”(29).

For Jesus Alone!

Bryan

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