What is Revival?

From the Day of Thy Power by Arthur Willis
“It was springtime in the year 1938.  A boy in middle teens stood in the little schoolroom adjoining Moriah Chapel, in the small Welsh mining town of Loughor, Glamorganshire.  A strange feeling of awe and wonder filled his heart, for this was the very room that witnessed the beginnings of that great outpouring of the Spirit, the Welsh Revival of 1904.  He listened to his host and guide, himself a convert of the revival, speak of those memorable days when the hardest hearts were melted by the presence of the Lord, and when the hills and valleys rang again with the songs of Zion.  It was almost too wonderful to be true, but it created questions deep down in his heart for which he could find no answers.  If God can achieve such mighty things in time of revival, and if the spiritual labors of fifty years can be surpassed in so many days when the Spirit is poured out, why, he wondered, is the church today so satisfied with the results of normal evangelism?  Why are we not more concerned that there should be another great revival?  Why do we not pray for it day and night?”

When we look around at the condition of the world, we can see that we have never been in more need of true revival. In the many years I have been an active part of the Church, I have seen many evangelical movements, many things men attempted that promised great results, but none had all of the elements of true revival that I have heard happened in the revivals and awakenings of the past. Because of this, I have made it one of the great quests of my life to study past revivals to learn what happened and how and why it happened and to pray for the great time of revival we so desperately need.

What is Revival?

Technically the word revival means “to bring again to life, to re-animate.” The word has come to include also the idea of the conversion of sinners as well as the awakening of saints. So in modern usage the word has a two-fold meaning which includes the renewal of spirituality and awakening among Christians and the conversion of sinners in considerable numbers to God. Revival implies the renewal of a life which had almost died away.

Fish, Henry C (2011-10-14). Handbook of Revivals
“Revivals, then, are seasons when Christians are waked to a more spiritual frame, to more fervent prayer, and to more earnest endeavors to promote the cause of Christ and redemption; and consequent upon this, seasons when the impenitent are aroused to the concerns of the soul and the work of personal religion.”

Miriam Webster – renewed attention to or interest in something, a new presentation or publication of something old, a period of renewed religious interest, an often highly emotional evangelistic meeting or series of meetings.

Synonyms – reanimation, rebirth, regeneration, rejuvenation, rejuvenescence, renewal, resurgence, resurrection, resuscitation, revitalization, revivification.

Revival really can’t be defined by what happens.  It is more easily defined by its source – God. The are many results of revivals which we will cover at another time, but the main thing that makes a revival a true awakening is the manifest and overwhelming presence of God Himself.

Scriptural Prayers for Revival

Habakkuk 3:2 – O Lord, I have heard the report of You and was afraid. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make [Yourself] known! In wrath [earnestly] remember love, pity, and mercy.

(NLT) – I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.

Psalms 85:6-8Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? Show us Your mercy and loving-kindness, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation. I will listen [with expectancy] to what God the Lord will say, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints (those who are in right standing with Him)—but let them not turn again to [self-confident] folly.

God Comes to Us As the Rain

Isaiah 45:8 – Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together. I, the Lord, have created it.

clouds-gloryJob 36:27-28 – For He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain from His vapor, which the skies pour down and drop abundantly upon [the multitudes of] mankind.

Psalm 65:9-13 – You visit the earth and saturate it with water; You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide them with grain when You have so prepared the earth. You water the field’s furrows abundantly, You settle the ridges of it; You make the soil soft with showers, blessing the sprouting of its vegetation. You crown the year with Your bounty and goodness, and the tracks of Your [chariot wheels] drip with fatness. The [luxuriant] pastures in the uncultivated country drip [with moisture], and the hills gird themselves with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks, the valleys also are covered with grain; they shout for joy and sing together.

Psalm 104:13-17 – He waters the mountains from His upper rooms; the earth is satisfied and abounds with the fruit of His works. He causes vegetation to grow for the cattle, and all that the earth produces for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food out of the earth— And wine that gladdens the heart of man, to make his face shine more than oil, and bread to support, refresh, and strengthen man’s heart. The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly and are filled with sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He has planted, Where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

Hosea 6:3 – So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.”

Hosea 10:12 – Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

See article on praying for rain.

Some Scriptural Pictures of Revival

Isaiah 64:1-4 – Oh, that You would rend the heavens and that You would come down, that the mountains might quake and flow down at Your presence – as when fire kindles the brushwood and the fire causes the waters to boil – to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence!  When You did terrible things which we did not expect, You came down; the mountains quaked at Your presence.  For from of old no one has heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who works and shows Himself active on behalf of him who [earnestly] waits for Him.

Psalm 68:7-9 – O God, when You went forth before Your people, when You marched through the wilderness, the earth quaked; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel.  You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God; You, O God, did send a plentiful rain; You did restore and confirm Your heritage when it languished and was weary.

Habakkuk 3:1-4 (Amplified) – A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, set to wild, enthusiastic, and triumphal music. O Lord, I have heard the report of You and was afraid. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make [Yourself] known!  In wrath [earnestly] remember love, pity, and mercy.  God [approaching from Sinai] came from Teman [which represents Edom] and the Holy One from Mount Paran [in the Sinai region]. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise.  And His brightness was like the sunlight; rays streamed from His hand, and there [in the sunlike splendor] was the hiding place of His power.

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