Why is it that revival only seems to happen in the history books, or in the stories of our parents or grandparents?
As I have been reading Worship Through the Ages by Vernon M. Whaley, I have noticed a pattern common to the revivals he reports about. God’s people, especially those leading the revivals, have made prayer and purity a priority.
If you haven’t watched Edwin Orr’s video explaining the importance of prayer for revival, this is a must watch, even though it is a little long!
In many revivals of the last two centuries, the phrase “praying through” meant spending extended time with God until you met him. In fact, many revival meetings had a pen built for this purpose! In light of this, consider this quote from a revivalist named William Chambers Burns in Scotland:
Many who do come into the secret place, and who are God’s children, enter it and leave it just as they entered, without ever so much as realizing the presence of God. And there are some believers who, even when they do obtain a blessing, and get a little quickening of soul, leave the secret place without seeking more. They go to their chamber, and there get into the secret place, but then, as soon as they have got near to him, they think they have been peculiarly blessed, and leave their chamber, and go back into the world. Oh, how is it that the Lord’s own people have so little perseverance? How is it that when they do enter into their place of prayer to be alone, they are so easily persuaded to be turned away empty? “Instead of wrestling with God to pour out his Spirit,” Burns concluded, “they retire from the secret place without the answer, and submit to it as being God’s will.”
Right now my wife and I have been doing a spending fast. This means that we are abstaining from spending money on things that aren’t necessary. One of the things we cut out of our life was Netflix; consequently, after three months or so, I no longer crave TV in the evenings. Instead, I now want to do more constructive things in the hours after my children have gone to bed. I believe this is a good example of the way your diet affects your appetite. When you give up junk food and begin to eat better food, your cravings eventually change as well.
I noticed this same principle in the leaders behind the revivals. For example, J. Wilbur Chapman, an American revivalist wrote this:
Anything that dims my vision for Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps me in my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me; and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it.
It seems obvious today that most Christians don’t have this kind of attitude about their leisure time. However, if we want to see a great move of God in our day, we should start with our diets. As they used to say at the revival meetings in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: “What is God pointing his finger at in your life?”
Is there one thing, that if you gave it up, you know would affect your appetite for Christ?