desperate for revival

What Is Revival? 7 – How Desperate Are You?

17 November 2023

10.9 MINS

When I finished the three previous instalments in this series focusing on hindrances to revival, I felt an initial sense of relief. That’s because I thought that all the hard issues had been dealt with, and now I could get stuck into the kinds of things we all like to think of when we hear the word “revival”.

But God had other ideas.

He first showed me that, even if we can look through those previous articles and be thankful that none of those hindrances are ours, so that repentance is not required there, very few of us can claim to have a deep level of intimate fellowship with the one Person we should have above all else. I know that I can’t!

And that is the greatest hindrance of all! Hence the question at the top, which is the one He impressed on me: How desperate are you for revival?

That is the most challenging of questions to deal with. So it makes this, for me, the most challenging and demanding article in the series so far! I am having to ask myself as I write and edit this: How desperate am I for revival? I truly feel the challenge of needing to be writing from a position of an understanding of the subject. Yet I am challenged personally by what I’m writing as I’m writing!

But I hope that comforts you as you read this article, that I have grappled in both thought and prayer over every single line of this article that I’ve laboured over for weeks.

This is why the fundamental requirement for revival is the prayer, “Lord, send revival! And Lord, start with me!

In a similar vein, the great English evangelist Rodney “Gipsy” Smith, once when he was once asked how to start a revival, answered:

“Go home, lock yourself in your room, kneel down in the middle of your floor. Draw a chalk mark all around yourself and ask God to start the revival inside that chalk mark. When He has answered your prayer, the revival will be on.”

There simply is no other way!

Inspiration

One thing that helps, though, when you have no firsthand experience of such revival, is to be able to learn about those who have. In that respect, I’m grateful for the book, “Great Southland Revival: Tracing the Spirit’s Flame from Acts to Australia”, by two of our leaders at the Canberra Declaration, Kurt Mahlburg and Warwick Marsh. Reading the first page of the chapter on the Welsh Revival of the early 20th century, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, and I realised just how impoverished our experience of God is.

Evan Roberts, I believe, gives us a prime example of the mindset we need. Here is how Kurt and Warwick describe his desperate prayer that preceded the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:

“It was a simple prayer, uttered in Welsh Gaelic by the preacher… Yet those words pierced Evan’s heart. ‘O Lord, bend us.’ He knew that it was a word from the Holy Spirit just for him. The others in attendance enjoyed warm fellowship over their meal, but Evan’s attention was fixed on his insatiable hunger for consecrated humility.

Returning to session, Evan felt like his heart would burst. Legs trembling, he knelt to pray. Beads of perspiration ran down his face as he gripped the chair in front of him. ‘Bend me, bend me, bend me,’ he cried. An overwhelming sense of God’s undeserved love flooded his soul. Then Evan’s thoughts turned to the masses who would be bent lower still on Judgment Day. Overcome with sympathy, he broke down and wept.

It was September, 1904. After praying for revival for more than a decade, Evan Roberts (1878-1951) was now ready to be used by God as the central figure of the Welsh Revival, a movement whose ripples would presently be felt on every continent.”

I’ve often felt that this song embodies the exact mindset that Roberts manifested:

This song presents us with the kind of humbling and spiritual desolation which serves as the soil for that desperation to see God act to bring about transformation. And it was this which led to probably the greatest harvest of souls in the history of the church in the Welsh Revival.

But after reading this account of Roberts, God showed me how this is what those next phases in David Bryant’s historical analysis require, the first being this:

“3. Manifestation. God answers the prayers of His people! He provides a greater revelation of His grace and glory in Jesus Christ. This brings about a corresponding reformation around the doctrines of Christ and His Kingdom, as well as a restoration of devotion in the hearts of God’s people toward the Lord, and a reorientation of the church toward the work of the kingdom and the future into which God is leading us.”

So, let’s again think about the question: How desperate are we for revival? Are we willing and able to be so earnest in prayer that we might first receive such a revelation of our own lack? Because that’s what’s needed to facilitate revival in us, through divine visitation, to then enable revival in the wider community. It’s only through allowing such a revelation that we can see our own desperate state in perspective. That will bring us to the place where we submit our whole understanding of the reformation process Bryant refers to.

The fruit of that is revived devotion, and a deeper and more fervent concern for the lost, and with that, the state of the culture. Because, as we will see further on in this series, revival produces cultural reform. In fact, if it doesn’t, then it wasn’t revival. It was just another manifestation party within the walls of the church.

It’s not about us. It’s about God and His burning passion for the lost.

As Evan Roberts wrote,

“May that mighty, all-embracing love of His be no longer a fitful, wavering influence in our lives, but the ruling passion of our souls.”

I also feel strongly that the kind of spiritual atmosphere that Roberts experienced can only come through an increase in worship. In fact, one of the distinctives of the Welsh Revival was the singing of hymns. So here are another couple of worship songs that I think express what Evan Roberts experienced, as well as what David Bryant has outlined.

 

And it’s from an attitude of worship that we discover what Bryant means when he tells us this:

“God answers the prayers of His people! He provides a greater revelation of His grace and glory in Jesus Christ.”

James tells us that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJV)

Focus

Too often, though, we see things that we don’t like in other Christians, or issues in the world, which can lead us to pray faithless prayers which focus on the nature of the problem, instead of on the One who holds the solution to every problem. This kind of prayer comes from spiritual pride. Praying the problem that way is actually like standing facing God and crying out for what we regard as the problem to be solved. But this stance actually impedes any solution, as we’re standing in the way. It is, therefore, a hindrance to revival.

This is because we cannot appeal to God through our own self-righteousness and spiritual virtue signalling. Warwick and Kurt describe both this attitude and its alternative in Great Southland Revival:

“When we look at fellow believers, we might feel good about our own spiritual state in the same way a sheep can seem white in comparison to other sheep. But put that sheep on a backdrop of pure snow and it will no longer look white at all.

God is not comparing our lives with the lives of other Christians. He has called us to live up to the perfect standards of heaven. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus said in summarising His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:48). His mercy, forgiveness and empowerment are freely available – but His call to holiness is not optional.”

And in Flashpoints of Revival: History’s Mighty Revivals, Geoff Waugh informs us that:

“Revival… involves humility, awareness of our own unworthiness, confession of sin, repentance, restitution, seeking and offering forgiveness, and following Christ wholeheartedly.”

When we understand our focus is always to be on “the perfect standards of heaven”, and to measure ourselves against those, we can then pray according to God’s nature. By understanding both our debt and our place of authority as heirs, that God has “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 NASB), then we are with Him in the place of authority, which is ours through Christ, and then able to pray prayers which reflect, not the situation which causes us concern, but the majesty and authority of the One who always has the solution.

This is what Paul described so powerfully in his prayer for the church at Ephesus:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the boundless greatness of His power toward us who believe.

These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and made Him head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:18-23 NASB)

Here, Paul stretches human expression almost to breaking point. This is the focus we need to enable our prayers to be fervent and effective in the pursuit of revival. It’s all about Him!

You see, God is partnering with us as the Body of Christ. So we need to focus our praying, not on what we see as the solution to issues, or what we see as deficient in others, but on Him as the ultimate possessor of authority in the universe, Who grants us partnership with Him in fulfilling His great prayer:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

It’s because God intends to partner with us in revival that, as Bryant puts it, “He provides a greater revelation of His grace and glory in Jesus Christ”. And contained within that revelation is our destiny as the Bride of Christ, which prophetic leader Rick Joyner recently wrote about:

“Faith that pleases the Lord is not seeing things as they are, but as they are called to be and believing that God will make that happen. To see the church in its present, weakest state and believe that God will do this requires great faith, which we now have opportunity to have.

We can be absolutely assured that the Lord will have a bride that is perfect, and “without spot or wrinkle.” Without “spot” speaks of purity; without “wrinkle” speaks of the ageless beauty of holiness. The earth has never witnessed a greater, more compelling society than what His people will become. We may be the opposite now, but that will only make this miracle more spectacular.

It is only now, when the church is in this deplorable state, that it will take the greatest faith to believe for this miracle. Don’t waste this opportunity to be one of those who will have had the greatest faith, held on to the vision in the most difficult time, and been one through whom the miracle would come. If we wait until the miracle happens to commit to God’s ultimate purpose to make His bride ready, what reward will we have?

Now is the time to resolve that we will have faith to become part of the solution, not live in the doubt that is the problem. We have the sure promises of God that, no matter how dark the times get, the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and the Light will win.”

As a bride only has eyes for her bridegroom, then our eyes should be on everything God intends to do, not on what other Christians aren’t doing that doesn’t align with our views. Our beloved and His desires and plans are those things that should be our desires and plans. Like Isaiah when he saw God in all His holy splendour, we need to be so overcome that, like him, we say, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

Humility

But remember Evan Roberts’ prayer? He first needs to “bend” us. Isn’t that like Isaiah’s first response to seeing the Almighty: “Woe to me, for I am ruined!”? And for me, this song reflects that spiritual reality that God builds the foundations of revival on that realisation:

And this is why it costs us to get there from here.

In Malachi 3:1-3, we read:

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” (NASB)

In previous divine visitations, there has often been a devolving to a state where we “delight” in the manifestation of the “messenger” instead of the message, which is the empowerment to go outside the four walls and impact our communities.

In his 1989 book, The End of the American Gospel Enterprise, Dr Michael L Brown describes how this passage in Malachi relates to revival:

“If you’ve never been “burned”, get ready, because this is what revival is about. It is only the scorched ones He can use… God’s fire purifies and refines. Malachi prophesied that the Lord would come to His people as “a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap”.

On that day, the prophet says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver” (Mal. 3:2-3). He will pass His priestly servants through the flames, melting all impurities out with His heat. Ouch!

Have you ever been refined in God’s furnace? Have you experienced the heat of His flames? Has your dross risen up to the surface — filthy, ugly, and proud — so that God could skim it off?

Have you been shocked to see how much flesh was still there — impurities and imperfections of every kind — before the intense fire of God’s visitation melted it away? … He wants to conform us to the image of Messiah, in thought, in word, and in deed. He wants to make us pure.”

Above all else, this is what we need to keep in mind in relation to the question, “How desperate are we for revival?” It’s so that the level of desperation required will also prepare us for our own “refiner’s fire”, our own revelation of ruin. Because from my reading of revival history, if we don’t “bend” here, as Evan Roberts and so many others have done, then neither will the world around us.

That’s why this song typifies how desperate we need to be for revival to come.

And when we reach that level of submission, we will have gotten through to Bryant’s next phase:

“4. Consecration. The impact of revival brings renouncing of sin, a hunger for holiness, and a zeal for the glory of God. This causes God’s people to offer themselves in fresh new ways to be used of Him to extend the Kingdom of Christ in whatever ways He chooses as an outflow of the revival. Revival is a time of recruitment when God raises up and thrusts out laborers who are wholly devoted to Christ and His global cause.”

Or, as Count Zinzendorf and his Moravians prayed constantly, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering”.

So, to finish, here’s another song that feeds into that.

___

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko.

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2 Comments

  1. Stephen Lewin 17 November 2023 at 6:43 pm - Reply

    thank you for this article on Revival…just talking today with daughter on the need of desperation …a good question ..how deperate are we for personal revival ?

    • Kim Beazley 18 November 2023 at 7:54 am - Reply

      Thanks, Stephen. Yes, it starts with each of us.

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