Revival

In the last hundred years, we have had significant national spiritual moments, short of a Great Awakening. In the 1940’s and ‘50’s we experienced the signs and wonders revival. In that same era, Billy Graham became a national phenomenon.

After two years of traveling as a speaker for the Youth for Christ organization, Billy Graham held his first official evangelistic Crusade in 1947; but it was his 1949 Los Angeles Crusade that captured the nation’s attention. Originally scheduled to run for three weeks, the “tent meetings” were extended for a total of eight weeks as hundreds of thousands of men, women and children gathered to hear Graham’s messages.

Billy Graham may be best known, however, for his evangelistic missions or “Crusades.” He believed God knew no borders or nationalities. Throughout his career, Graham preached to millions in locations from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Zagorsk, Russia; and from Wellington, New Zealand to the National Cathedral in Washington. In 1973, Graham addressed more than one million people crowded into Yoido Plaza in Seoul, South Korea—the largest live audience of his Crusades.1

The Pentecostal World Conference was also born at the turn of the half century. Shortly after that, staid denominations began to feel the impact of Pentecost. By the 1960s and ‘70s, every Christian denomination had been visited by the Charismatic renewal. During the same era, “the Jesus movement” captured the hearts of dissident youth and exploded onto the national scene. It has been almost thirty years since the fires of that renewal began to fade.

Revival is the work of God in the Church among His people. Awakening is the work of God in a culture that has forgotten Him, His Word or His Love. The typical revival has a three-to-five year life-cycle, and is often confined to the church, according to some renewal experts. A Great Awakening is a macro-revival, culture-wide and nation impacting. It begins in the church, sometimes with one man and woman, and breaks out into the community, impacting the region, at times a nation. Awakenings adjust the national moral and spiritual bearings, not for a few years, but for a generation. Their indirect impact is twice as long. Our nation is in trouble again. Nothing short of a Great Awakening can save the nation now.

In 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish historian wrote,

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government…the average age of the world’s greatest civilizations – from the beginning of history – has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed…From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back to bondage.2

Let’s pray for the next Great Awakening!

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

P. Douglas Small is founder and president of Alive Ministries: PROJECT PRAY and he serves in conjunction with a number of other organizations. He is also the creator of the Praying Church Movement and the Prayer Trainer’s Network. However, all views expressed are his own and not the official position of any organization.

1 Excerpt from the <memorial.billygraham.org/official-obituary>.

2 Bob Griffin, Firestorms of Revival (Lake Mary, FL: Strang Publications, 2006), 29.

1 Comment

  1. Doug:
    Here’s more from Scotland’s history:
    When praying for revival and spiritual awakening in our land, can we do anything else after we pray? Richard Owen Roberts has a response based on the centuries of revival and awakening stories from Scotland in his book: “Scotland Saw His Glory.”

    “Note the frequency with which the Holy Spirit came to Scotland at Communion occasions. Without question, revival comes when God sends it, but there is some relationship between what His people do or don’t do and His coming. One of the most treasured questions which has ever been asked me was this: “Having prayed for revival, is there anything else that it is legitimate to do?” The answer that I gave to that question is one I wish I could give to the entire interceding Church: “Having prayed for revival, we must now make the fullest possible use of the means of grace.” If today’s churches were to make the fullest possible use of all the means of grace—prayer, preaching, ordinances, fellowship, discipline—but especially that ordinance of the Lord’s table, the prospects of revival would be richly enhanced. Just imagine what would happen if our celebration of the Lord’s supper were extended to seven serious, heart-searching, God-honoring days! [Richard Owen Roberts, comp. and foreword to Scotland Saw His Glory: A History of Revivals in Scotland, by W. J. Couper, James Burns, Mary Duncan, etc. (Wheaton: International Awakening Press, 1995), vii-viii. All rights reserved. Used by permission.]

    If we will take full advantage of God-given means of grace like preparing thoroughly for the ordinance of the Lord’s Table, we will more likely satisfy God’s requirements in His promise: “Return to me, and I will return to you.”

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