Revival in America
Does any committed Christian believe that American does NOT need a revival? But why does America need revival today? We have a page of people's reasons for seeking revival in America. Check it out here and send in your own reasons and suggestions to include.
Many of us long for revival because we see so many bad things happening in America and in the world these days. If you feel this way, you might be interested in our Christian Response page, where we list many of these problems and possible ways that Christians can respond.
But concerning revival. What does it mean? What does it entail? For literally dozens of definitions of revival, check out Revival Defined from Christ Life Ministries. My favorites include:
J.I. Packer - Revival is God touching minds and hearts in an arresting, devastating, exalting way to draw them to Himself through working from the inside out rather than the outside in.
Walter Boldt - (Revival is) God at work, restoring His Church to health.
Philip A. Jones - Revival may be defined as that situation that brings the glory of God back in the churches. Revival is a time of renewed spiritual health brought about by the touch of God.
Charles Finney - Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.
Richard DeHaan - (Revival is) ...a deep moving of God in the lives of believers, convicting them of sin and shaking them out of their lethargy.
Leonard Ravenhill - Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows up Himself.
Will America, as a country, benefit from revival? As Christians, we can be confident that America will benefit greatly. In fact, revival is essential. Our founders realized just how dependent our form of government was on religious belief.
For a good background on the first Great Awakening, read The Spiritual Revolution That Shook the American Colonies. The most famous sermon of the Great Awakening was Jonathan Edward's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Preached twice, it is not exactly the kind of message we are accustomed to hearing today. Read it here.
You might want to check out our America's Foundation page. Did you know that our founders called for 'a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer' for all the colonies less than four months before the signing of the Declaration? Here is a good article on the proclamation. Surely we need to do the same today.
The last revival that went nationwide began in 1857 as the 'Fulton Steet Revival' in New York City. A layman, Jeremiah Lanphier, began holding prayer meetings. Five men attended the first meeting, but within a few months thousands were attending prayer meetings all over the city. The movement spread, and except for a hiatus during the Civil War, the revival is considered to have continued until the early 20th century.
Revival comes from God, not from man, but we must be ready to respond to God's call. In America, revival seems to come when the hour is dark, such as in the years leading up to our greatest national crisis - the Civil War.
The hour is indeed dark today. Do we need a Jonah? Do we have a Jonah? Will we respond like the people of Ninevah? Do we wait or do we act now? What do we do? What can we do?
"Revival begins by Christians getting right first and then spills over into the world."
Perhaps we should consider the great Charles Spurgeon, who explains 'What is a Revival?' Spurgeon make two critical points. First, revival begins in the church. If we were fully spiritually alive, there would be no need to be revived. But we are not. Second, revival does not occur among non-believers. People come to Christ, not because they have been revived - they were not spiritually alive to begin with. They come to Christ because they see something in the people who have been revived. They are, if you will, a by-product of the revival that occurs within the church. So do not fool yourself into thinking that revival is something that just needs to happen to others. Do not be a bystander. Revival begins within Christ's church. With that in mind, check out the many things you can do to begin your own personal revival.
Why do we need revival in America?
Most of use just know that we need revival. We feel it in our bones. Mostly we will point to what we (rightly) perceive as the downward trajectory of American society.
But consider this article on Rationalization and the Death of Conscience. This paints a broader, more comprehensive picture of why things are so wrong and hence why we need God to get us back on track - both as individuals and as a society.
Certainly revival may include large, spirit-filled events. But remember that false teachers can also preach to large crowds. Therefore ...
Paine was not a Christian, though he dabbled a bit as a Deist. However, he has a way with words that can be an inspiration for us today.
- It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.
- A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
- Character is much easier kept than recovered.
- Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.
- That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly.
- Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.
Our founders had a lot to say about the importance of a religious people for our form of government to be successful.
America's Foundation - our page devoted to what our founding documents and our founding fathers had to day about religion and Christianity in these United States of America (also accessible directly from the menu under 'resources').
Prayers of National Repentance:
“O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Nehemiah 1:5b-11a (ESV)
“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.
16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”
Daniel 9:4b-19 (ESV)
and God's Promise to Solomon:
"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
We must study the Word of God.
We must spend time with God in prayer. Pray for our nation's revival, but pray also for our own personal revival.
And we must make sure that our lives are an example and an encouragement to others. And we cannot do that if we hide our Christian beliefs from public view.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
Visit our personal revival page and send us your suggestions.
Words from Jesus:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Matthew 4:17 (NIV)
"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
Matthew 18:6 (NIV)
“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!"
Matthew 18:7 (NIV)
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."
Matthew 5:14-15 (NIV)
"Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:19 (NIV)
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them."
Matthew 7:15-16a (NIV)
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him."
Luke 12:35-26 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Mark 12:17 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
George Whitefield was a great preacher of the First Great Awakening in America (1730's - 1740's). Some words from Whitefield:
It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.
If you are going to walk with Jesus Christ, you are going to be opposed ... In our days, to be a true Christian is really to become a scandal.
Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you. Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.
God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.
What! Get to heaven on your own strength? Why, you might as well try to climb to the moon on a rope of sand!