Tabernacle With Us, Lord
Some years ago, our church sent us on a Caribbean Cruise of one of our wedding anniversaries. It was a marvelous experience and memorable in every way. One of the ports the ship docked offered scuba diving to passengers that chose to do so. I have never done that and had always wanted to. I paid the fee, suited up, made sure I listened about how to get air through the regulator, and we were off for a simple, beginners, “fairly shallow” scuba experience.
But, mid-point through the swim, I got excited about the beauty and “opened my big mouth to say “Wow”! When I did, I took in two gulps of salt water and knew I did not want a third! I headed for the surface about 15-20 feet above me. Upon arrival, I threw the regulator out of my mouth and gasped lots and lots of air. I was desperate for fresh air and could not get enough.
That is how I feel about the need for revival and awakening. We are drowning in sin, complacency, and apathy. But, tragically, we are not desperate. More and more filthy water continues to fill our mouths and rather than longing for fresh air and living water, we are still believing that things are not that bad. They are! We need revival now!
Do we know how to pray for revival earnestly since we have reared a generation that has never truly experienced one?
David McKenna, president of Asbury (KY) Seminary, reached a positive assessment of the future based on his study of what God has done and is doing among young people. His conclusion is found in the title of his latest book, The Coming Great Awakening, J. Edwin Orr summarized for me in one sentence his 60 years of study on prayer and spiritual awakening when he wrote: “Whenever God is ready to do something new with His people, He always sets them to praying.” This was certainly true during the First Great Awakening.
In 1746, Jonathan Edwards published a book on “concerts of prayer”—a term used in his day and repeated in subsequent prayer movements over the last 250 years. Well aware from biblical and historical accounts that united prayer was the only way to sustain the spiritual awakening that already had begun in the colonies, Edwards called for Christians on both sides of the Atlantic to pray for revival. The title of his book summarizes what is happening throughout the Body of Christ at this hour in the growth of the prayer movement: “An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of the Church and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth.” Edwards’ book, along with such classic texts as Andrew Murray’s “Key to the Missionary Problem” and Timothy Smith’s “Revivalism and Social Reform,” suggest there usually are five phases in every historic revival:
1. Intercession—God’s people begin to unite in prayer for revival;
2. Revelation—God answers prayer by pouring out a fresh new manifestation of the person of Christ;
3. Consecration—as a result, God’s people consecrate themselves to Him, and each other, and to the work of Christ in the world;
4. Revitalization—ministries are purified and rejuvenated and become more fruitful, both locally, nationally, and beyond;
5. Expansion—out of revival the gospel is advanced further, the church makes a greater impact upon the surrounding culture, and a general spiritual awakening takes place on many levels.
(National & International Religion Report, Special Report, 1992, pp. 2-3).