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The Interceders Encourager No. 4

Is It Right To Pray For Revival ? (2)

Some people think that praying for revival is just escapism. We should be getting on with the task of evangelism, and not trying to avoid it by hiding away, and praying for revival.

1) We should admit that there is some truth in this assertion. If we are praying for revival because we are frightened of evangelism, or are unwilling to do so, we are not being obedient to the Lord, for we are all called to witness, whatever the spiritual climate. Not everybody is called to be an evangelist. Only some are given the gift. But all are called to witness in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nobody is denying that it is difficult, but we do have a measure of freedom that is denied to most people in the world, so we should be making the most of the opportunities we have, and we should be constantly seeking the fulness of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to be true witnesses to the Lord.(Acts 1:8)

2) However, let us look at the alternatives, evangelism or revival.

All evangelism without the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit is weak and ineffective. Evangelism, in human strength, even with the best intentions, a) will be very difficult, b) will produce meagre results and c) will produce, at best, only intellectual or emotional decisions, and not real conversions.

Therefore, it is never a matter of evangelism or praying for the Holy Spirit to be poured out; the two must go together to be effective.

I am reminded of the story of an unnamed woman missionary in India, whose story is told by the writer of the life of John Hyde. The missionary was criticised by her superiors for spending so much time in prayer instead of going out on evangelistic trips like the other missionaries. She felt the Lord had burdened her to pray rather than go on the trips, so she continued to do so. Gradually, the response to the outreach efforts of the missionaries became greater and greater, so that more people were baptized in the following year than had been baptized for many years previously, and the whole situation on the mission field changed. The other missionaries did not know why this was so. The prayer warrior got no credit for it, but the work in the whole district went forward as never before. It was the same with John Hyde himself. The battle was won on their knees.

3) Let us now look honestly at the results of evangelism in Britain today.

a) Only a very small percentage of the population are reached. We can be thankful for all those who are contacted, but with decreasing attendance at church services and sunday schools, and traditional evangelistic meetings holding little appeal, the prospects of making a significant impact are diminishing.

b) Where evangelism takes place, and decisions are made, statistics show that most of those who are said to become Christians, fall away.

c) Most of those who do not fall away turn out to be rather weak, shallow and half hearted believers, with little desire for holiness and sacrificial service. They are usually still self centred, proud, pleasure seeking and worldly.

In comparison to evangelism in times of revival, today`s evangelism in Britain is singularly unsuccessful:

i) It doesn`t produce real conviction of sin.

ii) It doesn`t bring people to genuine repentance from sin, so that they immediately turn from alcohol, smoking,swearing, drug taking, sex outside marriage, laziness, dishonesty and bad tempers, to become clean living, clean speaking, hard working, honest people full of the praises of Jesus, and longing for others to come to know Him.

iii) It doesn`t cause people to make reparations for past sins, so that they pay back everything they owe, and confess to others, without being told to do so, everything done against them.

iv) It doesn`t heal deep relationship divisions, and take away all resentments about the past.

v) It doesn`t produce holy, humble believers, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, and are on fire for God.

vi) It does not produce strong Christians who persevere and go on with God, and become mature, reliable pillars of the Church.

vii) It does not produce spiritual giants, who are stalwarts in prayer, regular participants in the prayer meeting, who really know their God and have great power with Him.

viii) It does not produce hundreds or thousands of Christians at the same time.

4) Having established, therefore, that evangelism without the empowering of the Holy Spirit is ineffective, that today`s evangelism in Britain is a very poor substitute for the real thing seen in times of revival, that the more people pray for the Spirit to be poured out, the more effective the evangelism becomes, it therefore follows that the most effective evangelism occurs when the Spirit is poured out in the fullest measure. This is seen, preeminently, on the Day of Pentecost, which is the norm for all evangelism. We see there: a) praying and waiting until they were clothed with power from on high, b) receiving the power for witness, c) the Spirit drawing the crowd, d) the Spirit raising up and anointing the preacher to speak with boldness and authority, e) the Spirit convicting thousands of hearers, and bringing them to repentance, faith, baptism and incorporation into the Church, f) the Spirit making the new believers eager to learn, to grow, to share and to witness, g) the Spirit, through the witness of all the believers and the preaching of the leaders, causing the Church to increase every day.

There is no need, therefore, for any competition between evangelism and revival. No real evangelism is possible without the Holy Spirit, and it is only as the Spirit is poured out in fullest measure that evangelism, as the Holy Spirit intends, is possible.

Therefore we should all pray, with renewed zeal, for the Spirit of God to be poured out in revival and awakening, for more revival preachers to be raised up, for all preachers to become revival preachers, for all evangelists to seek revival, and to realize their need of intercessors, so that we can work together to make this nation what God wants it to be, a place where righteousness abounds.