WHAT ARE MOTIVES TO PRAY FOR REVIVAL?
1 A recovery of the manifestation of the glory of God in his church. ‘I believe truly that when God has accomplished some end upon us and has stained the glory of all flesh, he will renew the power and glory of religion among us again, even in this nation.’—John Owen.
2 In Psalm 2 a universal dominion is pledged to Christ, and in the interim, before the final consummation, the Father implements this pledge in part by successive outpourings of the Holy Spirit, which prove the reality of Christ’s kingdom to a sceptical world, and serve to extend its bounds among Christ’s enemies (Psa. 110).
3 ‘Unless we are favoured with frequent revivals, and a strong powerful work of the Spirit of God we shall degenerate and have only a name to live; religion will soon lose its vigour; the ministry will hardly retain its lustre and glory, and iniquity will of consequence abound.’—Thomas Charles of Bala.
4 ‘It may be observed that from the fall of man to our day, the work of redemption in its effect has mainly been carried on by remarkable communications of the Spirit of God. Though there be a more constant influence of God’s Spirit always in some degree attending His ordinances, yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work always has been by remarkable effusions at special seasons of mercy.’— Jonathan Edwards (Works, vol. 1, p.539).
5 ‘It is by the signal empowering of the Spirit (first exemplified at Pentecost) that monumental advances take place in the kingdom of Christ. The inaugural outpouring of the Spirit creates ripples throughout the world as the Spirit continues to come in power. Pentecost is the epicentre; but the earthquake gives further after-shocks. Those rumbles continue throughout the ages. Pentecost itself is not repeated; but a theology of the Spirit which did not give rise to prayer for his coming in power would not be a theology of ruach [Hebrew for breath, wind, spirit].’—Sinclair B. Ferguson (The Holy Spirit, 1996, p.91).
6 He who ordained the end has also ordained the means. ‘When God intends great mercy for his people, the first thing he does is to set them a-praying’—Matthew Henry. ‘When God has something very great to accomplish for his church it is his will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of his people, as is manifest by Ezekiel 36:37 “I will yet be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.” And it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for his church he will begin by a remarkable pouring out of the spirit of grace and supplication (Zech. 12:10).’—Jonathan Edwards.
7 Revivals have come at a time to give special encouragement to the people of God before the onset of persecution or other trials. Scottish church historian W. M. Hetherington believed that times of refreshing for the Church in Scotland ‘were invariably before a time of searching trials as if to give her a principle of sacred life sufficiently strong to survive the period of suffering’.
JOHN J MURRAY
[This is a section from a 16 page booklet entitled God Revives His Church available free from the Banner of Truth Trust, 3 Murrayfield Road, Edinburgh EH12 6EL. www.banneroftruth.co.uk]