About Thirty-five years ago I had the privilege of auditing a class by on the History of Religions Awakenings under the great historian of Revival, Dr J. Edwin Orr. It was like having an extra weekly dose of morning devotions. I was stirred in my spirit. One day I had the privilege of talking to Dr Orr. When he found out that I was from Sri Lanka, he said, that Sri Lanka was one of the few countries in the world where there has not been a nationwide awakening. Later I found out that there had been some regional revivals. But we have not had something that has gone throughout the land.
That day the Lord put into my heart a deep desire for revival in Sri Lanka. Though this desire has often grown cold in the intervening years, God keeps reminding me of it. This seems to be one of those times when the desire is burning bright. And I have met several others recently with such a desire, and I have joined with them in a National Prayer Initiative. Please pray that God will revive the church in Sri Lanka.
Here’s a brief description of what I mean by revival:
It is a time when God breaks through in a larger level than is usually seen;
–When there are showers of blessing rather than mercy drops;
–When large numbers of Christians settle issues with God often covering a whole geographical area;
–When barriers to devotion are cleared (again by a large number of people) through repentance and total commitment to God and a holy life;
–When leaders take the lead in humbly repenting before God;
–When unity is restored and conflicts end through people walking in the light, confessing, forgiving and asking for forgiveness; and
–When believers apply Christian principles in clear-cut and radical ways in the society in which they live;
An inevitable effect of this is an almost spontaneous evangelistic effectiveness resulting in large numbers of people, who were outside the church, entering the kingdom.
Revival is always preceded by
- a group or groups of people engaging in united, earnest prayer; and by
- systematic teaching of the Word.
This we can do faithfully, though we humans cannot predict when God will send down revival.
Hansen, Collin and Woodridge, John. A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Strengthen and Stir. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, Forthcoming: October 2010
The Church is ripe for a revival which will bring back true Christian values and empower it to become a powerful force for the transformation of society and for the reaping of a ripe evangelistic harvest. I have been praying for this for my nation Sri Lanka for over 35 years. During this long wait, I have had periods when I lose the urgency of desire for revival. At such times, few things help reignite the yearning for revival as much as reading books describing God’s work of reviving the church in history. This is what happened to me when reading this book. While reading, I had to stop often to reflect and pray for God to deal with areas in my life which needed his sanctifying, forgiving and healing grace. God reminded me that those who pray for revival must first pray for revival in their own lives.
An added value of this book is that it shows how during some revivals the church neglected emphasising some key biblical themes and the unfortunate consequences of such neglect. For example, some revivals were used to challenge prevailing prejudice and injustice in society, whereas others neglected these with dire consequences. May this book challenge Christians to yearn for and pray for the church to experience all that God wishes for it.