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How can we see Revival?

In January 2008, Paul and I set off on a near seven month mission from Cairo to the Cape, (Cairo in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa). The Africa mission led us into twelve nations (on the east coast) on a journey of discovery, and enroute we were able to visit five revival related sites.

As we travelled we always prayed for divine appointments and prayed for revival, that God would ‘pour out His Spirit’ on each town and country; that God would ‘thrust forth more labourers into His harvest field’ and that the brethren would ‘bear much fruit’ for His glory. The pastors and fellow brethren we met were encouraged to pray for revival for their nations if they were not already doing so.

An Egyptian pastor told us that they were pleading for revival from the promise of Isaiah 19:18-25. ‘…There shall be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt…He shall send them a Saviour, and a great one, and will deliver them. And Jehovah shall be known to Egypt, and Egypt shall know Jehovah in that day…In that day Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land…Blessed be My people Egypt, and Assyria…and Israel My inheritance.’

Whilst Britain was generally pagan, Egypt was praying for her. Alexandria in Egypt was the home prayer base and Canterbury in England, was the mission station in a generally heathen land. In around AD 598, Bishop Eubogius of Alexandria received a letter from Pope Gregory, informing him of the missionary exploits in England. This surmounted to England’s first revival in 597 under St. Augustine where on Christmas Day, 10,000 Britons were baptised.

So how can we see the Lord in revival power? Nearly sixty years ago in Barvas on the Isle of Lewis, (Outer Hebrides, Scotland), two elderly sisters in their eighties; one being blind and the other being severely afflicted with arthritis, met at their home and travailed in prayer from 10pm into the early hours, in their little cottage, often until 3am. One night, God gave one of the sisters a vision in which the church was crowded with young people – she knew revival was coming. The minister was called for and the sister explained the vision. The minister asked what should be done. “What,” she said, “Give yourself to prayer!” For two nights a week for at least three months many church deacons and elders met; they prayed for revival and waited upon God in a barn-like structure amongst the straw at one end of the parish pleading one promise, “I will pour water on him who is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground” (Isaiah 44:3), whilst the sisters prayed in their home at the other end of the parish.

One night a young deacon rose to his feet, and in Gaelic (the local language), read part of Psalm 24, ‘Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart...’ The deacon said, “It seems to me just so much humbug, to be waiting as we are waiting and to be praying as we are praying, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” He lifted his hands to heaven and cried, “Oh God tell me, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” He fell onto his knees and went into a trance. Something in the spirit realm broke and the awareness of God began to grip the community! The Lewis Revival began as God came down!

God is waiting to return for His Church, which is supposed to be ‘without spot or wrinkle,’ but ‘without holiness no man can see the Lord.’ We are called to be holy as He is holy and God will not be mocked. We must be in a right relationship with God and each other, otherwise our praying for revival is just a mockery. As Duncan Campbell of the Lewis Revival (1949-1952) often said, “God’s sovereignty does not relieve men of responsibility.” It is our responsibility to live holy, obey the Scriptures, to plead the promises of God and to abide in the Vine if we want to see revival in our day.

In 1829, in the Moffat Mission, Kuruman, South Africa, revival broke out amongst the natives under Robert Moffat and the mission compound became a ‘Valley of Baca,’ a place of weeping, as harden heathen were brought under conviction by the Holy Spirit and surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.

A friend once asked Evan Roberts of the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) for a message to the churches that were praying for revival. Closing his eyes for a few moments, he prayed for guidance and then said, “They have the Word and they know the promise. Let them keep God to His promise, ask and ye shall receive.”

In times of revival the Spirit of God transforms the Church (the body of Christ), revives and renews the saints as well as saving sinners. God is supremely glorified, Jesus is lifted up, thus drawing men to Himself and the Holy Spirit is given His rightful place in the Church. God is faithful to His Word (and wants to revive not only your life, but your church and your nation), but are we faithful to obey His Word? Are we praying for revival?

- Mathew Backholer.

Great Christian Revivals DVD


Mathew is the author of:
Revival Fire, 150 Years of Revivals Go
Extreme Faith, On Fire Christianity Go
Global Revival, Worldwide Outpourings Go
Discipleship For Everyday Living, Christian Growth Go
Understanding Revival and Addressing the Issues Go
Revival Answers, True and False Revivals Go
Revival Fires and Awakenings, Thirty-Six Visitations of the Holy Spirit Go
How to Plan, Prepare and Successfully Complete Your Short-Term Mission Go

  • Overview of Revival
  • What is Christian revival?
  • Why we need Revival