What Is Revival?

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries4 Minutes

There’s a holy buzz around the word revival these days. From the Asbury Revival to movies like The Jesus Revolution, we’re seeing a true passion for the fire and Spirit of the Lord.

We all desire God to move in our communities and hearts in ways we’ve never felt before. But can we say we know what revival really is? Are we guilty of thinking of it in human terms or even worse, trying to make it happen?

Throughout the Old Testament, we see the Israelites trapped in a cycle of sin, celebrating God one day and rejecting Him the next. When things got really bad, a judge or a prophet would admonish them to admit their wrongs and return to the living God. As soon as they did, God would forgive their sins and restore them to a more vital spiritual life and witness.

Some signs indicate we are on the upside of that same cycle. Today, our country is definitely in moral and spiritual decline, but there are also signs of people returning to the Lord!

When we experience true revival, we experience a spark of new life from God’s presence. It’s not manufactured by hype or emotion, advertised in the bulletin, or announced in a church meeting. It happens in hearts as the result of the Holy Spirit’s working. In every instance, revival is preceded by authentic Bible teaching and prayer:

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

A Brief History:

Like the Israelites, Americans have a record of spiritual declines followed by spiritual renewals. Each one has left an indelible mark on not only our spiritual history, but also our culture.

After the Pilgrims fled England for religious freedom in 1620, they experienced a move of God that lasted over 100 years. Then, in the 1730s, a preacher named Jonathan Edwards gave a series of sermons on salvation by faith alone, and the First Great Awakening was born. The revival spread throughout the Colonies for the next several years through powerful preachers such as George Whitfield and the Wesley brothers.

By the early 1800s, the first revival had dwindled. God then raised up Timothy Dwight, president of Yale University and grandson of Jonathan Edwards, whose dynamic preaching ushered in the Second Great Awakening. Nearly half of Yale’s students professed Christ as Lord! But it was Charles Finney who propelled this revival and gave it new life in people’s hearts throughout the US.

As America became more industrialized and focused on gaining wealth, people began to rely on themselves instead of God. But in 1906, William Seymour brought a powerful message of salvation to Los Angeles and soon news of changed hearts and the Holy Spirit’s work in the Azusa Street Revival quickly gained steam.

In the mid-1900s, Billy Graham’s powerful messages called millions to the altar in repentance. In the late 1960s–early 1970s, the Jesus Movement erupted in California as a generation of rule-breaking hippies came to Christ. And in pockets around the nation, powerful revivals continue to shape our spiritual heritage.

All these moves of God share a common thread: individual hearts encountering the holiness of God and their desperate need for a forgiving, powerful Savior. This is the revival America needs. This Tabernacles season is the perfect time to pray and ask God for a fresh outpouring of His Spirit on our nation.