“O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 KJV).
Habakkuk’s day was not too different from our own. Evil lies and unchecked violence pervaded his news also. He urgently appealed to the Lord because Habakkuk knew the nation’s awakening could only come from heaven. It’s something that social justice cannot conjure up but that only God’s people can only pray down. The outpouring of God’s Spirit begins when He revives what He has already initiated in His own people.
It is time we begin praying this way, don’t you think?
The early disciples thought the time was ripe. The social oppression of Roman rule found them praying that Jesus’ new kingdom would overthrow governmental control. After His ascension, 120 of them followed His command to wait for what the Father had promised (Acts 1:4, 14-15). They “continually devoted themselves to prayer,” and on the day of Pentecost, they experienced a “violent, rushing wind” which filled them with the very essence of God Himself (Acts 1:14; 2:2).
Jeremiah Lanphier thought the American church was overdue in 1857. While the nation experienced financial panic, this middle-aged merchant began a prayer meeting in New York City. Despite tensions between the North and the South, his small group began to pray. Although Lanphier’s first meeting had only six in attendance, the Fulton Street prayer meeting increased to 3000 participants in a few short weeks. As the prayer meetings spread to other cities and between denominations, God’s Spirit poured out mightily, with over 50,000 people coming to Christ weekly during the winter of 1857-58.
Missionaries in Korea began to pray this way. In the early 20th century, Pyongyang was a city of drunkenness and harlotry. Gospel workers had been martyred there years before for attempting to evangelize their people. Yet, members of several denominations banded together for months of persistent prayer. In 1907, God sent an awakening, and He converted 50,000 Koreans. John McCune wrote: “The work of the Holy Spirit here [at the Jangdaehyun Church] would far surpass what we have read about the great revival in Wales and India.” God blessed Korea with three full years of His mighty outpouring upon this land.
All three of these awakenings had two things in common.
- Prayer was vital — God’s people committed both individual and corporate time to ask Him for revival.
- Participants were nonsectarian — Intercessors came together without regard to specific religious or denominational sects.
If you study the great revivals of the past carefully, each began in a time of great moral gloom. The greater the darkness, the louder God’s people cried for light. Journalist W. T. Stead wrote in 1905 that, “When the reign of evil becomes intolerable, then the soul of the nation awakes.” I think that we have arrived at that time of intense darkness. Let’s unite a cry that God can’t help but hear.