There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.
- William Shakespeare
There is no question that our nation stands at the threshold of revival. A mighty supernatural upheaval looms upon the horizon, when God will step into the stream of history and do more in one hour than we, as a result of our own efforts, can do in 50 or 100 years. A year of life during the time of revival, with all its possibilities for God, and supernatural power for proclamation of the gospel and reformation of society, is worth a century of ordinary existence.
Revival is coming to our nation; this is no longer a question. Slowly but surely the tide has been rising. The clouds are gathering and soon the sky will be black with a mighty rain. We shall be overtaken with a deluge of salvation that will roll like a tidal wave across our land.
At present a revival of holiness is underway, as God is calling His people to consecrate themselves, through repentance and commitment, to a life of daily prayer … to prepare their hearts to receive that which He shall soon pour out from on high. This call, in itself, is a signal that a heaven-born, Spirit-quickening revival is on its way. Every outpouring of the Spirit has been preceded by earnest, agonizing intercessory prayer accompanied by brokenness and humiliation before God. All true revivals of salvation have come this way. Our God does not change.
Will we heed the call to repentance, heart preparation and prayer … or will we disobey and fall short of God’s intention? Will we be prepared to receive the divine visitation when it comes, and go into the feast with the Bridegroom of our souls as did the five wise virgins of Jesus’ parable?
Or will we be like the five foolish virgins, unprepared, still seeking oil for our lamps, when the time of divine visitation arrives? Oh yes, they did finally come back with some oil in their lamps, but it was too late to enter the feast. They found that the door had been shut and that they were left standing on the outside. They knocked loudly. They even called him “Lord.” But He answered, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.”
Three times the Holy Spirit exhorts us in the third chapter of Hebrews: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts …”
How do we harden our hearts? The Bible clearly warns, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily … lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Make no mistake about it. Unbelief, disobedience, and the deceitfulness of sin can harden our hearts and keep us from responding to the Holy Spirit’s call. An obedient response to repent and seek God in prayer is the only remedy for this. As the prophet Hosea exhorts, “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).
Jeremiah exhorts, “Break up your fallow ground … and remove the foreskins of your heart … lest My wrath go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds” (Jeremiah 4:3-4).
It is as we seek God in prayer that the fallow and hardened ground of our heart is broken up, and unforgiveness, hidden motives, or presumptuous sin is revealed. It is through prayer that we become sensitive to God’s Spirit, thus preparing us to receive the power and the outpouring of the Spirit of God.
The Need for Repentance
Frank Bartleman, whose intercessory prayer ministry preceded the great Pentecostal outpouring and Azusa Street Revival of 1906, writes: “The depth of revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance. And this will hold true for all people at all times. In fact, this is ‘the key’ to every true revival born of God.“1
Arthur Booth Clibborn wrote the following weighty words: “Any cheapening of the price of Pentecost would be a disaster of untold magnitude. The company in the upper room, upon whom Pentecost fell, had paid the highest price for it. In this they approached as near as possible to Him who had paid the supreme price in order to send it. Do we ever really adequately realize how utterly lost to the world, how completely despised, rejected, and outcast was that company?
“Their master and leader had just passed through the ‘hangman’s rope’, so to speak, at the hands of the highest civilization of the day. Their Calvary was complete, and so a complete Pentecost came to match it … We may, therefore, each of us say to ourselves: ‘As my cross, so will my Pentecost be.’ God’s way to Pentecost was via Calvary. Individually it must be so today also. The purity and fullness of the individual Pentecost must depend upon the completeness of the individual Calvary. This is an unalterable principle.“2
Jessie Penn Lewis writes, “Is Calvary real to you? Calvary in its fullest meaning of Christ crucified for you and you crucified with Christ! Again we would repeat, there is no Pentecost in spiritual experience without a preceding Calvary. We have not known the full meaning of Calvary. We parted with our sins as the Spirit unveiled the Christ dying for us, but we have kept ‘ourselves,’ and hence made no room for the Holy Ghost. If we leave out the crucial condition of the Cross – we may know some measure of the Holy Ghost in possession of the life, but not the torrential power of Pentecost which the Lord foreshadowed when He said, ‘Out of the depths of his life shall pour torrents of living water.’“3
Joy Dawson states, “Any person who tells you that the price is not high is evidence that they haven’t paid it.” One thing is certain: Jesus is not going to give His Holy Anointing to a Bride that is carrying on an affair with the world.
When Sampson got involved with Delilah, he became blind. Many in the church today have become blinded by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things, have quenched out the word and the power of God.
Jesus exhorts, “Because you say, ‘I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eyesalve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.
“Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:17-20).
Frank Bartleman’s Experience in l906
Frank Bartleman was a man who heard the call of God preceding that awakening, and opened the door of his heart through prayer to receive the coming of the King. He writes:
“A great burden and cry came in my heart for a mighty revival. He was preparing me for a fresh service for Him. This could only be brought about by the realization of a deeper need in my own heart for God, and a real soul travail for the work of God. This He gave me. Many were being similarly prepared at this time in different parts of the world. The Lord was preparing to visit and deliver His people once more. Intercessors were the need.
“Some churches are going to be surprised to find God passing them by. He will work in channels where they will yield to Him. They must humble themselves for Him to come. Some people are too well satisfied with their own goodness. The Lord will visit those willing to yield to Him.
“And the same is true today. Ultimate failure or success for God will be realized just at this point. We must keep humble and little in our own eyes. Let us get built up by a sense of our own importance and we are gone. History repeats itself in this connection. God has always sought a humble people. He can use no other … There is always much need of heart preparation, in humility and separation, before God can consistently come.”
Bartleman continues, “The spirit of prayer was increasing upon me, and I determined to be ‘obedient to the heavenly vision.’ The spirit of revival consumed me. The spirit of prophecy came upon me strongly also. I seemed to receive a definite ‘gift of faith for revival.’
“My prayer partner and I prayed together until 2 a.m. God wonderfully met and assured us as we wrestled with Him for the outpouring of His Spirit upon the people. My life was by this time literally swallowed up in prayer. I was praying day and night.
“Brother Boehmer and I prayed for a spirit of revival until the burden became well nigh unbearable. I cried out like a woman in birthpangs. The Spirit was interceding through us. Finally, the burden left us. After a little time of quiet waiting, a great calm settled down upon us. Then suddenly, the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to us. He seemed to stand directly between us, so close we could have reached out our hand and touch Him. But we did not dare to move … A heaven of divine love filled and thrilled my soul. Burning fire went through me.
“In fact, my whole being seemed to flow down before Him, like wax before the fire. I worshipped at His feet … The Lord had said nothing to us, but only overwhelmed our spirits by His presence. He had come to strengthen and assure us for His service. We knew now we were workers with Him, fellowshippers of His sufferings, in the ministry of soul travail. Real soul travail is just as definite in the spirit as natural human birth pangs. The simile is almost perfect in its sameness. No soul is ever born without this. All true revivals of salvation come this way.
“The sun was up the next morning before we left the hall. But the night had seemed but half an hour. The presence of God eliminates all sense of time. With Him all is eternity. This is the secret of time appearing to pass so swiftly in all real nights of prayer.
“We may cut ourselves off from God by our spiritual pride, while He may cause the weakest to repent, and go through to victory. The work in our own hearts must go deeper than we have ever experienced, deep enough to destroy sectarian prejudice, party spirit, etc. …
“In those days, real prayer was little understood. One day, I was groaning in prayer at the altar. A spirit of intercession was upon me. A brother rebuked me severely. He did not understand it. The flesh naturally shrinks from such ordeals. The moment we covet a large following and rejoice in the crowd that is attracted by our presentation of what we consider truth, and have not a greater desire to see the natures of individuals changed according to the divine plan, we start to travel the same road of apostasy that leads to Rome and her daughters.“4
Reflecting on past revivals, T. Vaughan Lewis explains, “When God’s people fail to respond to the message God has sent them, their very failure deprives lost sinners of the power to respond to God’s message to them. A dead church is the most effective obstacle the enemy can devise in the way of sinners coming to Christ. ‘We cannot just expect sinners to be saved, and our places of worship to be filled by those from the outside, until we ourselves get right with God.’ Thus whoever prays for revival, let him be sure that when it comes God will concentrate upon His own people.
Concentrating on God’s People
“This is the lesson taught not only by the Revival of 1904, but by all revivals. Certainly, we must go after the lost … but we should concentrate upon God’s people. The key to the whole evangelistic position is there. An awakened church creates the atmosphere for decisions by the lost to accept the Savior.“5
In Spirit of Revival, a compilation of messages on spiritual awakening, (distributed by Life Action Ministries, Buchanan, MI 49107), the following observations were made. The message of past revivals was not so much geared to the lost as we might think. They were instead almost exclusively geared to those within the church. The call was a call to holiness.
The central lesson in every revival was the fact that the Spirit of God moved to convert the unsaved in magnitude and power as soon as the Christians within a specific church were walking in obedience to God. It was found that the revivalist’s special burden was always the Church. The cry during the Welsh Revival was “bend the Church and save the world.” This was a reference to submission to God and to His will. When this was done, God broke out upon the lost in converting power.
Evan Roberts stated, “My mission is first to the churches. When the churches are aroused to their duty, men of the world will be swept into the Kingdom. A whole church on its knees is irresistible … When the bonds of Paul and Silas in Phillipi’s prison snapped, the bonds of all the prisoners snapped. So when the church is freed from the bonds of apathy and worldliness, those who are being drawn by Satan to eternal death will be released also.“6
The Spirit of God is presently bringing a revival of repentance and holiness to the church to prepare them for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit which will sweep multitudes into the kingdom of God. Judgment must begin in God’s house. Only a church that has put on new wineskins, which has cleaned out the old leaven, which has awakened from deadness, and been purged from sin, is fit to receive the multitudes of men and women who will come seeking salvation.
After many of God’s people listen to His voice from heaven, and prepare themselves through true repentance and amendment of life, the deluge will descend upon us like a “mighty rushing stream which the wind of the Lord drives.”
Perhaps your heart is crying out, “Lord, I want revival in my life and nation. I want to be ready for the outpouring of Your spirit. What must I do?”
Repent of and forsake all known sin. Forgive every one that has wronged you. Make restitution where necessary. Find a friend of “like mind” and pray together daily for revival. Let the Spirit of God direct your prayers and He will lead you into all truth and righteousness. Commit yourself to a life of absolute obedience to the Spirit of God.
Having done this, you will make certain of His calling and choosing you. “Many are called and few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Seek to be chosen!
1 Frank Bartleman, Another Wave of Revival, (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1982), pp. 10, 19.
2 Ibid. pp. 54-55.
3 Spirit of Revival, (Buchanan, MI: Life Action Ministries, 1988), Vol. 18, No. 1, p. 26.
4 Bartleman, pp. 1-48.
5 T. Vaughan Lewis, as quoted in “Bend the Church,” Spirit of Revival, p. 24.
6 Spirit of Revival, p. 26.
Copyright © Bob and Rose Weiner 2007, All Rights Reserved