Sermon Illustrations

The Role of Prayer in Revival

A U.S. Lutheran bishop tells of visiting a parish church in California and finding a stirring red and orange banner on the wall. "Come Holy Spirit. Hallelujah!" it declared in words printed under a picture of a fire burning. The bishop was also interested in the sign directly underneath the banner, which said: "Fire extinguisher." So much for that parish’s commitment to spiritual renewal.

One World, May, 1982.

In 1746, Jonathan Edwards published a book on "concerts of prayer" -- a term used in his day and repeated in subsequent prayer movements over the last 250 years. Well aware from biblical and historical accounts that united prayer was the only way to sustain the spiritual awakening that already had begun in the colonies, Edwards called for Christians on both sides of the Atlantic to pray for revival. The title of his book summarizes what is happening throughout the Body of Christ at this hour in the growth of the prayer movement: "An Humble Attempt to Promote explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of the Church and the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth." Edwards’ book, along with such classic texts as Andrew Murray’s "Key to the Missionary Problem" and Timothy Smith’s Revivalism and Social Reform," suggest there usually are five phases in every historic revival: (1) Intercession -- God’s people begin to unite in prayer for revival; (2) Revelation -- God answers prayer by pouring out a fresh new manifestation of the person of Christ; (3) Consecration -- as a result, God’s people consecrate themselves to Him, and each other, and to the work of Christ in the world; (4) Revitalization -- ministries are purified and rejuvenated and become more fruitful, both locally, nationally, and beyond; (5) Expansion -- out of revival the gospel is advanced further, the church makes a greater impact upon the surrounding culture, and a general spiritual awakening takes place on many levels.

National & International Religion Report Special Report, 1992, pp. 2-3.

From a sermon by Mike Rickman, Putting God in the Mix, 10/31/2009

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