Why Revival Tarries?
I was saved in 1992 and for the first two years of my Christianity, I can say that it was lukewarm at best. My prayer life and my passion for God in His Word were not on fire at all. In 1994 I went to the mountains and on the way I stopped at a small Christian bookstore in Pickens, SC and there I purchased a book by an author that I had heard of when reading Keith Green’s biography, No Compromise. His name was Leonard Ravenhill. The book was Why Revival Tarries?
There are few books that consume a person like this one did for me. Ravenhill wrote later about the first time he read a book by E.M. Bounds while attending college in England. He says that instead of him reading Bounds, Bounds went through him. Bounds challenged Ravenhill to commit himself to a life of prayer and a passion for revival was born. Ravenhill’s two mentors were the late Samuel Chadwick who himself wrote several books on prayer and holiness that are powerful reads and the late A.W. Tozer who also taught Ravenhill how to pray and adore God. From Bounds and Chadwick and Tozer came Leonard Ravenhill’s passion for prayer that he captured in his book Why Revival Tarries?.
The book is simply a profound book. Like few books this book challenged me toward prayer like I had never been challenged before. I remember that night after spending the day reading Ravenhill’s book, I lay on the floor and wept over my lack of passion for revival and my lukewarm prayer life. I wept over the lost and the countless souls that I had passed by and never uttered one word of salvation in Christ. I wept over my lack of passion for the Word of God. The tears flowed that night and I repented deeply from my heart for my sinfulness by failing to love Jesus with all that was in me (Mark 12:29-31).
Leonard Ravenhill was a man of prayer. A couple of friends and I drove all the way to Texas to meet Leonard Ravenhill who would die just a few months later. At that time Ravenhill was having prayer meetings at his home where men of God would come and pray for hours. Ravenhill was known to pray as much as 9 hours a day before he died. His heart wept for the lost, for the glory of God to be restored to His Church, and for the Church to awaken herself in prayer. He would read 1 Samuel 12:23 and weep over the sinfulness of not seeking God in the Church. Ravenhill truly was a prophet of God who called the people of God to holiness, to exaltation of Christ alone, and to prayer. I have never met a man like him.
I hear people make excuses about their lack of prayer. Too busy. Too full of ministry. Too tired. I hear people say things such as, “God wants quality praying and not just quantity praying” but sadly I have found He gets neither. We claim that Jesus is our life, that He is our passion, that He is our desire yet is He? What consumes you? Does prayer and seeking God’s face consume you? Is your number one passion the presence of God in your life? Is prayer a top priority or just something you religiously do or do when you are in dire straits? Prayer must be a priority as prayer demonstrates, unlike many other things, our faith in Christ. If we fail to pray it’s because we really don’t believe in the power of God. We believe in our own wisdom, our own power, our own ways. Prayer must be a focus.
Sadly, I know few churches who are committed to radical revival praying. Prayer breeds revival. The great revivals under Edwards or Wesley were started and sustained through faithful praying. In fact history records that every great revival came when people started praying with fire. Even the day of Pentecost came with people praying in the upper room (Acts 1:14). The book of Acts goes on to record by the inspiration of the Spirit that the early Church prayed (Acts 12:5 for example). The Epistles are full of references to prayer. Even Revelation 5:8 tells us that the prayers of the saints rise up before the throne of Almighty God.
And yet few today pray. When Ravenhill died in 1994 his wife Martha stated through tears that he was heartbroken that he never saw a true biblical revival in his lifetime. For years Leonard Ravenhill had prayed for revival to fall on the Church. He was heartbroken over the playing in the Church and not the praying in the Church. In Why Revival Tarries? Ravenhill calls the prayer meeting the “Cinderella of the Church.” Once Leonard was invited to preach at a church a series of meetings that they were calling a “revival” and before he preached the first sermon he walked down the stage at this large church and asked the pastors from the church to come up front. He then went one by one to them asking them how much time do they regularly give to prayer. Hardly any were truly praying. Brother Leonard went up and said, “I have no reason to believe from the utter lack of praying from your pastors that you desire revival. You came to hear a good sermon and not to seek God. That is not my heart and I want nothing of it.” And he walked out.
Oh how I long to pray with fire like that! I want to be desperate for my Jesus. I don’t want to sit around and talk about Jesus or think about Jesus but I want to seek Him. He is worthy to be praised and He is worth more to me than life itself (Luke 14:25-35). Jesus taught us to pray always and not lose heart (Luke 18:1) and that is just what I want to do. I want to be a man of prayer. Above being an expositor of the Word or a great theologian or a great husband, I want to first and foremost be a man of prayer.
The great hymn O Breath of Life by Mrs. B.P. Head is worth reading and taking to heart.
O Breath of life, come sweeping through us,
Revive Thy church with life and power;
O Breath of life, come, cleanse, renew us,
And fit Thy church to meet this hour.
O Wind of God, come bend us, break us,
Till humbly we confess our need;
Then in Thy tenderness remake us,
Revive, restore, for this we plead.
O Breath of love, come breathe within us,
Renewing thought and will and heart;
Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us,
Revive Thy church in every part.
O Heart of Christ, once broken for us,
’Tis there we find our strength and rest;
Our broken, contrite hearts now solace,
And let Thy waiting church be blest.
Revive us, Lord! Is zeal abating
While harvest fields are vast and white?
Revive us Lord, the world is waiting,
Equip Thy church to spread the light.
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