blogs about awakening
I recently watched a great video by Derek Prince about intercessory prayer. In it, this former Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University in England, describes the incredible power we possess as Christ-followers when we pray for our government and our nation consistent with the will of God. He gave a specific illustration that he personally witnessed concerning prayer for Kenya in 1960. I encourage you to take the time to listen to his story and teaching.
As I was praying about the agenda for our recent prayer meeting, God brought to mind how England potentially avoided a Civil war in the early 1800s over the issue of slavery. You see, in the late 1700s and early 1800s England's economy was bolstered hugely by the slave trade carried on by a number of British business owners. Their employees would kidnap men and women in Africa, transport them to America and sell them, making a huge profit.
One of my heroes, William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament and a devout Christian, tried unsuccessfully for 17 years to have England outlaw the barbaric, yet very profitable slave trade. But providentially, through Wilberforce's writings and speeches and the prayers of many, the English people were touched deeply by the Second Great Awakening. As a result of the heart change that occurred, William was finally able to get the votes he needed to outlaw the slave trade. It happened in 1807, 18 years after he began his quest. The final vote in Parliament to end the slave trade was 283 to 16! God obviously moved in power, allowing this great controversy in England to be settled peacefully by a vote rather than by a greater conflict!
So, the Second Great Awakening that lasted for decades in England and America had a profound impact on both nations. But by 1840 in the U.S., things had pretty much reverted back to more normal times where people lost the great selflessness and courage that a fresh move of God brings. Charles Darwin's teaching of evolution during those days suggesting the superiority of certain types of people only added more fuel to the fires of racial conflict and seemingly providing cover for those advocating and practicing slavery.
But then came the great Revival of 1857 which impacted millions of Americans. People were praying in huge numbers all across our nation. Yet, in contrast with the Second Great Awakening that went on for decades, this revival was short lived: it was largely over in 1858.
Fast forward three short years to April 12, 1861: the beginning of the American Civil War that ultimately resulted in over 600,000 soldiers' deaths. To suggest that Americans at that time had lost track of God and earnest prayer is not idle conjecture on my part. Listen to what President Lincoln said in March of 1863 during the dark days of our Civil War in his call for a national day of fasting and prayer: "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!"
Here's my point: what if the Revival of 1857 had continued and grown into a full-fledged Great Spiritual Awakening? What if, as a result of deep heart change, devoted Christ followers in both the North and the South continued to earnestly pray that God would show them what God expects of people whose God is the Lord that would lead them to acknowledge the evils of American slavery?
What if they saw Darwin's anti-scriptural craziness for what it is: lies from the pit of hell. That all men and women, boys and girls--regardless of skin tone--are wonderful creations of God, made in His image, descendants of Adam and Eve, and ought not to be owned by others but rather deserve to be loved as our dear neighbors consistent with Christ's command to love our neighbors as ourselves?
What if the vast majority of citizens in America became totally willing, for God's sake, to forgo their love of money like our British counterparts did earlier in the century, and thereby to give up anything that offends our Lord?
Let me ask this: could/would the Civil War have been avoided if our people genuinely and wholeheartedly were following the teachings of Jesus? For sure!! And was not this God's will for them? Absolutely!! And are not the earnest prayers of righteous people hugely powerful and effective when we pray according to God's will? Yes!!
Bottom line, I believe that the bloodiest war in our nation's history could have been entirely avoided if God's people had continued to be revived and were living wholeheartedly and selflessly for our Lord instead of falling back into their comfortable "Churchianity" where we "sprinkle a little Jesus" on the surface of our lives. And I further believe that fervent, united prayer is the essential catalyst to promote ongoing revival and spiritual awakening.
So, coming back to the present, as our nation today becomes more and more divided, is it stretching things too much to suggest that we could face growing national conflict that could get pretty messy as trends continue to accelerate in our land? Shouldn't we Christians realize how crucial are our prayers and relentless pursuit of God at this time for revival and awakening?
Recognizing where we are as a nation, but also acknowledging the mighty power of united prayer, we have increased the fervency of our prayer for our nation in recent prayer gatherings. God seems to be confirming in our hearts that our prayers ARE making a difference. Please join us!
left to right: William Wilberforce, Charles Darwin and President Abe Lincoln