As we study church history, we learn of exciting outbreaks of revival and renewal which have had profound global impacts. Today Christians rightly long to see similar moves of God’s spirit as well. We all desire to see God move in new and dynamic ways. We long to see God’s people renewed, the lost converted and society turned upside down for the Gospel. Yet I sometimes wonder whether we are doing all we can to see God’s spirit break forth in Australia. Is our desire for revival matched by a willingness to pay the price for revival? Are we really willing to make the necessary sacrifices to see revival erupt here?
Sure, in one sense revival is the result of the sovereign work of God. It is his work, and we depend on him to move on our behalf. But in another sense, there are things we can do as well to help bring about revival. An earnest and heart-felt seeking after God would be one such thing, along with a willingness to pray and seek God and cry out to him for a spiritual breakthrough in our land.
Of course most churches have organised prayer groups and the like, and intercessory prayer groups are increasing. But usually those praying, fasting and seeking God for revival are few and far between. While there are many morning prayer meetings and the like, they are usually sparsely attended.
Now I am certain that most Christians, if asked whether they would like to see God break forth in marvellous revival, would respond in the affirmative. Yet for all our interest in, and hope for, revival, it seems very few Christians are willing to take the necessary steps to see it birthed. While I realise that revival is generally due to the sovereign move of God, a study of church history indicates that concentrated passionate prayer is often the means by which revival breaks forth.
That such prayer is so noticeably absent in most churches today is a sure sign of our spiritual impoverishment. My hope and prayer is that Australian Christians will develop a desire and a thirst for revival, and for the most important means to procure such revival: prayer.
What does revival look like?
If a revival were to break out in Australia, what would it look like? Let me seek to paint a picture for you.
Newspaper headlines regularly discuss the revival. The Australian, The Age, The Courier-Mail and The Sydney Morning Herald, for example, often spend several pages each day on the revival, with daily listings of converts. Words of new praise songs are reported, along with maps of where the revival is raging. Media personalities such as Kerry O’Brien devote much time to stories of the revival, and are personally touched by it. Current affairs shows such as 60 Minutes spend most of their time discussing the revival. Numerous journalists experience conversion, and hostility to Christianity in the media is greatly reduced. Media magnates like Rupert Murdoch can only find good words to say about the revival.
The police report that jails are emptying out, streets are quiet and little police work is necessary. Crime is way down, and gambling, drinking, drug abuse and other previously common vices are cut in half. Sex shops and porno theatres are closing down. The large casino parking lots are no longer filled with cars. Many police devote their time to singing in choirs or helping out at church services.
Federal and State Parliaments are often closed, because so many politicians are involved with or observing the revival taking place. Parliamentary prayer meetings have increased in number and size. Federal leaders, opposition leaders, and most MPs and Senators attend regular prayer meetings.
The working class is especially touched by the revival, with blue collar sectors like the Western suburbs of Melbourne becoming new Bible belts. There are far fewer strikes, and tensions between unions and companies have greatly lessened.
Many young people and children are saved, with many of them taking active roles in leadership, evangelism and worship. Churches often double and triple in size, with many new church buildings being built. Whereas congregations of a thousand or more were rare before the revival, now they number in the hundreds right across Australia. Many denominational barriers have come down, and remarkable unity is experienced.
Many of the large sporting facilities like the MCG or the GABBA sit empty, partly due to lack of interest, and partly due to so many athletes converting to Christ. People like Chris Judd, Lleyton Hewitt, Stephanie Rice, and Ricky Ponting now spend most of their time holding evangelistic crusades and attending prayer meetings.
Major Australian entertainment figures such as Hugh Jackman, Kylie Minogue, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Elle MacPherson are no longer much interested in entertainment, but are devoting their time, money and talents to Christian ministry.
People from all over the world have come to Australia to see for themselves the mighty work of God taking place. The tourist industry is experiencing a major boost in visitors, and extra flights have had to be set up to accommodate the large influx of visitors. Christians and churches throughout the world are encouraged, refreshed and blessed by the revival taking place in Australia.
Will revival happen here?
Lest anyone think that all of this is the product of an over-ripe imagination, or a bit of wishful thinking, let me say that the above description is the exact equivalent of what took place during the great Welsh revival of 1904-05. That revival impacted the whole world, and its effects are still being felt today. For example, the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, which helped to give birth to the modern Pentecostal movement, was touched off by the sparks of the Welsh revival.
When we read of such exciting revivals in the past, we can only say, God do it again. If revival is the desire of our hearts, let’s help to make it a reality. One sure way to help see revival to break out in Australia is to pray it through. If your morning prayer meetings are only attended by a handful of people, ask God to put a burden on his people to become a praying church. For as church history clearly reveals, a praying church is a church that will experience revival. And revival is clearly the need of the hour, not just in Australia, but around the world.