Thoughts on revival – and what to read about it:
There is little doubt that the need of the hour throughout the West is mighty heaven-sent revival. One can see no other option than divine judgment. We certainly deserve the latter, but we can – and should – pray for the former. As such, it is always well worth thinking and reading about revival, as well as asking God that he might visit us again with fresh outpourings of his Spirit.
Many works on revival can be mentioned here. But I want to highlight one very significant author, J. Edwin Orr (1912-1987). He was an Irish Baptist minister, evangelist, hymn-writer and professor. From the late 60s till the early 80s he was a professor of missions at Fuller Theological Seminary in California.
He has penned several dozen important books on revival, some of which I wish to focus on here. In the 1970s for example he authored an important three-volume set on revival:
The Flaming Tongue: The Impact of 20th Century Revivals. Moody, 1973.
The Fervent Prayer: The Worldwide Impact of the Great Awakening of 1858. Moody, 1974
The Eager Feet: Evangelical Awakenings, 1790-1830. Moody, 1975.
Also in the 70s he wrote a five-volume set on evangelical awakenings:
Evangelical Awakenings in Africa. Bethany Fellowship, 1975.
Evangelical Awakenings in Eastern Asia. Bethany Fellowship, 1975.
Evangelical Awakenings in Southern Asia. Bethany Fellowship, 1975.
Evangelical Awakenings in the South Seas. Bethany Fellowship, 1976.
Evangelical Awakenings in Latin America. Bethany Fellowship, 1978.
A few other books of his that are worth mentioning are:
Full Surrender. Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1951.
The Second Evangelical Awakening in Britain. Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1949.
The Second Evangelical Awakening in America. Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1952.
The Light of the Nations: Evangelical Renewal and Advance in the Nineteenth Century. Paternoster, 1965.
To get a taste for his work, here I want to simply quote from the opening words of The Fervent Prayer. It provides a helpful definition of what an evangelical awakening is, and helps us visualise the sorts of things all believers should long and pray for. He writes:
An Evangelical Awakening is a movement of the Holy Spirit bringing about a revival of New Testament Christianity in the Church of Christ and in its related community. Such an awakening may change in a significant way an individual only; or it may affect a larger group of believers; or it may move a congregation, or the churches in the city or district, or the body of believers throughout a country or continent; or indeed the larger body of believers throughout the world. The outpouring of the Spirit effects the reviving of the church, the awakening of the masses, and the movement of uninstructed peoples toward the Christian faith; the revived Church, by many or by few, is moved to engage in evangelism, in teaching, and in social action.
Such an awakening may run its course briefly, or it may last a lifetime. It may come about in various ways, though there seems to be a pattern common to all such movements throughout history.
The major marks of an Evangelical Awakening are always some repetition of the phenomena of the Acts of the Apostles, followed by the revitalizing of nominal Christians and by bringing outsiders into vital touch with the Divine Dynamic causing all such Awakenings—the Spirit of God. The surest evidence of the Divine origin of any such quickening is its presentation of the evangelical message declared in the New Testament and its re-enactment of the phenomena therein in the empowering of saints and conversion of sinners.
It is more than interesting to compare the characteristics of the Awakenings of various decades with the prototype of evangelical revivals in the Acts of the Apostles, a perennial textbook for such movements….
The events recorded in the Acts have been repeated in full or lesser degree in the Awakenings of past centuries. From the study of Evangelical Revivals or Awakenings in cities and districts, countries and continents, generations and centuries, it is possible to trace a pattern of action and discover a progression of achievement that establish in the minds of those who accept the New Testament as recorded history an undoubted conclusion that the same Spirit of God who moved the apostles has wrought His mighty works in the centuries preceding our own with the same results but with wider effects than those of which the apostles dreamed in their days of power.
One can thank God for historians of revival such as Orr. But he was not just a great scholar and historian, but as a pastor and evangelist he also sought, worked and prayed for revival. As F.F. Bruce once said of him: “Some men read history, some write it, and others make it. So far as the history of religious revivals is concerned, J. Edwin Orr belongs to all three categories.”
Of course, others could be mentioned here. Before listing some more key works on revival for those wanting to take these matters further, let me offer four choice quotes on revival from four choice Christians:
“Oh! men and brethren, what would this heart feel if I could but believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival – men whose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessions that God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations.” C. H. Spurgeon
“Nothing so attracts people to the Church as revival. Men are trying to advertise the church today; the church is setting up publicity departments, and has publicity agents; and we are told we must advertise the Church to the people. But if revival were to break out here or anywhere else, there would be no need to advertise it. People would come from everywhere, as they did on the Day of Pentecost, asking ‘What is this?’” Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.” A. W. Tozer
“The only reason we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it!” Leonard Ravenhill
Other general works on revival
Backhouse, Robert, Spurgeon on Revival. Kingsway, 1996.
Davies, R.E., I Will Pour Out My Spirit. Monarch, 1992.
Dixon, Patrick, Signs of Revival. Kingsway, 1994.
Drummond, Lewis, Eight Keys to Biblical Revival. Bethany House, 1994.
Duewel, Wesley, Revival Fire. Zondervan, 1995.
Edwards, Brian, Revival: A People Saturated With God. Evangelical Press, 1990.
Finney, Charles, Lectures on Revival. 1835.
Hansen, Collin and John Woodbridge, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir. Zondervan, 2010.
Hill, Stephen, Time to Weep. Creation House, 1997.
Kaiser, Walter, Revive Us Again. Christian Focus, 2001.
Lennie, Tom, Glory in the Glen: A History of Evangelical Revivals in Scotland 1880-1940. Christian Focus, 2009, 2013.
Lennie, Tom, Land of Many Revivals. Christian Focus, 2015.
Lennie, Tom, Scotland Ablaze: The Twenty Year Fire of Revival That Swept Over Scotland 1858-79. Christian Focus, 2018.
Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Revival. Crossway, 1987.
Murray, Iain, Pentecost Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival. Banner of Truth, 1998.
Murray, Iain, Revival and Revivalism. Banner of Truth, 1994.
Piggin, Stuart, Firestorm of the Lord. Paternoster, 2000.
Pratney, Winkie, Revival: Its Principles and Personalities. Huntington House, 1994.
Ravenhill, Leonard, Revival God’s Way. Bethany House, 1983.
Ravenhill, Leonard, Revival Praying. Bethany House, 1962, 2005.
Ravenhill, Leonard, Why Revival Tarries. Bethany House, 1959.
Roberts, Richard Owen, Revival. Tyndale, 1982.
Smart, Robert Davis, Michael Haykin and Ian Hugh Clary, eds., Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition. Reformation Heritage, 2015.
Smith, Timothy, Revivalism and Social Reform. Abingdon, 1957.
Stibbe, Mark, Revival. Monarch, 1998.
Towns, Elmer and Douglas Porter, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever. Destiny Image, 2000.
Turnbull, Richard, Reviving the Heart: The Story of the 18th Century Revival. Lion, 2012.
Warner, Rob, Prepare for Revival. Hodder & Stoughton, 1995.
Waugh, Geoff, Flashpoints of Revival: History’s Mighty Revivals. Revival Press, 1998, 2009.
Whittaker, Colin, Great Revivals. Marshalls, 1984.
Wright, Fred and Sharon, The World’s Greatest Revivals. Destiny Image, 2007.
The Welsh Revivals (of 1859 and 1904-05)
Evans, Eifion, Revival Comes to Wales . Evangelical Press of Wales, 1959.
Evans, Eifion, The Welsh Revival of 1904. Evangelical Press of Wales, 1969.
Gibbard, Noel, Fire on the Altar: A History and Evaluation of the 1904-1905 Revival. Bryntirion Press, 2005.
Jones, Brynmor, Voices from the Welsh Revival 1904-1905. Evangelical Press of Wales, 1995.
Matthews, David, I Saw the Welsh Revival. Moody Press, 1951.
Paisley, Ian, The 59 Revival. Martyr’s Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, 1958.
Phillips, Thomas, The Welsh Revival . Banner of Truth Trust, 1860, 1989.
Railton, Nicholas, Revival on the Causeway Coast. Christian Focus, 2009.
Randall, Ian, Rhythms of Revival: The Spiritual Awakening of 1857-1863. Authentic Media, 2010.
Roberts, Richard Owen, Glory Filled the land: A Trilogy on the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) [H. Elvet Lewis, C. Campbell Morgan, I.V. Neprash]. International Awakening Press, 1989.