When revival comes God is obviously present in His church in the awesome display of His holiness, grace and power. Arthur Wallis told how "In the Welsh Revival of 1904 near the town of Gorseinon a meeting continued throughout the night. A miner, a hardened godless character, returning from his shift at four a.m., saw the light in the chapel and decided to investigate. As soon as he opened the door he was overwhelmed by a sense of Godís presence. He was heard to exclaim, "Oh, God is here!" He was afraid either to enter or depart, and there on the threshold of the chapel the work of salvation began in his heartÖ"
Such manifestations of Godís presence usually take place where there is much prayer. This was true in Wales where the churches were packed with crowds who came to keep an appointment with God. Christians were convicted of sin and got right with God. So many of the unsaved population were convicted of sin that profanity in the coal mines faded away and so little crime occurred in some cities that the idle police formed quartets to sing in the churches.
Evan Roberts, the leader of the Welsh revival, was keenly aware that the Spirit of the Lord was in charge. F. B. Meyer said, "He will not go in front of the Divine Spirit, but is willing to stand aside and remain in the background unless he is perfectly sure that the Spirit of God is moving him."
A remarkable manifestation of Godís presence took place in Northampton, Massachusetts. Jonathan Edwards realized there were many unsaved in his church. So in the fall of 1734 he preached some strong messages on justification by faith and started prayer meetings.
"And then it was, in the latter part of December, that the spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work amongst us," he wrote, "there were very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons, who were to all appearance savingly converted, and some of them wrought upon in a very remarkable manner."
Then a young woman who had been "one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town" was converted and wonderfully changed. The news of her conversion was like a flash of lightening upon the hearts of young people and many others all over town. Nearly everyone in the town became concerned about eternal things. Many were converted.
By the spring and summer of 1735 "the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of Godís presence in almost every house. It was a time of joy in families on account of salvation being brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands" (Jonathan Edwards: Basic Writings, 101).
Christ has made His presence known in various ways. The important thing is not how He manifests His presence, but simply that His presence is revealed along with a renewal of powerful grace, holiness, and love among believers.
A manifestation of Christís presence transformed Pastor C. John Millerís ministry. He saw his prayer meeting pack out the basement and move to the sanctuary to accommodate the growing crowd. One Wednesday night four people confessed faith in Christ. It was not unusual for people who had been prayed for to be converted and begin attending prayer meeting. Christians came to the prayer meeting expecting to meet with Christ and be changed and they were not disappointed. New Life Presbyterian Church in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania grew to 600 members and 2 daughter churches through this live prayer meeting.
Miller had earlier seen his prayer meeting in another church die. "What made the difference between the prayer meeting that failed and the one that came alive? The earlier gathering lacked the touch of the power of God. In the second one the King was present, moving, working, and leading. It was His meeting. He had graciously chosen to be present and to glorify Himself by changing us and answering our prayers" (Outgrowing The Ingrown Church, C. John Miller, 95).
When my wife, Betty, and I pray together, we ask the Lord to be present with us, take charge of us, change us and bring us into harmony with our Father in heaven. He is answering this prayer in quiet but powerful ways.
What is the meaning of Christís presence in the midst of His people? It means that the church is His bride and that He has come into our midst to live with us as our head, protector, provider and sanctifier. He wants us to yield to His headship in love so that with one accord our will agrees with His. Then He can reveal Himself to the world through us. Thus our relationship with Him will bear fruit in Christlike character and in the birth of newborn babes in Christ. We must unite in steadfastly devoting ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word so we can keep our unity of love with our head alive and well (Acts 1:14-15; 2:42; 6:4).
Why do we need to ask the Lord to be present among us and actively take charge? Because He does not force Himself upon us. Our Lover waits to be welcomed into the deepest needs of our hearts. We find Jesus knocking on the door of the Laodicean church and offering to come in and commune with anyone who would open the door to Him (Rev. 3:20). O. Hallesby wrote, "To pray is nothing more involved than to let Jesus into our needs. To pray is to give Jesus permission to employ His powers in the alleviation of our distress. To pray is to let Jesus glorify His name in the midst of our needs" (Prayer. 12). What would Jesus do if people would only humble themselves and let Him into the deepest needs of their hearts?
A look at the gospels answers this question by showing how Jesus dealt with His disciples. He rebuked their pride by humbling Himself and washing their feet. He warned them that they would deny Him and fall away from Him when He would be put on trial. He knew their love for Him was not strong enough to stand the test. After the resurrection they were ready to let Him come into this intimate need. So He gently confronted Peter about his need for love that never fails (John 21:15-18). Our love gives Christ freedom to deal with us that way.
Welcoming Jesusí presence in our midst is a matter of life or death. If the world doesnít see the presence of Jesus among us, how can they believe our message? One of the signs carried by the protesters in the sixties declared, "Jesus Ė yes! Christianity Ė no!
The beautiful presence of Christ in our midst will shine as a light into our worldís moral darkness when we repent of forsaking our first love for Him and once again offer Him fragrant prayers of pure devotion accompanied by sacrificial obedience (Acts 4:24-35; Eph 3:14-21; Rev 2:5-7).
Leonard Ravenhill wrote, "GODíS WORD SAYS that when we seek the Lord, He comes to His temple. We must check here to see what it is that we who are praying for revival are seeking. We are not seeking fame, miracles, success, ease, full churches, or financial deliverance. These may come. But first and foremost we seek the Lord. It is He who must come in power and glory". The psalmist would say, "Amen!" (Ps 42:1-2; 63:1-2).
Join with us and many others on the first Monday of each month in praying for revival. Write to the address below for information on how to lead a group in prayer for revival.
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Copyright by Oliver W. Price Revival Insights Vol. VIII, No. 3
BIBLE PRAYER FELLOWSHIP P. O. Box 810718 Dallas, TX 75381
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