An Afternoon for Global Revival

I ascended the pulpit?all 21 steps to the top! I peered down at nearly 700 upturned faces. These included leaders from 80 nations, assembled for the week-long International Prayer Leaders? Consultation in November 2002.

We were gathered in the historic Dutch Reformed Church near Cape Town, South Africa, that was once pastored by world-renowned revival author Andrew Murray. In this church in 1860, a revival broke out into a great awakening that impacted South Africa for years to come.

It began with the fervent prayers of the church?s youth group, especially the heart-pleas one night of a 16-year-old girl. Interestingly, the newly ordained Dr. Murray tried to stop the outcry that evening, running up and down in the midst of the pray-ers, clerical robes flapping behind him, shouting, ?Stop this! God is the author of order, not of confusion!? Gradually, however, Murray recognized that this was a movement full of the glory of Christ and he surrendered to it. The rest is history.

Now here I was, 140 years after that first revival broke out, standing in the very spot where Murray preached. Before me was a new generation of Christian leaders from scores of nations who were convicted about the necessity of world evangelization. I had been asked to bring a message and then take us into focused prayer. But what could I possibly say that others there couldn?t say better? I figured that since I was in Murray?s pulpit, I would let him do the talking! So I read from his last book, The State of the Church, written 50 years after his first taste of revival. Here?s what I read:

?The one object of the World Missionary Conference [1910] was to take all the problems connected with missionary work and to strive so to solve them, as to form the basis of a missionary enterprise in which all the Churches could unite . . . And yet the chief and most difficult problem of all has not been solved. Every question in regard to the organization of mission work at home and abroad has been answered, except the most important problem of all: How is the Church to be roused to that deeper and fuller life in Christ, without which there is no possibility of Christ being made known to all the world in this generation?

?Spread before us lies a world dying in its need of the very message which the Church of Christ alone can bring. This world is accessible and open for this message as it never has been in the ages past. But Christ?s church has not the power, nor vitality, nor consecration, which would make it possible for her to fulfill her blessed task.

?If the plea for more prayer for that revival which is so much needed is to be attended to by God?s people?if that prayer is to be effectual and much availing?the state of the Church as it has been described must become an unbearable burden, and we must learn to give ourselves no rest, and to give God no rest until He makes His Church a joy in the earth.?

Next, I preached from one of Murray?s favorite texts on revival, Col. 1:27. I looked at three themes in the text: 1) CHRIST His supremacy, His incomparableness; 2) IN YOU Intimacy with Christ, His accessibility; 3) THE HOPE OF GLORY Expectancy, His uncontainability. Then, with Murray?s passion for revival as our backdrop, I guided the delegation in extended small group prayer through the three themes. This was followed by an African leader guiding simultaneous prayer for the South African churches. Then I asked about 20 people to stand and pray one by one for global revival using their own national language.

Then heaven came down! There was a spiritual explosion among us such as I have rarely witnessed. Scores related to me afterwards how Christ met them, filling them with fresh hope in God and unleashing them anew as prayer mobilizers for their own nations. Many said, ?It was worth the whole trip to South Africa to be here this one afternoon.?

Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit reinforced a growing conviction in us all that afternoon: Of all the critical prayer agendas we must pursue for the blessing, healing, and reaching of the nations, nothing should occupy higher priority than the revival of the church. And since we have a global mission, we must seek God for global revival?a worldwide outpouring of Christ?s power and presence on His people. This alone can transform the churches to transform their nations.

God has answered the outcries of that afternoon in other amazing ways as well. But one thing I must report to you now: On Pentecost Sunday, 2005, a six-hour Global Concert of Prayer is scheduled to unite by radio and television an estimated 500 million Christians who will convene in stadiums, arenas, villages, churches, open fields, and homes for concerted prayer for global revival.

I wonder if Andrew Murray isn?t leaping for joy about this already