A Time for Revival
Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – September 2019
By Pastor Lloyd Pulley
The 90's were a pretty dark time in our nation's history. Drunkenness was epidemic. Profanity was in vogue. Women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were an everyday occurrence. Churches were losing more members than they were gaining. Anti-Christian sentiment was at an all-time high.
Students in New Jersey rioted and burned a Bible taken from a local Presbyterian church in a public bonfire. In Princeton only two believers were discovered in the entire student body. Christian students met in secret like a communist cell and wrote their notes in code for fear of being found out. You may be thinking "That's not how I remember the 90's." It may come as a surprise, but I'm referring to the 1790's not the 1990's.
If you ever thought of the past as the "good old days" it is only because you perhaps remember growing up with wholesome shows like The Little House on the Prairie and Leave it to Beaver. But religion in America has not declined constantly from the beginning as you may have thought but has instead experienced a series of ups and downs over the course of our national history.
Right now, we are admittedly at a very low point in history where it appears we are unlikely to recover. We have racial tension resurging, rampant and legalized drug use, immorality being promoted in our once public but now government-controlled schools, political corruption and the list goes on. But things looked even more bleak in our past.
The decline from our biblical roots and Judeo-Christian values and the resultant decay of the family unit has moved us away from what made us great, caused our economy to soar and created a desire for many to want to live the "American Dream."
Yet, during some of the darkest times in our nation some desperate souls were moved to pray. This resulted in some of the most amazing revivals of religion. The Welsh Revival of the early 1900's ignited a religious fire. Churches were packed throughout Wales and the revival spilled out of those churches and left a wake of transformation in lives all through North America, India, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It changed the course of history!
In what way did the revival transform society? Crime in Wales essentially ended and police officers had so much free time that their only activity was performing musical quartets. Imagine that! No crime and no drunkenness. Illegitimate births dropped to practically zero. People flooded into churches, praying, being restored to God and transformed in their families.
Oddly the revival also created a slowdown in production in the coal mines in Wales. Apparently, the donkeys that were used to pull the coal carts stopped moving. Because the coal miners refused to swear, their animals could not understand their masters' new language without profanity. If this were not documented it would sound like a tall tale!
Before that, there was another great period of time within our nation shortly before the Civil War. In September of 1857, what started as a pathetic gathering of six souls for prayer in NYC at the request of a layman, Jeremy Lanphier, eventually led to tens of thousands gathering every day. This led to the Third Great Awakening in the United States. Without this revival and awakening to religion (which was powerfully reflected in the letters of soldiers from both the north and south) we would not have survived as a nation during the Civil War.
What has been the key feature in every revival has been prayer. Prayer makes a difference since it is motivated out of a humility and brokenness coupled with an awareness that there is no other help that can make a difference except from God. Such prayer is also rooted in faith in the Bible's revelation of God as merciful, kind and forgiving who demonstrated his love by His own son's death on the cross.
Will we see such a revival again in our nation? Will God restore us once again? Perhaps He will, when we realize that there is no other hope but God, and we find our identity and purpose in being made in His image to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with Him. Perhaps when we believe that God truly has made us, loves us and wants to rescue us and we pray for His help, then we may have that glimmer of hope restored.