Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Longing for Revival

Leslie Basham: Imagine a church of 3,000 people all waiting.

Anne Ortlund: All the other meetings in the church would be cancelled.

Leslie: Here’s Anne Ortlund.

Anne: There wouldn’t be anything happening—no choir practice, no prayer meeting, no anything, no committees, and we would sit before the Lord. There wasn’t any planned program.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, March 8.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Over the past several days, we’ve been having a really special conversation with a special lady, Anne Ortlund. If you’ve not joined us for this series, Anne is a longtime friend. For 61 years she was the wife of Ray Ortlund, who was my pastor when I was a college student at the University of Southern California. She has been widowed now for three years but is still serving the Lord faithfully, earnestly at the age of 86.

If you’ve not heard the previous days of this conversation, be sure to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and pull up the transcripts or the audio of these last several days. We’ve talked about aging with grace. We’ve talked about widowhood, about the disciplines of a beautiful woman.

I’ve just been picking Anne’s brain and letting our listeners hear this conversation of matters that are of great concern, Anne, to your heart and to mine as well. So thank you, Anne, for discipling us and having this conversation with us about these matters.

Anne: Well, Nancy, your heart has been with revival for all these years. Even your ministry is entitled that, Revive Our Hearts. I think that’s been the fullness, the joy, the Holy Spirit’s work in my life and in Ray’s, to see revival now and then through the years.

Nancy: I remember when I first arrived at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California as a 17-year-old college student. I was hearing at that time in that church talk about revival. God had been moving in a fresh way in that congregation, and this was something that I had had a burden for since I was a young girl, to see God move in revival.

I got to Lake Avenue Church and found that Pastor Ray had that heart, and you had that heart. Do you remember when it was or how it was that God first began to stir in you and Ray with a desire for revival?

Anne: It was interesting that the first time we were ever asked, we were 27 years old and just a year out of seminary. We were asked to speak together at a conference on any subject, and Ray said, “Well, let’s talk on revival.” We had no idea that would be the theme of our lives.

So it’s literally true that at every conference we’ve ever spoken on we’ve included revival and prayed for that and longed for that and made that the goal of our meeting together.

The first time we ever saw it ourselves was in January 1970, when Ray was asked to be the mid-year speaker at Wheaton College near Chicago. They always had a spiritual emphasis week in January. Oh, it was cold—we poor southern Californians. And it was spiritually cold. You’d walk across the campus and say, “Good morning,” and they’d say, “Uh hum.”

The sessions were to go from Monday through Friday with morning and evening meetings. The mornings were required; the evenings were not. That first Monday morning, Ray was beginning to speak on, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live,” that verse in Galatians 2:20 (KJV). He could see kids in the front rows with their Time Magazines up in front of their faces so they’d be sure that he knew they weren’t listening.

There was a spirit of rebellion on campus that was really authentic from the 60s. It's when we first got that phrase, Generation Gap, and the kids were beginning to be rebellious and to go their ways. Even Wheaton had drugs on campus and hostility against the professors and so on.

Well, Ray had asked our people to pray, and one of the dear men in the church had gotten a long piece of butcher paper and spread it out on a couple of tables in the patio.He told people to sign up for 15-minute segments of time through the 24-hour periods, day after day, that we would be away speaking.

Six hundred people signed their names to pray in these 15-minute segments so that any time day or night—a quarter past 2 in the morning you might have a couple of college students and a senior and a high schooler, who knows, praying for revival at Wheaton as we were there.

By Wednesday the kids were so touched that they began to have after meetings in the dorms separately. Then they discovered Thursday that they [the campus] were mostly doing it—they hadn’t been aware of each other.

Thursday night at the meeting . . . By the way, by this time the auditorium was filled, even though they weren’t required in the evening. Thursday night a big football guy stood up to Ray before the meeting began and said, “Pastor Ray, before you preach, could I say a word?” Ray never preached that night.

The fellow got up and said,

I want to apologize. I’ve been one of the ring leaders in the rebellion here on campus. I’ve phoned my parents this afternoon and told them I was sorry I’d been such a jerk.

Then he turned to Dr. Armerding, the president of the school, who was sitting behind him, and he said,

Dr. Armerding, will you forgive me?

Before he could say very much more (it’s still awesome to me; it makes me want to cry) kids were lining up to take their turn at the microphone. You saw this, Nancy, 15 years ago—is that when it was, in ’95?

Nancy: Yes.

Anne: The place was jammed, and it went through the night. At 8 o’clock in the morning, the faculty arrived. They’d missed most of the stuff—you know, that’s the way it is. The Indians get it when the chiefs don’t. They said, “Classes have to begin at 8:30 as usual, so you’re dismissed.” But they weren’t through, so that Friday evening it began again and went through that night. That was the final night, and then we had to fly home.

Dr. Armerding told us ten years later that the spirit was so broken and so changed that each new freshman class that would come in would catch it from the previous classes, and that revival went on, just a slow-burning revival, for ten years. We would meet people overseas on mission field who would say, “I gave my heart to the mission field that week you were there.” Or they would say, “I received Christ that week. Everybody thought I was a Christian, but I wasn’t.”

We went home. It made me think of the book of Daniel when he’d seen this terrific vision, and he said, “I, Daniel, was exhausted and lay ill for several days” (8:27, paraphased). I don’t know how you were after you’ve seen revival, but we were so totally out of gas that our deacons realized it at the church and set us off to the desert for a week to sleep it off.

We were never the same. All of our books came out of that—26 books in the next 27 years. All of our public speaking came out of that. We began getting asked for conference speaking. Our discipling came out of it. Our renewal days came out of it. Everything that we’ve been doing ever since all exploded out of that time. God revived us as well as the students. I’m sure we were needier than anybody.

Nancy: It’s a sad thing to me that the word revival has fallen under such hard times today. Many have a lot of misperceptions about what revival is and associate it with something that’s crazy or wildfire. Then I heard just recently a young woman in full-time Christian ministry who said to me, “I had never heard the word revival until recent years.” She’s a graduate of a Bible college in this country. Now, I can’t say she really hadn’t heard it, but she didn’t remember having heard it.

So I think for a lot of people today, there’s either no concept or a wrong concept of revival, so educate us a bit. When you say revival, and we say revival, what are we really talking about?

Anne: I’m glad you used that word. We discovered that renewal was maybe a little newer word for the same thing, so our ministry, our non-profit ministry has been a renewal ministry all through these years. The fact is, when you look at Psalm 85 . . . It’s interesting that she said she hadn’t even heard of the word because it’s right there in Scripture. Psalm 85 is a prayer just for that.

It starts out saying how much You’ve done, Lord, in the past: You showed favor; You restored; You forgave; You covered our sins; You set aside Your wrath, turned from Your fierce anger. All these verbsv. . .vGod had been very busy. Then it says, “Restore us again. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again, Lord.”

Then in verse 6, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in You?” (NIV).

We see first that it’s God who does it.

Nancy: Yes.

Anne: Oh, it must be God. It cannot come from anywhere else. We don’t have it in us.

“Will You not revive us again?” In your book Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, you quote the little song that we have quoted, too, sometimes when we speak on Psalm 85: “It’s me, Oh, Lord. It’s not my brother, nor my sister. It’s me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” Bad grammar, but good truth.

“Will You not revive us again?” He’d done it before. Our country was born in revival. We think of that time as if they were all godly. Well, the fact is a few years after the pilgrims had landed, there got to be a lot of prostitution and alcoholism and terrible things happening in the colonies.

God brought along George Whitfield and the two Wesley brothers and Andrew Murray from South Africa and others who began preaching in America in the colonial days, and a great revival swept the land. One of the preachers said, “I scarcely have time to eat bread. The Word runs like lightening here.”

In a period of 19 years, it went to such a level of spiritual growth that Ben Franklin reported in his papers, “It seems as if the whole world has gone religious. I walk up and down the streets and hear psalms sung out of windows on every street.”

So we say in this age, “Oh Lord, do it again; do it again. We’re so hungry for that.”

Nancy: I don’t think that most people in this culture, most Christians, are really even thinking about the need for revival. So what are some of the evidences that we need God to revive us again?

Anne: Well, you see it from the lack of church life. Being as old as I am, I can see the vast difference between when I was a little girl and now. Going to church once on a Sunday morning is all you can expect to do now. So you put the kids in Sunday school, and you go to church. The kids miss church, and the adults miss Sunday school.

A generation ago, you went to Sunday school, then you went to church. Then in the evening you went to Christian Endeavor, and then you went to evening church. And then you went to mid-week prayer meeting, and then you were in a small group. The church was your life. It was what you spent your time doing.

There were a lot of prayer groups for missions and for special needs. We had nights of prayer, and they were very precious. There might be 50 or 60 or even 100 people that were just giving themselves to open-ended prayer.

I remember times when we would take weeks of waiting on God, and for seven days we would simply gather as a people. There were about 3,000 in the church at that time, and it grew to 5,000. In the days that I’m speaking of, we would come and wait on the Lord. Ray would announce it well in advance so that all the other meetings in the church would be cancelled.

There wouldn’t be anything happening—no choir practice, no prayer meeting, no anything, no committees, and we would sit before the Lord. There wasn’t any planned program. It was kind of Quaker style. Ray would not preach. Nobody would be up front, but there was an open microphone, and people would simply stand and say, “This is what God’s been doing in my life.”

Just lots of things would happen in those weeks of waiting on God that were just totally spontaneous. After that, you could see on the charts that the giving went up, attendance went up, and new people went to the mission field. God’s hand was on us in so many ways.

Nancy: In seasons of revival, we see the evidence of the supernatural. Not just our human effort, what we can produce at church through our programs and our ingenuity and our marketing, but what only God can do.

Do you ever think about what it would be like in our day if God were to send a great sweeping revival and awakening as He did in the 1700s, the 1800s, the early 1900s, but which we have not seen in our country in over a century? What might it be like if God were to send that kind of revival again today?

Anne: I was hearing somebody speak recently, who is a missionist and who knows whereof he speaks. He said there are global hot spots today. I thought to myself, and Ray was with me (this was about four years ago) we were both thinking Newport Beach is one. We have had 30 years now of discipling there, and we aren’t taking any credit for it. The Holy Spirit has been doing a work, and it is just amazing.

I was at a party Saturday night. There were 30 of us, 15 couples. They’re couples that Ray and I have discipled—he the guys and I the gals. It was a fun full sit-down dinner for 30 people. Almost all the time we were speaking about the Lord when we conversed. But then most of the evening was spent in sharing what God was doing in our lives—one at a time. It was an intentional thing. Then we had a long season of prayer—about an hour and a half of prayer.

These are the kids in their 30s and 40s, and this is what they love to do. They get together, and they pray. It spreads in communities. There is an area that is Port this and Port that. We call it "The Ports" because all the streets are named that. God is so at work in The Ports. You just think, “It’s hard for them to find new disciples” because everyone has already been discipled and they’re stepping on each other’s feet. It is remarkable what God is doing.

They’re very aware about revival and longing for it. I tell them, “If you disciple just one year, that’s like a wave coming on shore. It goes into the sand and it dissipates, and that’s the end of that. But if you get wave after wave after wave after wave, you’ve got a tsunami on your hands, and it changes the entire landscape.”

That’s what we’re beginning to see. Nancy, I spoke to a person, a Christian, who had come from another beach city not long ago and had just moved to Newport Beach. She said, “I can’t believe the difference here. I see fish on all the cars, and I hear God talked about in the restaurants, and I see people reading their Bibles in public places.”

Nancy: This is in Southern California we’re talking about.

Anne: Newport Beach, and she was just 60 miles away and hadn’t seen that at all. But there are these spots where God is at work, and it’s wonderful in our eyes. We walk softly lest we do anything that would upset the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, and keep that thing from progressing.

Nancy: A number of the instances that you’ve mentioned where God did move in an extraordinary way, one of the factors there was prayer. People were seeking the Lord, crying out to Him.

Have you seen in other parts of the world that prayer really is a major ingredient in seeking the Lord for revival?

Anne: Yes. It’s the reason Lake Avenue people would take these times of having nights of prayer because the days were too full of other things. We’ve seen it around the world.

People would get right with people that had been on the outs with each other for months, maybe years—fellow missionaries or churches where we were preaching through interpreters. I saw a lady sit down beside a lady, and so the first lady moved away. She didn’t want to sit by her. You were just aware of these things even though you didn’t have the English language in common.

Then when prayer would come, when brokenness would come, it would really start with an awareness of sin. When that happened, then they needed to pray, and there would be such weeping and embarrassment and shame over the way they’d been and fresh starts with God.

Then the joy that followed. Oh, my goodness. Just as Psalm 85:6 says, “Will you not revive us again that Your people may rejoice in You?” It’s so refreshing. It’s like taking a bath to get those sins dealt with. It makes you feel happy that you’re in fellowship with the Lord again and with each other.

Nancy: The burden of this ministry and the burden of my life since I was a young girl has been to see God do it again—hence the name of this program, Revive Our Hearts. It does start with you, with me, with us as individuals, but then we pray that in God’s time and in His way that He would move in an extraordinary way and pour out His Spirit in our land and in the nations in the world.

I wonder, Anne, if you would just close this program by leading us in prayer. I would invite our listeners, if you’re where you can stop for a moment—in your kitchen or work place, or maybe even pull your car off to the side of the road. Just stop and bow your heart, maybe bow your knees if you can, if you’re in a place where you can do that.

Would you just lead us in praying, as we join our hearts, that God would revive His work and His people in our day for the glory of His great name?

Anne: Oh dear Heavenly Father, Abba Father, Lord, You’ve given us that Gethsemane name for You, so holy that it’s not translatable. You are our Abba, which means, “not my will but Thine be done.” And as Jesus went to the cross when He called You Abba, so Your precious Word in Romans 8 says that You’ve given us the Spirit of adoption whereby we, too, are allowed to cry Abba, that You are the one to whom we give our allegiance, that You are our true Father who deserves our obedience.

Yet, Lord, we’ve turned from You. We’ve been rebellious. We’ve wanted to go our own way instead of following as Your dear children. And, Lord, You know we’re not talking about evangelism and people getting saved, although that’s a wonderful thing, and people get saved as they look on and see revival.

We’re talking, Lord, about re-life, life again. The first love that we knew when we first accepted You, and then time went along and we got away from You, Lord. We got dull, and we gratified our own wishes more. We’ve lived for self, and we’ve been a mess, Lord. We’ve offended others; we’ve offended ourselves, and we’ve offended You.

Dear Father, we just . . . well, in the old days, they beat their breasts, and that’s the way we feel. We’re just hungry to come back to You, Father, and to say, “I want to be the way I first was when I was saved. I want to love You with all my heart, and You alone.”

Lord, we need You. We must have You or we’ll go to Heaven ashamed and embarrassed and with the smell of fire on our clothes, barely making it in. First Corinthians says that some Christians will go that way. Lord, we don’t want to be that kind.

We pray that You will cleanse us now and give us time to live on this earth when we can make up the years that the locust ate away. May our hearts live for eternal things and not for temporal earthly things that are all going to burn and don’t mean a thing.

Lord, put our eyes on You again. We’re sorry for the way we’ve been. We repent, and we say to You again, “Lord, we do love You. Revive us again right now, that we may rejoice in You.”

In Jesus’ dear name we pray and for His glory and His sake, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and our guest, Anne Ortlund, have been describing a longing for revival. We’ve been hearing from Anne Ortlund all last week and over the last couple of days. She shared wisdom on aging, widowhood, mentoring, and revival.

If you’ve missed any of the conversation, I hope you’ll order our current series at ReviveOurHearts.com. She also shares her godly wisdom in the book, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman. This book will show you how to glorify God through practical areas—your schedule, your approach to clothing, your goals, and your relationships. She’ll cover many other topics as well.

We’ll send you Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just call us at 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Tomorrow Nancy will begin a special series on the life of Christ during these weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday. I hope you’ll join us for, The Incomparable Christ starting tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.