Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Heartbeat for Prayer

Leslie Basham: Barbara Blanchard never wants to stop praying for revival during her lifetime.

Barbara Blanchard: We may retire from all kinds of scheduled things, but we don't ever retire from being God's women.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, February 16, 2015.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm here in Michigan this week at our home office, and am delighted to be a part of an event that's being hosted by Life Action Ministries and OneCry—we've talked about that before here on Revive Our Hearts.

They're hosting a national revival symposium, and we've been listening to some wonderful messages on the history of revival, the definition of revival and awakening, the call to prayer for revival and awakening. And it's not just been messages. There have been extended times for those gathered here, mostly pastors and Christian leaders, to pray for revival.

I heard that my long-time friend, Barbara Blanchard, was going to be here at this event, and I said, "We've got to connect. I asked Barbara yesterday, "Can you step into our studio today and let us talk about what I know, Barbara, has been on your heart for a lot of years?"

So welcome to the Revive Our Hearts studio.

Barbara: Well, thank you, Nancy. It's a joy to be here. And, of course, I've prayed for you through the years, so to see you in your own home setting is wonderful.

Nancy: We have a group that we call Nancy's Praying Friends, and I'm sure there are more than are on that group, but these are people who said over the years, "We really have a heart for what you're doing, and we want to know how we can pray for you."

You've been one of those that for, I guess, probably since the seventies or eighties, I'm not sure exactly when we first connected, but you've been praying for me and for our ministry. I want to say "thank you." So much of what we're seeing God do through the ministry is the fruit of friends like you.

Barbara: Well, you're more than welcome. It gives us joy to see how God answers.

Nancy: Now, you've been praying for longer than we've known each other for revival and spiritual awakening, and that's where I've run into you more often, events that relate to revival and spiritual awakening. I'm just wondering: How long have you had that burden? How did you get it? How did God first put that in your heart?

Barbara: That's really a good question. I think it was in the seventies, just through reading Scripture. I began to hunger and thirst to see this again. You can look in Scripture and see the patterns. Even looking at the apostles, who were just 120, gather and wait until the Spirit of God in power came upon them. I wanted that for us and for the churches where my husband pastored. So I just began to believe Him for that.

Then I heard Steven Olford at Cantor Beach Conference out in the Oregon area, and my heart was just quickened, and I've never lost the burden. I know it's from the Lord, and it's something I am encouraged even at this conference that God is yet about to do new works within us and in our country and in the world, I believe, for His own glory, to lift up Jesus and make Him known.

Nancy: There's a lot of discouraging news in the world, a lot of things that seem to be heading in the wrong direction, but you've stayed hopeful and passionate about believing God for something that we can only see by faith. How do you keep that burden fresh?

Barbara: Yes, well, that's a good question, too. I've was sort of searching the Scripture, too, and there are times when you think, Has this thing been fulfilled yet or not? We're not sure. We never know where we stand in history, but when God gives the burden for prayer and for revival, I don't think it's something we should think He will dismiss. He's giving it to us, and I think He's prodding us to participate with Him for His purposes.

That's one thing that really moves me, and I also feel that our country, the roots of our country were so entwined in worshiping the Lord, that He would desire that we return to Him. And we know from the history of other revivals, the country's been at a low point. There's been low morality. There's been all kinds of terrible trouble that we face now somewhat similar—why not?

Nancy: Actually, we heard a session this morning about the Second Great Awakening and some of the moral conditions, or immoral conditions, that prevailed.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: We were talking about this a few moments ago. Just for those who may not be familiar with that period, take off for us: What were some of the descriptions of the condition of the country at that time.

Barbara: Well, for instance, at Yale there were maybe only four or five people who would say they were Christians and they were preparing for the ministry. There was a Society for Profane Language. There was a lot of disease. There were some very definite things that were happening. And apparently there was just a lackadaisical attitude in the churches and all around that God was just kind of not so important in society as He had been in past generations.

Nancy: We heard today about some of the economic conditions that were deplorable.

Barbara: Oh, right.

Nancy: The terrorism and crime—we think of terrorism as a modern-day thing.

Barbara: I know. Pirates. They were called pirates on the seas. We didn't have the protection of the British Navy. Even the British and the French were after us. There were wars, 1812, and all kinds of things. I know, we don't think about how bad things have been in the country before. And even before the 1858–59 prayer revival, we think about that man who thought prayer was necessary in New York City . . .

Nancy: Jeremiah Lanphier.

Barbara: Yes. He had no idea that the coming economic crash was upon us, but God orchestrated the whole thing. I think the very fact that we would have sixty of us coming for a OneCry Symposium to pray for revival just says God is at work. And we know there are many, many prayer groups being set up across the country. I don't know how we'll ever all be together, but God is using people everywhere. And in the world, I think we're seeing more revival than we are here in the United States.

Nancy: I want to go back for a sec to those negative conditions, the despair, things that were falling apart, and yet it seems that in the history of revival, those seasons of decline outside the church and inside the church are what have created a sense of desperation among God's people.

Barbara: Really, a precursor to the needs. Yes, I think God gives warnings: "This is something to realize I can only help you. You cannot help yourself through some of these things." Even the floodings that we have had and hurricanes. We've heard of the tsunamis and one thing and another. I think God is warning us right now and telling us: "I am God. Only I can take care of some of these things."

He's asking us to turn our hearts to Him, and we aren't necessarily listening.

I remember talking to my cousin's friend this summer, and I made that comment: "God is speaking to us, and He's warning us." And he being an atheist or an agnostic said, "Absolutely I do not believe that. That's just what I don't believe."

I thought to myself, What does it matter what you believe? God is God, and He's going to do whatever He does.

So the heart, the person who's attuned to God, hears and sees things and participates with Him for the plans that God has.

Nancy: One of the biggest things that has fueled my heart for revival since I was a little girl is reading about how God has moved in the past.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: And that creates a sense of hope that God can do it again.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: We were talking just a little bit ago about some of the revival sites, places we've visited over the years where God has moved in revival. Talk about the Island of Lewis. Now, that's not a place that people would probably go for holidays today. It's just off the coast of Scotland, the largest island in the Outer Hebrides if I remember correctly.

Barbara: Yes. It's as far west as you can go and be part of Scotland. 

Nancy: You visited a place there where God moved.

Barbara: Yes, I did.

Nancy: Tell us a little bit about that story.

Barbara: Well, I was in Edinburgh, and I wanted to go to the Island of Lewis because I knew things had happened there. A woman helped me make a connection with a pastor and his wife. So I took a boat, a train, and a ferry to get over there. Then in the darkness of night, they drove me across the island to meet a man—his name was Donald. He had been just a child in the revival. In fact, he said he used to gather up the chairs for the cottage prayer meetings.

Nancy: Now this would have been in 1949, 1950, thereabouts. Right?

Barbara: That's about the time of the revival, yes.

Nancy: Not when you were there. Right?

Barbara: No. I wasn't there at that time.

Nancy: But he was a child during that revival?

Barbara: Yes, that's correct, and what he was able to describe just made me think: This is what I wish for the whole country.

He described the entire island, except for a few spots where there was a resistance, the entire Island was just filled with people who were singing and praising God and falling before Him. Even the bars closed down. They had no more police needs because people just were coming to Christ.

In fact, Scottish people who were not on the Island had a compulsion, as it were, to come on over to the Island and come under the preaching. But it was not only the preaching of Duncan Campbell, it was the cottage prayer meetings. They would go into the night—four, five in the morning—and people still went to work. But they had something—supernatural strength and energy in those days. They would walk through adverse conditions, even if it was raining, and they would just be singing and praising God. And the whole island was filled with the glory of God.

Nancy: Did you ever get to meet Mary Peckham who as a child was converted (she was a teenager, I think) in that revival, if I remember correctly.

Barbara: Yes, I did. She was one of the ones who resisted. She did not want to come, and her parents said, "You've got to get over here."

And she said, "I don't want to." But something drew her back. And at first she did not really receive the message the first night, I think. But she went back night after night and finally yielded her life.

She described what happened from Scripture. It was a verse, and she said, "It was like we were in a dream, and we were filled with laughter and joy."

Nancy: "Then was our tongue filled with singing."

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: "Then said they among the heathen, 'God has done great things for them.'"

Barbara: Oh, that's good.

Nancy: "God has done great things for us, whereof we are glad" (Ps. 126:1–3 paraphrased).

Barbara: Oh, I'm glad you know the rest of the verse. That was wonderful, yes.

Nancy: Now, I just pulled off of the wall in my office a picture that I assumed you had seen, but you said you've never seen it before.

Barbara: No. I've never seen it.

Nancy: It's an old, grainy black and white photo. It's titled, "The Praying Ladies of Barvas," which is a village on the Island of Lewis. It's a picture of Peggy and Christine Smith with Reverend Duncan Campbell. Now, these two ladies look like they're just this side of eternity. They're really old. But tell us who the praying ladies were. You know that story.

Barbara: Well, I got to see the ditch where their home used to be. And what they said in those days was the two ladies couldn't even go to church.

Nancy: They were sisters.

Barbara: You're right. One of them was blind. But they just prayed and believed God. In fact, they kept asking Duncan Campbell to come over, and he just said, "I have other things to do." But finally they came to this place of calling on the trustees and deacons of the church, saying, "You have got to pray. We have got to go into this revival thing."

I think that group met in a barn. Then finally, as they were praying, one of them just came to repentance and said, "Oh, what are we doing praying if we don't just become holy before God ourselves?"

Nancy: Those were the church leaders who were praying in the barn.

Barbara: That was the church leadership, and the two women urged them. And once that broke, then they contacted Duncan Campbell, and he came. But interestingly enough, it didn't just immediately have an impact. I think it was several nights later. But people kept praying, kept being drawn in to listen. And then, of course, we know it had a huge impact.

Nancy: What I think is so encouraging, they talk about how the youth in those days were just so profligate and off to all kinds of sins and partying and carousing and no interest in spiritual things. But these two elderly sisters, instead of cursing the youth or just whining and griping about how much better things used to be when they were younger or how far out these kids were, they prayed.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: And God used them—ladies whose names are not generally recorded in the history books—but they'll be recorded in the history books of heaven, I'm sure.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: They could do something about their burden by taking it to the Lord. And the Lord heard those prayers and answered them. And the stories of young people being irresistibly drawn to Christ in the throes of that Lewis Revival are astonishing.

Barbara: Yes. And what God can do is way beyond anything we could ever orchestrate, isn't it? So prayer is so powerful.

But it does remind me of a burden or a joy that God has given me in a vision. We have in our own country a lot of older women, many of them widows. I've been thinking, Why don't we really get them praying? They can be powerfully used, and their life can be counting in a significant way into the very end of life, as long as you can keep on thinking.

Nancy: And what a joy that could be for some of those women who are listening to this program, to realize that you can just think your life is put up on a shelf and that you don't have any use or any value because our culture does seem to value more youth and doesn't seem to have much place for wisdom and gray hairs. But to think, that in God's economy, your life really could make a difference.

Barbara: And should. It should.

Nancy: Yes.

Barbara: Well, I have several friends. One of them is ninety-two and another is eighty-nine, and another woman was just recently widowed. I would guess she's about seventy-five. These women are alive. I mean, they are praying. They are joyful. And they are mentoring young women and coming alongside them.

I'm just thinking more and more, We ought to pray that we have a vitality in mind and body at least in our heart and will to go forward for the Lord. We retire maybe from all kinds of scheduled things, but we don't ever retire from being God's women. And as long as we can think, we are His, and He can use us. Even as I went to bed last night, I thought, What a joy. I can just be here with You, Lord, in my bed, praying.

All of our life, He's our greatest companion and our greatest joy. And we have Him from now to eternity.

Nancy: I'm thinking of two older women who've been role models to us. One of whom is now with the Lord. But Evelyn Christenson and Vonette Bright (now widowed and in her eighties) how those two women never stopped living hard for Christ and praying.

Barbara: Oh, that's true.

Nancy: You were around those women.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: Tell us what it was like.

Barbara: Actually, they were very vital and alive and always talking to young women and praying with them. I remember Evelyn even to the very end, I sat with her in a board meeting not long before she died, and she never stopped. She was even writing up to the very end.

Nancy: She planted a lot of seeds that we may live to see grow to fruition.

Barbara: She did, and interestingly, God used her. She really wrote in simple ways but wisely, so it could affect people across the board and drive us to unity as a group of people. And she gathered around her a number of women—some of us who have become great friends through the years and networked with one another for ministry purposes.

It's true. She was in her sixties when she even started with AD2000 and Mission America, I believe. In fact, she and Catherine, I always kind of marveled at how old they were, and God was using them.

Now, as for Vonette, I only know her just in the vitality of who she was. But thinking back to Bill Bright, as a partner to Bill, she believed God, too, for great and mighty things.

Nancy: And any time I talk to her, to this day, one of the things that's sure to come up in that conversation is, "Nancy, we've got to get women praying. We've got to get them praying." She feels like there's so little she can do today. She's got health issues. She's not able to travel as much as she once did. So she's looking for women like us that she can hand this baton to and saying, "We've got to get women praying for their churches, for their families, for revival." Any time I talk to her, I'm hearing this echoing in my heart.

Barbara: Yes, we do. We really do.

Nancy: Do you know some other women who share that burden? Are there women you pray with, or you connect with that you feel like you're on the same page when it comes to this passion?

Barbara: I do, but I don't know about revival, though. Sometimes people that have prayed with me in the past for revival have gone on. They're doing other things. I say, "Are you remembering to pray for revival?" And they say, "Oh, no. I've gotten diverted." But, I don't know, there must be a few.

One person I met lately, and I haven't been over to see her, is Jessie McFarland. I don't know if you know of her over in Scotland. She heard Evelyn Christenson and was really a woman who had never been very involved, but she gathered some people around her.

Evelyn spoke to them. She got their addresses, phone numbers, gathered them into a prayer chain, and they began to have a direct connection to the Parliament, the U.K. Parliament, so that some people there would give them a prayer request, and within a day they could have people across the U.K. praying. That's something we should be doing in our nation, and we have never mobilized quite in that manner.

Jessie and her husband Peter are just dear people. I went over to Scotland to meet them just this last May. They're still praying for us. Even today, they're praying for us.

Nancy: Wow. So, when you pray for revival, how do you pray? What are you praying for? What do you focus on? Give us some instruction, some help along those lines.

Barbara: Sometimes I just feel like a novice and say, "Oh, God, teach me how to pray." Sometimes it's so simple, just, "Oh, God, an outpouring of Your Holy Spirit, a manifestation of Yourself so that we might know You in deep ways and that Your Word might go forth in power for the rest of the culture, too."

I think we're wanting, on one hand, that we as believers, and I believe this: We must be holy if we're going to ask God for things. He says, "Lift up holy hands." We cannot be thinking we're just going to speak things, and it's just fine. We need to be living in utter obedience and fellowship with the Lord.

And then He says, "Ask and receive, that your joy may be full." We don't know when He's going to fulfill these things, but if He puts them on our heart, and He gives us the pleasure of partnership with Him for His purpose, then we just go on. We just go on praying.

It is true, to have friends who pray with you is a wonderful help—not just one person off alone. At our last church, I used to have many come at 5:30 in the morning to pray in my home for this.

You say, "How?" and "What?" I don't know. The Holy Spirit leads you. Just begin to ask Him for the devoted work He can do among you. 

Nancy: How often would you do this?

Barbara: Day after day after day for years.

Nancy: Like, every morning?

Barbara: It seems like it was Monday through Friday. Not on the weekends.

Nancy: Wow. At 5:30 in the morning?

Barbara: Yes. It was amazing that they came.

Nancy: How many came?

Barbara: Oh, maybe sixteen or seventeen. And then there was a time we down by the river—I don't know why—but a bunch of us would pray down there.

I was part of the Wheaton Revival. I prayed for that. The Lord just led me, when we lived in Wheaton, to pray for the Wheaton College revival. Nothing happened. I had a number of leaders who came into my home, and we prayed.

But it wasn't until my daughter was a student there that God graciously brought revival, and I was there the weekend before.

Nancy: Was this in the nineties?

Barbara: Yes, maybe 1995—something like that. I had heard that Blackaby had a little bit of things happening with some collegians and that two of them were coming to the campus to speak to the Wheaton College students.

Nancy: Right.

Barbara: And, historically, you know when there's been a touch of revival, it sometimes passes on to the next place where those people speak. So I was in the chapel, as I had prayed many times, and I just remember going out there and saying, "Oh, God, visit the campus this weekend. I just believe You're going to do something here."

And sure enough, that weekend, Sunday night the Lord moved upon them. And day after day, or I should say, night after night 1700 or 1800 students packed out the Pierce Chapel and eventually moved to another college church. But they repented. They really repented, and it was a precious experience to see this revival happen.

Nancy: And your daughter was a student at that time?

Barbara: She was a student, so I thank God that He waited until she was there and got to be a part of it.

Nancy: I heard about that Sunday night. We live not too far from Wheaton, a couple hours' drive. Some of our staff went over together on Monday night.

Barbara: Oh, yes.

Nancy: So the second night, we sat up in the balcony of Pierce Chapel, just watching. It was so striking. God was moving on a number of college campuses at that time—Christian college campuses and some secular campuses as well. But we sat and watched these hundreds of students, and what struck me first was that there was such a spirit of soberness.

There was a hush in that place. There was no hoopla, no cheerleading, and not really much leadership from the platform. It was the Spirit driving the students. There was a somberness in the presence of God. There was a deep sense of conviction of sin. The students would come and confess things that needed to be brought out into the light.

I remember them having at least a couple of huge garbage bags on the platform.

Barbara: Yes.

Nancy: The kids would go to their rooms. They would bring back items, CDs, books, clothing—stuff that they knew as Christians were not appropriate for those who love Christ and holiness. They would throw them in those garbage bags.

Then you would go out into the perimeter of that chapel, those hallways out there, and there was a hush. There were kids were praying in two's and three's, sitting on the ground crying out to the Lord. It was an amazing moment.

Barbara: I thought it was, and what was interesting was that there was not a sense of condemnation. A person would repent, but people would gather around them and love them and sing and pray and praise Jesus. There was a joy in the midst of the somberness.

Nancy: Yes.

Barbara: And there was a release.

Nancy: Yes.

Barbara: And it went night after night, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I had been praying with the people who were leading the worship. They were grad students. I had prayed with them months before. God just led me to different people on the campus to pray with.

And what happened on the Thursday night was so interesting because you could see that everything had changed. By Thursday night, they were getting up and praising God for the way He was working things out.

An example was: A person who had a bad relationship with their father, and it ended up they prayed for God to work it out. The father called, and they had a wonderful phone call, on the initiation of the father. And this person was just giving praise to God. And it went on and on like that. I knew things had turned.

Well I had to leave to get my son to a basketball game in another state, so I didn't stay too late. I knew I needed to get some sleep. And the next morning, that group that had the grad students who led worship said, "Barb, you missed something wonderful. Last night there was heavenly music. We cannot even explain it. It's nothing we've ever heard before. It was heavenly music."

I'm so sorry I didn't get to hear that. That was a very fascinating thing. And then I thought, Well, this is happening here. Can some of you come to our church? A couple of them thought they could. As it ended up, two people came that I had not known at all. They came in jeans. They prayed before they came to our church.

They just sat up on the platform with a mic, and actually, they visited the young people in Sunday school before they came to church, and revival broke out there—young people that were not prepared for this began just repenting.

And then, it was going on so long people couldn't come into the church service. We were already having church by then. And so my husband said, "Come back tonight." And we came back.

And you know I told you that we prayed every morning for a long time. I also, in advance of this particular group coming, had prayed at noons for, well, for revival, but also for a healing between two doctors in our community who were part of our church. And, to tell you the truth, I asked that God would really work in their hearts.

But was I ever shocked when they were the first ones down the aisle—just like that. Two collegians just came on to the platform. It was nothing orchestrated by man. It was God. It was such a spontaneous work, and some things happened.

One man said, "I've been stealing from the Christian bookstore." And, of course, the owner of the bookstore was also there that night.

Two people that were precious Christians had been at enmity with each other, two women, and they came together.

Couples got their marriages together.

Some people who had been lying—I don't know what all they were doing in their businesses—they got things right, and things changed forever in their lives as a result.

There was a touch. Like they sing, "Mercy drops 'round us are falling . . ."

Nancy: It makes you long for more.

Barbara: "But for the showers we plead." Yes.

Leslie: We've been listening to the conversation between Nancy Leigh DeMoss and our guest Barbara Blanchard. Barbara has been sharing with us her heart for revival, and I think each of us can take away this one thing: No matter how bad the world seems to get, you can always do something about it—you can pray. And I hope you do join us in praying for a great spiritual awakening across our country and around the world.

Before we wrap today's Revive Our Hearts, what are you doing now to prepare your heart for a Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday? It's time to begin getting ready for this special time.

We'd like to help you focus on Jesus in these weeks. So starting this Wednesday, Nancy will be teaching a series called, "The Incomparable Christ." She'll explore aspects of the life of Jesus you may have never thought of.

To go along with this series, we'd like to send you a book by Oswald Sanders also called, The Incomparable Christ. Nancy will be following the outline of this book through the series, expanding on the topics. And we'd like to send you a companion journal to help you capture what you're learning about Jesus through this series.

Ask for The Incomparable Christ book and journal when you donate any amount. Call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, tomorrow you'll continue hearing about ways you can pray for revival among women around the world. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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