Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Second Great Awakening, Day 1

Leslie Basham: What does it mean to be in a concert of prayer? Here's Dr. Bob Bakke.

Bob Bakke: It's people who have agreed in prayer with regard to what they're intending God to do, and they are calling out for God to pour out His Spirit upon their city, their church.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Thursday, June 23, 2016.

All this year on Revive Our Hearts, we'd like to help you to learn to pray more effectively. This emphasis will culminate at Cry Out!, a nationwide prayer simulcast for women, September 23.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Our guest today, Bob Bakke, will be co-leading that prayer time with me at True Woman '16. And I'm asking the Lord not only to sell out that arena in Indianapolis, but I'm also asking Him to call hundreds of thousands of women together that night, in thousands of groups, in homes, in churches, around the United States and in other parts of the world, to join us in a live nationwide simulcast prayer meeting.

And what are we going to do in that prayer meeting? Well, we're going to cry out. We see what's happening in our world, what's happening with ISIS and the political realm, terrorism, the economic breakdown, moral breakdown, the erosion of marriage, and, closer to home, broken homes, broken lives, prodigal children.

What can we do? Well, one thing we can do is join our hearts together at the throne of God. He says it's a throne of mercy. And perhaps, as we cry out to Him together, He will be gracious to us. He will visit His people in revival in a way similar to what we're going to hear about today.

Leslie: Bob Bakke named this message, "A Culture of Hope." I think may would agree that's very much what we need in our day.

Pastor Bakke says we can discover a lot about developing this culture of hope by looking to the past. Let's listen to Dr. Bakke talking about the Second Great Awakening.

Bob: I was reading some years ago some of the works of Jonathan Edwards, the pastor of North Hampton Parish in Massachusetts, and he was expounding, in this sermon that was recorded there, on Revelation chapter 8:1–5. That was the place where the Lamb has taken the scroll from God at the throne, and He is breaking the seals—and, of course, there are seven seals.

As he is expounding on this passage, I'm just simply blown away by the power of it because the Lamb takes the scroll, and we assume that, as the scroll is unfurled, it's going to declare God's sovereignty over all of history from the beginning to the end. "All of history is Mine," I'm certain that's what's on this scroll. "It is written," as it were.

Well, as the Lamb gets to the last of the seals, something startling happens because we anticipate that what the Lamb is about to do has been the most . . . Well, God has been anticipating this moment since the foundation of all of history. He has been waiting and longing for the consummation of all things. And you expect that as the Lamb breaks the last of these seals, that heaven would explode with excitement and all the earth and with the ramifications of this broken seal.

But instead, when the Lamb breaks the seventh seal, all of heaven goes silent. John is witnessing this, of course. He has been recording for us in the book of Revelation this ceaseless praise, this ceaseless activity of worship and adoration before the throne.

And you know the throne is circled by creatures and by elders and also then by thousands upon ten thousands angels and saints that are resounding the praises of the audience of heaven.

And then suddenly everything goes silent. And it goes silent, not for a moment, but for five minutes. There's nothing. You could hear a pin drop in all of heaven. Then for ten minutes. Have you ever been in a moment of silence in a large auditorium or perhaps an athletic field when maybe there's 50,000 people in a moment of silence? It's very spooky, isn't it? And it's never really all silent because there's always a baby crying or somebody coughing or something.

But heaven is absolutely silent. You could hear a pin drop across eternity. Fifteen minutes goes by, and there's nothing. Then there's twenty and twenty-five. John must have been going nuts as he's watching this.

A half hour, one angel begins to move. And he begins passing out trumpets to the band. And you know what trumpets mean with regard to the worship of God, and particularly in the book of Revelation as well. Something is coming. And if there's a heartbeat in heaven, it's starting to accelerate. And if there's blood pressure in heaven, it's rising. Something is about to explode.

And then another angel begins to move, and this angel moves with a bowl of incense which are the prayers of the saints. And it's not until the incense, which are the prayers of the saints, rise before the nostrils of God Himself that God then gives the permission for all things to come to an end.

So vitally important. We were speaking yesterday of human agency. God has sovereignly designed, even in the coming of Christ and the consummation of all of His designs, not to proceed until His saints are collaborating with Him in their prayers.

That's how important your partnership is with God in the unfolding of His plans in history. It's then that there is thunder and lightning and earthquakes and fire. And the consummation of all things proceeds. So there is this idea of hope in the midst of human agency, and the answers to the prayers of the saints, which is a compelling story of the evening.

David Bryant, who is a dear friend of mine, defines revival as an approximation of the consummation. That is, whenever we find in either the Scriptures or church history a true Holy Spirit revival to the glory of Christ, you find evidences of what God intends to accomplish at the end of history—sweetness, the power of it, the glory of it. That is what we look forward to.

Now, the Reformers, the Church Reformers in the Reformation spoke of the presence of God in these ways: They spoke of the presence of God as His prevenient presence, first of all. That is that mysterious or secret presence of God even before we can measure it or discern it. He's working behind all things, and He's working behind all things in this mysterious way to providentially align all things to His desires, even our hearts as well.

Secondly, they spoke of the cultivated presence of the Lord. That is, if we were to do the things of God the way God prescribes them to be done, we will cultivate within us His presence, the nature and the image of Christ Jesus Himself. We will be conformed to His image.

Lastly, they spoke of the manifest presence, and that is when God puts His presence on display in such ways that it is unmistakable and extraordinary.

We're going to speak of that manifest presence, that manifest presence that comes in answer to the prayers of the saints who are collaborating with God in the unfolding of His plans in history, and He has done it here in the United States of America.

There are metaphors for revivals that we used, too. We speak of revivals in terms of a flood, but sometimes in the terms of a rising tide. We can speak of God cultivating His presence and reviving a community, a church, a neighborhood. Over the course of long periods of time, where things are transformed and changed, and you and I have seen this, I'm certain in various churches and various places around the country.

I'm thinking about a place outside of Cairo, Egypt where I stood with a man by the name of Father Samahn who came there thirty-five years ago. The place was a wasteland. It was a garbage city. And over the course of these last thirty-five years, and pouring in his prayers and the intercessions that he and his wife and others have poured out over this city and for this city, he has transformed it.

It's still a city of garbage, but now there's industry there—various kinds. There's schools and hospitals. There's clinics of various kinds. And the church, the church that he went to plant, it was a church that could fit in his living room, just a handful of people. Now it sits filling an auditorium, an amphitheater. It's called The Cave Church because they found an old quarry of the pharaohs and turned it into their church. It's an amphitheater of 20,000, and they fill it on a Sunday morning to worship.

And just a couple of years ago, when the Egyptian national elections were there, Christians gathered on that garbage mountain at The Cave Church, 70,000 strong to pray over the nation of Egypt. It had come in like a rising tide, and the place has been transformed.

The garbage people now go out into the streets of Cairo to collect garbage, knowing that they are ambassadors of Christ, and Christ has given them entrance into neighborhoods and into places across Cairo that no one else has. And they are now emissaries for the Lord Jesus Christ in those neighborhoods as garbage men, as garbage people-transformed, a rising tide.

But we're going to talk about a flood. We're going to talk about a flood that has come to sweep away what was in the country and gave it new life.

Let's go back to the 1790s in the United States. In the 1790s the country was brand new. It was during this period, shortly after the Ratification of the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence that we were now on our own.

But think of those days. It was following eight years of war, and so we were a wounded people. Many people had lost their fortunes, their estates. Many people had lost their loved ones. And partially, in the nation, still, they were divided between those who had won the war and those who had longed to stay as a colony of Great Britain.

There were super powers poised on our borders. Three of them, in fact: France, Spain, and England, still. They were threatening us continually. There was the cessation of hostilities, to be sure, but we were certain that hostilities could break out at any moment. In fact, they did so with Great Britain some years later in the War of 1812. Great Britain wanted to make up for the mistake they made, and made another mistake. So there was the threat of war hanging over our heads continually.

There were pirates and terrorists. Since we broke away from England, now our shipping, our commercial shipping was at risk. We were no longer protected by the British Navy. In fact, we were the target of the British Navy. They stole our ships. They stole our cargo. They confiscated our goods. The French did the same thing. They blocked our commerce between the East Coast and Europe, over the North Atlantic.

So we went to the South Atlantic instead, and we went through across North Africa, trying to get up into the commercial centers of Europe and into the Mediterranean—only to find Muslim pirates who were taking our ships, taking our goods, taking our people, our sailors, and holding them for ransom.

Did you know that in the 1790s, 20% of the national budget was set aside to pay the extortion that was extracted from us by Muslim pirates off the coast of North Africa? We have been at this issue for a very long time. And it wasn't until the end of the 1790s when Jefferson finally launched our first war, and that was against these Muslim terrorists off North Africa.

The nation was nearly bankrupt. In fact, if it wasn't for the ingenious and extraordinary giftedness of Alexander Hamilton, we would have faulted on our foreign debts.

We suffered through a real estate collapse. In fact, two of them. Most of it was due to the westward expansion of the nation, but there was fraud, and people lost fortunes because of the real estate collapse and the prices of real estate.

There were plagues and famine. Plagues were killing us by the thousands, some by the tens of thousands in those years. For example, Washington, D.C. had not yet been built as our capital. It was set aside as our capital. So the capital, initially in New York, where Washington was sworn in initially, was moved to Philadelphia as an interim capital before Washington, D.C., was filled, was completed.

But the plagues along the Delaware River were so great, were so troublesome that every spring when the weather would begin to change, they'd move the capital from Philadelphia to Trenton, New Jersey, to get away from the marshes, to get away from the coastline, where they believed the plagues were coming from.

We had plagues in our crops, in our trees, our fruit-bearing trees, and the prices of goods was doubling and quadrupling, and outpricing many people's ability to pay for their food.

There were national doubts as to whether this America experiment could, in fact, last. And there were very troubling doubts. We were afraid on every level.

There was another plague that came, and it was called The Enlightenment. It came out of the French Revolution. It was an intellectual and non-religious plague, as it were. It came, and it took over the intelligentsia of the land—many of our places of higher learning and many of our churches. Again, this godless belief coming out of Rousseau and Voltaire and others in France, and it was very, very troubling for what we believed would be a Christian America.

But not only was the French plague, an intellectual plague, The Enlightenment, a cause of trouble, but we were terrified that the French reign of terror—the French Revolution—had taken place early in the 1790s. We were so fearful that it was going to be imported into the brand new land called the United States of America.

We were enamored with their Enlightenment, but we were so terrified, then, that what would come along with it would be the overthrow and the violence that would come along as the French reign of terror. We were as afraid of French spies and terror cells then as we are of Al-Qaeda or ISIS today.

There was social unrest. There were times when federal troops were being called out into major metropolitan centers to quell anarchy and rebellion.

Universalism and Unitarianism were scooping up vast tracts of the Christian real estate, that is, churches and seminaries and all the rest. So another kind of plague, a religious plague was besetting the United States, too. Whole sections of our countryside was being plagued by it.

There was political rancor. Now, you and I, as we're looking at the election season this time, we're just scratching our heads. We just have never seen a circus like this. Do you agree? We have never seen such . . . Well, go back to the 1790s, and check out the political rancor back then. You can still find the editorial pages back then.

There were scandalous editorial pages. They made up lies about each other. There was scandal mongering toward one another. They were as nasty as can be. In fact, the nastiest political election in the history of the United States took place between Jefferson and Adams.

And, by the way, as far as evangelicals being concerned in the electoral process, there was a group of believers, very, very respected religious evangelicals back then who were convinced that Jefferson was either the Anti-Christ or the Prophet of the Anti-Christ. They surmised that if they elected him as president, they would hasten the return of Christ. And they marshalled the votes, the electoral power, the influence that they had, to vote for Jefferson into office under that false belief. It's estimated they influenced as much as 2% of the electorate, more than enough to elect him president. Be careful with evangelicals in political power. Nasty elections.

There was a coarse sensuality throughout the land, particularly on the campuses. It was fearsome. It was worrisome. The anti-Christian inclinations in the universities and colleges was profound. There were Bible burnings on these campuses. Many of the evangelicals, when they met in their little societies, in fact, had to do so in secret, and they had to keep their minutes secret and in hidden places for fear of the retribution of their fellow students.

In fact, one of our major institutions, Yale, could only find a handful of believers in the entire school-in the entire school. And they were the principal engine for putting out pastors into the churches of New England.

When President Timothy Dwight asked for a debate amongst their students to defend the proposition that the Bible was authoritative in all of its writings, he couldn't find a single student in the entire Yale student body who would defend that proposition. In fact, he had to do it personally in daily chapels, and, praise God, within about a year and a half, I think it was 50% of the Yale student body came to Christ.

There was a plague of empty churches throughout the land. In fact, I read the memoirs of a particular French journalist, who was driving through the length of Virginia. He said in his memoirs that he didn't see a single church that wasn't either abandoned or in disrepair throughout his entire journey. Pastors were writing letters to each other, never believing that they would be in such a situation in the country that they loved.

And, of course, one of the greatest plagues of all—slavery, bondage of an entire race of human beings.

Well, what to do? What to do?

If you had a negative view of history, and you believed that history is getting worse and worse all the time and about ready to go down the toilet at any given moment, then you psychologically are longing to defend and protect what you have. You'll circle up the wagons, and you'll just ride this out and pray this through until Jesus comes.

But if you had a positive view of history, then you would be inclined to unite with others within that unity, in that positive view of history, and you would unite to do the work of God in confidence.

Well, there was this wonderful, wonderful confidence back then that unified the body of Christ regardless of their outward evidence.

Now I'm going to take you back a little bit more to stories of the revival that I'm going to share with you. Prayer movements have been fundamental to the advancement of Christ's kingdom since the beginning. You can see them in Acts, Nehemiah, Esther, Samuel, Daniel, and if you're not satisfied with that, you can see more in Acts. But it's amazing how the united prayers of God's people and then the powerful, anointed preaching of the Word go hand in hand to change things.

Well, as early as the seventeenth century, the 1600s then, revival prayer societies were the normal part of life in evangelical churches on both sides of the Atlantic as part of the renewal movement of the lifeless churches in Europe and England and even in the United States, the colonies.

These prayer societies were orthodox. Maybe I shouldn't call them evangelical. I should call them orthodox churches. They believed all the right things, but they were spiritually dead.

Concerned people then would gather in these small groups, and once a fortnight they would begin praying for God to revisit the churches. Jakob Spener, for example, in his classic work, Pia Desideria (Pious Desires) writes in the introduction of the book that these prayer societies were essentially what evangelical Christianity was fundamentally all about—that is in the practice of their faith in churches throughout Europe and England.

They claimed the promises of Jesus that said "if two or three on earth agree about anything they asked for, it would be done by the Father in heaven." It would be done. So agreement in prayer that if we go before God and agree in prayer, and before Him seek His glory, in agreement, in union, in confidence, God would give us whatever we asked. Over and over again you see this theme being woven through these prayer societies.

William McCullough is one of the first to organize these societies into concerts of prayer. I'll tell you about him in just a moment.

The Cambuslang sacrament in revival. Cambuslang is a small city in Scotland. It's about an hour from Glasgow. It had about 2,000 people at this time in the entire region. We're talking 1740, 41, 42. William McCullough goes to this church, this Cambuslang parish, and it is a miserable place. In fact, the Presbytery came to examine the church and couldn't find a single adult male that was worthy of being ordained a Presbyter. Hardly anybody attended the church.

They called McCullough the ale minister. A-L-E . . . what's ale? Beer. Right. Because whenever he got up to preach, the men of the parish would sneak out and head to the pubs. So he wasn't a very good preacher, but he was about to change history.

It was a miserable church needing revival. But he invites a young man to come to preach. This young man's name was George Whitfield. George Whitfield comes to preach. They called Whitfield a comet. He's a star going across the heavens at this juncture, and he draws an enormous crowd to come. It fills the church. People were outside listening with open windows hearing Whitfield preach.

At the end of that meeting, ninety families come to McCullough and say, "Would you please put us into prayer societies?" Ninety families! That is, "We want to start meeting every two weeks to pray for our church that God would visit it with power and might." So he did. He put them into prayer societies.

Several months later, Whitfield is invited back a second time to preach. And in Whitfield's memoirs, he says when he came back to Cambuslang, the entire climate of the city was changed. It was transformed. He preached to great effect, and great power was upon him.

He was invited back a third time. This time to speak to the sacrament. Now, let me explain what a sacrament was. It's a Presbyterian deal, but it will be important in the American story that I'm about to tell you. The sacrament was, in fact, the yearly celebration of the Lord's Supper. They celebrated it outdoors. All the families would come in from church on a given day, on a Friday, for self-examination, the preaching of the Word. They would examine themselves before the Scriptures, and in private, they would have solace, and self-examinations.

And the following day, they would then meet with their pastor, and their pastor would examine them privately, but not so privately. He would examine the man of the household with his family present, his wife and his children, as to how he led his family, the Scriptures that he was teaching them to memorize, the morning and evening prayers, and so on and so forth. He would test them by answers that the man gave by testing the children and the wife as well. And if he passed, he would get a token which allowed him to the Table of the Lord the next day. Without a token, there was no Table of the Lord.

Now, what happened was that when Whitfield came to preach at this sacrament, 30,000 people showed up. It exploded. I forgot to say, when Whitfield came back a second time, McCullough got the notion, and he preached with such power, "Well, I put my people to prayer, and this remarkable thing happened again. I wonder if I put my people into agreement in prayer?" So he formed, first, the concerts of prayer.

To pray in concert means to pray in agreement, as Matthew 18 suggests. So when you hear a prayer concert going on, it's people who have agreed in prayer with regard to what they're intending God to do.

They were calling out for God to pour out His Spirit upon their city, their church, and 30,000 people came. There were only 2,000 people in the whole city. There was an explosive revival.

Leslie: We'll need to break in right here and hear the rest of the story tomorrow.

Dr. Bob Bakke has been telling us about the beginning of the Second Great Awakening. He's been describing the influence of this revival of what he calls a concert of prayer, a time when church leaders united the hearts of their people to agree together in prayer.

We're hoping to do the same on September 23 at Cry Out! A National Prayer Event for Women. Bob Bakke, and the host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, will lead a concentrated time of prayer for God to again transform our world in revival.

The hub of this event will be at the True Woman '16 Conference in Indianapolis, but we're also asking the Lord to raise up thousands of groups to pray together and join together by means of a video simulcast.

And, Nancy, why did you ask Bob Bakke to be part of True Woman '16?

Nancy: Well, Leslie, I've known Bob for many years. He has a heart for revival, and he's uniquely gifted at leading people in prayer for revival. I've seen him lead prayer gatherings many times. And we live in a day when we desperately need concerted, united, earnest prayer.

It feels like reports of violence in our cities are daily news. Believers are being persecuted around the world. Thousands and thousands are being displaced. Marriage is being redefined. A generation is growing up with completely different ideas of morality, marriage, and family.

These all present an opportunity for God to show His power in an extraordinary way, and that's what we're going to join together and ask Him to do.

So I hope you'll make your plans now to join us on September 23. Put your group together. It could be three or thirty or 300 or perhaps 3,000, then we'll join our hearts together in this nationwide prayer event of women crying out to God to come and visit us in our day. I just believe that as we cry out to Him, He's going to hear our cry; He's going to come; and He's going to answer those prayers in His time and in His own amazing way.

Leslie: To get more detail on how to put your group together for the Cry Out! event, visit

Tomorrow, Dr. Bob Bakke will show us how the Second Great Awakening spread after those initial concerts of prayer. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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About the Teacher

Bob Bakke

Bob Bakke

Dr. Bob Bakke is the teaching pastor of Hillside Church, Bloomington, MN. For ten years, Bob produced The Nationally Broadcast Concert of Prayer on the evening of the National Day of Prayer. In 2012, he helped launch OneCry, a movement of Christians mobilizing and uniting for the purpose of seeing revival come to the American Church. He is currently researching and writing for a major film on America’s Second Great Awakening.