Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Second Great Awakening, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Dr. Bob Bakke asks, "When you pray, do you really pray in faith?"

Dr. Bob Bakke: Isn't it amazing how in the Scriptures there are moments when God speaks? Everything changes. In a moment. In an instant. Everything changes. Are you confident He can speak today? Are you confident He will speak today? Do you have the full expectation that He intends to answer our prayers today?

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, June 24, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Ever since I was a young girl, I have loved reading the accounts of how God visited His people in the past in times of great revival and spiritual awakening—including some times when it seemed utterly dark and hopeless.

Well, yesterday, my friend, Bob Bakke, began telling us some of the ways that God visited His people in revival during what we call the Second Great Awakening. We'll hear part two of that message today.

Bob is a pastor in the Minneapolis area, and he has a strong heart for prayer and revival. That's why we've asked him to be part of the True Woman '16 Conference coming up September 22–24 in Indianapolis.

Now, Friday night of that conference, September 23 will be a unique time—something we've never done before. We're going to spend three hours in prayer together for the needs of our world, our nation, our churches, and our homes, asking the Lord to visit His people in revival once again.

Some of our listeners have heard that the theme is Cry Out! and they've wondered whether this is maybe going to be just an emotional cry-fest. Well, the answer is "no." I think you'll hear Bob's heart as he speaks today.

Now, of course, God has made us as emotional creatures, and as we pray emotions may be involved. But the goal isn't to muster up some sort of feeling. The goal is to earnestly cry out to the Lord for such a time as this.

As you listen to Bob share about the Second Great Awakening, would you be asking the Lord to do it again? And would you think about who you can invite to join you on Friday evening, September 23, to come together with you to pray, either with us in Indianapolis at the True Woman Conference or a group in your home or your church as we have a simulcast nationwide prayer event for women.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. To get more information on putting a group together for the Cry Out! Prayer Event visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Yesterday, Bob Bakke told us how believers in New England had begun praying in concert. In other words, church leaders coordinated the people and made sure they were all praying in agreement about the same priorities for their region. And they began to see amazing numbers of people coming to faith. Dr. Bakke picks up the story.

Bob: It was an explosive revival. And this revival spread out for miles and miles around. The first concert then formed in 1742. It was designed then as a two-year experiment among the parishes of Scotland. And so powerful was the experiment that they then sent invitations to join throughout the evangelical world.

The first in America to receive one of these invitations was Jonathan Edwards who did a backflip because he delighted in this thing. We find out later from his writings, he had been a pen pal with McCullough all along since his own revival in the 1730s in his church. He had suggested such a design to McCullough before McCullough put it into practice in Scotland.

Well in 1747 then, in light of this great revival and this invitation to join this prayer movement, Jonathan Edwards writes his famous book A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union [not mystical union, visible union, not some fuzzy agreement but what? Explicit agreement. Explicit agreement and visible Union] Among God's People in Extraordinary Prayer [these are extraordinary times, and it requires extraordinary praying] for Revival of religion [of true religion] and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom on the Earth.

Well, this book for the next 150 years influenced Christians everywhere throughout the evangelical world. It was the common denominator to three massive international awakenings, the modern missionary movement, and hundreds of local revivals.

Now, the distinguishing marks then of this phenomenon was the union of different kinds of Christians, the pattern of Word-saturated prayer, prayers of agreement woven into the fabric of the church and into the life and the woof and the warp of the church, the longevities of the commitment. The first one was two years. From that point on the covenants were seven years a piece.

And I found, by the way, in a library in Ipswich, Massachusetts, a record of four churches in Cape Ann, north of Boston: Church of the Hamlet, Second Church of Essex, Church of Ipswich, and one more that escapes me at the moment. They prayed this way for a hundred years.

And over the course of those hundred years, every seven or eight years or so, God brought a season of refreshing upon Cape Ann. They were missionary sending churches. They remained orthodox and evangelical.

And during the Civil War this prayer concert ceased and all four churches, as far as I know, at that moment became Universalist and Unitarian. And there hasn't been a single work of God like what had happened back then, there hasn't been a single work of God's Spirit upon that Cape since.

Now, the Second Great Awakening. It's called "America's Pentecost" by a scholar at Vanderbilt whose name is Paul Conkin. You can get his book. It's called America's Pentecost. I recommend it to you. It's an extraordinary book.

But because of the dire times that I explained to you in the 1790s, the Presbyterians of the New York and New Jersey Presbytery were calling for the concert of prayer. So, what they did . . . what the Christians in the 1790s did was they got together and started thinking about what kind of models and paradigms were at play that they should re-dig out of their own history in order to apply them again to the urgencies of their present day.

And they, in fact, looked back to Cambuslang. And they said, "What happened in Cambuslang is this perfect model. We should go back to it in this concerted and agreement prayer and the preaching and the kinds of things they were doing and the catalytic events that surrounded the Table of the Lord—the Sacraments of the Lord—and leverage all of these once more for the day in which we live."

So, they began writing letters to each other, inviting each other to prayer and to this united and concerted prayer and these catalytic events. David Austin in the New York and New Jersey Presbytery did so. But so did Isaac Backus, the father of the Baptist movements in America, in their annual meeting up in Providence, Rhode Island. And by the 1800s then, there were evidences and signs of revival everywhere up the Mid-Atlantic States through New England.

But I wanted to pull our attentions out of the northeast and the Mid-Atlantic States and draw them to the frontier. In fact, Kentucky. And I want to talk about David Caldwell's wild men of the Cumberland.

David Caldwell was a Carolinian—Greenville. He set up a log college there. He began discipling these young men in this log college to send them out into the frontier to plant churches and to spread the gospel. The frontiers had become a wild place, and they needed wild men.

Now, when you think of Kentucky back in the 1790s, don't think of the movie Deliverance, and don't think of what is commonly now known as hillbillies and other kinds of people. These were coastal people that over the course of ten, twenty years had moved from the east coast over the Appalachian Mountains now into the frontiers.

The population of Kentucky in 1790 was about 70,000. By 1800 it was about 225,000. So, over the course of ten years it had more than doubled—people coming over the mountains into this new territory.

There were no churches out here. There were hardly anybody who had Bibles. There were missionaries, circuit riders who would go up into these regions and they would weep; they would mourn over the fact that the biblical illiteracy was so great they didn't even know the stories of the gospel. Tens of thousands of people unsaved, unschooled in the things of Christ.

Well, David Caldwell was familiar with revivals and spiritual awakenings. Hampden Sydney up in Virginia and in the Carolina's, too, there were revivals that were breaking out. David Caldwell had the smoke, the smell of revival on his clothes, and he couldn't get rid of it. It was in his blood. It was in his system. And he began mentoring young men in these ways. He sent them out into the frontier and into Kentucky itself.

One of them was a guy by the name of James McGready. McGready comes to a small three churches, very small log cabin churches—Red River, Gasper River and Muddy River. And he forms a union parish out of them. They couldn't afford a pastor individually, so he became their pastor.

But he did so by asking of them, by demanding out of them a covenant of united prayer. A covenant of united prayer that every Saturday night whether in private prayer or in small societies they would pray. And that one a month the church would gather in groups themselves to pray and then also the Sacrament of the Lord yearly. [See yesterday's program for a description of the Sacrament of the Lord.]

So, Red River, Gasper River, and Muddy River began praying—1797, 1798, 1799. The memoirs of McGready start to get very, very excited by 1799. In 1800, now he's really seeing evidences that God is about to move.

Three years of prayer into this now, and God's Spirit is beginning to move in these parishes. Well, McGready's prayer concert, let me repeat it to you once again: pray once a week in private or small groups.

Do you know that Charles Spurgeon in the mid-1800s when he preached in the Metropolitan Tabernacle had four hundred people beneath his pulpit when he preached? He called it his "boiler room." He was known on occasion in the midst of a sermon to start stomping his feet. And that was signal to the boiler room beneath his feet to pray harder, to pray more vigorously and more urgently because he needed the anointing of God's Spirit upon him.

Could you imagine your whole church in a covenant of prayer on Saturday night covenanting to pray for the outpouring of God's Spirit on the preaching of the gospel the next morning? And then to pray once a month as a church together—not for Aunt Lizzie's bunions and other kinds of ailments. but to pray for the outpouring of God's Spirit and the advancement of His Kingdom. And to pray urgently and in extraordinary prayer. And then to pray once a year with all three churches when gathering for the Sacrament of the Lord.

So, he has these individual components or small group components with a larger component with a very large component and a catalytic event. And this cycle and this rhythm starts beating. This heartbeat starts beating in the heart of the Union parishes.

In 1801, it was the Sacrament that happens in Cane Ridge. McGready's prayer meetings and the Sacraments started becoming so successful that others were moved by it and heard about it and were drawn to it. And in the summer of 1800 and in the summer of 1801, there were perhaps a couple of dozen of these Sacraments up and down not only the Cumberland but up the very heart of Kentucky itself.

Barton Stone was the pastor of the Cane Ridge parish, Cane Ridge, a place in the middle of nowhere. I have preached in this old log cabin that was the Cane Ridge Church—a place named by Daniel Boone because of its wild bamboo. It's down in the middle of nowhere. 

Barton Stone in this little church comes down to one of these Sacraments and is so blown away by it that in 1801 he said, "I'm going to hold a Sacrament at my church. I'm going to have my people prayed up. I'm going to have my people ready for the outpouring of God's Spirit upon our meeting, too."

He goes back to Cane Ridge, covenants with his people to pray. In the summer of 1801 he calls for the Sacrament. He is prepared for the Sacrament but nothing could have prepared him for what God did.

Upwards of 30,000 people came from across the frontier and descended upon Cane Ridge. And this meeting did not last for three days. It could have lasted a week or more, but they ran out of hay. 30,000 people coming on horses and wagons, sleeping under tents. The sanitation issue. The food issue. They came from hundreds of miles away because they heard there was a rumor that "Aslan was in the land."

Let me read for you an account. It's so stunning. It's beyond our comprehension today. Have you ever thought of God's presence in terms of "awfulness"?

In the month of August 1801 [writes this one man], I learned that there was to be this great meeting at Cane Ridge. Feeling the great desire to see the wonderful things which my ears had come to hear, and how they'd been solicited by some of my old classmates to go over to Kentucky for the purpose of revisiting the scenes of my childhood and knowing that there may be girls present, I resolved to go.

And the next morning we mounted our horses and started for the meeting. And on the way I said to my companions, "Now if I fall down like people are rumored to be doing in the presence of God, if I fall down, it must be by some physical power and not by singing and praying." As I prided myself on my manhood and courage, I had no fear of being overcome by some nervous excitability or being frightened into religion.

We arrived on the grounds near the Cane Ridge meeting house and here a scene presented itself to my mind not only novel, but unaccountable and awful beyond description. A vast crowd supposed by some to have been amounted to 25,000 or more was collected there.

The noise was like the roar of Niagara. A vast sea of humans being agitated as if by a storm. I counted seven ministers all preaching at one time. [By the way, one up in a tree that was felled by a storm. They broke up the crowds into various groups to hear the preaching of the Word.] I counted seven ministers all preaching at one time. Some on stumps. Others in wagons. And one, Reverend William Burke, now of Cincinnati, was standing in a tree which had in falling lodged itself against another.

Some of the people were singing. Others were praying. Some crying for mercy and in the most piteous accents while others were shouting most vociferously. While witnessing these scenes a particularly strange sensation such as I had never felt before came over me. My heart beat tumultuously. My knees trembled. My lips quivered. I felt as though I must fall to the ground. A strange supernatural power seemed to pervade the entire the mass of mind there collected.

I became so weak and powerless that I found it necessary to sit down. Soon after, I left and went into the woods where I strove to rally up my manhood, my courage. I tried to philosophize in regard to the wonderful exhibitions resolving themselves to be mere sympathetic excitement—a kind of religious enthusiasm inspired by songs and eloquent harangues.

My pride was wounded for I had supposed that my mental and physical strength and vigor could most successfully resist these influences. After some time I returned to the scene of the excitement and the waves of which, if possible, had risen still higher. This same awfulness of feeling came over me. I stepped onto a log where I could have a better view of the surging sea of humanity. And the scene that's presented to myself is indescribable.

At one time I saw at least 500 swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had opened upon them. And then immediately followed by shrieks and shouts that wrecked the very heavens.

My hair rose up on my head. My whole frame trembled. The blood ran cold in my veins, and I fled into the woods a second time and wished I had stayed home. While I remained here my feelings came intense and insupportable. A sense of suffocation and blindness seemed to come over me and I thought I was going to die.

On and on the story goes. There were accounts of people lying on the ground semi-comatose in the presence of God. For hours people would gather around them and sing and pray. Some lifeless . . . utterly lifeless. They could find no signs of life. And then suddenly after hours they would pop up and sing to the praises of God.

One, a young girl, perhaps seven, eight, nine, ten, she was out on the ground and suddenly she had awoken after several hours of being comatose on the ground. And immediately upon being awakened began spewing out the words of God and preaching exhortations to the crowd. And so great were these exhortations that a man put her up on his shoulder and she spoke for hours, uninterrupted hours with the Spirit of God just flowing through her in these exhortations.

Some lay on the ground for days. Well, I could go on, I really could. But we have no categories to place these in sometimes. But do you think of God so powerful? Do you think His arm is too short for the day in which we live?

What's more, and this is so powerful. This is what makes it such a remarkably American story. This is the first time that blacks and whites experienced the outpouring of God's Spirit simultaneously and in the company of each other.

And in fact, they found a freed black pastor who had come to minister to those blacks many of them whom were slaves. And the power of God and the manifestation of God's Spirit was upon them just like everyone else. Doesn't that sounds like the book of Acts? People were scratching their heads, "How could this be?" But it was.

And in these moment, in these days, there grew within the heart of evangelicals in this part of Kentucky, well, they just couldn't reconcile this to themselves, "If this is in fact happening to this man as it is happening to me, how in the world can I own my brother?"

And in this heart of Kentucky, in Cane Ridge itself in particular, was a center of abolition in the heart of this slave-holding area. It was like an atom bomb of grace had gone off, and it was like Hiroshima for the evil of slavery in this entire parameter.

This was a freed area. They were not only freed, but they were freed to be members of this church and to participate fully in the membership of the Cane Ridge congregation. In fact, most of these characters who were the principals of this revival, were also principals in the Underground Railroad.

But what happened? Well, after people ran out of food and ran out of things to feed their horses and the sanitation got bad enough, they just had to start heading home. But when they head home, the revival went with them. The anointing of the Lord was all over them. They went in every direction and so did the revival.

And the course of about five to ten years, starting with this explosion in 1801 in particular, the entirety of this land was transformed. The entirety of America was transformed—transformed with lasting effects. It spun out for nearly fifteen years, this revival did.

  • It galvanized whole populations.
  • Tens of thousands of churches were planted, not only counting those that were revived, but those who were planted.
  • Hundreds of denominations and associations were begun.
  • Hundreds of colleges and universities were founded.
  • Thousands of schools were formed.
  • Hospitals, too. Hospitals as we know them, as modern institutions, they were evangelical ideas coming out of our longing for mercy.
  • Modern missions was founded.

This same revival which spread ultimately up into New England was, in fact, the precursor to a revival that took place in Williams College which essentially launched the modern missionary movement—what we think of as missions today. There was no conception of this back then.

But the longing, the desire, the compassion, the compelling notion of the Holy Spirit to spread this word and to spread this Christ Kingdom throughout the nations of the earth. Remarkable. But it was because of their confidence in God.

I wonder if we think that the problems of today are too big for Him. Isn't it amazing how in the Scriptures, those moments when God speaks, everything changes? In a moment. In an instant. Everything changes.

  • Are you confident He can speak today?
  • Are you confident He will speak today?
  • Do you have the full expectation that He intends to answer our prayers today?

This entire period of expansion of the gospel—this revival—modern missions, etcetera, all throughout the earth, happened in a day when the predominant eschatology of evangelicals on both sides of the Atlantic was post-millennialism. In a word, post-millennialists believe that the next thing that God is about to do will be the greatest thing that God has ever done.

And regardless of the declination of how deep and steep the decline of a culture might be, still the next great work of God is higher than anything that has been done before. Until the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters covered the sea.

Go back to your early missionary hymns, and they are post-millennial dreams. So the dreams that sent young men and young women packing their coffins, parting with their moms and dads, never to see them again and heading out onto the high seas to places that no Christian had ever gone to before.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright,
And Christ's great kingdom will come to earth, the kingdom of love and light.

Now, I'm not arguing that we must be post-millennialists in this hour. But I'm telling you, where the hope dies, prayer dies, and so does the ministry of the gospel.

Where the hope dies, prayer dies, and so does the ministry of the gospel.

We must marshal our confidence that God whose arm is never too short and a Christ who intends to reign over the nations of the earth and all of history, and we must look each other in the eye and say, "He will do it again. Harken to His voice. Head it. And do so in a hurry. For the time is short and the window of opportunity may be closing."

You were asked just a little while ago what you needed to work on. Could it be that what you needed to work on is throttling the capacity of the Spirit of God to do the work that is needed to be done in your church, in your community, in your city? For the sake of your children, for your grandchildren, for the sake of the glory of God, for the sake of the salvation of the lost and the union of the body of Christ, would you deal with it now and put it aside?

Nancy: When I hear stories like the one Bob Bakke has been sharing with us today, my heart is quick to say, "Lord, please, do it again."

Bob Bakke has been telling us about some of the things the Lord did during the Second Great Awakening. Bob is a pastor with a heart for revival and a burden for prayer. God has gifted him in leading large groups of people to pray with one heart at conferences and through media simulcasts.

That's why I've asked him to join me in leading a special time of prayer we'll be hosting on Friday evening, September 23. I hope that you will join us. This will be a focused, fervent time of prayer for our nation, our churches, our families and our own lives asking the Lord to meet His people in revival at such a time as this.

We're calling this unique prayer event Cry Out! It's part of the True Woman '16 Conference in Indianapolis. And here's where you come in. Even if you can't be at the conference in Indianapolis, I want to invite you to join us on that Friday evening for a free simulcast right in your community.

I want to encourage you not to just do that by yourself, but to get together with other women in your area joining your hearts together in prayer. And then your group joining with other groups all across this country on this special night of prayer.

To get more details about how to join us for Cry Out! A Nationwide Prayer Event for Women visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. On Monday we will open Isaiah 63 and 64. Nancy will show us why the words of the prophet Isaiah are so relevant in our day. 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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