Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Revival is usually preceded by consistent, behind the scenes prayer. Here's Lyle Dorsett.

Lyle Dorsett: Church history has always had periods of great and major revival when there's just widespread in an entire city or a region or even nations where there's a lot of confession, repentance, and prayer. We've always had those, but continuously between these high points of revival or renewal, there's always been an undercurrent going on. There's always been prayer meetings and people seeking revival and praying for it.

Leslie: It's Wednesday, September 26, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. About One hundred and fifty years ago, faithful people were praying for revival. They had endured in prayer, not knowing the outcome, and God answered, transforming this nation and bringing genuine revival. We'll hear that story in a few minutes, but first, one of the marks of genuine revival is honesty. Nancy's been explaining that this week, and she continues as part of the series on revival: Seeking Him.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I got an email recently from a friend who said, “I've been praying that God would bring revival to my church,” and I think that many of us would relate to that. We want to see God bring revival to our churches, and she said, “I've been praying God would bring revival to my husband and to my Sunday school class, but it was only this week that God showed me my own great need. I'm finally praying, 'God, revive me.'”

We've been talking all this week about honesty—walking in the light, a sincere faith, having a heart that is honest and true before God, confessing our sin, bringing them out into the light. We've been talking about living with the roof off in our relationship toward God—nothing between our soul and the Savior, being honest with God.

One of the things we need to learn to be honest with God about is our need, our need for revival, our need for Him. I love that story in Luke chapter 18 where Jesus was going into Jericho, and there was a blind man, you remember, who was sitting by the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he said, “What's going on?” The people told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

Verse 38 of Luke 18 says, “And he cried out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (through verse 39). It brings to mind the song, “It's not my brother. It's not my sister. It's me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

Well, at that point, Jesus stopped and commanded that the man be brought to Him, and when the man came near, Jesus asked him, “'What do you want me to do for you?'” (verse 41). Now, at first, hearing that sounds like maybe a silly question. It's obvious. The man's blind. He's a beggar. He's poor. Why do you need to ask, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I think Jesus wanted this man to do what He wants us to do and that is to tell Him the truth about what we really need—to be honest with Him about our need. The man said to him, “'Lord, let me recover my sight'” (verse 41). The man got honest about his need. “Lord, I'm blind. If I could see, we could deal with a whole lot of other issues.” He told the Lord honestly, “This is what I want You to do for me.”

If you're going to experience revival, you've got to come before the Lord and say, honestly, “This is what I need. I'm not doing okay. It's me, Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Have mercy on me,” being honest with God about our need and then being quick to agree with God when He shows us our need, when He convicts us of sin, not calling them weaknesses or problems, not blaming someone else. It's not your husband—but saying, “Lord, it's me.”

Then we need to be honest, not only with God, but honest with ourselves—honest with ourselves. We do, as we've seen this week, deceive ourselves. The Scripture tells us a number of ways that we deceive ourselves, but one of the most common ones is what we read about in James chapter one where James says, “Don't just be hearers of the Word. Do what it says because if you hear but don't do, if you know but don't act, you have deceived yourself” (verse 22 paraphrase).

You convince yourself you're a good Christian. You're living the Christian life. You know a lot of truth, but you're not doing what you know.

We've deceived ourselves, so let me ask you, are there any truths that you know from God's Word, maybe even truths you've taught to other people—you may lead a Bible study. You may lead a small group. You may be a Sunday school teacher. You're teaching your children.

Some of you are homeschooling your kids. You're teaching your children right from wrong. You're teaching them to be honest. You're teaching them to be pure. You're teaching others that they're supposed to love the Lord their God with all their heart.

You're teaching these things to others. You know them in your head, but are they true in your life? You know you're supposed to be forgiving. Is there a root of bitterness in your heart? You know that you're supposed to be self-controlled. Are you controlled by food or by some other addiction? Be honest with yourself.

“Lord, I have idols.” Acknowledge it to God, but sometimes you've got to see it yourself first. Let God show you and then agree with God about what He says. The alternative is to ignore or to resist or to deny the conviction of God's Spirit in relation to our sin. That's when we cover our sin, and what did we learn? “He who covers his sin will not prosper.”

We need to be honest with God. We need to be honest with ourselves, and then we need to learn to be honest with others. This is where it gets really hard. You know, it's one thing to be honest with God, but He already knows it all. That's the roof off, but then to let the walls down between us and others—I mean, have you experienced it, as I have, that sometimes the people that are closest to you it's the hardest to get honest with about who you really are, what's going on in your heart?

Some of you go to bed every night with a husband—you're living together as husband and wife, but you're not being honest with your husband. There are things in your heart, things in your life, things in your past that you've not been honest about, you've not come clean about. You are one flesh, but you're concealing the truth.

It may be what you're doing with a credit card, with overspending. It may be moral issues that you have kept hidden. A woman wrote me recently, sent an email and said, “Help! I'm falling in love with a man who's not my husband. Please pray for me.”One of the first things I realized that woman needs to do—now she may need some godly, third-party counsel to know how best to do this—but she needs to tell her husband that she is struggling. I know there are some people who would disagree with me on this, but you've got to walk in the light.

You can't live as one flesh with a man who is legally your husband, but you're not being honest and open and vulnerable and transparent with. You can't do it and have the kind of relationship God intended for you to have. You've got to be honest—honest with others, not trying to leave a better impression of ourselves than is honestly true.

What would our churches be like if instead of coming to church on Sunday and just small-talking and telling each other how nice we look and how nice we are, if we would get honest with each other—accountable, vulnerable, transparent, and willing to speak the truth about what's in your life anytime God prompts you to share it with another person? Otherwise, we're just playing church. We're not being the church.

God wants us to get honest. Some of you need to get honest about your past, about past failures. Some of you are living in bondage to guilt or habits from your past, and one of the reasons is because you've tried to keep it a secret. Secrecy keeps the bondage intact. It keeps the stranglehold of that sinful habit in your life.

You say, “I'm so ashamed. What would people think?” Yet you're by yourself there, struggling, striving to get free. You probably won't be able to do it by yourself. You need to get honest with God, and you need to get honest with someone else who loves you enough to help walk you through it. I'll tell you, once you say the truth, once you come out into the light, you'll often find that once the secrecy is broken, the bondage breaks.

Now, that doesn't mean that there won't be a process of walking through to freedom, but there's something very, very powerful about the truth. You need to be willing to open up your life to others, humble enough to share your needs. Now, it doesn't have to be big, dark secrets. They need to know your struggles.

Get real. Ask for prayer. Ask for help. Be accountable. By taking that step of humility—with every step of humility you take—you get more of God's grace because what does God do to those who are proud? He resists them. He opposes them. You can't get victory if you're walking in pride. You humble yourself, get honest, and you will find that God will pour His grace into your life.

Now, it's a purging process. Getting honest isn't easy—being real, being genuine, being sincere—but after the cleansing, the purging, the honesty, comes a purifying, a filling, a renewing, a reviving. When we come to Him, not covering our sin, but confessing and forsaking them, we will find mercy.

My prayer is that, not only in our lives individually—first there—but then that our homes and our churches will become places where people get real. Now, that can be messy. Sometimes it is messy, but there's not a lot of mess in a graveyard. There's not a lot of life either! Sometimes it takes the messiness to break through to the place where the Spirit of God is poured out in what we can recognize as revival.

Leslie: The body of Christ can't function without honesty. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been explaining why a natural result of revival is people getting honest before God and other people. There is a reason we're bringing you this Seeking Him series here in September. Nancy's here to explain.

Nancy: Well, this week marks a very special anniversary. A hundred and fifty years ago this week, God moved in an extraordinary way in our nation, in such a way that historians have called it, The Great Prayer Revival.

It was on September 23, 1857, that a prayer meeting began in New York City at the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street. That first prayer meeting was a small and inauspicious beginning. But within a matter of weeks, the prayer meeting had spread until there were noon prayer meetings taking place all throughout New York City and ultimately across the country.

During this time at least a million people came to faith in Jesus Christ. The repercussions of this revival were felt throughout the entire American society. Starting tomorrow, we're going to learn more about this dramatic revival. But first I want us to take a look at some of the unsung heroes who labored in prayer for years leading up to this revival.

The prayer meeting on Fulton Street that began on September 23, 1857, was generally considered to be the start of the revival, but people had been earnestly praying for revival prior to that time. Their story is not as well known, but in the history books of heaven, I believe that God records their prayers as being important and having long-lasting results.

In the 1840s, a group of people at Park Street Church in Boston started a prayer meeting. They had a burden for the spiritual lives of those in their city. Bob Bakke is director of the National Prayer Advance, and he explains what happened when this prayer meeting began.

Bob Bakke: It lasted for about three years, but over the course of the time that they prayed for the city of Boston, almost every category that they agreed on to pray for—baptisms, attendance at evangelical churches and ministries, salvations—at least those reported from churches around the city—they all just went up remarkably. The correlation to their prayers was astounding to them. What is even more astounding is that after three years, they got tired of it, and it petered out and died.

Nancy: This Boston prayer meeting shows a couple of things. First, prayer can be very difficult, and second, prayer can be very effective.

Bob: While they prayed, the effects upon the city were measurable and remarkable. As the prayer meeting died, almost everything that they were praying for died along with it, and that's quite a tale for all of us to be alerted to.

Nancy: The prayer meeting at Park Street Church eventually became the model for a new emphasis on prayer.

Bob: Well, a couple of members of this prayer meeting, about ten years later, were meeting together and became sort of overwrought with the idea that such an endeavor should go fruitless and decided that they would start something else again like it except that it wouldn't be in one church. It would be for every evangelical across the city of Boston.

They chose as a neutral site—even though it was a church, it was a neutral site in many people's eyes—a church called The Old South Church or South Church in Boston. They opened, not at noontime, but every morning of the week except for Sunday, the Sabbath. In about 1850 or 51, they began this daily prayer meeting mostly from commuters on their way to work.

Nancy: Those who were burdened to pray, who sacrificed an hour out of a busy morning, didn't necessarily show a lot of emotion. They followed a standard schedule, being careful to keep the meeting to one hour.

Bob: A commuter would be quite confident that if he showed up there at seven, he would be out by eight. They had very precise ways of meeting and making sure that everything was going along in a neutral way; that is, it wouldn't slide into any sort of sectarian concerns or debatable theological issues.

Nancy: The organizers held a bell while the members prayed.

Bob: And if, in their estimation, what was being prayed during those prayer meetings was sliding into a place where it shouldn't, they would ring the little bell. That was the sign to correct your prayers or stop.

Nancy: This prayer meeting started to grow.

Bob: Attendance was in the hundreds every morning—anywhere from 150 to 350 people every morning on their way to work.

Nancy: This group was so hungry for God to revive His people, they would get together and fast all day once each quarter. At one of these meetings in Boston, there was a visitor from New York City who was stirred by the thought of a daily, morning prayer meeting. Jeremiah Lanphier incorporated a lot of elements from the Boston prayer meeting. He was organized and punctual and stressed unity among denominations.

Lanphier would go down in history as the person God used to start the 1857 prayer revival. We'll hear his dramatic story tomorrow. But before Jeremiah Lanphier established his famous prayer meeting, one that would have worldwide results, there were groups of people who had been earnestly laboring behind the scenes.

Bob: There had been nearly eight years of such daily praying and at least two or three years of quarterly, all-day fasts where hundreds of pastors and leaders and laymen would pray in Boston for God to do a great, new work, and He did.

Lyle: There was a lot of prayer of personal confession.

Nancy: Lyle Dorsett is Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry at Wheaton College.

Lyle: There was prayer for revival. There was prayer for the country. There was prayer for the financial institutions of the country, but there also was a lot of prayer for—a lot of people fell under conviction that they were sinners, and there was confession and repentance.

Nancy: Dr. Dorsett explains why this kind of prayer is so important for anyone hoping for revival.

Lyle: Because it always begins with personal revival, personal renewal, individuals getting their lives straightened out, getting free of bondages, turning back to the Lord.

Nancy: If anyone is longing for revival today, the best thing they can do . . .

Lyle: . . . is to get on their knees and ask the Holy Spirit to search their hearts—“Show me my sins.” Then if they'll genuinely confess and repent, we're going to see personal revival begin. It spreads, and it spreads because men and women go and confess sins to one another whom they've hurt. The people that they've hurt are astounded, and before long, those people are repenting. Every major revival has started with this kind of thing.

Nancy: That's the hope of many who look at the prayer revival of 1857 and cry out, “Lord, do it again!”

Jonathan Brownson: What I pray and hope will happen is that people from all over the world will gather together in prayer.

Nancy: This is Jonathan Brownson, prayer minister for the Reformed Church in America.

Jonathan: They will be in agreement in wanting God to show up in a way that goes beyond anything we've ever witnessed in the past. That is a fresh kind of rebirthing of and reviving of the church and the transformation of the world.

Nancy: Like those believers in Boston who prayed faithfully for eight years before the 1857 revival began, you and I may be called to a kind of prayer that takes endurance. It may look like nothing is happening.

Jonathan: It's a painful process. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, and I've been with many intercessors out there who just break down weeping for their churches. They say, “Why isn't God moving?” and “It just doesn't seem like there's any change here.” But weeping may tarry for a night, but joy is going to come in the morning for those people who are really seeking God and praying. I just believe that there's a new thing that God is about and that those prayers are not wasted.

Lyle: History, church history, has always had periods of great and major revival when there's just widespread in an entire city or a region or even nations where there's a lot of confession, repentance, and prayer. We've always had those, but continuously, between these high points of revival or renewal, there's always been an undercurrent going on. There's always been prayer meetings and people seeking revival and praying for it.

Jonathan: My heart goes out to people who are out there alone, and I guess another part of the ministry that I think you are very much involved in is connecting some of those people—for your listeners to know that there are other listeners out there, and there are other pray-ers out there.

Nancy: At Revive Our Hearts, we do want to connect God's people in prayer. That's why during the twelve weeks of this special Seeking Him series, we're not only commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 1857 prayer revival, but we're calling God's people to come together in praying for a fresh outpouring of His Spirit in our day.

Each Saturday morning during this twelve-week series, we're inviting you to join with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other believers all across this country, in spending one hour praying together, seeking Him for revival. Those prayer meetings begin at 10:00 Eastern Time for many of our stations (check listing for your radio station).

You can join by means of the Internet. In some markets, the local, Christian radio stations will also be carrying the entire prayer meeting. For more information about the National Prayer Meeting for Revival coming up this Saturday morning, be sure to go to ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, we also heard today about the importance of personal revival, humility, confession, holiness, and that's why we've developed Seeking Him. This is a twelve-week study that takes you through the process of personal revival—dealing with issues like honesty, clear conscience, purity, and so on.

We're in the third week of a teaching series called Seeking Him, and if you've not done so already, I want to invite you to get a copy of the Seeking Him workbook and begin going through it daily, following along as we continue in this twelve-week series on Revive Our Hearts. It's not too late for you to join with thousands of other believers across this country who are seeking Him together.

Leslie: You can get a copy of the Seeking Him workbook when you make a donation at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can also call toll-free with your donation and ask for Seeking Him. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Imagine going to a prayer meeting where only a few people show up, and they're all late. You probably wouldn't think it was the start to a nation-wide revival. But on tomorrow's program, hear about a prayer meeting like the one I just described and realize God can use whatever means He wishes to usher in revival. That's tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version.

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