What Is the Importance of Revivals Now and in the Past?
Revival is a popular subject in the present day. Churches across the globe are praying for revivals to happen at their churches and colleges. If you’re not familiar with revivals, you’re in the right place. We are going to be discussing what revivals are and their history. It is important to be familiar with revivals and know why they are essential to growing the church.
What Are Revivals?
A revival means either an awakening or a renewal. In the matter of Christian revivals, it is the matter of a believer having an awakening or a renewal in their faith. Every believer, at some point, has become stagnant in their faith.
Their once dedication to Christ becomes second, third, or least important in their life. The love they once had for Jesus has gone stale, and there is no spiritual fruit being produced.
This is sad, but it is a true reality in the lives of many believers, myself included. There have been many times in my own walk with Christ that I have become stagnant and even indifferent to what the Bible says.
It is important that revivals take place because they help us have an awakening and renewal to the Lord. Revival causes us to have the same joy that we had when we first accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
It helps us to desire to know God better and to grow in our relationship with Him. Revivals also convict us of our own sin and can be a catalyst to repentance in our own lives.
We never need to underestimate what a revival is capable of doing. The Holy Spirit is at work in revivals, and He can help awaken our souls and renew our minds to have the same desire and love we had for Jesus when we first became believers.
What Is the History of Revivals?
There have been numerous revivals throughout history. Within America, there have been 10 revivals. These revivals include:
1. The Great Awakening (1734-1743).
2. The Second Great Awakening (1795 to 1835).
3. The Businessmen’s Revival (1857-1858).
4. The Civil War Revival (1861-1865).
5. The Urban Revivals (1875-1885).
6. The Revivals of 1905-1906.
7. The Azusa Street Revival (1906).
8. Post-World War II Awakening (1947-1948).
9. The Charismatic Renewal and Jesus Movement (1960s-1970s).
10. The Mid-1990s Revivals.
The Great Awakening occurred during 1734-1743, and it was the first major revival that occurred in America. Jonathan Edwards was the pastor of the church who broke out in revival.
In 1743, Northampton, Massachusetts was where this first revival happened. Jonathan Edwards had been a pastor for quite some time, yet no one was coming to know Jesus. However, in 1743, six people became believers and accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Through these individuals coming to know the Lord through Jonathan Edwards’s preaching, they spread the message of the gospel to their friends and family. In the period of six months, 300 hundred individuals placed faith in Jesus (Ibid.).
George Whitfield also contributed to the Great Awakening as he was sharing the message of the gospel in Philadelphia. He was a highly influential pastor and led many to know Jesus during the Great Awakening.
Another revival was the Second Great Awakening, which happened in the years 1795 to 1835. The three phases of this awakening consisted of American preachers James McGready, John McGee, and Barton W. Stone.
The second and “conservative phase” of the awakening occurred in New England under Timothy Dwight, Lyman Beecher, Nathaniel W. Taylor, and Asahel Nettleton (Ibid.).
The third phase was because of Charles Grandison Finney, who started in western New York in the 1820s. However, he started moving to bigger cities and the United Kingdom as more revivals continued to occur.
A third revival was the Businessmen’s Revival in 1857-1858. This revival was known mainly for its prayer meetings every day at noon, and the prayer meetings were led by businessmen. This revival had its genesis in the Fulton Street Prayer Meetings in New York City.
Businessman Jeremiah Lanphier was hired as an evangelist by North Dutch Reformed Church in lower Manhattan in the year 1857. Due to changes in the congregation, the church needed someone to help bring more people into the church.
Jeremiah Lamphier decided to start having prayer meetings every day at noon, and this attracted many people. Within the same year, a revival broke out, and over 1,000,000 people started going to church and becoming members.
A fourth revival was the Civil War Revival, which occurred from 1861-1865. During the war, there were many revivals, yet this one stands out. This revival wasn’t based on the Baptist or Methodist denomination. Instead, this revival was nondenominational.
By the end of the war, both sides were converting to Christianity through revivals. It was through their new faith that they were able to make it through the difficult times of war.
A fifth revival was the Urban Revivals through the years 1875-1885. This revival was mainly led by Dwight L. Moody. Dwight L. Moody was involved with the Great Revival of 1857, and through this, he was inspired to do his own revivals. Moody went to some of the largest cities and shared the gospel with thousands of people.
Through this revival, many came to know the Lord despite the impinging worldview to turn away from faith.
A sixth revival was the Revivals of 1905-1906. Billy Sunday was a key leader during this time. He preached to thousands of people, and he supportively converted 1,000,000 people to Christianity (Ibid.).
The seventh revival was led by William J. Seymour, who was an African American Holiness pastor. This revival is known as the Azusa Street Revival, which took place in 1906.
Through this revival, we see the beginning of the Charismatic Movement and the start of the Pentecostal Movement. Emphasis on emotions and feelings was associated with these revivals.
The eighth revival was in 1947-1948, and it was known as the Post-World War II Awakening. During this time, Pentecostals went through many awakenings, including the Latter Rain Revival and the other the Healing Revival (Ibid.).
In addition to the Pentecostal revivals, there were also Protestant revivals. Bill Bright started Campus Crusade for Christ during this time, and Billy Graham’s crusades began. This was also during the time of the beginning of college revivals across America’s campuses.
The ninth revival was the Charismatic Renewal and Jesus Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s. The Charismatic Renewal was a Pentecostal movement that spread to universities and Catholic Churches.
It was not a solely Pentecostal revival, even though it had started in Pentecostalism. The Jesus Movement stressed the importance of turning away from a sinful lifestyle and, instead, turn to the Lord.
Many college campuses experienced a revival during this time, including Asbury University in 1970. Even in the present day, Asbury University just had another revival on its campus.
The tenth revival was the Mid-1990s Revivals. These revivals came into being by Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. There was the Toronto Blessing, the Melbourne Revival, the Modesto Revival, and the Brownsville Revival (Ibid.).
College rivals were not absent from this time either, as many became believers on the campus of Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas, by hearing the sermons given by preacher Henry Blackaby.
Why Does This Matter?
Throughout each of these revivals, we see God at work and the outpouring of His Spirit. Even in the modern day, we can see revivals ongoing. We need to continue to pray for revivals to continue and to ask God to renew our hearts with revival.
God does amazing things for us, and we don’t need to doubt Him for a second. Your university or church might be in need of revival, and you feel hopeless. Don’t lose hope. Turn to the Lord in prayer and pray for Him to bring revival into your midst.
For further reading:
Is God Moving Through the Revival at Asbury?
What Is the Significance of Revival for Believers?
What Is a Spiritual Awakening and Are We Experiencing One Now?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/elinedesignservices
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.