The last great spiritual awakening in America took place during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a nation divided, and things were very dark. But when things are really dark, God’s light can shine brightly.
Cover headlines from Time magazine went from “Is God Dead?” in 1968 to “Jesus Revolution” in 1971. What a difference a few years can make, especially when God intervenes. America needs a spiritual awakening, and the church needs a revival.
An awakening takes place when God sovereignly pours out His Spirit and it impacts a culture. That is what happened during the Jesus Revolution, and that is what happened during multiple spiritual awakenings in the history of the United States, predating its establishment as a nation.
A revival, on the other hand, is what the church must experience. A revival occurs when the church comes back to life, when it becomes what it was always meant to be. It’s a returning to passion. I think many times we overly mystify the idea of revival. We don’t really need to. Another word we could use for revival is restoration, and that is what the church needs.
Speaking at a conference in 1917, R. A. Torrey gave this prescription for revival:
Let a few of God’s people, they don’t need to be many, get thoroughly right with God themselves—the rest will count for nothing unless you start right there; then let them band themselves together to pray for a revival until God opens the heavens and comes down. Then let them put themselves at God’s disposal to use them as He sees fit. That will bring a revival to any church, any community.
We can’t organize a revival, but we can agonize for it in prayer. We can call on God to send it.