William Seymour was desperately seeking the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in his own life. He had such a hunger for more that he prayed earnestly for the fullness of the Spirit five hours a day for two years. He wasn’t satisfied. Seymour asked God, “what else can I do?” The Spirit spoke to him and said, “Pray More.” Seymour then changed his five hours a day to now seven hours a day. He continued in prayer seven hours a day for another year and a half. The result was an outpouring of the Spirit, not just for Seymour, but one that would have a historic and global impact for Jesus called the Azusa Street Revival.
What is stronger than the rebellion being released through the spirit of the age right now? The love that never quits. It’s the conquering love of Jesus. His jealous love leaves no room for competing allegiances. You taste it and you want more. Seymour wanted more. The Spirit said, “Pray more.” Knowing there’s more is a strong motivation. This is the paradox of love. The more of Jesus you get the more you want in your daily experience. This perseverance, this love that never quits, is something stronger than rebellion.
Faithful in the Mundane
When you hear Seymour’s story do you say, “Wow, what a price?” or do you say, “Wow, what a revival?” Are we hung up on the investment required or in awe of the glory that came with a historic revival? We are talking about investing in our relationship with Jesus, loving Him back, and being absurdly happy in finding Him. Who can shrink back from such an offer? The price is not even an issue for those hungry for more. The “seeking” is nothing when you consider the “finding.” The price is simply spending time with Jesus. There is no revival without a relationship with the reviver.
Many celebrate the outpouring that happened during the Azusa Street Revival. I celebrate those years of perseverance in prayer demonstrated by Seymour with no evidence of breakthrough. I celebrate the price, the investment he made into his relationship with Jesus. He was faithful in the mundane, sowing to the Spirit, with barrenness all around him. Wisdom is justified by what it produces not what it theorizes about. Seymour’s relationship with Jesus produced. I believe Seymour was contending for something historic and I’m so glad he didn’t faint. Seymour prayed until breakthrough.
I can’t find a single outpouring of the Spirit in the New Testament or in church history that didn’t have someone pray the outpouring down. Someone secured it. Revival is not an accident. It is not a miracle or a surprising wind. Revival is the result of deliberate and desperate prayer to secure it. It may be a surprise to us that a certain people are reaching for Jesus, but revival itself is not a surprising miracle. Someone positioned his or her heart to receive revival, or said better, to secure revival.
Charles Finney was one of America’s greatest revivalists. He believed that he could secure revival in prayer. Let’s listen to Finney pray:
“Some of my experience, indeed, alarmed me. A spirit of importunity sometimes came upon me so that I would say to God that He had made a promise to answer prayer and I could not, and would not, be denied. I felt so certain that He would hear me, and that faithfulness to His promises, and to Himself, rendered it impossible that He should not hear and answer, that frequently I found myself saying to Him, ‘I hope Thou doest not think that I can be denied. I come with Thy faithful promises in my hand, and I cannot be denied.’”
Can you hear anything in that prayer that sounds like Finney believed that revival was given to chance or fatalism? No! Can you image coming into a city and praying: “Jesus, your word declares that today is the day of salvation and that now is the appointed time. Your word says that You want all men to come to repentance. You commanded us to be filled with the Spirit so that we may be powerful witnesses for Jesus. I come to you with your faithful promises in my hand and I cannot be denied. Father, based on your promises, I’ll pray until revival is secured.”
People do not like it when you start talking like this because it puts responsibility on us. I am completely aware that we cannot do God’s part. I am also aware that God’s not going to do my part. The farmer cannot send the sun, the rain, or the wind, but he can prepare a field, get the stones out, and plant a seed. The farmer cannot do God’s part. God will not do the farmers part. We have a roll to play when it comes to securing revival. We need to stop acting like we do not know what it takes. The remedy for a healed land is still a people called by God’s name to humble themselves, pray, turn from sin, seek God’s Face. The result will be God hearing from Heaven, forgiving our sin, and healing our land.
When you read accounts of historic revival you’ll always find a people that set themselves deliberately, definitely, and desperately to pray until they secured the result. The Sialkot revival in India was not an accident nor an unsought breeze from Heaven. Charles G. Finney says: ‘A revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat.’ In any community, revival can be secured from Heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die – or if need be to win and die – “The Kingdom of Heaven sufferth violence, and the violent take it by force’ (Praying Hyde, pp. 7-8).
We can anticipate revival when we meet the demands of Jesus to humble ourselves, pray, turn, and seek His Face. The question is not, is Jesus in this revival over here or over there. The question should be, “Are we willing to be a heroic soul and enter the conflict? Are we willing to do violence to our time, our wallets, our appetites, and sinful desires? Are we willing to deliberately and desperately secure revival?”