Why did I never look into revival as a Christian growing up?  What was it that caused me to be almost totally unaware of the Welsh Revival, the 1859 revivals in the British Isles and the States, and not really know anything about the ‘Great Awakening’ in America except for what I had heard in a gently satirical American literature lecture at Cambridge?  I had heard one old chap in our church occasionally praising ‘Whitefield and Wesley’ (the first I always thought was Whitfield because of the pronounciation), and I did know a little about the Methodists.

What does it say about Christendom?  Mine was a charismatic evangelical upbringing; I doubt – although I’m happy to be put right – that anyone brought up in an Anglican church would have heard tales of revival. I’m not even sure that Methodists retail their most exciting and powerful narratives to their congregations.  Perhaps other denominations give their ‘catechumens’ a more solid grounding in such things – I would love to know.

The most regular reference to revival that I used to hear in my own church was from a dear brother who would always say ‘Revival’s almost here, folks!’ and because it seemed to be his constant theme – with no evidence of it arriving – I was, I am ashamed to say, rather like the literature lecturer, gently mocking.

If only I had been told certain things about revival when I was younger!  Here are some of the things I wish I had known at a younger age:

1. God will use anyone who is willing, and there is no limits to what He wants to do.

2. God has been raising the dead, and saving souls in great numbers, in virtually every century since Pentecost.

3. Without revival, and prayer for revival, the church would not be here today at all.

4. Revival is extremely costly, and is never guaranteed, but God is always faithful when hearts are pure and hands are clean.

So the message for those who are wanting, not human beings to be glorified, not the ‘church’ to be vindicated as the only way that state and world can be put on the right track, but God to be revealed in all His glory, grace and kindness – is to seek God’s face and spend time in His presence.  Since I started seriously reading about revival around two years ago, I have found day without number that I have forgotten the accounts I have read, and what astonishing and remarkable things God will do when hearts cry out to Him.

Next to prayer, and study, and enjoyment, of God’s Word, both through the Bible and through His nudges throughout the day, I feel that the most helpful and urgent thing I can do to grow in His kingdom is to hold the accounts of revival close to my heart, and read and re-read them daily.

There has never been a time when more information about revival is easily available to us.  Let’s not waste time pondering the meanderings of liberal secular writers in the papers or in books; let’s not dribble away our time in movies, in pubs and bars, in consumerism.

Tell me the stories of Jesus, tell me the stories of revival, tell me that God rends the heavens and comes down; tell me that he pours water upon the thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.  Tell me that love is stronger than death, and that He is our shield and our exceedingly great reward.  Tell me, too, that He cannot stand the sight of sin, and that he grieves our rebellion, pride and self-righteousness.  Tell me that I cannot depend upon my broken and leaky cistern, but only, always and right now, on the Fountain of life.