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Revival and a “spirit of intercession”

The following quotation from Revival & Revivalism by Iain Murray continues in the same vein as the one posted earlier this week.


. . . A Baptist author, . . . describing the revival at Hartford in 1798–1800 , wrote: ‘The Lord seems to have stepped out of the usual path of ordinances, to effect his work more immediately in the displays of his Almighty power, and outpouring of his Spirit; probably to show that the work is his own.’

Thus what characterizes a revival is not the employment of unusual or special means but rather the extraordinary means of blessing attending the normal means of grace. There were no unusual evangelistic meetings. No special arrangements, no announcements of pending revivals. Pastors were simply continuing in the services they had conducted for many years when the great change began. That is why so many of them could say, ‘The first appearance of the work was sudden and unexpected.’ Their theology taught them that there is no inherent power in the truth to convert sinners and they rejoiced in the knowledge that the size of the blessing which God is pleased to give through the use of means is entirely in his own hands. As William Rogers of Philadelphia wrote to Isaac Backus in 1799, ‘The revivals of religion which you speak of are peculiarly illustrative of the glorious doctrines of grace, —“the wind bloweth where it listeth”.’

On the subject of means, something needs to be said more particularly on prayer. As with the truth that is preached, prayer has no inherent power in itself. On the contrary, true prayer is bound up with a persuasion of our inability and our complete dependence of God. Prayer, considered as a human activity, whether offered by few or many, can guarantee no results. But prayer that throws believers in heartfelt need on God will not go unanswered. Prayer of this kind precedes blessing, not because of any necessary cause and effect, but because such prayer secures an acknowledgement of the true Author of the blessing. And where such a spirit of prayer exits it is a sign that God is already intervening to advance his cause. One thing that can be said with certainty about the 1790s, before any general indications of a new era were to be seen, is that there was a growing concern among Christians to pray. Later on, when the evidence of records from those years was compared, it was recognized that across the Union, from Connecticut to Kentucky, the 1790s were marked by a new spirit of intercession.

—Iain Murray, Revival & Revivalism (Banner of Truth, 2002), 128–129

Posted 2007·05·11 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Church History · Iain Murray · Ordinary Means · Prayer · Revival · Revival & Revivalism · William Rogers

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