Revival—The Kind That Counts
“My soul cleaveth unto the dust: QUICKEN THOU ME according to Thy word.”—Psalm 119:25
“I am afflicted very much: QUICKEN ME, O Lord, according to Thy word.”—Psalm 119:107
“Plead my cause and deliver me: QUICKEN ME according to Thy word.”—Psalm 119:154
These words of Scripture define a true revival. It is a quickening according to God’s Word, not according to some man’s magnetism of eccentricity. A talented evangelist may swoop down upon a community and make a stir by sharp striking sayings, draw large crowds and quicken a kind of interest, but such a quickening may be according to the evangelist, not according to the Word of God. Now, what we need is an increase of spiritual life along the line of biblical teaching.
Why Such A Revival?
TO LIFT OUT OF THE DUST. “My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken Thou me according to Thy word.” Dust is the symbol of earthiness as opposed to heavenly-mindedness. David’s soul had an attraction for dust. Drooping or dead things hold dust. It will stick so easily to living objects, and the cure for this dust magnetism is a larger infusion of life. The sick eagle wallows in the dust; it has not strength of wing to rise and shake it off, but the eagle full of life soars above the dust and gazes into the sun. Christians who are today wallowing in the dust of worldliness need an infusion of strong healthy life that they may “mount up on wings as eagles.”
TO SUSTAIN US UNDER LIFE’S BURDENS. “I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according to Thy word.” Dust mars and hinders life, but it is not heavy. There are Christians not covered with dust living consecrated lives, who have on them heavy burdens of responsibility, calamity or sorrow. Such as those need quickening that they may have strength to bear their burdens. David was afflicted very much, and his word “afflicted” has a wider range than bodily disease. But he does not pray for a lessening of the burdens. What he wants is more life to carry what he has and to assume larger burdens. Burden-bearing develops a strong, healthy man, while it crushes the weak and sickly. We need more life under these burdens that they may develop us rather than crush us.
Responsibility, disappointment and sorrow make men despair; they give up the conflict sometimes on the very verge of victory, for the lack of life to bear up. A man in California had spent his little fortune seeking gold; every dollar was gone and he was in debt. Disheartened, demented by his despair, he left his drill one day, went to his cabin, shot his wife and child and then killed himself. His friends, who pulled up his drill, found on its point the richest of ore. If he had held out but a day longer he would have been rich, and thus we may be on the very verge of great success and yet fail for the lack of the life that bears disappointment.
TO BREAK ALL BONDS THAT ENSLAVE US. “Plead my cause. Deliver me. Quicken Thou me according to Thy word.” This reveals to us a condition of bondage. “Deliver me; set me free,” and this freedom comes through a revival—a quickening according to God’s word. Some of us are bound by habit; the habit of doing nothing good. It is difficult to tell which is worse—the habit of doing what is wrong or the habit of neglecting what is right. Oh, for the quickening that will deliver us from these do-nothing bonds! Others are bound by the fear of men. When the apostles were filled with the Spirit they spoke the Word of God with boldness; they feared neither the face nor the sword of their enemies.
Many are bound by self-interest. They are afraid to offend those out of whom they make profit. They will not be out-and-out Christians lest some one who read not the Bible and care nothing for religion will not be pleased. The social circle in which they move is not an atmosphere of religion. The opinions of their friends do not encourage active work for Christ. We need a quickening that will give us strength, like Samson, to break the cords which these Philistines of the world have put on us. But, above all, we need a revival that will result in delivering the slaves of sin from this bondage through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Pray for it. Every text is a prayer: “Quicken Thou me according to Thy word.” It is a personal prayer. It is well to pray for the pastor, for the church, for all Christendom, for the world. But we must not fail to pray for ourselves. “Quicken ME.” If you are quickened somebody else will be, and if the fire begins in your soul the flames will catch the combustible material about you. You need to strike the match that can burn up a city. The fact is, all quickening must be individual. The Lord does not quicken the crowd. The tongue of flame at Pentecost sat not upon the crowd, but “upon each of them.”
A revival that comes in answer to prayer is God-given, and the only kind worth having. A revival gotten up is soon put down. A revival produced by a series of mechanics, whether of song or invitation or eccentricity, well not last. It can be destroyed by an opposite course of mechanics. It is simply a battle of force with force, with which God has little to do.
The revival we call the Reformation was born in prayer. Luther’s habit was to pray three hours a day. The knees of Melanchthon were found after his death to have been made callous by kneeling. Pentecost was preceded by ten days of supplication and prayer. Peter and John were in the spirit of prayer on their way into the Temple, when the other great revival in which many were converted was commenced. After Christ had cast out the devil from the demoniac, He said: “Such as this cometh forth only by prayer.”
Oh, for Elijas who can break up the spiritual drought by praying rain out of the skies! Jonathan Edwards’ sermon on the “Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God,” he preached many times, but only on one occasion was it signally blessed. He read from a manuscript, holding it up awkwardly to the light, and yet, while he read, the people took hold of the pews, fearing that they were sliding into hell. What was the secret? A little company of his members had met the Saturday evening before, remained together without supper, continued in prayer all night and forgot their breakfast next morning, as they pleaded with God for His hand of power upon their pastor.
John Wesley carried an old man around with him to pray for him. The secret of his vast power was doubtless, in large measure, the intercession of this godly man. “Father” Chiniquy was converted on a Saturday evening, and he spent the whole night in prayer and praise. No wonder when he stood up before his large congregation the next day and preached on “Jesus Christ, the gift of God,” a thousand souls were converted.
Pray for yourself until the new life is infused, and when that new life comes it will lead you to pray for others. Like the servant girl in a New England town, who prayed all night for the salvation of her mistress. That mistress, unable to sleep, convicted of her sin, not knowing the cause, urged her husband to go out and get some preacher to pray for her; then, reflecting that the servant girl was a Christian, they went to her room, and before opening the door they heard these words: “O Lord, bless mistress. Have mercy on her, for she is good to me.” Opening the door gently, husband and wife knelt down by the side of their servant girl and asked her to pray for them.
We need not riches, nor honor, nor position to have the ear of the King. The weakest may be made powerful by the quickening of the Spirit. If you cannot pray, then try David’s petition: “Quicken Thou me and I will call upon Thy name.” Pray for the grace to pray: pray for the spirit of prayer, and the God of all mercy and grace will show forth His power.”