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Founders’ speaker says revival comes through prayer, not pragmatic scheduling

PHOENIX (BP)–Christians who want to see a great spiritual awakening come to the church should stop bemoaning the carnality within society and pray fervently that God would pour out His Spirit upon the church, an Illinois pastor said at the Southern Baptist Founders Fellowship breakfast June 16.

Roger Ellsworth, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Benton, Ill., spoke at the meeting prior to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 17-18 in Phoenix. He said revival comes not when Christians schedule it or use pragmatic means in attempt to secure it, but when they pray pointedly and regularly for God to bestow it.

“Humble, fervent prayer is the means God delights to use in sending His extraordinary work of revival,” Ellsworth said. “We must be careful that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that normal praying produces revival. The means of prayer must be used in an extraordinary way.

“It is not just a matter of tacking this formula onto our prayers: ‘And Lord, please send revival.’ Revival does not come by simply praying and talking about how desperately it is needed and how wonderful it would be.

“We have been doing that for years. Revival is most likely to come when God’s people give themselves to extraordinary prayer. Extraordinary prayer means praying much with an extraordinary burden and fervency at extraordinary times.”

A profound need for revival manifests itself in two particular ways in today’s world: the exceptional evil within society and exceptional evil and apathy within the church, Ellsworth said. It is the evil and apathy within the walls of the church that should most concern believers, he said.

Evil and apathy have shown themselves in the church through sexual immorality, divorce, divisions, bickering and self-centeredness much in direct proportion to these sins within society, he said.

“We don’t like to admit this, but there is a very clear and definite link between the health of the nation and the health of the church,” Ellsworth said. “Jesus says His followers are the salt of the earth. Salt is a preservative.

“But if the salt loses its saltiness, which is a very real possibility according to Jesus, then there is nothing to retard the moral decay of society. The sad fact is, the modern church has not only lost much of her ability to influence society, but also shows that she has massively succumbed to society’s influence.”

The church should not blame these problems on the ACLU, the government or the educational system, but on herself, Ellsworth said.

“While the church points her finger to blame others,” he said, “God’s finger is pointed squarely at her.”

God has been known to pour out His Spirit in revival during times of extraordinary need, Ellsworth said, noting that revival came to England and America in the 18th century through the preaching of men such as George Whitefield and John Wesley during times of low morality.

Revivals have not occurred often enough in the history of the church to be classified as ordinary, Ellsworth said, citing Brian Edwards’ book “Revival: A People Saturated with God,” which lists 57 major revivals from 1150 to 1972.

Ellsworth set forth several distinguishing marks of revival as listed by historian Richard Owen Roberts. The marks, which paint a picture of true revival, include an intense and immediate spirit of conviction of sin, a putting away of self-centered and prideful living, profound agony over sin, great interest in reading and study of Scripture, confession of sin, a supreme longing for holiness, and persons being converted without arm-twisting.

Ellsworth drew on Mark 2:1-12 where Jesus healed the paralytic who had to be lowered through the roof of the house to skirt the huge crowds to talk about extreme things people do to meet exceptional needs. The church must do the same, he said.

“If we were planning revival, we would probably have God bring it to one of the media centers of our day, using celebrities to do so,” he said. “But God delights to use the humble and the ordinary.

“He usually sends His extraordinary work of revival to little people in little places who, like the men of Mark 2, feel the need of the times and resort to extraordinary measures.”
Founders Ministries is on the Web at www.founders.org.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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