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Keys to Experiencing God: Prayer and Awakening

In my last post I tried to separate the words revival and awakening—revival is for the Church and awakening is for the nation. With all that’s happening around us, it’s obvious to me that we need both and we need to understand that neither can or should come without significant prayer for God’s help and leading.

What does an awakening look like?

It starts with prayer. There are several books that help us understand and know that nothing begins an awakening, like fervent prayer.

How can our prayers accomplish?

We get a vivid picture from a farmer named Nathan Cole who, with his wife in 1740, recorded in his journal how they raced to hear George Whitefield preach in Middletown, Connecticut. Deeply convicted of his sin by Whitefield’s message, Cole wrote of his spiritual struggle that ended when we is saved at the event.

His journal account shows what fervent prayer and a spirit of awakening can do as he immediately left his field, grabbed his wife, jumped on their horse and rode twelve miles to Middletown. Over the twelve miles Cole, in order to spare his horse, would jump off and run alongside it, then jump back on to keep moving for fear of being late.

When he gets close to the place of the meeting, he writes:

I saw before me a cloud or fog rising; I first thought it came from the great river, but as I came nearer the road, I heard a noise something like a low rumbling thunder and presently found it was the noise of horses feet coming down the road and this cloud was a cloud of dust made by the horses feet; it arose some rods in the air over the tops of hills and trees. . .as I drew nearer it seemed like a steady stream of horses and their riders, scarcely a horse more than his length behind another, all of the lather and foam and sweat. Ever horse seemed to go with all his might to carry his rider to hear news from heaven for the saving of souls. It made me tremble to see the sight.[1]

Can you imagine this today? Roads lined and choked with cars carrying people trying desperately to get to church and be saved.  That’s an awakening. Not only does Cole write of horses, but he looks out at the great river and sees boats crammed full of people wanting to hear Whitefield, and more importantly, to come to know Jesus. Imagine our own Harpeth River clogged with boats of people trying to hear about Jesus!

Awakening can happen, and it starts with revival in the church and through prayer.

There was awakening in Korea at the turn of the last [20th] century. It started with missionaries and the “Bible women” of Wonsan, in 1903. “Revival, prayer, preaching and special meetings multiplied and all produced an awakened Korean Christianity.”[2]

Awakening, whether big or small started with prayer. Richard Ross wrote, “Throughout history concerted prayer movements have provided launching pads for major advances in Christ’s kingdom. This was certainly true with the major religious awakenings in this nation the past two centuries. As God’s people kept praying, each awakening overflowed into revitalized churches and denominations, significant social reforms, widespread evangelistic ingatherings, and the creation of scores of new mission-sending societies”[3]

Do we want revival and awakening to happen in churches, in our nation and around the world? If we do, let’s start on our knees in deep, personal and tearful prayers to God.



[1] Nathan Cole, “The Spiritual Travels, 1741–1765,” MSS 12787, Connecticut Historical Society, 2–7.

[2] Mark Shaw, Global Awakening: How 20th Century Revivals Triggered a Christian Revolution, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010), 40

[3] Richard Ross, Student Ministry and the Supremacy of Christ, (Bloomington, IN: CrossBooks, 2009), 29

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