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The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening

(2021-10-28 16:59:29) 下一个

The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening

By Dr. Edwin Orr

【1976在达拉斯举办了第一届全国祷告大会,在这个大会上,Dr. Edwin Orr讲了一个关于祷告在属灵复兴镇的作用的专题信息。感谢神,网络上还能找到这个信息的MP4版本,虽然分辨率不高,声音还不错,我反复聆听这个信息,并花了很多时间将这个信息听写下来,为了让关心属灵复兴的弟兄姊妹收益,我存放在此,需要指出的是,一定有很多漏听、错听的地方,如果你发现,请来信告知,我希望及时更正。

容许我剧透一下,Dr. Edwin Orr的结论是:协同、合一、持续的祷告带来属灵的觉醒/复兴。】 

Dr J. Edwin Orr was a leading scholar of revivals who published detailed books about evangelical awakenings. His research discovered major spiritual awakenings about every fifty years following the great awakening from the mid eighteenth century in which John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards featured prominently.

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Dr. A. T. Pierson once said, ‘There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.’ I like to talk to you today about what God has done through concerted, united, sustained prayer.

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution, there was a moral slump. Drunkenness was epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards; they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

What about the churches? The largest denomination that time is Methodists and they were losing more members than they were gaining. The second largest was the Baptist, they said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians met in general assembly to deplore the ungodliness of the county. The Congregationalists were strongest in New England, take a typical church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennox, Massachusetts, said in sixteen years he had not taken in one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Provost, quit functioning; he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment.

The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, Bishop Madison, and he said the Church ‘was too far gone ever to be redeemed.’ Voltaire said: ‘Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years time, and Tom Paine preached this cheerfully all over America.

In case you think it was the hysteria of the moment Kenneth Latourette the great church historian said, “it seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men”. The churches had their backs to the wall---it seemed as if they were to be wiped out.

How did God change that situation? It came through the concert of prayer. I must go back a little: there was a Scottish Presbyterian minister in Edinburg called John Erskine. He wrote a memorial he called it “Pleading with the people of Scotland and elsewhere to unite in prayer for a revival of religion”. He sent a copy of his little book to Jonathan Edwards in New England. That great theologian was so moved, he wrote a response, which got longer than a letter, and finally published as a book. If my memory serves me right, the title of the book was as follows: “A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of All God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.”

That was the title of the book, not the book itself. Nowadays, titles are often unrelated to the contents, if you study weather, you are interested in meteorology, you don’t read “Gone with the wind”.  It is nothing to do with the weather. But in those days had titles more like a synopsis of what was in the book. But don’t miss the message of the title, A Humble Attempt---that was New England modesty--- to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of All God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. That’s what’s missing so much from all our great evangelistic efforts: we must have explicit agreement and Visible Union of All God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer.

Now this movement began in England through William Carey, and Andrew Fuller and John Sutcliffe and others, they started what the British called the Union of Prayer. And the year after John Wesley died, the second great awakening began and swept Great Britain.

There isn’t time to give you the details of that, but in New England, there was a man of prayer named Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, and in 1794, when conditions were at their worst, he sent out a plea for prayer. Take the colleges at that time,

They tool a poll at Harvard, and discovered not one believer in the whole student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place, they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College, and they had anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burnt it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know what they were doing to persecute them.

Isaac Backus addressed his plea for prayer to ministers of every Christian denomination in United States, the churches knew their backs were to the wall.  the Presbyterian synods of New York and New Jersey and Pennsylvania adopted it for all their churches. Bishop Francis Asbury adopted for all the Methodists. The Baptist associations and the congregational, the reformed and the Moravians, all adopted it until America like Britain was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings. They set aside the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.

It broke out first of all in Connecticut, then it spread to Massachusetts.  Entirely without extravagance or outcry, every report mentions this. However, there were some differences.

When the movement reached the frontier in Kentucky, those people were really wild and irreligious. Congress discovered that in Kentucky there had not been more than one court of justice held in five years. Peter Cartwright, a Methodist evangelist, said when his father settled in Logan County, it was known as Rogue’s Harbor. If someone committed a murder in Massachusetts, or robbed in Rhode Island, all he needed to do was to get across the Alleghenies. The decent people in Kentucky formed regiments of vigilantes to fight for law and order, they fought a pitched battle with outlaws and lost.

There was a Scotch Irish Presbyterian minister called James McGready whose chief claim to fame was that he was so ugly that he attracted attention. Nowadays, you have to be good looking to get attention, but McGready was so ugly that people stopped on the street and said: “what does he do?” They said: “he’s a preacher”. Then they reacted and said: “A man with a face like that must have something to say”.  McGready settled in Logan County, pastor of three little churches. He said in his diary that the winter of 1799 for the most part was ‘weeping and mourning with the people of God.’ It was like Sodom and Gomorrah. But McGready was such a man of prayer, not only did he have the concert of prayer every Monday ---first Monday of the month, but he got his people to pray for him at sunset on Saturday evening and sunrise in Sunday morning. In the summer of 1800 come the great Kentucky revival. Eleven thousand people came to a communion service. McGready hollered loud and long: “Anyone come and help me?” So Baptists and Methodists came, and the great camp meeting revivals began and swept Kentucky and Tennessee and then burst over North Carolina and South Carolina, and swept the frontier. That was the turning point. Out of that second great awakening after the death of Wesley came the whole missionary movement, all the missionary societies. Out of it came the abolition of slavery, out of it came popular education, I could mention so many social benefits as well as evangelistic drive.

More than 600 colleges in the middle west were founded by revivalists. Now conditions deteriorated in the middle of the 19th century. Why? Sounds familiar. The country is seriously divided over the issue of slavery just like the Vietnam war, second, people making money hand over fist and when they do they turn their backs upon God. But a man of prayer Jeremiah Lanphier, started a prayer meeting in the upper room of Consistory Building of the North Dutch Reformed Church in Manhattan. He advertised a prayer meeting, only six people out of a population of a million showed up. But the following week there were fourteen, and then twenty-three. Then they decided to meet every day for prayer. Then they filled the Dutch Reformed Church, then the Methodist Church on John Street, then Trinity Episcopal Church the corner of wall street on Broadway. By February of 1858, every church and every public building in down town New York was filled.

Horace Greeley, the famous editor, sent a reporter with horse and buggy racing round the prayer meetings to see how many men were praying. In one hour he could only get to twelve meetings, but he counted 6,100 men. Then a landslide of prayer began. People began to be converted, ten thousand a week in New York City. The movement spread throughout New England, church bells would bring people to prayer at eight in the morning, twelve noon, and six in the evening. The revival went up the Hudson and down the Mohawk, for example, the Baptist had so many people to baptize that they couldn’t get them into the churches, they went down to the river, cut a big square hole in the ice, baptized them in the cold water. And when Baptists do that they are really on fire!

When the revival reached Chicago, a young shoe salesman went to the superintendent of the Plymouth Congregational Church, and asked if he might teach Sunday School. The superintendent said, ‘I am sorry, young fellow. I have got sixteen teachers too many, but I will put you on the waiting list.’

The young man said, ‘I want to do something just now.’

‘Well, start a class.’

‘How do I start a class?’

‘Get some boys off the street, don’t bring them here. Take them out into the country and after a month you can have control of them, bring them here. They will be your class.’

He took them to a beach on Lake Michigan and he taught them Bible verses and Bible games. And then he took them to the Plymouth Congregational Church. The name of that young man was Dwight Lyman Moody, and that was the beginning of a ministry that lasted forty years.

For instance, Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago had 121 members in 1857; 1860 fourteen hundred. That was typical of all the churches. More than a million people converted to God out of a population of 30 million in one year and that revival jumped the Atlantic, broke out of northern Ireland and Scotland and wales in England, South Africa and South India, anywhere there was an evangelical cause there was a revival and its effect was felt for forty years. It began in a movement of prayer, it was sustained by a movement of prayer.

Now that movement lasted a generation, but at the turn of the 20th century there was need of awakening again. There were special prayer meetings of Moody Bible Institute, at the Keswick Conventions in England, in Melbourne, in Nilgiri Hills of India, at once in Korea. All around the world people were praying that there might be another great awakening in the twentieth century.

Now some people tell me we’re in the midst of a great awake today. I certainly believe that the tide has turned. I certainly believe we’re on the move again. But I don’t we’ve reached anywhere like what God has done in the past. Let me give you two examples. First of all, takes student world, one of the leaders of the revival of 1905, was a young man called K S  Latourettee, who became a famous professor, Kenneth Scott Latourette. He said when he was at Yale in 1905, out of the student body 25% were enrolled in prayer meetings and in Bible study.

Now I live next door to UCLA, there’s a population there 36,000, I don’t believe there are 9,000 enrolled in Campus Crusade Intervarsity, parallel like company, and the other evangelical groups, or in all the church groups put together, we haven’t reached that yet.

As far as churches were concerned, the ministers of Atlantic City reported of a population of fifty thousand in Atlantic city, there are only fifty adults left unconverted.

Take Portland in Oregon: two hundred and forty department stores closed from 11 to 2 each day for prayer. Signed an agreement among themselves so no one would cheat and stay open.

Take First Baptist Church of Paducah in Kentucky: the pastor was an old man, Dr J. J. Cheek. He said as he was committed to the revival, he was going to win souls to Christ, he took in a thousand new members in two months and died of overwork, the Southern Baptists said, ‘a glorious ending to a devoted ministry.’ That is what was happening in the United States in 1905. But how did it begin?

Well, most people have heard of the Welsh Revival which began in 1904. It began as a movement of prayer. I knew Evan Roberts personally, of course, I met him 30 years later. But he was devoted to God and was a man of prayer, praying for revival of Wales. 

Seth Joshua, Presbyterian evangelist, came to Newcastle Emlyn College where Evan Roberts was studying for the ministry. Evan Roberts was 26, he had been a coal miner, the students were so moved that they asked if they could go to his next campaign, so they cancelled classes and went to Blanerds, and was there, that Seth Joshua prayed publicly, ‘O God, bend us.’

And Evan Roberts went forward and payed with great agony, ‘O God, bend me.’

He couldn’t concentrate on his studies. He went to the principal Phillips, the principle of his college, and said, ‘I hear a voice that tells me I must go home and speak to our young people in my home church. “Mr. Phillips,” he said, “is that the voice of the devil or the voice of the Spirit?’ and Phillips answered very wisely, ‘The devil never gives orders like that. You can have a week off.’

So he went back home to Loughor and announced to the pastor, ‘I’ve come to preach.’

The pastor was not at all convinced, but he said, ‘How about speaking at the prayer meeting on Monday?’

He did not even let him speak to the prayer meeting, he said to the praying people, ‘Our young brother, Evan Roberts, feels he has a message for you if you care to wait.’

Seventeen people waited, Evan Roberts said to them, I have a message for you from God,

* you must confess any known sin to God and put any wrong done to man right.

* Second, you must put away any doubtful habit out of your life.

* Third, you must obey the Spirit promptly.

* Finally, he said: you must confess your faith in Christ publicly.’

By ten o’clock all seventeen had responded. The pastor was so pleased that he asked, ‘How about speaking for us at the mission service tomorrow night? Midweek service Wednesday night?’

He preached all week, he asked him to stay another week. And then the break came.

You say: what do you mean the break?

I’ve read the Welsh newspaper of the period in the more little snippets of ecclesiastical news, the reverend Peter Jones has just been appointed chaplain to the bishop David’s. Very interesting but not earth-shaking, and then it said Mowbray street Methodist church had a very interesting rummage sale.  But then suddenly a headline: ‘Great crowds of people drawn to Loughor.’ They said for some days a young man named Evan Roberts was causing great surprise. the main road between Llanelly and Swansea on which the church was situated was packed from wall to wall, people trying to get into the church. And people were closing shops and stores to get a place in the church.

Now the news was out. They sent a reporter down, and he described what he saw: he said that it was a strange meeting, it closed at 4.25 in the morning, and then people didn’t seem to be willing to go home. He said the people were still standing outside the church talking about what had happened and then a very British summary is: ‘I felt this was no ordinary gathering.’

The news was out, next day, every grocery store and that industrial valley was packed out people buying groceries, people who’d come to the meetings on Sunday every church filled. And it went like a tidal wave over Wales.

I can tell you so much about it. There were a hundred thousand people converted in that movement. Five years later, a man called J. V. Morgan wrote a book to debunk the revival, his main criticism was of the hundred thousand that joined the churches in the five months of the excitement of the revival after five years only 80, 000 still stood, only 80,000. But the social impact was astounding. For example, judges were presented with white gloves, not a case to try; no rapes, no robberies, no murders, no burglaries, no embezzlements, nothing. The district councils had an emergency meeting to discuss what to do with the police now that they were unemployed.

In fact, they sent for a sergeant of the police and said, ‘What do you do with your time?’

He said, ‘well, before the revival, we had two main jobs, one was to prevent crime the other to control crowds, as at football games. But since the revival started there is practically no crime. So we just go with the crowds.’

A counselor said, ‘What does that mean?’

 ‘well, you know where the crowds are. They are packing the churches.’

‘But how does that affect the police?’

Well, he said, ‘We have seventeen police in our station, but with three quartets, and if any church wants a quartet, they simply call the police station.’

That revival swept Wales, drunkenness was cut in half. There was a wave of bankruptcies, but nearly all taverns. There was even a slowdown in the mines. You say, “how could a religious revival cause a strike?” it didn’t cause a strike, just a slowdown, so many Welsh coal miners were converted and stopped using bad language that the horses that dragged the coal trucks in the mines could not understand what was being said to them. And transportation slowed down for a while until they learned the language of Cannan.

When I first heard that story I thought it was a tall tale but I can document it even from Westminster Abbey.

That revival, for instance, affected moral standards also. I discovered through the figures given to me, by the British government experts that in Radnorshire and Merionethshire the illegitimate birth rate dropped 44% within a year of the beginning of the revival.

So great was the impact of that movement that revival swept great Britain, it broke out in Norway, it’s so moved Norway that the Norwegian parliament passed special legislation to permit layman to conduct holy communion, because the clergy couldn’t keep up with a number of converts who wanted to take Holy Communion. It wept Sweden, and Denmark, and Germany, Canada from coast to coast, all of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South  Africa, East Africa, central Africa, west Africa, North Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Chile. I could talk well, in fact, I teach a course on this. I have a…here is the interesting thing until 1973, no one ever knew about the extent of that revival until I published my book on the flaming tongue.  And it began through a movement of prayer. It began with prayer meetings, all over the United States, and soon there came the great time of harvest, so what’s the lesson we can learn? It’s a very simple one. It’s that familiar text--- “If my people called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” What’s involved in this? God expects us to pray, but we must not forget what Jonathan Edwards said: when he said to promote explicit agreement and visible union of all God’s people in extraordinary prayer, what do you mean by extraordinary prayer? When you find people getting up at six o’clock in the morning to pray, or having a half night of prayer till midnight, that’s extraordinary prayer. When they give up their lunch time, and go and pray at a noonday prayer meeting, that’s an extraordinary prayer. But it must be united, and concerted, it doesn’t mean that a Baptist becomes any less of a Baptist, or the name and the Pisgah Pillion is less loyal to the 39 articles or the Presbyterian turns his back on the Westminster Confession, not at all.  But they recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, and they are prepared to pray together in concerted prayer that God may hear and answer. We haven’t reached that stage yet.

This national conference on prayer, is unprecedented in some ways. It’s a sign of the direction which we’re moving. It’s what I call extraordinary prayer but you folk who are here, those who listen to my voice, must take it back to your churches and when they’re prepared to set aside time to pray for a spiritual awakening. That’s when God is going to answer. Now some people say that means then it’s up to us oh, no, we can’t say that either. Matthew Henry said when God intends great mercy for his people, he, first of all, sets them a praying, even God is sovereign in this matter, but we must respond, he has chosen never to work without our cooperation, so whether your interpretation of revival is Calvinistic or Arminian, it’s a very simple thing, you must pray, then God will work. May God help us so to pray, amen!

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