I am so excited about what the Holy Spirit is doing in this most extraordinary time.
On the one hand, we are witnessing the alarming rise of evil around the world. Tensions are high on every continent. People are still dealing with the pandemic, and numbers are rising again. Division and uncertainty in the US have never been worse. This is especially true since the 2020 American Presidential Election when I believe a demonic invasion took place advancing anti-God ideologies.
At the same time, there are signs that we are moving into what I believe will be a Third Great Awakening. This could be the End Times outpouring of the Holy Spirit completing the Great Commission in this generation. In this Discerning the Times, I want to explore why awakenings take place. We know that they come from God, but we who have been born again into the Kingdom of God have a role. What is that role?
In this video, I interview Rev. Doug McMurry about the dynamic of divine-human cooperation in Great Awakenings. This is so good! Doug has done extensive research on Great Awakenings and is anointed to teach on this vital topic.
Our Context: A Demonic Invasion
This is not a video transcript, so please watch the video. Instead, what follows is further teaching on this topic. But first, some have asked why you need to be so obnoxious and offensive by bringing up the demonic invasion that I believe took place during the American presidential election in 2020?
Why do I persist in making suggestions that something real and evil took place, which I am convinced is the prelude to an even greater evil? Can’t we just move to the good stuff about praying in the next Great Awakening?
Well, NO, we cannot! Any more than in Acts 4:23-31, we can just jump over the context of great persecution against the early church and get to the exciting outpouring that took place. That Holy Spirit outpouring shook the place where they were meeting and anointed the disciples to speak the word with boldness. Their context of being under dire threat explains both the urgency of their prayers as well as God’s extraordinary response.
Blocking the Advancement of God’s Kingdom
Likewise, unless we grasp the danger of this evil, we will not understand the need for a great awakening. We need awareness of the truly great evil that has taken over in the USA and will impact the entire world if allowed to stand. Only then will we be inspired to do the earnest prayer work desperately needed to pray this awakening into reality.
As Doug and I met in Charles City, Virginia, at the McMurry’s place of prayer, the Clearing, we were in earnest prayer together because of this evil that has invaded the nation and is establishing its control over the legal, government, and cultural institutions of the Nation.
The purpose of this invasion is to carry out Satan’s plans to block the advancement of the Kingdom of God. We must continue to pray for the next Great Awakening as the only answer to this grave and terrible situation that we find in the nation and the world.
How do we define a Great Awakening?
What is the difference between a Great Awakening and just a revival or an outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Here in the South, churches will often have a weekend revival or a week of special revival services. While such events may be wonderful times of people coming to faith in Christ, that is not what we mean by a Great Awakening.
Outpourings of the Holy Spirit, which may take place as it did in Acts 4:23-31 that bring the manifest presence of God in that particular location, do not qualify as a Great Awakening.
But Doug says, “When such outpourings take place simultaneously in many different locations, then we move into at least the beginnings of a what may be called a Great Awakening.” In the history of all great awakenings, the Holy Spirit’s fire was falling at the same time in Boston, Charleston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto, London, and Sydney. These have been a simultaneous worldwide event. And that is what we are praying for now! And what we urgently need now!
What is exhilarating is that the Holy Spirit’s fire falls in particular places among particular people like those gathered at the storefront in Azusa street in 1905 in LA. But the fire quickly spreads to multiple locations or falls simultaneously in other places where people are seeking the presence of God.
This happened in 1904-06, with great moves of the Holy Spirit in Wales, India, Korea, China, the USA, South Africa, and more. Now the Lord can use the internet to spread the news of revival fire in one location to multiple locations.
The Lord does not need the internet to manifest in numerous sites. However, we found through PRMI’s Virtual Upper Room that the venue for fulfilling Acts 1:4-8 may be simultaneously extended to people all over the world. In other words, one does not have to physically travel to a location where the Holy Spirit is moving to have hands laid on you to receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
A person may be baptized or refilled with the Holy Spirit just by joining the praying community online! This is important because receiving the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is the essence of all great moves of the Holy Spirits that advance the Kingdom of God. We are truly in an epoch when this Great Awakening can be simultaneous and global in scope.
Great Awakenings come from God
Another critical issue that we dealt with is where these Great Awakenings come from. They come from God. They are the sovereign acts of God. Of course, as Presbyterians, Doug and I both strongly affirm the Sovereignty of God! But this does not mean that those born again have no role in preparing for God the Father to pour out the Holy Spirit. Instead, built into God’s sovereignty, his rule over the earth is the room for our faith, obedience, and prayers.
This role of both the human actions of prayer and God’s sovereign actions is seen in the book of Revelation, where there is repeatedly the image of the seven bowls. For instance,
“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple declaring to the seven angels: “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls containing God’s wrath.”Revelation 16:1 NET
The Role of Prayer
These actions of pouring out the bowls of God’s wrath upon the earth are taking place at God the Father’s sovereign initiative. He is giving decrees that the angels carry out. This all seems so harsh! So cold! God is the sovereign Lord and creator of the universe, exercising His omnipotent power by issuing decrees that devastate the earth.
But that is not the whole story! We find that before the angels tip over the bowls, at God’s command, there is and has been the role of our prayers.
First, we find that these golden bowls are full of incense (which are the saints’ prayers). Revelation 5:8 NET.) Later before the seven trumpets are blown,
“Another angel holding a golden censer came and was stationed at the altar. A large amount of incense was given to him to offer up, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar that is before the throne. The smoke coming from the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.Revelation 8:3-4 NET
So preceding God’s actions are the actions of intercession that we are called into, which impact God’s actions.
Prayer then is the first step in our cooperating with the Lord in the Lord’s work.
In our epoch, which is fraught with a great and growing evil, our first work is the work of intensely focused intercession.
That intercession is twofold. First, that the Lord will defeat Satan’s evil plans, and second. praying for the Holy Spirit to manifest God’s presence on earth so that not just human hearts may be transformed but entire societies brought into conformity with the vision of God’s Kingdom.
Notice the role of prayer again, in God’s actions –
The smoke coming from the incense, along with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it on the earth, and there were crashes of thunder, roaring, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.Revelation 8:4-5 NET
I believe that this fire from the altar is the fire of Holy Spirit revival that so manifests God’s presence that it both brings judgment and transformation. It all comes from God’s sovereign will but includes our prayers.
Revival in a slave church
Doug illustrates this role of prayer with a beautiful story of how Presbyterians in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1840, broke the law as well as went against the culture and built a church for slaves. The pastors and the eleven elders all had to be white for the congregation of about 40.
The white pastor starts not preaching but praying! Suddenly at one of the prayer meetings, the Holy Spirit falls upon him like a bolt of electricity. He announces that the following day on Sunday, he will preach.
To their astonishment, hundreds of people, both black and white, slave and free, pour into the church. This was an incredible event overcoming the racial divide, fulfilling God’s Kingdom vision in which we are all one in Christ, and launched a revival in Charleston. You need to hear Doug tell this story!! It gives us all great hope for our future IF WE DO OUR PART OF PRAYER AND INTERCESSION.
The following video describes this revival in the Anson Street Presbyterian Church Revival of 1857.