And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
Joel 2:28-29, NKJV
The time has come for another Great Awakening! In 1967, a youth revival called the Jesus People Movement started and it swept across the country, exploding in colleges and coffeehouses. People were being saved everywhere. It was radical. At the time I was young and caught up right in the middle of it while attending Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, MO.
Now, close to 50 years later, we are crying out, “Do it again, God! Way beyond the Jesus People movement! Way beyond the charismatic movement! Do it again, God! Do it again in this generation!” With youth-oriented prayer movements like The Call chaired by Lou Engle and IHOP-KC lead by Mike Bickle united by scores of prayer networks globally, we have more prayer today for a Youth Awakening than any previous time in Church History!
I can feel it. I can smell it! I know it! Yes, we’re turning the corner towards the Greatest Youth Awakening that the World Has Ever Seen! It has happened before. It can happen again. It’s time for another Shock Wave of signs and wonders from the Holy Spirit to hit the church and cause the body of Christ to AWAKEN! Why not now?
Frankly, I believe I have been saved from death almost four times to be alive for this hour. He has preserved my life so I can be one of the many fathers to a generation in need. I have the honor of participating in a new church planted in the heart of Nashville, TN U.S.A. called The Belonging. What a joy on Tuesday nights to be among hundreds of young people radically praising God. Or consider the Revival occurring in a High School auditorium in West Virginia today? Or the Glory Outpourings in San Diego, CA called the West Coast Rumble going into their 100th straight night.
These are the rumblings and beginnings of the New Wine of His presence being poured out into New Wineskins once again! At a 50-year mark of Jubilee, it is time for the captives to be set free and Good News to be preached to the poor. Praise the Lord!
Revolution Almost Always Begins with Young Adults
Almost every revolution has started with students on a college or university campus. Throughout history both bad and good revolutions frequently begin because student-aged young people are hungry for change and willing to lay down their lives for a cause, whether political, social, or spiritual. Think of revolutions such as Marxism, Nazism, and Communism, or even Pentecostalism and the Jesus People movement.
Campuses are where future leaders are collected together in one place and are being trained. They are influenced by powerful voices and trends and they influence each other. Educational institutions also host many young people from other countries. In fact, there are more than 550,000 international students currently attending American universities.
Young adulthood is a time of great change. Statistics show that more than 77 percent of all Christians made their decisions for Christ before they turned 21 years of age. A spiritual awakening among young adults is a prophetic promise for an entire generation. If Christians can reach campuses for Christ, God can in turn reach cities and nations. The words that the apostle Paul wrote to the young man Timothy can apply to young adults on campuses today:
I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. (1 Tim. 1:18, TM)
Throughout Christian history, spiritual battles result in spiritual awakenings, and young people are clearly at the center. Here is a taste of some of these mighty moves of God, detailed more fully in my book, Prayer Storm.
Campus Ministry, Cambridge Style
In 1799, an evangelical move of the Holy Spirit began at King’s College in Cambridge, England. It began with the conversion of a student named Charles Simeon. This movement progressed slowly but surely for years until there was enough evangelical activity that, by 1877, students from across the 17 colleges of Cambridge organized the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU), which in turn caused an increased interest in salvations and missions. An evangelistic campaign led by D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey resulted in a noticeable increase in enrollment in theology schools and missions involvement, including the launching of the “Cambridge Seven” to China, led by C.T. Studd, who had been a well-known cricket player.
More than a century later, CICCU still exists as Cambridge’s longest-tenured student group, and CICCU has helped with the formation of InterVarsity organizations across Great Britain and North America. Campus ministries such as InterVarsity, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Navigators have helped immeasurably to spur the growth of evangelical faith over the past fifty-plus years.
Evan Roberts and the Welsh Revival of 1904
Young Evan Roberts began to seek the Lord when he was only 13 years old. By the time he was 26, his earnest prayerful efforts brought revival to his hometown in Wales. In a short time, the Spirit of God came so powerfully that 100,000 people across the country gave their lives to Christ. The effects of that Welsh Revival are still being felt today, especially because of its contributions to the birth of pentecostalism in the United States and across the world.
Evan Roberts’ simple prayer was “Send the Spirit now for Jesus Christ’s sake,” and “Send the Spirit now more powerfully for Jesus Christ’s sake.” He was a young man, but people of all ages responded to the Gospel message because of his revolutionary zeal and his humble, prayerful, obedience to the Holy Spirit.
The Role of Prayer in Student Revivals
In order to understand revival, we must understand the role of prayer in the history of revivals. J. Edwin Orr, the famous revival historian, said, “Young people in student-led prayer cells have been at the forefront in almost every awakening.”
For example, the Moravian 24/7 prayer and missionary movement that was started in 1727 by Count Nicolas Ludwig von Zinzendorf was built on his youthful zeal. By the time he graduated from the equivalent of high school at the age of 16, Zinzendorf had started no fewer than seven different student prayer groups, and he continued his prayer disciplines while he was a student at the University of Wittenberg from 1716 to 1719.
The First Great Awakening in North America and Europe was ignited by a Yale University graduate named Jonathan Edwards and by Oxford students John Wesley and George Whitefield. The Second Great Awakening was sparked by Timothy Dwight, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, at Yale University. After his 1797 message to Yale students, nearly half of Yale’s student body came to Christ in a few short months.
Samuel Mills was a freshman at Williams College in Massachusetts in 1806, when he met with four friends for prayer about revival and world missions. When a rainstorm hit, they took refuge under a haystack and continued to pray (thus becoming known as the “Haystack Five”). “When the rain subsided, Mills stood up, slammed his fist into his hand, and announced ‘We can do this, if we will!’ These five young collegians stepped out in faith and not only initiated the first nationwide student movement, but also began the first six mission agencies from North America. Although there were just 25 colleges in America (averaging about a hundred students each) at the time, the “Haystack Five” helped launch small world mission study and prayer clusters on many of them.”
About eighty years later, a twenty-something young man named Luther Wishard who had just been appointed as a leader in the YMCA, heard the story of the Haystack Five. Inspired by the story, he committed himself to a revival of the same vision, and went on to found the Student Volunteer Movement, which became the largest missions movement of all time. “Over the next generation, students on every campus in the U.S. committed themselves to the ‘evangelization of the world in this generation.’ Over 20,000 of them sailed to the foreign mission field, and over 80,000 others had personally committed themselves to prayer and to financially support those being sent out.” These are just a few examples of the phenomenal revival zeal that has come out of the college-age generation.
The Law of Night-and-Day Prayer
Anyone who signs up for Prayer Storm already appreciates the value of 24/7, day-and-night, night-and-day prayer. This Scripture is a familiar one:
And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. (Luke 18:7-8, NIV)
This passage portrays night-and-day prayer. Why are we convinced that this is what’s called for and that it is going to be effective? I have assembled the following list of reasons:
24/7 worship and prayer is what is done in heaven. Let it therefore be done on earth!
24/7 worship and prayer releases God’s justice on the earth.
24/7 worship and prayer fuels the Great Commission (see Matt. 28:19).
24/7 worship and prayer hinders the plans of the devil.
24/7 worship and prayer releases revival breakthrough.
24/7 worship and prayer prepares the way for Christ’s second coming.
As I have often said, a sustained move of God is comprised of three generations, because God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – three generations walking together as one generation. We need the wisdom of the older, the resources of the middle, and the zeal of the younger. We need the synergy of all three.
Regardless of which chronological generation you are currently a part, there is one thing every one of them must do, and that’s pray. You might not be able to do anything else except pray. Pray up a prayer storm. Pray!
I declare that the Greatest Youth Awakening that the world has ever seen is coming upon the stage of time. Now is the time! This is the generation. The joining of the generations is upon us. My people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power (Psalm 110:3). Let another historic awakening begin now for Jesus Christ’s sake!
Praying to the Lord of the Harvest
I have personally dedicated my life and ministry to this purpose and I fully expect to witness the Greatest Youth Awakening the world has ever seen with my own eyes. Let’s pray the way Jesus taught us. Let’s pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He sends forth laborers into the field! It will happen! It is already here!
Lord, we call forth in our day and in this generation the greatest youth awakening that the world has ever seen. You have done it before, now do it again, even better and bigger and more powerfully. Release Your Spirit and send Your angels to usher in one billion more souls for Your Kingdom, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Send revival! Send it now! Move quickly, Holy Spirit, and raise up the greatest youth prayer army of all time. We declare that these prayers are in agreement with Your prophetic purposes for this generation and we praise Your holy name. Amen and Amen!
James W. Goll