Both scripture and church history give testimony to this truth — prayer always precedes revival. When a mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit is poured out resulting in a great harvest of souls and refreshing for the church, prayers have gone ahead to break open the way. Many prophets (including myself) have been declaring the coming season of harvest, and this precipitates the need for prevailing prayer. The greater the unity in prayer, the greater the outpouring. This means YOUR prayers are essential as we cry to the Lord of the harvest for his refreshing rain of revival to sweep our world.
Scriptural Precedent: Prayer Precedes Revival
God indeed answers our prayers and He hears us when we call out to Him. Scripture is full of examples of God responding to the cries of His people—sending deliverance, salvation, boldness, refreshing, and His glory.
- Exodus 2:24-25 — “God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob, so God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”
- Psalm 22:4-5 — “In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.”
- 1 Samuel 7:9 — “Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.“
- 1 Chronicles 5:20 — “They were helped in fighting them, and God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.”
- 2 Chronicles 7:1-2 — “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it.”
- Joel 1:13-14 — “Put on sackcloth, O priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come; spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God. Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.”
- Acts 1:14 & 2:1-4 — “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers…When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
- Acts 3:19 — “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”
- Acts 4:31 — “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
- Hebrews 5:7 — “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
Quotes from Prayer Warriors: Prayer Precedes Revival
Many prayer warriors from church history knew this truth all to well. It is time for us to join their voices and cry out to the Lord of the harvest! Consider these quotes from those who have gone before us.
- Charles Finney: “Revival is no more a miracle than a crop of wheat. Revival comes from heaven when heroic souls enter the conflict determined to win or die—and if need be, to win and die.“
- Matthew Henry: “When God intends to do great mercy for his people, the first thing he does is sets them a praying.”
- Leonard Ravenhill: “At God’s counter there are no sale days, for the price for Revival is ever the same—Travail.“
- E.M. Bounds: “The wrestling quality of importunate prayer does not spring from physical vehemence or fleshly energy. It is not an impulse of energy, nor a mere earnestness of soul. It is a wrought force, a faculty implanted and aroused by the Holy Spirit. Virtually, it is the intercession of the Holy Spirit in us.”
Lessons from Church History: Prayer Precedes Revival
There are numerous examples from church history that point to the importance of prayer preceding revival. But I want to highlight one in particular:
Outer Hebrides Revival:
A revival took place in 1949 in the village of Barvas on the largest island of the Outer Hebrides off the northwest coast of Scotland. While many are aware of the impact of pastor/evangelist Duncan Campbell during this outpouring, this revival was precipitated by the faithful prayer warriors who paved the way before and during that mighty move of God’s presence.
Behind the scenes labored two elderly sisters: Peggy Smith, who was 84 years old and blind; and her sister, Christine Smith, 82 years old and almost doubled over with arthritis. They were unable to attend regular church services, but for months they prayed in their home for God to send revival to Barvas. These two relentless intercessors prayed by name for the people in each cottage along their village streets. They reminded God of His Word in Isaiah 44:3: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground” (kjv). They cried this prophetic promise to the Lord day and night.
Across the village, independent of the Smith sisters, seven young men met three nights a week in a barn to pray for revival. They made a covenant with God and one another, according to Isaiah 62:6-7, that they would give Him no rest until He sent revival their way. Month after month they prevailed in prayer.
One night in particular they prayed with fervency Psalm 24:3-5: “Who all ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart…He shall receive the blessing…from the God of his salvation” (kjv). Instantly, it seemed, the barn was filed with the glory of God and the young men praying from the Psalms fell prostrate on the floor. An awesome awareness of God overcame them and they were drenched with supernatural power they had never known before.
At that very time, the Lord gave one of the Smith sisters a vision. Peggy Smith saw the churches crowded with people, and hundreds being swept into the Kingdom of God. They sent word to their pastor that they had “broken through” and that heaven was about to descend on earth.
And so it did. The whole region seemed saturated with God. Wherever people were—in the work place, in their homes or on the roads—they were overwhelmed by the presence of almighty God. Water ended soaked the dry ground as Holy Spirit conviction was poured out in those days. A stream of blessing flowed that brought hundreds to salvation during the days of that historic visitation.
Now It’s Our Turn: Prayer Precedes Revival
The Lord has highlighted the importance of prayer and fasting in this season to leaders, prophets, and intercessors all over the globe. And now it’s our turn to take up the cry before the Lord, calling on him in repentance and asking for His revival to rain upon the dry ground of our hearts and land.
Years ago, I had an encounter with the Lord at Longview Lake in south Kansas City, MO (this is detailed in the last chapter of my book The Prophetic Intercessor) in which I declared into the heavens the great move of God on the earth. “Open be the way! Open be the way! Open be the way for the beginning of a great visitation.” It is once again time for us to declare the beginning of a great visitation.
A ground swell of the Holy Spirit is igniting prayer across the globe to open up the way for a heavy rain. Your prayers for this revival will help to open up the way, resulting in:
- The Fear of the Lord will be unfolded—a people of purity and passion will arise.
- A great wave of the Spirit will come releasing a movement of power evangelism.
As you pray, I encourage you to do the two things God ever requires: To believe Him, and to do whatever little thing He commands you to do.
May Revival Come Forth Resulting in the Great Harvest!
James W. Goll
This article was adapted from portions of the Revival Breakthrough Study Guide by James W. Goll.
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