While I foresee a time of great calamity in the near future, even now the three vital signs of revival are slotting into place
For the past 30 years, I’ve been carrying the same message, warning of judgement upon the nation, and have been vilified for it.
Way back in 1980, my book, ‘Towards the Dawn’, told of the revolutionary social changes taking place in the nation and laws being passed in our Parliament which were directly against the Word of God.
Then from 1983-84 I was director of the Parliamentary Video Enquiry and until 2014 the convener of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group. During those years I was responsible for seven reports to Members of Parliament and had plenty of opportunity of seeing what was happening in government. Presented with evidence like that, I had to sound strong warnings that the nation was headed for judgement.
Amazingly, though, in my quiet time last month, for the first time in 30 years I heard the Lord speaking about revival being a possibility! It was all the more astonishing because for most of us it is rare to receive a daily revelation from the Lord as Isaiah did: “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” (Isaiah 50:4).
Last month, however, I did have one of those precious moments which was very significant for the ministry that I’ve been exercising for many years. I believe that just as prayer paved the way for the Wesley Revival in the 18th century, so today the prayers of the faithful are paving the way for revival.
This is very different from the expectancy in the 1980s and 90s when the charismatic movement was at its height. Many churches were expecting imminent revival and I was often a lone voice saying there would be no revival without – that God was not promising revival. He was calling for repentance in the Church and reminding us that judgement begins at the ‘house of the Lord’ which is also where repentance must begin.
It was not a popular message! People much preferred the exciting promises of revival which were never fulfilled. The height of the debacle was the huge event in October 1990 at the Excel Centre in East London led by John Wimber and sponsored by Holy Trinity Brompton which prominent church leaders had advertised as being the start of a great revival that would sweep through Britain and across into the Continent.
I was editor of the magazine ‘Prophecy Today’ which had been warning that these were all false prophecies and there would be no revival. We were vilified and dismissed as prophets of doom and gloom.
A new message
So for me, after all these decades, that moment of hearing that revival was a possibility was a moment similar to that given to Jeremiah when, just before the destruction of Jerusalem, he heard the message of the New Covenant and God’s promise to forgive the wickedness of his covenant people Israel (Jeremiah 31:27-37).
Please do not misunderstand me – I’m in no way comparing myself to Jeremiah. I’m far too conscious of my own sinfulness and inadequacies and, in any case, I don’t believe there are any prophets today in the mould of the biblical prophets.
But just as Jeremiah was given the message of restoration before the judgement fell upon the nation and he bought a field in enemy occupied territory as a sign of looking ahead to the restoration – so sometimes God prepares the way ahead by showing his servants how he intends to work out his purposes despite the wickedness of humanity.
God’s good purposes
While I believe God has good purposes for Britain, I foresee in the near future a time of great calamity. But God is already preparing the way of restoration.
For those who have eyes to see and an ear to hear what the Lord is saying, the signs of revival are beginning to slot into place. There are three essential prerequisites of revival. They are: powerlessness, penitence and prayer.
Look at 2 Chronicles 20 where King Jehoshaphat recognised the powerlessness of Jerusalem to resist the huge army coming against the city. Calling the whole nation to fast, he led prayer and concluded with, “We do not know what to do but our eyes are upon you.”
This prayer of faith in God brought an immediate response: “The battle is not yours but God’s.” Both king and people demonstrated their absolute trust in God by an act of obedience which led to an amazing victory in which the tiny army of Judah did not even have to use their weapons.
Prayer paves the way
In Britain today, the level of trust in God is rising through a proliferation of small home-based groups for prayer and Bible study. Many faithful, Bible-believing Christians are recognising the state of the nation and are crying out in repentance before God for our share of responsibility for the way the nation has turned away from the Word of God and rejected truth.
They recognise that this is a spiritual battle that cannot be won by our own strength. Just as prayer paved the way for the Wesley Revival in the 18th century, so today the prayers of the faithful are paving the way for revival.
Revival is not something that we can organise. It is a sovereign work of God. But I see those three prerequisites, the recognition of powerlessness, plus penitence and prayer, that lay an essential foundation for such a move of God. And all three are to be overlaid with trust.
These are the very things that can be seen in countless prayer groups among the faithful remnant of praying Christians across the country. This is why God is now encouraging us to look forward beyond these dark days to ‘the times of refreshment’ that will come.
His message to faithful intercessors is: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).