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The Open Door

 

I have been praying for revival to come to Georgia. Have you been praying for that as well? Revival will not come to our state until we weep over the lostness of Georgia and pray earnestly for the outpouring of the Spirit of God on the people of our state.

In his book, Christ Is Our Strength, Hyman J. Appleman, a great evangelist who wrote the book in 1948, gives a call for revival that is as relevant today as in the first half of the twentieth century.

Appleman cites Isaiah 66:8: “As soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children,” to make the point that the roadblock to revival is the fact that God’s people are not in travail over our present condition. When we yearn for revival to the extent that we are weeping for revival, we will experience revival.

In his chapter, “Preparing Christians For Revival,” Appleman, speaking of travail, says, “That is the key to revival. That is the key to victory in the service of the Lord. Travail built the church. The foundation of our religion, of our Christianity, of our church, of everything we hold dear, is laid in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone has well said that people who criticize our theology and our preaching, saying there is too much blood in it, are wrong.

“The trouble with our religion, the trouble with our churches, the trouble with our Christianity, is not that there is too much blood in it, but that there is not enough.”

Martyrs of old, like Linnaeus, were herded by the Romans into the arena where they would be killed for trusting in Christ. Linnaeus, facing imminent death, lifted his face and his prayer to heaven. The crowd fell silent, straining to hear what he was praying. To their amazement, instead of praying that God would preserve their lives, this pastor prayed that God might give them the grace to die in such a way that their deaths might be testimonies to the end that their tormentors would come to know Christ. Think about that for a moment and compare that to the kind of Christianity we are seeing today, Christianity that has to be begged to attend its own prayer meeting, begged to attend its own revival service. This comparison just might begin to help us understand why we aren’t seeing revival in our time.

I agree with Hyman Appleman, the greatest need in our churches today is travailing Christians, burdened and brokenhearted Christians. Perhaps we are too blessed. We don’t know what it is to travail.

The kind of travail, or weeping, that Appleman is calling for is discovered through genuine, heart-rending, brokenhearted prayer for those who are lost.

Appleman says, “We have all kinds of educated Christians. I am not criticizing, but if we had to depend on seminaries and Bible schools to win a world to Christ, we would never do it ….We have plenty of popular Christians ….

“We have plenty of rich Christians. We have enough rich Christians in our churches to multiply our missionary programs a thousand times over. We have enough wealth in the church membership of every denomination to endow every school and every seminary of every persuasion in the United States.

“Still, we are not having revival. The reason is that we need weeping Christians. We need brokenhearted Christians.

“It is not preaching that we need. It is not advertising. It is not singing. God can use all of these things. But it is weeping, it is agonizing, it is prostrating ourselves in the ecstasy of agonizing supplication before God; it is ceaseless, earnest, anxious, personal witness-bearing that wins the day.

“I have never seen a revival of any sweeping magnitude that came in any other way except as it was swept in by the tears of God’s people. What connection there is between tears and God’s grace, I do not know. But this one thing I do know, that when a group of us get brokenhearted enough, so that in the agony of our souls, we weep out our hearts, and say to God, ‘You must give us a revival or we will die,’ a revival will come.”

The kind of travail, or weeping, that Appleman is calling for is discovered through genuine, heart-rending, brokenhearted prayer for those who are lost. It is not the kind of weeping that appears on cue, or a tear that is forced out for effect in the midst of an emotional appeal. We aren’t talking about play-acting here. You cannot manufacture a broken heart or compassion for the lost.

It flows from a soul that yearns to see people saved, a soul that has spent significant time in prayer with God until it erupts with passion for revival.