What Humility Has to Do with Revival

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God’s power surpasses all others and its most forceful expression is revival. There’s no power like it this side of Jesus’ return.

Someone asks a visitor to the Welsh Revival what he thinks of it. “Sir, the question is not what I think of it,” he answers, “but what it thinks of me, of you, and all the rest of us. For it is a real thing, this revival, a live thing which seems to have a power and a grip. . . .”2

This massive display of power often shows up in the same kind of place. It manifests in simple settings. The twentieth century’s most extravagant outpouring is hosted in an abandoned Methodist church used as a horse stable and warehouse on a street named Azusa. In the beginning of the nineteenth century the primitive woods of Kentucky welcome God’s power. The eighteenth century provides a damaged cannon factory for this power to gush toward the open fields of England. Go all the way back to the sixteenth century, and a dilapidated chapel in Wittenberg contains the thunderstorm of God’s word and power.

The reason revival comes to humble places is because they house humble people. Humility is the best conductor for God’s power. To be an instrument of revival, seek the posture that conveys such power. Here’s how to enter revival humility.

Asking the God of Power

The most prevalent barrier to revival’s coming is not bad theology. Nor does fear and ignorance pose the largest threat. You and I are the main impediments to the next wave. While desiring God’s power our pride actually keeps it from coming. This pride exhibits itself in a hyper-dependence on human abilities. It distracts us from God and what he alone can do.

Addiction to human effort is deceptive because activity can bring some change. What it brings though isn’t enough. Radical transformation is needed today and that will only come by another wave of God’s power.

Turn from any illusion that your activities will win the day. Even if you develop excellent and professional abilities, they still won’t do. Paul says you are an earthen vessel. Your purpose is to display God’s power, not the latest leadership techniques.

C. G. Bevington declares, “God will not hitch his power onto the bungling, weighty, clumsy machinery of man’s methods and wisdom. It’s prayer that tops the reservoir of power.”3 Repent of the popular fascination with the “clumsy machinery” of human effort. Humble yourself and pray for revival. Ask God to begin with your heart.

Marie Monsen, a missionary in China, hears of revival in Korea. She asks God to send her there so she can bring it back to China. God tells her prayer, not a trip to Korea, will bring the power she wants. Monsen humbles herself and commits to pray.

The day she begins praying a force suddenly tightens around her like a boa constrictor. She
cries out to Jesus and it leaves. The demonic attack convinces Monsen that prayer for revival is the highest priority. Over the next twenty years she humbly seeks God for his all-surpassing power until it comes in 1927.4

You may not have a demon trying to stop you from seeking revival but there’s something else just as dangerous. A love affair with human effort can also strangle your cry for revival. While G. Campbell Morgan is visiting the Welsh Revival, God admonishes him, “See what I can do without the things you are depending on, see what I can do in answer to a praying people; see what I can do through the simplest, who are ready to fall in line and depend wholly and absolutely on me.”5

Depend on God more than your effort. Prayer is one expression of revival humility.

Drops of Power

Even when God’s power comes and starts spreading, it often gets shut down. Religious or secular opposition isn’t the most common threat to its survival. Again, we believers are the ones who cause revivals to cease. While we ask God for more, our pride can actually demolish what he’s trying to build up. This pride manifests in a presumption that God’s power is meant only for us.

Understand this. An element of revival is about us. The Spirit comes to revive and excite, so it’s important we receive the fullness of his work. But the attitude that God’s power is all about us will eventually stop a revival. Humility doesn’t make revival all about self. It lives to transfer the all-surpassing power to others.

Paul says you are an earthen vessel carrying God’s power, but the vessel doesn’t have a lid to hold the power. It has a spout to give it away. The transforming power of God is also the transferable power of God. So pour it on others.

Don’t wait for the full force of revival before you start. Humbly transfer what little power you now have.

After Marie Monsen is filled with the Holy Spirit, she reads in her Chinese Bible that rivers of living water will flow out of her. She knows she’s filled but sees neither a river nor a trickle of power.

The Spirit brings her mind to the mighty Yangtze River. He shows how the river begins. It all starts with a tiny drop of water high in the mountains. From that revelation she begins her ministry the same way. Monsen seeks one tiny drop of power.

It comes in a time when she’s helping a lady in need. Over time she sees more and more power. Monsen presses into it one person at a time. Soon she sees many drops affecting entire groups. Finally these drops merge into an overwhelming flood of revival power. “Not until later did I realize that these first cases were born with hard labor,” she explains, “and that as time went on it grew easier, till at last it was almost dynamic. . . . It seemed as though the degree of spiritual power in the atmosphere was one of the reasons for the difference.”6

Humbly transfer God’s power to others even if it’s one drop at a time. Do it with an expectation that someday you’ll see a turbulent revival flowing through the atmosphere.

A Tremendous Overhauling

As revival comes and flows its full potential can still be aborted. Sin in leadership or heresy isn’t the most significant threat to God’s power. These things are certainly serious, but the most prevalent danger is the likes of you and me. While ministering God’s power, our pride can rob revival of its ultimate purpose. Pride claims all-surpassing power for itself to do with as it pleases.

Let’s be frank. Western materialists are easily tempted to use anything for self-promotion and enrichment. Theologies are legitimized to endorse selfish gain. This kind of pride can quickly take over a revival with self-interest. Paul thunders against this behavior. declaring that all-surpassing power belongs to God alone!

So what should be done? Receive the power that flows through you but remember God determines its purpose. Revival humility submits to God’s will even if it wrecks all selfish ambition. A witness to Azusa Street says, “In that old building with its low rafters and bare floors, God took strong men and women to pieces and put them together again for his glory. It was a tremendous overhauling process. Pride and self assertion, self importance and self esteem could not survive there.”7

Remember: the best conductor of all-surpassing power is a humble one. If God calls you to costly, difficult, or unknown actions, obey him. Your surrendered life can bring the next revival to fullness. “The thing that impressed me most was the humility of the people,” says another person at Azusa, “and I went to my room and got down on my knees and asked God to give me humility.”8

If you’d like to read more about revival and how you can be involved in a powerful work of God, I wrote about it in my book, Revival Rising: Preparing for the Next Great Wave of Awakening. You can find it in the Seedbed store.

1. Frank Bartleman, Azusa Street: An Eyewitness Account (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 1980), 65–67.
2. S. B. Shaw, The Great Revival in Wales (Pensacola, FL: Christian Life Books, 2002), 45.
3. C. G. Bevington, Remarkable Miracles (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 1992), 157.
4. Marie Monsen, The Awakening: Revival in China: 1927–1937 (Shoals, IN: Kingsley Press, 2011), 21–22.
5. S. B. Shaw, The Great Revival in Wales, 117.
6. Monsen, The Awakening, 92.
7. Bartleman, Azusa Street, 65.
8. Eddie Hyatt, ed., Fire on the Earth: Eyewitness Reports from the Azusa Street Revival (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 2006), 69.

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