What Is Revival?

God gives a richer, fuller experience of life in revival.

Revive Me! (2)

God revives us on His terms, not ours.

Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.
Psalm 119.154

An ongoing need
We need to clarify what we mean by revival. For some, that word may conjure memories of church meetings led by some passionate evangelist, meant to refortify the faithful and snatch a few lost souls for the Kingdom.

For others revival may connote great seasons in Church history when the Spirit of God seemed to move mightily on many people, converting multitudes to Christ, turning lapsed sinners back to the Lord, and producing signs and wonders which are not the normal experience of Christians today – seasons not infrequent in the past, but typically, not expected in our day.

I suspect that for many of us the term has fallen out of use, as though either we no longer have use for it, or it no longer holds the kind of promise people are looking for today.

But revival – in the Biblical sense – is nothing other than a work of God, beginning in the soul, by which believers recognize their need for a closer attachment to God, confess and repent of all known sin, reach out to God for a greater measure of His saving mercy and grace, accelerate the pace of their journey toward Christlikeness, and bring the reality of the Kingdom to the world in all their words and deeds. In Scripture, God’s people seek revival with sorrow and regret for sins; they long for a fresh touch from the Lord, seek elevation to a higher plane of spiritual experience, and cry out for more consistent affections of joy, praise, hope, and boldness in the Lord.

In short, revival is just a fuller and more constant experience of our redemption. As such, revival is the daily need of every true believer in Jesus Christ, and the ultimate need of all who do not yet know Him. Without daily and increasing revival, Christian life becomes banal and lacking in power and joy. Without revival, life fills with doubt, dread, uncertainty, disappointment, fleeting seasons of happiness, and an abiding mood of ennui, disappointment, and insatiable self-interest.

We can perhaps understand why the writer of Psalm 119 interspersed those 176 verses of longing to know, delight in, live, and fulfill the Law and Word of God with passionate pleas for God to revive him. Revival is every Christian’s need, every day, for every aspect of our life. Without revival, the righteousness, peace, and joy awaiting us in the Kingdom of God become mere words without power; and our experience of the Christian life becomes strained, unenthralling, unreal, dull, and lacking in transforming grace.

Revival is what we need; but, following the example of the psalmist, we must seek it from the Lord, on His terms, and with the expectation of realizing what He promises, and not merely what we might want.

As we contemplate our need for revival – a need so urgent and ongoing that we should seek it daily and throughout each day – let’s look to the psalmist to outline what we seek when we come to God for this great blessing.

A work of God
Revival is a work only God can do. We cannot program revival by manipulating settings, arrangements, or an order of events. The Second Great Awakening in America (ca. 1800-1830), which saw so many people converted to faith in Jesus Christ, and birthed a wide variety of Kingdom movements and institutions, began as a mighty work of God’s Word and Spirit through the plain preaching of the Word of God. In its later stages, men sought to make revival their work, by reducing it to a series of mechanics and techniques, which ultimately had the effect of turning revival into a show, and caused the true spiritual flame of revival to go out.

Only God can do the work of revival, but He does that work through the prayers, penance, and proclamations of His people. As we, like the writer of Psalm 119, seek the Lord in prayer for revival, He prepares the resources we need to know His powerful work in our lives, day by day. God wants to revive us every day, but we must seek Him for it. Happily, in the psalms, God has provided very helpful prayers to guide us in pleading with Him to do the work of revival in our lives.

Revival is a work of God beginning in the soul. As our psalmist prayed (Ps, 119.175),

Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;
And let Your judgments help me.

This means that we must understand revival with our mind, eagerly desire revival in our heart, and make realizing revival a continuous priority in our conscience. When we truly understand both the need for revival and the vast scope of impact revival can have, realizing daily revival will become a top prioriy, and we will hunger and thirst for revival, desiring it to increase in and through us every day. We will know that revival has begun in us when we find these components of the soul – heart, mind, and conscience – stirred and fixed and energized to seek the Lord for revival every day.

Where revival begins
Revival – whether daily and personal, or extended in time, scope, and geographic extent – begins in prayer. And when we begin to pray for revival, earnestly seeking the Lord in prayer, then we can know that God has begun to stir in that direction, for only if God moves us to seek Him for revival will we do so; and when we do, we can know, and we can allow ourselves heightened anticipation, that power for revival is building:

…Revive us, and we will call upon Your name (Ps. 80.18).

What hinders us? What could possible keep us from seeking the Lord for revival, every day? Add praying for revival to your daily prayers. Pray throughout the day. Let God fill your mind, heart, and conscience with visions of revival occurring in your life, your church, your community, our nation, and our world. Let the prospects of revival thrill you, so that praying for God to revive you is as close and constant as your every next breath.

When we get to the place where we’re praying for revival like the composer of Psalm 119, then revival – that great transforming work of God – will surely be at hand.

For Reflection
1. What do we mean by saying that revival is a work of God? Does this mean we have nothing to do in preparing for revival?

2. Revival on a larger and extended scale – nations, say, and years – does not occur without daily revival in His people. Explain.

3. What can you do to fill your soul – mind, heart, and conscience – with hunger and thirst for revival?

Next Steps – Preparation: Let’s add Psalm 119.154 to the psalms we are beginning to use in seeking the Lord for revival:
Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.

T. M. Moore

For a fuller discussion of why we need revival, and how to seek it, order a copy of our book, Restore Us! by clicking here. If you would like a 28-day, morning and evening challenge to seek the Lord for revival, write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll send you a free PDF of our reader, Give Him No Rest.

We hope you find ReVision to be a helpful resource in your walk with and work for the Lord. If so, please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. We ask the Lord to move and enable many more of our readers to provide for the needs of our ministry. Please seek Him in prayer concerning your part in supporting our work. You can contribute online via PayPal, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore