by Vernon Maxted
Retired Baptist Minister
We are living in perilous times in our nation's history, and the judgement of God hangs over us because of our sins against God and his holy laws. Politicians, social programs, technology and military power cannot save us. The solution is with God's people: "If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14)
God's power has been demonstrated in America's history in some great spiritual awakenings that came at critical times to bring healing and health to the nation. The first began in New England in the 1730s when some pastors became deeply concerned about clergy corruption, immortality, declining attendance in the churches and spiritual indifference, lawlessness and licentiousness in society. They issued a call to prayer to the churches and began to seek repentance and revival in their own congregations. Revival broke out in a church in Northampton, Mass., where Jonathan Edwards was pastor and quickly spread throughout the colonies, reviving churches, turning people's attention back to God, and inspiring the recognition of God in the new nation's founding documents.
A second great spiritual awakening began in the 1790s and continued into the 1800s. Religious skepticism had spread from France to Christian colleges in America, corrupting clergy and churches. Infidelity, lawlessness and materialism had invaded society, fed by growing prosperity, westward expansion away from religious influence and the discovery of gold in California. Again concerned Christians issued a national call to prayer and a second powerful revival broke out in the New England churches, spreading across the nation and turning people back to God.
The third awakening started in 1857 in a businessmen's prayer meeting in New York City. The nation was on the brink of the Civil War and facing division into north and south. A disastrous bank failure created national panic. Prayer meetings sprung up all over New York City and spread to communities all the way to California. The revival served as a healing influence through the war and in the reconstruction that followed.
The Pentecostal revival that began in Los Angeles in the early 1900s brought a needed emphasis on the ministry and power of the Holy spirit in Christian life and service affecting churches worldwide. There have been excesses and deviations -- it happens in any revival; but the impact of the Pentecostal revival for the Kingdom of God has been powerful.
The Billy Graham crusades that began in 1949 have served powerfully to impact America and the hole world and win many to Christ, but have not stopped the downward plunge of the nation into immorality, political chaos and self-destruction.
There is encouragement and hope. Many concerned Christians are calling the churches of America to awake and repent and seek God for another powerful spiritual awakening to exalt him and bring healing to our land. He has answered the desperate prayers of his people before, and he can do it again.