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Is Revival Still Possible in America?

Updated on August 16, 2014
D. L. Moody
D. L. Moody | Source

There have been many great revivals in the past. We think of the days of Finney and Moody – perhaps the Welsh Revival led by Evan Roberts in the early 1900s, and Duncan Campbell’s workings in the Hebrides Islands in 1949.

Brian H. Edwards, in his book, Revival: A People Saturated with God, lists no less than 57 revivals from 1150 to 1975. Revival is not something new. Revival, in its true essence is the normal Christian life being lived out on a day to day basis.

Revival can be worldwide, nationwide, town-wide, church-wide, or can affect only an individual. As individuals we have the choice to choose revival. If we want it, we can have it.


The First Revival

The first revival took place in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were separated from God by their choice to sin. The loving mercy of God sought them and brought new life to the dead. Revival is simply that – new life. Jim Dykes defines revival as, ". . . a renewal of our experience with God that redeems what is past, reclaims us for the present, and rescues our future." Andrew Murray puts it this way - ". . . nothing less than a revolution, casting out the spirit of worldliness, making God's love triumph in the heart." R. A. Torrey says this of revival - ". . . a time when God visits His people, and, by the power of His Spirit imparts new life to them, and through them imparts life to sinners dead in trespasses and sins. New life from God - that is revival."

Peter Waldo and his rag tag band known as the Waldensians led Italy and parts of Europe to revival during the darkest period of history in the 1100’s.

Martin Luther stepped forward to usher in the Reformation. Through the centuries God used men like George Whitfield, and John Wesley. The great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon lit the fires of revival in England in the 1860’s. Contagious movements of God were also taking place in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland during this time. God was using men in America like D. L. Moody and Charles Finney to call America back to Himself in the mid 1800’s.

America - Birthed in Revival

America herself was founded on the premise of revival. During the mid- 1700’s great revival broke out in the colonies. At the forefront of the movement was a man by the name of Jonathan Edwards. It was on July 8, 1741 that Edwards preached his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Not far behind was David Brainerd bringing a sweeping revival to the Susquehannah Indians. Just a few decades later, still living in the light of revival, America was born.

After falling away from God, it was necessary for God to bring her back using the likes of Asahel Nettleton, Daniel Baker, and Finney, but it was the Fulton Street Prayer Revival of 1857 that would prove to be successful in calling a nation back to God. Consider the following description:

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Fulton Street NY Prayer Revival 1857

The Fulton Street Revival

The year was 1857. The place was New York City. The man was Jeremiah Lamphier. It was a time of national unrest much like that of today. Mr. Lamphier was led of God to start a prayer meeting focusing on the business men of New York City. Unemployment was rampant and God used those circumstances in part to call His church back to Himself.

The first noonday meeting was attended only by Mr. Lamphier for the first half hour, but he was then joined by a few others. In the weeks to follow, gradually at first, then like a landslide, many others came. On September 23, 1857 the attendance had increased to the point of forcing a relocation to the Fulton Street Church. At this point the meetings were held daily.

Soon the church was filled to capacity. The local news reports spurred other groups and other churches to do the same. The diverse meetings crossed social barriers to include everyone and anyone that wanted to draw close to Christ. Businesses soon closed over the noon hour to allow their workers to go to prayer meeting.

Soon the movement spread to other regions with the same effect. It has been estimated that over 10,000 people attended the services each day and that tens of thousands were converted each week. Its impact was felt across America for the next 50 years.

If God could do it then, give one reason why He cannot do it now.

Really- is there a single reason why God cannot do it again?

The Laodicean Age

I once was talking with a preacher about the possibility of revival in the 21st century American church. I was told God would not send revival because we are living in the Laodicean age. So how does that prove there can be no revival in the day in which we live? Let us look at the passage in question.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:14-17)

It has commonly been taught that the seven churches of Revelation represent seven periods of church history. These periods are generally listed as follows:

  • Ephesus – The Church Losing Its Love; Pentecost to 100 A.D.
  • Smyrna – The Persecuted Church; 100 A.D.-313 A.D.
  • Pergamum – The Worldly Church; 313 A.D. to 500 A.D.
  • Thyatira – The Compromising Church; 500 A.D. to the early 1300’s
  • Sardis – The Dead Church; early 1300’s to 1517 A.D.
  • Philadelphia – The Faithful Church; 1517 A.D. to early 1900’s
  • Laodicea - The Lukewarm Church; Early 1900’s to Present

So through history we see the church losing her first love as persecution comes. The church turns worldly, and begins to compromise during the Dark Ages. This leads to the church becoming dead, yet a spurt of growth takes place between 1517 and the early 1900’s.

It is during this time in church history that we see a rise in mission activity as well as great revivals taking place. Unfortunately this period was short lived, and the church has fallen into the lukewarmness we know today.

Granted – this is to be the condition of the church when Jesus comes back, but we must look at the complete letter to the Laodiceans. Revelation 3:18-22 continues, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

What lessons can we take away from this? Yes, the church may be lukewarm, but we are encouraged to buy gold from the fire, and to put on white raiment. We are to anoint our eyes with eye salve that we might see. Jesus is waiting at the door of the Laodicean church asking permission to enter. This is not a hopeless situation at all. Jesus Himself is the answer.

It is He from whom we buy the gold. He is the provider of the white raiment and eye salve – and He stands knocking, waiting for us to open the door.

In this Age of Laodicea we see individual churches resembling the Ephesus church, the Pergamum church, the church at Smyrna – why not the church at Philadelphia? We only need to open the door. Yes, we are in the last days. Yes, these are cold times we live in, but God is still on the throne.Revival is up to us. Seeking the presence of God is up to us.

You can not have it both ways. If you choose the revival road, it will cost you dearly. If we are to follow in Christ;s footsteps, you will suffer. You will necessarily carry your cross. It comes down to this - Is it worth it to hear, ". . . Well done, thou good and faithful servant. . . ."? What will you do?

Join us as we stand in the gap for Jesus -


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    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks Tammy,

      The cost is high, but well worth it if we would only adjust our sights on the eternal. So often, that doesn't happen. Let it begin with us!

    • Tamarajo profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi Bill,

      Encouraging and interesting article. I appreciated the histories of previous revivals. Let it begin with us. The video about Laodicea gave Revelation 3 an excellent visual of what Jesus is talking about in reference to our lukewarmness. And agreed that the revival road will require a counting of the cost.

      God Bless!

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. I definitely see the Seven churches of Revelation as actual, literal churches during John's day. I also believe them to be prophecy as we are told in Revelation 1:3, ". . . that hear the words of this PROPHECY." Anyway, we know

      God is still in the revival business. These are exciting times, and I'm looking forward to what the future holds. Thanks again for the encouragement and for making the trip!

    • GodTalk profile image

      Jeff Shirley 

      4 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thanks Bill for giving us some historical information on revivals and for the inspiration that it can happen again. It is true that some see the churches in the early chapters of Revelation as representing 7 church eras. I, however, tend to lean toward the other possibility that these were actual churches at the time of John's writing. Still they represent different issues that have confronted the church throughout its 2000 year history. But no matter how you see these churches, God indeed can bring about revival in our time, and the fervent prayers of His people will be the catalyst that causes it to take place. Keep praying and working for revival Bill. I believe you are making a difference. God bless.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Yes Ben, it certainly is a shame, but God is faithful. If we do our part God will do his. I can only answer for myself. Each person must do the same, so as you say, "Calling all believers right here and now - people make your choice; revive yourselves and turn back to God while there is yet breath in your bodies - before it is too late.: Thanks for stopping by.

    • sharetheWord profile image

      Benjamin Maxwell 

      4 years ago from Kingdom of God

      Hi lifegate;

      It is a real shame that it requires great suffering among the masses to get people to turn their attention away from their own ambitions and on to God. God desires people focus their attention on Him first and foremost freely - without having to be chastened. But that carnal nature is difficult to crucify. Many people appear to want the best of both worlds - the promise of salvation after enjoying their lusts for the things of this temporal world. The Word is crystal clear however - believers are to make their choice while yet in the flesh. Those for God must stand on the right while they still live and those against Him stand on the left.

      Calling all believers right here and now - people make your choice; revive yourselves and turn back to God while there is yet breath in your bodies - before it is too late.

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      You're absolutelu right, Bill. Many people don't believe it can happen, but they obviously don't know my God. Thanks for stopping by!

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      You're absolutely welcome Aaron. Glad you enjoyed the videos. Oh for a movement of God again like in the old days!

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi Lori,

      Point taken. We move away from God, and it;s too easy sometimes. We another Jesus movement in the USA. Praying it happens. To be fair, the man that told me revival couldn't happen is now an evangelist and goes around preaching revival! Amen!

    • lifegate profile imageAUTHOR

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi MsDora,

      I'm not about to put any limits on God's Holy Spirit. i want him to be free to work in my life, if not others. Thanks for standing with us at TGAF.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh, I have no doubt that revivals are possible in America....regionally I believe, but still there are areas where these will thrive.

    • Abrushing1968 profile image

      Aaron Rushing 

      4 years ago from USA- Florida


      Excellent Hub Bro. I am going to have to go look up some of those revivals. The things I didn't know I didn't know.

      The video was excellent. Suddenly it all makes sense.

      Thanks for sharing.


    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I think it is sad that that preacher said there can be no revival. I don't want to worship his god who has no power. The God of the Bible can do anything.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I had never heard about the 7 churches being for different ages. Interesting. I don't know what the KJV says, but the NKJV says that they left their first love, which I think makes a big difference. I don't think we lose God or our love for him, we move away from it.

      I was thinking about the revival in Southern California in the late 1960's and early 1970's where the Jesus Movement happened through the ministry of Chuck Smith, pastor of the original Calvary Chapel. Thousands of hippies and young people, as well as older people, came to Christ in droves. I wrote a hub on him talking about it when he died last October.

      I heard a preacher the other day say that when Jonah preached to Nineveh and they repented it was one of the greatest revivals of all time. Interesting. I never thought of it but it's true.

      Really enjoying these revival hubs.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the various definitions of revivals and the historical facts. To deny that a revival can happen now is to put limits on God's Holy Spirit, something we should be afraid to do. "Revival is up to us." I believe that and the Great American Fast can be a step in that direction.


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