Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A call to prayer

I feel God is impressing on me more and more the need to pray for a revival along the lines of the Wesleyan Revival of the 18th Century. In so many way we are at a similar point: there is deep distrust of Government - a sense of kakistocracy, government by the worst and least suitable people; a distrust of the Police and the armed forces (seen very clearly in the reaction to the G20 demos); moral decline; addiction; a weakening, or at least the appearance of weakening, in the traditional churches; rampant atheism; unrest overseas, with consequent commitment of home troops abroad... it goes on and on.

Now, I'm not in the least concerned here about the rights and wrongs of different political parties, different attitudes to things like civil liberties, policing and immigration, and so forth. Justice must always be at the heart of our prayer, as Isaiah 61 was at the heart of Jesus' prayer - in fact, his entire ministry. What concerns me is the unrest, the public cynicism and distrust, that these things engender. We are in danger as a society as 18th Century society was from the Jacobite Risings, the French Revolution, even in some ways the American Revolution and the Enlightenment - all of which were ideas which clearly appealed to the British public in view of the rottenness of the state in which they lived. We have only to look at the appeal of the BNP on the one hand, and radical Islam on the other, to see how we are flirting with similar ideas in our own time.

I've been looking into the Wesleyan Revival, and I'm really encouraged to see that God rescued the British people, and saved others throughout the world, and eventually revived the poor old broken CofE, as well as helping to alleviate the former persecution of Baptists, Presbyterians and other "non-conformists" by means of the rise of Methodism, without there necessarily needing to be freedom from strife within the leadership. See Wesley's falling out with Whitefield over the former's Arminianism vs. the latter's Calvinism - they mended their friendship, but never did agree theologically. But the Revival went ahead nonetheless.

God is just filling my heart with longing for his glory, his grace, his mercy, on our land in this time, our own time, and in our grandchildren's time. We must pray. I know that I'm no one to lead anything, but I know I have to pray for those who might. I'm sure the Prayer House movement is crucial to this, as well as a revival of prayer in local churches even deeper and greater than that which began in the 1990s. We must truly "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying..." (Eph 6:18) until God's fire falls. I've never been so sure of anything.

Disclaimer: this is a call to prayer, not to political debate. I am not a politician, and I don't want to enter into that arena, as it would be a distraction from the purpose of this post, and I'll moderate any comments to avoid it. However, if anyone is genuinely curious about any of the issues I've raised, I'll do my best to point them to things I've read / heard / seen that have informed my response to what I feel is God's call, to me at least, in all this.

This post is likely to make more sense if you also read my recent Letting ourselves go...


  1. I just wanted you to know that I am praying with you over here on the other side of the Atlantic. I think we need revival too: a revival of love for Jesus and one another, even our enemies, and a revival that pushes us more deeply into issues of social justice.

  2. I am praying here in Australia. I have been feeling that same impression also, Mike. How cool is that?

    It's funny how people who are discovering freshness and life from the Spirit are often accused by the establishment of being horridly dangerous. This has been on my mind a lot lately, with the thought of needing to stand firm against the criticism that will come. In that wiki article on Methodism it said:

    'Theophilus Evans, an early critic of the movement, even wrote that it was "the natural Tendency of their Behaviour, in Voice and Gesture and horrid Expressions, to make People mad." In one of his prints, William Hogarth likewise attacked Methodists as "enthusiasts" full of "Credulity, Superstition and Fanaticism." '

    We see the same sort of thing today, with certain fresh branches being accused of superstition and danger and heresy and blah blah blah :) The other day I read a quote about contemplative spirituality being an awful demonic delusion. Sigh :)

    Great post, Mike, I'm so glad you wrote this.

  3. Mike, you are definitely being nudged (and pushed?) by the Spirit. I love John Wesley and the Wesleyan revolution--probably because I was a Methodist for 10+ years before returning to the Episcopal Church. Besides, Wesley never left the Anglican priesthood.

  4. Oh, how interesting. I have been thinking about the Wesleys (not just John and Charles but their Mama, Susanna) and their ministry and movement since December -- partly due to some work I had to do but in great part --since the work is pretty much over because what the Methodist movement offered is something we still need. Thank you for telling us about this nudging from the Spirit, what members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) would call a "leading."

    I'm grateful to you and also to all the commenters for reflections that touch my heart and ring true. Let us pray, indeed.