In our day of college campuses being places of the most hostile people to faith and Christianity, it’s hard to imagine that a nation-wide revival would begin in a university like Yale College, but the second great awakening began on Yale's campus when Jonathan Edward’s grandson Timothy Dwight became the new college president.
Timothy was dismayed to see his alma mater turning toward enlightenment philosophy and at the beginning of his presidency there were less than ten students who publicly identified their faith in Jesus Christ. Timothy began to pray and engage the students in conversation. He even agreed to a public debate with some of the students over the authority of scripture. When the debate was over, Timothy had made such a persuasive argument for the authority of scripture that it quickly became popular to affirm scriptural authority.
The true revival really began though when a group of students began waking up early several times a week and praying for revival. The revival that began in that school year continued in various waves for over 60 years; long after Timothy Dwight had passed away. There were times of cooling for a few years and then students would begin to pray and the fires would begin to burn again. In one of those revivals over half of the senior class gave their lives to full time ministry
The revival spread to other colleges and eventually found its way to the wild and rough western frontier in Kentucky.
In Kentucky it was reported that crowds of up to 25,000 people would gather for worship and preaching in large outdoor gatherings. Preachers would stand on a stump, begin to preach and people would gather around to listen. At times there were dozens of preachers preaching to groups of people at the same time and each had a circle with hundreds of people around him listening and allowing God to change their hearts as they heard the Gospel. It completely transformed the culture in Kentucky and surrounding states.
Every time I read these stories I wonder if it could happen again. Could our colleges be so shaken with the conviction of God’s Spirit that it becomes normal to have Christian faith? Could God still transform an entire area of the country with the gospel? All of this could happen and so much more. Our God is not weak and His hand is not shortened by any difficult circumstance.
I believe that it is our sophistication and cynicism that keeps us from experiencing this kind of movement of God. We think that we are above complete abandonment to God. The enemy has convinced a whole church culture that deep commitment and surrender is just emotional fanaticism and that it's for the immature and emotional unstable. We need an authentic revival where our arrogance is exposed for the empty shell that it is! We are never too sophisticated for a move of the Holy Spirit!
My Prayer: Father, forgive us for our arrogance and cynicism. We’ve resisted Your Spirit out of fear of losing control and settled for a safe, acceptable faith that is approved by all. Shake us out of our complacency Lord! Set the fires of revival burning in our hearts for the sake of Your name!