Monday, March 20, 2023

How to Pray for Revival

 “I pray that you may grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
– Ephesians 3:18

Back in 1857, a Christian businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier started a noon prayer meeting in New York City. He distributed thousand of flyers calling on businessmen to come to the Old Dutch Church on Fulton Street at noon on Wednesdays to commune with God. Well, on the first day of the prayer meeting, 12 p.m. came and went, and Jeremiah was sitting in the room by himself. 12:10—still nobody. Jeremiah started praying. 12:15, 12:20, 12:25—still nobody. Finally, at 12:30, one businessman came in, then another and another. Six joined him for that remaining half hour of prayer.

The next Wednesday, there were twenty. Then they started meeting daily, and within six months over twenty prayer meetings had sprung up all over the city, until 10,000 businessmen were gathering in New York City for prayer. Prayer meetings also popped up across the country: 200 towns in New York, 150 in Massachusetts, 200 in Ohio, 150 in Indiana, 50 in Missouri, and so on. Historically, we know it as the Fulton Street Revival, or the Prayer Meeting Revival of 1857 and 1858. It is estimated that at the peak of the revival, 10,000 people a week were becoming Christians in New York City alone—50,000 total per week in the United States.

The Fulton Street Revival was a small taste of what could happen across America when God ushers in the next great revival. God is always at work in and through Christ’s Church. But during times of revival, His presence and power reach a whole new level. During times of revival, the Holy Spirit of God FIRST does an extraordinary work among Christians in the Church, and SECOND, He works through revived Christians to do an extraordinary work among unbelievers outside the Church. Tens of thousands—sometimes even millions—of unbelievers get saved.

If you’re looking for an example of revival in the early Church, we see it in the apostle Paul’s time in Ephesus. For three years, Paul preached the Gospel, started a church and sent out missionaries. And according to Acts 19:11-12, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” What took place in Ephesus during those three years was very revival-like. God moved in extraordinary ways.  

A few years later, Paul wrote his famous letter to the Ephesian Christians, and his revival prayer in Ephesians 3 is an integral part in teaching the Church to reach its full potential in Christ. In verses 16-19, Paul prays four things for the Ephesian Christians:

#1: Paul prays for the Christians in Ephesus to have inner, spiritual strength (v. 16). It’s very common for Christians to say, “I want to know God better” and “I want God to use me in greater ways.” But honestly, most of us are too spiritually puny to know God better. And we’re too spiritually flabby for God to use us in greater ways. You and I may say we want God to bring revival to our church, families and nation, but, honestly, most of us aren’t preparing for it. We can’t remember the last time we prayed for more than five minutes at a time. We have no spiritual strength or stamina. So, Paul prays that we would bulk up spiritually. Those who experience revival on Day 1 tend to be those who have been prioritizing prayer, so they’ve been strengthened by the Holy Spirit to receive a greater outpouring of God.

#2: Paul prays for the Christians in Ephesus to have inner spiritual depth (v. 17). If we as Christians are serious about making a greater impact in the Victor Valley for Jesus Christ, there’s no way around it: We have to dig deeper and make sure we are solidly grounded in God’s Word and Christ’s love. One of the greatest prayers you could ever pray for me (or for any other Christian you know) is for us to be rooted and established in the Word of God and in the love of Christ. 

#3: Paul prays for Christians in Ephesus to have inner spiritual insight (v. 18). We talk, preach and even sing about the unconditional, never-failing love of Christ. But Christ’s love is immeasurably wide, unfathomably long, incomparably high and unimaginably deep. We have only begun to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. So, Paul prays that the Ephesian Christians—and you and I today—would grasp the love of Christ.

Why did Paul pray so fervently for the Ephesian Christians to have inner spiritual strength, depth and insight? Because, #4: Paul wanted the Ephesian Christians to be filled with the knowledge and fullness of God (v. 19). Paul’s ultimate desire for Christians is that they would know intimately the love of Christ and be completely filled with as much of God as possible.

That sounds like revival to me. Revival is “God.” During times of revival our eyes are opened, and we realize that, up to that point, we’ve barely known God. And any spiritual hunger we had for Him before revival came is only intensified when revival actually comes. We wanted to know God and love God more, but during revival our desire to know and love God intensifies.

If our culture is transformed, it will be on the heels of Christ’s Church being transformed. Christ’s Church is the hope of the world. The Church is Jesus’ chosen vessel for expanding His Kingdom of Heaven here on earth and bringing glory to God. So, won’t you join me in praying for the Church’s revival?

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on YouTube or Facebook. For more information, visit

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