But For The Showers We Plead!

Scripture: Isaiah 44:3-5

Sermon preached at Gospel Light Christian Church, Singapore
on 10 November 2002

Introduction: I have just returned from Northern Ireland (Ulster) - a land that saw a mighty nationwide revival in 1859 and a denominational revival in the 1950's and 60's. My appetite for a revival has been whetted and today I hope to whet your appetite. And more importantly, I want to challenge you rejoin us in praying for it - because from a human standpoint, revival is always born in prayer (eg. Acts 1:14 and Pentecost).

Accounts of revivals:

1. The Ulster Revival of 1859 - In the winter of 1857, four Christians were greatly concerned about the spiritual deadness of their church and the corruption of the land. Christians lived lives that were hardly different from unbelievers' lives, were indifferent to preaching and unconcerned for the souls of men. Alcoholism was rampant resulting in dishonesty, immorality and violence. Ulster was possibly in its worst state ever. These four men gathered in an old school house each Friday night to pray - primarily for God to bless the preaching of His Word, revive their ministries and their prayer lives. They each prayed with an open Bible, claiming God's promises in simple faith, especially that found in Hebrews 11:6 "...for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

On Jan 1, 1858 a young man was converted. At the end of that month a Sunday School student was saved. By the end of 1858 the group of four had increased to fifty regulars, and thereafter, to 16 prayer meetings every night of the week! Christians began to be interested in what was happening and the four men were invited to preach in homes, halls and churches. And whenever they preached, there was a deep consciousness of the presence of God. Then thousands began to attend a church in a nearby town, which was pastured by a very "ordinary" pastor. And soon this same phenomena began to be seen in many other churches throughout the province. Spiritually dead Christians became deeply conscious of God's presence and of their sins. An eleven-year old boy pleaded "O Christ! Thou didst wear a crown of thorns for me! Oh! Oh! I could wear them for Thee! Oh! I hate to go back to my old companions, my old ways... O, take my heart and turn it inside out - clean the dirty, nasty filth out of it and make it pure, pure!" Hardened sinners were brought under deep conviction of sin. Sinful places went out of business. All sins, that were previously tolerated, were viewed with horror. In that year of revival possibly more lives were dramatically changed than in the hundred years before and after it!

2. England's "forgotten revival" 1790-1840 - A few men gathered to set aside time to pray for revival. The movement grew swiftly and the Holy Spirit was outpoured on England and Wales resulting in the conversion of 10% of the entire population - and setting the stage for England to become the superpower of the 19th century.

3. The Great Awakening 1734-35, 1740-41 - This revival resulted in the conversion of over 50,000 in New England, USA. Jonathan Edwards spent three days in prayer pleading with God: "Give me New England!" As he entered the pulpit to preach, he appeared to be still gazing straight into the face of God. Before he opened his mouth to preach, deep conviction fell upon the congregation. In a nearby community that had yet to be touched by the revival, a group of believers who were concerned that the revival would pass them by, gathered to spend the whole night to plead with God to visit them. The next night Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon entitled "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God" based on Deuteronomy 32:35 ("Their foot shall slide in due time"). As the severely short-sighted Edwards read his sermon warning sinners of the bottomless pit of hell into which they were sliding, many cried out for mercy and some caught hold of the pews lest they fall into hell!

4. The Singapore Pentecost 1935 - In the two weeks that John Sung preached in Singapore, over 2000 were saved, over 100 preaching bands were organized and over 100 full-time consecrators registered. Polygamists put away their concubines, cheats made restitution and gospel choruses sung by joyful converts were heard everywhere. The Bible Society's entire stock of Bibles were sold out. John Sung, who was the son of a Methodist pastor, was himself a "product" of the Hinghwa Pentecost of 1909. An American lady missionary, who was unsatisfied with the spiritual condition of the Methodist churches in Hinghwa, wrote to friends in America requesting them to pray for revival. Among those who prayed were two ladies who faithfully met together to plead for revival in Hinghwa. As they prayed, they were assured by the Holy Spirit two weeks before Easter 1909, that there would be a revival. So they wrote a letter to the lady missionary but by the time the letter arrived by "slow boat", the Holy Spirit had already fallen on Hinghwa. A pastor, while preaching was convicted of his sins, and he confessed his sins to his congregation. The members were also convicted of their sins and confessed their sins and made restitution. Travellers passing by were mysteriously drawn to the church and saved. They went back to their villages and witnessed, and churches were started all over - approximately one every three miles. 20 years after this, Dr Sung was able to find 2000 of the original 3000 converts.

Conclusion: 2 Chronicles 7:14 May GLCC be called the House Of Prayer (Matthew 21:13)

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