Transforming Revival

George Otis, Jr.      Charisma magazine 

Are We Realizing the Full Power of God’s Presence?

I honestly can’t remember when I first heard the word revival, much less what I thought about it. It was just one of those things, like Sunday School and Billy Graham, that made up the religious landscape of my childhood. I didn’t know whether it was something that you did, or something that happened to you. There was only a vague association with spiritual intensity — of God drawing closer to his people.

As I moved into my preteen years, the Charismatic Renewal was in its heyday. Though I was still too young to appreciate the theological nuances of the movement, it was clear that something was afoot. A new hunger for God’s fullness gripped believers of every denominational stripe and flavor, and my own Presbyterian family was no exception.

Every other week, it seemed, men like Dennis Bennett and Harald Bredesen were holding meetings in our home that lasted late into the night. The atmosphere was electric… but was this revival?

As the years passed, two developments brought my understanding on this matter into sharper focus.

The first of these took place in my early twenties when I encountered written accounts of prior awakenings in New England, Wales, Upstate New York and the Scottish Hebrides.

As I studied these testimonies, a simple pattern began to emerge. Prayer was always the starting point. Whether the participants were many or few, their united, desperate cries were a game-changer. They didn’t just pray, they prayed until they were heard — and heaven took over. As the awakenings progressed, supernatural phenomena were widely reported, and an overwhelming sense of God’s awesome and holy presence resulted in the pervasive conviction of sin. Profound societal transformation soon followed.