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Insight: Praying for Revival

This article of mine was originally published in Insight magazine for the leaders of the Officers' Christian Fellowship.

George T.B. Davis, in his book When the Fire Fell, tells a beautiful story of the movings of the Spirit on board the USS North Carolina, a battleship of the United States Navy, anchored in the harbor of New York.

“Among her complement of a thousand men were four Christians who discovered their spiritual kinship and agreed to meet for prayer. They were permitted to use a very retired part of the ship, on a deck far below the water line. Here, then, they gathered one evening. They were only four men, but they were a united band. They represented three denominations: one being an Episcopalian, another a Presbyterian, while two were Baptists.

“As they knelt in the dim light of a tiny lamp, the Spirit of God suddenly filled their hearts with such joy of salvation that they burst into song. The strange sweet strain rose to the decks above and there created great astonishment. Their ungodly shipmates came running down. They came to mock, but the mighty power of God has been liberated by rejoicing faith. It gripped them, and in one moment their derisive laugh was changed into the cry of penitent sinners! Great fellows, giants in stature and many of them giants in sin, were literally smitten down and knelt humbly beside the four like little children.

“A most gracious work straightway began in the depths of the great ship. Night after night the prayer meeting was held and conversions took place daily. Soon they had to send ashore for help and ministers joyfully came out to assist. A large number were added to the various churches, and the battleship became a veritable House of God! The North Carolina was a receiving ship, from which men were constantly drafted to other ships.

“Wherever the converts went they started a prayer meeting and became a soul winning band. Thus, ship after ship left the harbor of New York for foreign seas, each carrying its band of rejoicing converts, and the fire of God was borne to the ends of the earth” (Quoted by Stephen F. Olford in Heart Cry for Revival).

The great strength of the OCF is the small Bible study group. Many officers and wives have received Christ and have been established in the faith through this means of proclaiming the Gospel. Because it is effective we will continue to use it as our main means of evangelism and growing in faith. Campus Crusade will continue to use the methods which they have developed. They are effective. Young Life and the Navigators, because of their effectiveness, are not likely the change either.

Our method is low key, intelligent, sophisticated, biblical and effective. How effective do we really want to be? We can handle one or two converts, but could we handle a ship full? Are we ready to pray for revival in our lives and in the lives of those in our group? Would we be prepared if the power of God came upon us? What would we do if the Holy Spirit caused hundreds of converts, as He did on the North Carolina in 1857?

Let us consider having a prayer meeting of a few people for every Bible study in the OCF.

1. Let us pray for ourselves (Revival starts with us.): “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His Holy Place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully” (Psalms 24:3-4).

2. After we are clean, let us pray for the believers and their families in our group, our unit, chaplains, officers and men.

3. Let us pray for believers in an ever-widening circle, with content similar to Paul’s prayers.

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).

The revival that results from our prayer meeting may be local only. Hundreds of local revivals may cause a national and international revival.

Remember, you are not doing anything "fanatic" like preaching on the street corner or button-holing people. You are meeting in private and praying for your own purity and the purity of other believers. Are you will for God to pour out the power of His Spirit upon you and your group and your base or ship?

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