While Ezra prayed and made this confession, weeping and lying face down on the ground in front of the Temple of God, a very large crowd of people from Israel—men, women, and children—gathered and wept bitterly with him. (Ezra 10:1)
Relate: Ezra prayed. The people repented. Violently, emotionally, in a very “undignified” manner they repented. Then the community changed. Revival.
That word might not be as familiar in some Christian circles as in others. I grew up running in circles that used the word very often. We would talk about revival. We would pray for revival. We would hold “revival services” about once a year where a special guest speaker would come in and we would have church every day for a week. I would go to other local churches when they were holding their “revival services”. Some times God would show up in a special, unexpected way for three or four Sundays in a row and we would say we were experiencing revival. I think we overused the word. Revival is when prayer, repentance, change impact an entire community.
Duncan Campbell wrote and spoke about what God did in a true revival, sometimes called the Lewis Revival, at other times the Hebrides Revival. He writes:
When I speak of revival, I am not thinking of high-pressure evangelism. I am not thinking of crusades, or of special efforts convened and organized by man. That is not in my mind at all. Revival is something altogether different from evangelism on its highest level. Revival is a moving of God in the community…
In talking about this revival, he mentions a time when he was preaching and when the service was over almost everyone left. Some were hanging around chatting outside the church. Others had begun walking home. But one postman was still inside the church praying. Suddenly, those outside could hear the anguished cry of this postman’s prayer. They heard him crying out, “Oh God, you promised!” Just like that, those outside found themselves rushing back in. In prayer and anguish they began confessing and repenting of their sin.
React: When revival comes, people abandon their work and entertainments to come meet God. When He shows up, dinners are abandoned at their tables. When revival comes, nothing else matters. All of chapter 9 is Ezra’s prayer of. Chapter ten is the result. The people repent, the community is changed.
In the story Campbell relates, the postman prays. The people abandoned their conversations and journeys home to come back and repent. This is just one moment inside a revival that made a huge impact on the entire Scottish Hebrides islands.
Will I be the one who stays behind and prays? Will I be that postman for my community? Will I be the Ezra who stays and prays… not until the goosebumps come but rather until my community is changed through a move of God? Oh God, you promised! Send us a true revival.
God, send revival. Let us not be content with what we have always had and experienced. Let us not be content with just a special time or a faint sense of Your presence. Show up. Show up in our communities in such a way that people everywhere fall on their face in repentance. Show up in such a way that entire communities, entire cities are changed. Bring us, bring me to my knees. Send me, send us back into our prayer closets and prayer rooms and don’t let us leave them until You have arrived.