Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. – Jer 29:7

Revival history

From: The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever

Will you not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? – PSALM 85:6

by Elmer L. Towns & Douglas Porter


Revival is defined as “God pouring Himself out on His people”. Revival is classified into nine different expression “faces” but no matter what expression each revival takes, all are characterized as a “visitation from God.” This book observes that usually revival breaks out in many places around the world, not just in one place; so each of the “greatest revivals” are not just isolated events. Therefore, the Ten Greatest Revivals described in this book are ten epochs or ten different “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.”

1 History’s Greatest Revival: The 1904 Revival — 1904

According to the late Dr. J. Edwin Orr, former professor of Awakenings at Fuller Theological Seminary, history’s greatest revival took place in the early years of the Twentieth Century, including the Welsh Revival, the Asuza Street Revival, the Korean Pentecost, the Manchurian Revival, and the Mizo Outpouring.

2 The First Great Awakening—1727-1750

Early in the Eighteenth Century, revival so impacted the church that the movement simply became known as the Great Awakening, but British historians often refer to it as the Evangelical Revival, which includes the Moravian Revival at Hernhutt in Germany, the ministry of Jonathon Edwards and the Surprising Work of God in Northampton in New England, the Fetter Lane Watchnight Revival of England that was the forerunner to the Methodist Church, and the Crossweeksung Indian Revival of David Brainerd. These
revivals kept England and America from the horrors of the French Revolution.

3 The Second Great Awakening—1780-1810

In the Second Great Awakening sometimes God poured out His spirit in a quiet way that shaped the lives of those it touched for a generation. On other occasions, revivals were marked with loud and violent manifestations. This chapter includes the stories of Cornwall’s Christmas Revival of England, the Yale Revival under college president Timothy Dwight, the Cane Ridge Revival on the frontier of America and later ministry of Peter Cartwright, the revival ministry of Robert Haldane in Geneva’s Second Reformation, Ashael Nettleton and the Bridgewater Revival of Scotland, and the Amherst College Revival. Some historians call this the greatest revival, not for what it did for the church, but how it changed the secular world. The Second Great Awakening resulted in the abolition of slavery, the end of child labor, the beginning of the feminist movement, the move for universal literacy, and the reformation of prisons, among its greatest contributions.

4 The General Awakening—1830-1840

There appears to have been a significant outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the 1830s and 1840s that is called the General Awakening. This chapter looks at several local manifestations including Charles Finney’s Rochester Revival, the ministry of Titus Coan in the Hawaiian Revival, the Kilsyth Anniversary Revival, and the revivalistic outreach associated with the Mississippi Valley Enterprise in America evangelized the American frontier and established churches.

5 The Layman’s Prayer Revival—1857-1861

During the “Layman’s Prayer Revival” there was no dominant revival leader but the movement grew by lay motivation. This chapter includes the stories of Hamilton’s Wesleyan Methodist Revival in Canada, the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting in New York that grew out of Jeremiah Lanphier’s noon hour prayer meetings, the Ulster Revival of 1859, the Jamaican Revival of 1860, and the revival accompanying Moody’s British Evangelistic Campaigns.

6 The World War II Revival—1935-1950

Many revivals are associated with the beginning or end of military conflict, the World War II Revival touched many parts of the world because of threat from world-wide war. This chapter looks at local manifestations of the New Zealand Revival, the rise of Billy Graham following his historic Los Angeles Crusade, and the revival ministry of Duncan Campbell in the Lewis Awakening of Scotland. A local manifestation of this revival (The
Bonnabella Revival) resulted in the conversion of one of the authors of this book (Towns).

7 The Baby Boomer Revival—1965-1975

The Holy Spirit touched the world during the clash of dreams. Those who fought World War II had their dreams of peace, but their children, i.e., the Baby Boomer generation, rejected their ideals and refused to live out their parents’ expectations. This chapter considers the rise of the Jesus People in California, and the Independent Baptist Revival that reflected the growth of mega churches around the world. The East Timor Indonesian Revival alerted the West to what God was doing in the East, the Asbury College Revival sparked similar revivals in colleges across America and the Saskatoon Revival touched Western Canada. A local manifestation of this revival resulted in one of the authors of this book responding to God’s call upon his life for ministry (Porter).

8 Pre-Reformation European Revivals—1300-1500

Out of a thousand years of spiritual darkness (the Dark Ages) come the stories of God beginning to work in unusual ways bringing revival to a remnant who longed to experience His presence. These revivals ushered in the world-changing Protestant Reformation movements such as England’s Lollard Revival, the Burning of John Hus at the stake, and Savonarola’s Florence Revival in Italy.

9 The Protestant Reformation—1517

When Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Castle, Germany in 1517, it was the most significant religious event of the church from Pentecost to the present day. Luther began the Protestant Reformation that separated forever Protestants from the Roman Catholic Church. Although much of the success of the Protestant Reformation was due in part to the support of political leaders who saw it as a way to break free from Rome’s political authority, it would be wrong to not recognize the work of God in the lives of individuals and groups during the reformation era. This chapter looks briefly at the theological contributions of Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and Knox, then consider the Huguenot Revival in France, the birth of the Swiss Brethren and rise of the Anabaptist movement, the Brethren of the Common Life in Germany and rise of Pietism, and the Communion Revival at Shotts.

10 Pentecost, the Beginning of Revival—A.D. 30

The New Testament began with a new phenomenon of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and has become the model and basis of all future revivals. While this is the greatest outpouring of God on His people, because everything else rests on Pentecost, it is placed last in the list of ten revivals as the foundation upon which all succeeding revivals rest. This chapter tells the foundational story of the greatest revivals in history including the Jerusalem Revival on the Day of Pentecost, and Paul’s ministry in that city.

Which revival speaks the most powerfully to you and why? Leave your comments…


Comments on: "Revival history" (4)

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  3. […] for revival resulted in many great revivals in history. His writing is inspirational and highlights the power of prayer for […]

  4. […] are some details of revival history listing 10 revivals and the revival lessons learned from […]

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