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Brownsville Revival: 20 Years Later

On Father’s Day, 1995, Brownsville Assembly of God had a special speaker in Rev. Steve Hill.  Hill was scheduled to preach that night (in those days, churches still had Sunday night services even on Father’s Day) in lieu of the passing of John Kilpatrick’s mother the previous week.  Kilpatrick simply was tired and he asked Hill to preach the morning service as well.  Hill preached from Psalm 77:11-12.  You can watch the sermon online and there was nothing in the sermon that was incredible.  Hill simply preached from his life, from his own experience of longing for God.  The altar call is where the “revival” began.  The revival that started that morning would continue until 2002.

I attended the Brownsville Revival (as it became known) three times.  The first was in 1996, once in 1997, and again in 2002.  By 2002, the revival was not really a revival anymore and the church was trying to find its place again.

The Good & The Bad

I went to Brownsville in 1996 very skeptical of what I would see.  People at our local church were constantly going on and on about what God was doing in Pensacola.  I heard strange things were happening and people were going to Pensacola for experience above the Word of God.  I had had a friend go down there and he “fell under the power” for a few hours.  He said the event changed his life (more to that later).  Thousands of people were heading to Pensacola to the point that even the news program, 20/20, did an expose on the revival.  Newspapers reported on the revival.  The church sign out front had to be daily changed as they would put how many souls were being saved at the revival.  At our church, people believed this was the great final outpouring of the Spirit before Jesus would come.  They believed God was preparing the world for the end by reaching out to it one last time. I watched entire churches change their entire services to reflect Brownsville.

When I went down to Pensacola in 1996, I was very skeptical of what I would see.  I did not go there seeking a revival.  I did not go there to seek an experience.  In fact, I had no experiences.  However, I left hungry for God.  While I saw some flesh, I saw some good.  I saw thousands of people praying at the Tuesday night prayer meeting which was the highlight of the week for me.  I saw people weeping over the lost.  I saw people longing to touch God with their prayers for sinners.  That blessed me.

However, I also saw people in the flesh.  I talked to some teenagers (as I was only 21) and they focused entirely on experiences instead of the Word of God.  That said, I also saw the youth pastor (Richard Crisco or Brother Richard) exhorting his teenagers to get into the Word.  Brother Richard preached the best that week in my estimation.  He preached from 1 Samuel 14 about Jonathan and his armor bearer and how we need to be around disciples if we are going to war.

I saw the strange manifestations.  I saw strange people.  One lady asked to pray for me and I said she could.  I closed my eyes and waited for her to lay her hands on me to pray but she did not and all was silent.  I opened one eye to see what she was doing and she was doing some sort of charismatic dance in front of me while, I guess, praying for me?  It was truly strange.

Another girl asked if an Argentinean pastor had prayed for me.  I said no.  She said that if he prays for you, you fall under the power of God (slain in the Spirit in the charismatic world) for hours.  At that time, I was open to this so she went to get him to pray for me.  He prayed for me but nothing happened.  Steve Hill came by and just pushed me down (courtesy drop we called it).

I watched as people literally chased John Kilpatrick around the church.  He took off running and people were running after him for his “anointing.”

I stood in line to talk to John Kilpatrick and was going to ask where in the Bible does he find evidence for the revival.  I was right behind a lady when she asked the very question I was going to ask him.  His reply was bad.  He said, “Woman, lay aside your mind and just let God touch you.  I can’t answer your questions about where this is in the Bible but I know it is from God because I see Him all over this place.  Let go and let God!”  That was it.  She and I both walked away from him shaking our heads.

Back home,  I watched people try to copy Brownsville.  They would preach like Steve Hill or pray like Kilpatrick.  They wanted their praise team to sound like Lindell Cooley and the Brownsville team.  Prayer banners became popular.  The subjective experiences I witnessed at the revival were carried over to the churches with shaking and laughing.

My View 20 Years Later

Did God do something in Pensacola?  Hard to judge.  I have found people who were saved at the revival and still are seeking God today.  I praise God for that.  However, I know a few unbelievers as well who once were “on fire” at the revival but today are enemies of Christ.  When I visited Brownsville in 1996, the neighborhood was hardly touched at all by the revival.  I remember walking over to an African-American woman’s house and asked her about the revival.  She said that she use to send her children to the church before the revival but now avoided it.  She pointed to the lines and lines of people and said the revival was a white revival and not a black revival so she wouldn’t go.  How sad.

Today Pensacola still needs the gospel.  The church has had a hard time after the revival.  The expenses of the revival ran the church into major debt.  The church is still fairly large but nothing like it use to be. Before the revival, the church had 2000 members.  Today they have less than 800.  The lines of people are long gone.  John Kilpatrick left the church in conflict in 2000.  Steve Hill left in 2001 to go back to missions work.  Hill died in 2014.

Sadly, most churches I know who were touched by Brownsville have faded as well.  Today they are seeking to be like Perry Noble or like Rick Warren more than like Brownsville.  What I think Brownsville highlighted was the tragedy of seeking experiences above God.  The churches who adopted Brownsville tactics did so not because of the Word of God but because of experiences and pragmatism.  They wanted Brownsville crowds and not revival.

I know of few churches today that truly pray for revival.  The one blessing that came from the Brownsville revival was that the word “revival” was so common on our lips in the 1990’s.  The Assemblies of God even had a link on their website in those days focusing on revivals breaking out across the nation and the world.  I remember attending the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) camp meeting in South Carolina in 1998 and the entire focus was on revival.  The preaching evangelist had just got back from Brownsville and was on fire.  He wanted to see the Church of God folks go back to their churches with the fire of God. Sadly, those days seem to be gone.  I hear few churches speaking of seeking God earnestly for revival.  Revival seems to be only what we read about today and not seek.

The Brownsville revival did spark a hunger in my life.  After the revival, I went on to long for God more and study His Word more.  I am thankful that He has been faithful to me all these years later.  I love the Bible now more than ever before.  I love sinners now more than ever before.  I long to pray for revival like I use to.  I long to see the churches seeking God for revival yet again.  So I go back to Psalm 77:11-12 and I pray that God would touch His people.  I don’t want another Brownsville revival but I want a true revival of sound doctrine, of sound preaching, of sound praying, and of soul winning.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/20/2015 at 10:48 AM

The Need for Revival

It doesn’t take much to look around at the wickedness that abounds and to know that we need revival.  So many don’t care about the Lord nor give thought to Him.  Even as I have preached in the open air that all people will die (Hebrews 9:27), so few take thought of their lives and the fact that we are but vapors (James 4:14).  Every person living today will be dead yet they don’t stop to consider this fact even as people die all around them.  So few take the time to consider their lives and to see that they have violated the law of God and deserve His just punishment against sin (James 2:10-12).  They don’t know what awaits them when they die and they don’t seem to care.

Even worse is the state of the Church.  So many are just showing up for their “Sunday services” and give no thought to God during their week.  They don’t pray.  They don’t share their faith.  They don’t worship the Lord Jesus in all they say and do (Colossians 3:17).  They say they love the Lord Jesus and are thankful for His saving work on the cross but they don’t live their lives reflecting HIs grace nor His love (John 14:21).  They would claim heaven but they don’t live like heaven (Matthew 1:21).  They would say that Jesus saved them from their sins while still living in sin (1 John 3:4-10).  The “preachers” are not preaching the gospel but are often found preaching peace and prosperity in the midst of sin.  These preachers are not preaching repentance nor holiness but are preaching a “happy clappy” message that does not save nor sanctifies its hearers.  Jesus is the offended One in their midst and He is often shunned in favor of being popular (Luke 6:26).  The burden for the lost is largely missing.  Where are the tears for the lost?  Where are the tears for those who have not repented of their sins?  Where are those who will call out to God for the lost (Romans 10:1)?

We also lack the urgency in prayer for the lost.  Where are the intercessors for the lost?  Jesus said in Matthew 9:38 that we are to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He might send out laborers in His harvest.  Where are those who will do this, who will pray for the workers to work the harvest fields?  Paul the Apostle urged prayer for the lost in 1 Timothy 2:1-7.  Where are those who would obey the words of the Apostle and pray?  We are taught by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:10 to pray for His kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven yet where are those who do this besides those who just repeat the words over and over again without pondering them?  When was the last time you spent hours in prayer just praying for the lost?  Where are the tears for the lost who are bound for hell apart from the grace of God?  Paul the Apostle said he had great sorrow and continual grief in his heart for the lost (Romans 9:2).  Do you?  Do I?

In Ezekiel 9 we read how Ezekiel saw a vision in his time of a man clothed with linen (an angel) and an inkhorn at his side and the Lord told him to go through the midst of the city (Jerusalem).  The Angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Christ) goes through the city and makes the people of God.  We read in Ezekiel 9:4 that He did this to those who “sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” (NKJV).  What a picture!  The elect of God here are those who are within the city of God who are weeping and crying and detest the wickedness that is around them.  These elect do not share in their sins nor do they face the judgment coming (Ezekiel 9:5-7).

I don’t know what the future holds for our wicked world.  I have optimism that  the Lord will send a revival and that many will be saved from the wrath to come.  I pray Psalm 110:1 for the world.  Yet I also know that God is a holy and righteous God who cannot tolerate wickedness.  His grace and mercy are evident around us while people go on sinning.  I believe 1 Peter 4:17.  I believe that the Lord is calling to His faithful to abandon sin, to live lives of holiness (Hebrews 12:14).  I believe the will of the Lord is for His people to be holy people who love Him and worship Him in all we do.  I believe the Lord is gracious to send a heart for repentance to His people.  I pray that I would be one of those as in the time of Ezekiel 9:4 who sigh and cry over all the abominations.  I pray that I don’t join in with the sinning of the world.  I long to be holy and pure.

I am thankful for the goodness of God revealed in Christ Jesus.  I am thankful that Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  I am thankful that Jesus saved me (Galatians 1:4) and that He saves me from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). I am thankful that Jesus is my salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  I rejoice that I am saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by my works of righteousness (Titus 3:5).  I worship Him who alone is worthy for His intercession for me before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).  This salvation is not by my doing but by His going (Colossians 1:13-14; 2:12-13).

Yet I see the need for revival.  I see the great need for the people of God to pray for revival.  What will turn the lost back to the gospel will not be our creativity but the Lord Himself.  What will stir the hearts of those who sit in the churches but are lost will be the Spirit of God.  I pray that the Holy Spirit moves in power upon His Church and that many sinners will hear the gospel and be saved (Romans 10:17).  Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 10:19) and I pray that He glorified in the saving of sinners.  Jesus can truly save a sinner.  He saved this sinner.  Jesus is still saving this sinner from sin.

Oh join with me in praying for revival!  Join with me in praying for the gospel to transform the saints of God.  Join with me in allowing the Holy Spirit to stir your heart toward revival.  Pray for God to be glorified among His saints and for sinners to hear the gospel and be saved.  Rejoice in the mercy of God that saved us and rejoice that God is merciful toward sinners (2 Peter 3:9).  Rejoice that He is patient with the lost (and the saints) and He wants to call all to repentance.  Pray for the Lord to be praised by His saints without fear and with great boldness even before sinners (Acts 4:29).  Pray for the kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/19/2015 at 1:36 PM

On the Death of Steve Hill

I was sad to hear the death of Steve Hill, the controversial evangelist who led the Brownsville revival back in the mid 1990’s.  Hill was only 60 years old but had been battling cancer for the past few years.  His battle is over and he has won the victory (1 Corinthians 15:55).

I visited the Brownsville revival three times in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.  My first visit was in August of 1996.  I was a young 21-year-old man then and went with a critical spirit.  To that point I believed that the Brownsville revival was a joke and was not of God.  However, after staying for a week in Pensacola, I left seeing some bad and some good coming from the revival.  To this day I still believe that there was much flesh involved in the revival but I do know some men who are still saved and still in love with Jesus after getting saved at the revival meetings.

In those days, Hill was the most popular evangelist in the Pentecostal movement.  Every evangelist wanted to be like Hill.  They wanted his success in his altar calls, his anointing, his hunger for God.  Sadly, they often tried to mimic him rather than seeking God.

I heard Hill preach several times and once at the General Council meeting of the Assemblies of God in Orlando.  Hill’s message was not deep nor profound but simple: repent.  Hill preached hard on repentance of sin and turning from sin and living a holy life pleasing to the Lord.  Hill emphasized prayer and fasting.  His book, Time to Weepemphasized this point.  I enjoyed that book much.

While I didn’t agree with Hill on all issues and could write on the problems I saw at Brownsville, I do believe he loved the Lord Jesus.  He burned with fire for the lost.  He was not afraid to preach the gospel and for that, I am thankful.  You might disagree with Hill here and there but I rejoice that he did preach Christ and called people to repent.  I will rejoice with him in glory in due time.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/11/2014 at 12:46 PM

Posted in Revival

Tagged with , ,

Interceding For Revival

We live in an ungodly, wicked age.  This is much like the age that Paul spoke of in 1 Timothy 4:1 or 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  It is a wicked age.  Thankfully we have two truths that the disciple of Jesus can cling to: one is the fact that God is sovereign and He is in control (Psalm 115:3).  Secondly, God has promised that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (Romans 5:20).

I believe that in this dark hour, we can pray for revival.  We should weep and cry out to God for revival.  Revival makes things right.  Revival brings in the glory of God.  Revival convicts the unconverted in our churches and awakens the lukewarm.  Revival gives the Church of Christ a passion for the lost who so need Jesus (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2).  When we begin to pray for the lost (Romans 10:1), the Holy Spirit often will break our hearts for our own lack of evangelism (Mark 16:15).  We begin to see that sinners need the gospel.  Sinners don’t need entertainment, they need the gospel.  Revival sweeps away the desire to entertain the masses but instead focuses us on the truth that all sinners will go to hell apart from the gospel.  We begin to cry Acts 17:30-31 to the lost.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we read:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

Why are we to pray for these sinners in verses 1-2?  We read the answer in 1 Timothy 2:3-6:

3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

The obvious reason for the intercession of verses 1-2 is for the salvation of souls which pleases God in verses 3-6.  Intercession for revival will spur us to pray for the lost.  We see that Jesus alone is the only way to God (John 14:6) and we see that apart from Him, we have no life (John 15:1-11).  We see that people must repent and must embrace Jesus as Lord to be saved (Romans 10:9-10, 13).  As we pray for revival, the Lord breaks our hearts for the lost.

True revival is what we need now.  What will save the adulterer?  What will save the rapist?  What will save the liar?  What will save the religious hypocrite?  What will save the homosexual?  The answer is revival because the revival will send forth the Church of Jesus Christ will go forth to preach the gospel from the power of the Holy Spirit.  Revival awakens the saints of God to the riches we have in Christ Jesus and gives us a passion to preach the gospel to the lost.  Revival will turn the tide of sin and will turn sinners to the King who alone saves (John 6:35).

Oh God send us revival!  Restore Your glory to Your Church and allow the gospel to go forth in the power of the Spirit!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/27/2013 at 10:13 AM

The Hunger for Revival

From time to time my mind drifts back to the 1990’s when I first got saved and when it seemed everywhere I went, people were talking about revival.  I remember the Bible teacher that I sat under those early days of my salvation would often weep over the need for revival.  He would talk about the great revivals of Church history and then he would weep over the lack of revival in our day.  I remember hearing men of God like David Wilkerson or Leonard Ravenhill speaking on revival and how we needed a move of God.  We believed, in those days, that revival would make things right.

In 1995 Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida begin to say that revival had come.  On Father’s Day, evangelist Steve Hill preached to the large Assembly of God church and revival services began.  The revival would continue night after night from 1995 to about 2000.  The revival would slow and finally ended in 2002.  I visited Brownsville Assembly of God three times.  I first went in August of 1996 but I admit I went with a critical spirit.  Myself and a friend of mine attended for a week in August, 1996 and while I was not 100% on board with the revival, I did see many good things.  The gospel was preached with a cry to repentance.  Prayer was powerful.  The hunger for the presence of God was intense.  There were bizarre physical manifestations and there were folks there for experiences instead of hungering for Christ but I walked away believing that there was much good going on at Brownsville despite the claims of the detractors who hated the revival.  It was there also that I met Dr. Michael Brown for the first time and I was impressed with his knowledge and his zeal for the Lord.

I visited Brownsville two more times with teenagers in 1997 and in 2002.  By the time we came in 2002, the atmosphere had changed dramatically and the revival was nearly over.  Dr. Brown had left to start the Fire School of Ministry in Concord, NC and the revival days were over.

What I miss about all this is not the excess flesh.  I miss the passion for God.  I miss seeing teenagers crammed into a building on Thursday nights for the youth service and hearing brother Richard Crisco preaching the Word of God.  I miss the prayer meeting on Tuesday night that was packed with intercessors crying out to the Lord.  I miss the worship of God that filled your heart with joy.  I miss hearing of revivals breaking out in other places from Brownsville.  I do admit that not all of the revival was correct.  After all, we are talking about a revival among fallen flesh.  There is no such thing as a perfect revival.  Every revival will feature things that we don’t like or approve.  Thankfully God uses fallen people despite our sins and errors.

I can’t remember the last time I heard someone speak of being hungry for revival.  Gone are the days of Ravenhill or Wilkerson I fear.  Where is the hunger for God’s presence?  Where is the passion for God in prayer?  Where are the thousands of intercessors who would shut themselves in a room for a night of seeking God?  Brownsville was not perfect but I miss the passion.  I miss the zeal.  I miss the joy of the Lord in singing praises to our King.  I miss the reports of souls getting saved.  I miss the Friday night baptisms.  I miss the hunger for the Holy Spirit to be fully active in our lives.

Oh where are those who hunger for revival?  Oh God send the fire (Acts 2:17)!

For more information on Brownsville Assembly of God check out this article.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/12/2013 at 7:27 PM

And We Wonder Why This Happens?

The United States is a wicked nation.  It is a nation of depraved people.  The vast majority of Americans need the gospel and the Church is sleeping in the light while the world is perishing in the dark.  What we need is a mighty move of God.  We need a radical transformation in our culture that can only come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What amazes me is that many people wonder about the murdering in the United States.  Many blame guns or this or that.  The bottom line is that our nations is sowing these seeds with our sinning.  Our movies are full of corruption and violence.  Our television programs are full of corruption and violence.  Many of our songs (especially hard-core rap music) is full of corruption and violence.  And then we wonder why people are corrupt and violent?  The answer is not because of morality.  The answer is that what a man sows, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).  Sow violence, reap violence.  Sow immorality, reap immorality.  Sow wickedness, reap wickedness.  People want to cast blame on everything and everyone but the truth is that the blame for our murdering, our abortions, our rampages, our filthy tongues, is us!  We have sown to our flesh and this is what we get when we abandon God (Romans 1:18-32; 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

The Church must turn this tide.  She can do this in the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17).  The answer for our nation is not found in politicians or endless debating over this right or that right.  It is found in the truth that always sets free, always transforms: the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The gospel will end violence.  The gospel will end abortion.  The gospel will end rape.  The gospel will end adultery.  The gospel will end homosexuality.  The gospel will end wickedness.  The gospel will usher in the power and presence of a holy God.  The gospel will produce safe cities and towns.  The gospel alone!

Call me simple-minded but I honestly believe that the answer for our ills is the gospel.  Sinners need the gospel.  They don’t need more hyped up churches low on doctrine, low on repentance, low on holiness, low on prayer.  They need houses of God where He is coming in power to sanctify His people (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  The gospel doesn’t save us in our in sins but from our sins (Matthew 1:21; 26:28).  Whom the Lord saves, He sanctifies (Acts 15:9).  Jesus brings a complete new life to us when He saves us (John 3:1-7).  Jesus changes our minds, our hearts, our love, our desires, our passions, our zeal, our goals, our marriages, our raising of our children, our world-views.  Jesus completely sets us free from sin (John 8:31-38).  Jesus completely forgives and He gives us the power to overcome sin by His grace (1 John 2:1).  Jesus delivers!

That message, the message of Jesus, is what we need in our nation right now.  I urge you to pray for souls to be saved by the millions in the United States (1 Timothy 2:1-6).  I urge you to pray for our leaders to repent even openly of our national sins.  I urge you to pray for this nation of wickedness, this nation that has sown seeds of sin, to repent (Acts 3:19-20).  I urge you to do all you can for the kingdom of Christ to come.  Pray.  Give.  Fast.  Worship.  Evangelize.  This will change our nation.  One person at a time (Matthew 28:19).  The Church doesn’t need to stand up or down on gun rights or other political issues.  She needs to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to move us in the streets with the gospel (Acts 1:8).  The Church needs to fall on our faces, repent of being friends with the world (James 4:4) and start changing our nation with the power of the Holy Spirit.  Times are dark but it is not too late for the light and truth of Jesus Christ to shine and set captives free.  He can do it by His power as we preach Him!

If we don’t do this, if we don’t preach the gospel, murder, rape, etc. will continue and will only get worse!  The answer is the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/17/2012 at 4:50 PM

Learning from the Early Pentecostals (Part 1)

Whether or not you agree with the Pentecostal movement and its theology is not the point of this post.  I really wanted to highlight the early days of the Pentecostal movement and the lessons we can learn from them.  Nearly every Protestant movement was born out of a desire to see the Church of Christ reform and restored to her glory days as we see in the book of Acts.  Beginning with Martin Luther and continuing even to today, the Church has always been reforming herself and seeking to glorify God in the process.  The early Pentecostals were no exception to that.  Sadly, much of what I see in modern Pentecostal churches is nothing more than hyped up evangelicalism with a strong emphasis on worship and personal experience.  While some Pentecostals may reject that, I believe the heart of the early Pentecostal movement is what is needed in the entire Church of God and not just the Pentecostal movement.

I first want to point out the early traits of the Pentecostal movement.  I gleamed these from my own reading of early Pentecostal works including Frank Bartleman’s Azusa Street: How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles and the sermons of William Seymour.  I also read Myer Pearlman’s Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible text and early Pentecostal writers such as Donald Gee.  The feelings I have are all mine from my readings.  From what I can learn from the early Pentecostals, I want to make these applicable to the modern Church at large.  Again, you might not agree with the Pentecostal movement down the line but we can learn from them nonetheless.

1.  A Praying Movement.

Frank Bartleman was a man of prayer.  After reading Azusa Street, I was struck by how much time the early Pentecostals had spent in prayer both before the revival in Los Angeles and afterwards.  Bartleman speaks of the Church learning to pray from the Welsh revival under Evan Roberts.  Roberts himself was a man of prayer.  He would spend hours alone with God crying out for revival.  His famous prayer was “bend me and break me.”  Bartleman and the early Pentecostals would pray for hours upon hours.  Bartleman writes about the early Pentecostals tarrying for hours, seeking God for revival in America.  They were longing for God to pour out His Spirit on all flesh (Acts 2:17, 38-39).  They were seeking God for more than what they were seeing in the Church of their day.

Most of the early Pentecostals were out of the Wesleyan-Holiness movement of the late 19th century.  They had heard the stories of the great Holiness revivals of the 19th century and how the Lord had raised up churches such as the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene.  Pentecostal language was a part of their culture.  Terms such as “baptized with the Spirit” or “seeking God for the Holy Ghost” were common.  Yet in the early Pentecostals view, the Holiness movement was dying out.  The Methodist at this time were beginning to turn liberal and move away from the core doctrines of Wesley.  Many from the “perfectionism” movement of the late 19th century were turning toward a social gospel that emphasized transforming the culture above preaching the gospel.  This disturbed these early Pentecostals and they wanted a fresh return to God and His gospel.  They wanted a genuine revival.  They wanted to see the Church rise up in the power of the Spirit and proclaim the gospel in the power of God (Romans 1:16-17).  They were tired of Church as usual.

So they begin to pray.  Bartleman is convinced from his book that prayer birthed the Church in Acts (Acts 1:14; cf. Luke 24:49) and it was prayer that sustained the early Church (Acts 2:42).  He notes how often we read of prayer in the book of Acts.  Bartleman is also convinced in his book that prayer must be the foundation for revival.  If the Church is to do anything that exalts Christ and brings sinners to salvation, it will be because of the Church at prayer.  He also writes that prayer brings revival, prayer sustains revival, and where prayer falters, faith will falter as well.  The manifested presence of Christ will not be found where they are not people seeking God in prayer.  He also writes a warning to early Pentecostals saying that if they don’t remain a prayer movement, the Spirit of God would depart from them as well.  The blessing of Pentecost is sustained through intercession.  I was convicted reading his words.  We in the modern Church especially in the West know nothing of true prayer.  We talk about prayer, write about prayer, and read books on prayer but we don’t pray.  Few churches I know truly pray.  They pray here and there but we are not a praying church.  I know none that are.  Sadly, few Christians today pray like Bartleman.  I think of Luther rising up and praying for 2 to 4 hours per day.  I think of John Wesley praying for hours upon hours even while riding his horse from town to town in England to preach the gospel.  I think of great saints like David Brainerd praying with fervency in his voice.  I read of John Bunyan being locked away in the London bridge and crying out to God for hours on end.  I think of great prayer warriors such as David Livingston (who died in prayer on his knees beside his bed) or E.M. Bounds or Leonard Ravenhill.  Where are the men and women of God who know how to pray?

2.  Intercession for the Lost.

The early Pentecostals fought their battles on their knees.  Few early Pentecostals were well-educated and most were poor.  Yet they knew how to pray.  Their churches were often shacks and few had any electricity but they had the power of God.  They would pray for hours upon hours.  Almost all Pentecostals in the early days had a custom of arriving at the church and praying for hours before they actually met.  The small shacks would be full of people on their knees in prayer.  Their voices would be found shaking the walls of the shacks and the broken windows.  They earned the nickname “holy rollers” from their emotional meetings.  Yet they didn’t care.  They sought God earnestly and drunkards would get saved.  Prostitutes would get saved.  Drug addicts would get saved.  Homosexuals would get saved.  Religious people who came to make fun of the early Pentecostals (such as David Wilkerson’s grandfather) would get saved.  Why?  Because the Pentecostals would pray.  They labored for hours for people to be saved on their faces.  They took seriously the words of Paul the Apostle in Romans 10:1 or 1 Timothy 2:1-6 and they prayed for the lost.  They prayed for the Holy Spirit to use them to convict these sinners to turn from their sins and be saved.

I have read countless testimonies from early Pentecostals they speak of their coming to Christ through the faithful praying of the saints of God.  Their passion for Jesus went beyond what they had.  They loved Jesus despite their poverty and their lack of education.  They wanted Christ more than life itself and their lives led to people coming to faith in Christ through their praying and through their walks with God.  They didn’t talk about God from a distance.  They knew Him.  They knew His power.  They knew that He heard their cries and He answered their prayers.  When they were persecuted by the religious, they went to praying.  When the KKK came to burn down their churches, they went to praying.  When the evangelicals blasted them and called them, in the words of G. Campbell Morgan, the “vomit of Satan,” they went to praying.  Prayer was all they knew.  They had no money.  They had no standing with men.  They had no formal education.  Many of them could not read or write.  They only knew how to pray and praying they did.  They would pray until God moved.  They would not stop praying for a drunkard until they repented of their sins and came to faith in Jesus Christ who alone could save them.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/30/2012 at 6:33 PM

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