Paul, chained and restricted in prison, wrote, “My circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12)

Of course this could only be written by someone who had a big view of God, understanding that he rules the world in situations large and small and never loses the initiative; a God who never abandons his love expressed in mercy to a lost world.

Let’s be assured in these extraordinary days, when so many of us feel locked up, that God has in no way been taken by surprise by events. His throne is established in the heavens and he does all things after the counsel of his own will (Ephesians 1:11). He’s never callous but always motivated by his intense love.

Paul’s perspective went way beyond his personal difficulties and limitations. In an Epistle famous for its emphasis on joy and rejoicing, he keeps his eye on God’s greater purpose. We would do well to learn from him.

Revival longings

Some of us have been praying for revival for many years. Many times in church history there have been extraordinary demonstrations of God’s mercy shown by an intensity of his presence in a particular location, leading to people feeling a profound sense of a need for God, followed by the conversion of vast numbers of people and, in some cases, extraordinary impact on the surrounding culture.

The famous 1859 revival, which started in New York, began with local missionary Jeremiah Lamphier, arranging a lunchtime prayer meeting. A handful gathered and it gradually grew. But then an economic crisis broke out, resulting in New York banks crashing.

My daily prayer is that God will light the flame of revival again

Peoples’ attention was captured and motivation stirred. Soon tens of thousands were meeting in local churches at lunchtime across the city. What followed was a phenomenal revival which led to one million people being added to American churches within a couple of years.

My daily prayer is that God will light the flame of revival again, and awaken our indifferent culture to our vulnerability and frailty. Suddenly matters of life and death, possible financial disaster and loss cannot be ignored; attention is being arrested.

Directed prayer

Let’s pray as Paul urges for our political leaders, for our NHS workers and their families, and others such as those serving our supermarkets. But above all let’s pray for nothing less than an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will awaken the nations. Many of us have the unique opportunity of time available to pray.

The ExCeL Centre, a kilometre long building in London’s docklands, is currently being prepared by the army to become a vast temporary hospital. I’ve only been there once. I was invited to speak at a night of prayer. Pastor Agu Irukwu who leads Jesus House, graciously invited me to bring a motivational word on prayer. To my amazement 42,000 had gathered to pray through the night. Yes, 42,000. The Festival of Life is what this magazine once called 'The biggest UK Christians event you've (probably) never heard of'.

Many have already been praying for God to come to our nation. Now we have time available, we can join in daily prayer! Let’s come in faith to one who has made so many promises to those who pray and believe to see God do something of extraordinary proportions.

Many of us were delighted to see our NHS applauded and praised across the nation. As I watched the video of people at their windows and doorways and heard the praise, clapping and shouting, I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if a revival of such proportions led to crowds praising Jesus in similar fashion. During Billy Graham’s first visit to the UK, crowds of Christians filled the London Underground with their hymns.

Modern technology

Many churches are now streaming their services and reporting numbers more than double their normal church attendance.

Groups are gathering via Zoom to pray together. Television news is expressing interest in the phenomenon. An Indian friend of mine who usually gathers 3,000 in his church in Bangalore, but is now restricted, reported to me that his most recent online service drew 19,000 views.

Maybe we’re beginning to see early signs of spiritual hunger surfacing.

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