By Keith Manuel, Evangelism Associate
Conviction wrought the heart of Mr. Miller about his lack of concern for spiritual things.
He had surrendered his life to the Lord years earlier but in recent years, there was no longing for the pleasures of God.
The year was 1857 and the Layman’s Prayer Revival was in full swing. With a heart renewed by the Lord, Miller (we are never told his first name) grew concerned about the spiritual condition of his family. He immediately left New York on a steamer bound for his home state of Massachusetts. Unable to sleep, he stayed awake all night praying for God to do a work in the heart of his elderly, infirmed father.
Upon arriving home, his mother told Miller that his father had grown concerned about the things of God and was saved during the same hour Miller began to pray. Overjoyed, Miller then traveled to see his sister. After sharing the Gospel with her, she too received the Lord.
Next, Miller wrote a letter to his uncle who was not saved. He informed his uncle of the revival in their family and about the believing members of the family who were praying for him. The uncle replied that while they were praying for him some 80 miles away, he became troubled about his soul’s salvation and surrendered his life to the Lord.
Before leaving for New York, Miller led two more friends to Christ, and then sought out his cousin upon returning to New York. He told the cousin of the transformation in their family to which the cousin recounted the story of his own recent conversion.
The cousin died a few months later and at his cousin’s funeral, Miller discussed the need for salvation with his cousin’s close friend. Miller received a letter from the friend a short while later, informing him that the man received Christ and enrolled in seminary.
God can change whole families through revival. This account in J. Edwin Orr’s The Event of the Century demonstrates the power of the Gospel to transform lives.
When searching the Scriptures, it is easy to see that God wants His people to be committed to Him. Moreover, if His people are committed, He will do great and mighty things in and through them.
There are several passages in the Bible that deal with God’s mandate for revival. One such verse is found in Isaiah 57:15, For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”(NASB).
The picture is of one whose heart is broken because of sin and made alive by the Lord. The commentator, Barnes, states it eloquently: “[God] is to them what refreshing rains and genial suns and dews are to a drooping plant.”
Paul writes another passage wherein God reminds his people to awaken to live for Him. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:11-12, NASB).
It is time for believers to revive, to return to a position of holiness. In a dark world, we are to be examples of His light, of His love, and of His grace. As the old hymn states, “He is calling, Oh sinner, come home.”
When the believer listens to the voice of the Lord and surrenders his or her desires to follow the desires of God, it is no longer a call but a reality. The moment of revival has come.
The parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 is an example of what happens in that moment of revival. The son left the protection and provision of his father’s house. He squandered all he had in riotous living.
Then, the Bible says, “He came to his senses.” The literal wording is, “He came to himself.” He woke up. He came to a definitive point in time when he knew he needed to return.
The passage is amazing because the son knew he did not deserve to be restored as his father’s son. He would admit his sin. Then, he would ask his father to allow him to work as a hireling in his father’s fields.
Yet, the father embraced him as a son, restoring him completely.
Yes, God can change whole families. However, revival comes when a believer comes to his or her senses. Then God the Father restores the contrite one completely.