Why Does Revival Tarry? | 2003-3

The passionate praying of those who are right with God has powerful effects.
James 5:16

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Acts 1:8



Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.
– John Wesley


Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground in silent or vocal prayer.
– George Whitefield


A religion of mere emotion and sensationalism is the most terrible of all curses that can come upon any people. The absence of reality is sad enough, but the aggravation of pretence is a deadly sin.
– Samuel Chadwick


It is well to get rid of the idea that faith is a matter of spiritual heroism only for a few select spirits. There are heroes of faith, but faith is not only for heroes. It is a matter of spiritual maturity.
– P. T. Forsythe


When God intends great mercy for His people, the first thing He does is set them a-praying.
– Matthew Henry


Beware of merely reasoning about God’s Word – just obey it!
– Oswald Chambers


The Church has halted somewhere between Calvary and Pentecost.
– J. I. Brice


How shall I feel at the judgment, if multitudes of missed opportunities pass before me in full review, and all my excuses prove to be disguises of my cowardice and pride?
– W. E. Sangster


Revival is the inrush of the Spirit into the body that threatens to become a corpse.
– D. M. Panton


No erudition, no purity of diction, no width of mental outlook, no flowers of eloquence, no grace of person can atone for lack of fire. Prayer ascends by fire. Flame gives prayer access as well as wings, acceptance as well as energy. There is no incense without fire; no prayer without flame.
– E. M. Bounds


No man is greater than his prayer life.
– Leonard Ravenhill

In response to the most common question coming to me by letters, e-mails, telephone and person-to-person in these days, “Why don’t we see revival here in America?” I have decided to refer us to a powerful book by Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, published in 1959, and again in 1960 by Bethany Fellowship, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Over a generation ago, Mr. Ravenhill blamed the compromise of evangelists, the lack of urgency in prayer and pride as the main reasons why revival tarries. The greater part of his work is directed toward the lack of urgency in prayer. I shall in this message present what I consider to be the more critical of his arguments on this subject, and then make an observation of my own concerning the present generation.

Ravenhill wrote: “The Cinderella of the church today is the prayer meeting. This handmaid of the Lord is unloved and unwooed because she is not dripping with pearls of intellectualism, nor glamorous with the silks of philosophy; neither is she enchanting with the tiara of psychology. She wears the homespuns of sincerity and humility and so is not afraid to kneel!”

Pressing for anointed preaching, he said, “One does not need to be spiritual to preach, that is, to make and deliver sermons of homiletical perfection and exegetical exactitude. By a combination of memory, knowledge, ambition, personality, plus well-lined bookshelves, self-confidence and a sense of having arrived – brother, the pulpit is yours almost anywhere these days. Preaching of the type mentioned affects men; prayer affects God. Preaching affects time; prayer affects eternity. … The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people. … What is unction? I hardly know. But I know what it is not (or at least I know when it is not upon my own soul). Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life. The unctionless preacher is a savor of death unto death. The Word does not live unless the unction is upon the preacher. Preacher, with all thy getting – get unction. … No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. … Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, but few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, few fighters. Failing here, we fail elsewhere.”

As to the nature of prayer, Ravenhill believed, “Prayer is profoundly simple and simply profound. It is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try, and yet so sublime that it outranges all speech and exhausts man’s vocabulary. … Prayer is to the believer what capital is to the businessman. Can any deny that in the modern church setup the main cause of anxiety is money? Yet, that which tries the modern churches the most, troubled the New Testament churches the least. Our accent is on paying, theirs was on praying. When we have paid, the place is taken; when they had prayed, the place was shaken! In the matter of New Testament, Spirit-inspired, hell-shaking, world-breaking prayer, never has so much been left by so many to so few. For this kind of prayer, there is no substitute. We do it – or we die!”

Why – after twenty years of a mighty prayer movement that has grown to become a global phenomenon – do we still not see the great revival that has been prophesied and expected for well over a century? I believe revival has been withheld from our generation because we have not been as sensitive to the Holy Spirit as were early Christians and others since, who have experienced outpourings of the Holy Spirit. I fear that too many evangelicals have become almost skilled at grieving (resisting, rationalizing) the Holy Spirit through their pride and selfishness, and they are passing on to their children and grandchildren the dangerous message that it is cool to ignore the Holy Spirit. Oh, how we need to hear the warning of Stephen to the religious leaders of his day: “You stiff-necked heathen! Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? But your fathers did, and so do you!” (Acts 7:51, The Living Bible). Only heart-felt repentance on the part of professing Christians who have grieved the Holy Spirit will make revival possible. Otherwise, God will give us over to our own dark devices and a strong delusion (II Thes. 2:10-12).


The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Praise, Prayer and Worship. We need to repent of being content to merely “do church” without coming to full attention to His Awesome, Majestic Presence and sacrificially worshiping Him in Spirit and in truth. Unforgiveness. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Holiness. Nothing grieves Him more than the ugly and bitter divisions existing in the Body of Christ. Deep repentance of our unforgiveness, self-righteousness and intolerance will lead to revival and “the unity of the Spirit” ordered by the apostle Paul (Eph. 4:3). How tragic that we are so divided from brothers and sisters outside of our own denominations over the Holy Spirit, the very One who came to unite us! Jesus prayed for our unity, and we need to repent over our exclusive I’m- a- Bible-believer, you’re-a-heretic attitude of judgmentalism, or revival will pass us by.


The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Grace. Much of the modern Holiness/Evangelical movement is walking in the self-deception of their pride. Like the Laodicean Church (Rev. 3:14-22), they deny their need of repentance, saying, “We have need of nothing.” Thus, we go on with our boring, fleshly, humanistic, religious services but without revival. And the world, as well as most Christians, has better sense than to try and join us in our hollow, disgusting charade!

Revival Prayer:


SEARCH US, O GOD! Turn on Your light within our hearts and let us see ourselves as you see us – sinful, self-righteous, conceited, arrogant, hypocritical, idolatrous, lazy, unbelieving, and full of lust, greed, pride and hate!

MELT US, O GOD! Visit us with your Spirit and give us a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart that will lead to repentance. Take away our hardness, our blindness, our spirit of independence and self-righteousness!

CLEANSE US, O GOD! Wash us thoroughly from our iniquity, cleanse us from our sin. Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within us. Do not spew us out or cast us away. Do not take your Holy Spirit from us, but fill us with His purity and power!

REVIVE US, O GOD! We are ashamed of our pride, our prayerlessness, our independence, our hypocrisy, our ignorance of your Spirit, and by your grace we turn from our wicked ways. Now please, Lord, let us hear from Heaven, forgive our sins and heal up your Body, that we might go forth in powerful witness to see our world won to Jesus Christ!

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