I took advantage of an opportunity on Wednesday to spend two hours with church historian Dr. John Woodbridge. Much could be said about this deeply gifted scholar. But I love his humility, joyfulness, and his love for the Church. His love for the Church is communicated by his words and by the facial expressions he displays when speaking of church history, contemporary evangelicalism, and of doctrine. I don’t think I know another man who more consistently displays a desire to see the Church grow in humble unity and global witness.
And so it was no surprise Wednesday that our time focused on the topic of prayer, of the importance of praying for revival and awakening (a topic he is currently writing on). Prayer is how God’s people anticipate God’s power being poured out upon the Church, not through general and vague prayers, but via patient and specific prayers, prayers that whole cities would be overtaken by the awakening power of Holy Spirit.
He also re-emphasized the importance of reading literature that captures a glimpse of the awesome power of God’s Spirit, books written by previous generations that watched (with their own eyes) the awesome power of God at work. He recommended George Whitefield’s Journals.
Dr. Woodbridge’s words were humbling and convicting. Having not lived through anything resembling the multi-national awakening of the 18th century, I find it easy to forget about God’s awakening power, blind to the unseen wind of the Holy Spirit that rushed through whole towns, transforming the dry eyes of passive church-goers into wet eyes of a gospel affected hearts, and breaking through the hardest recalcitrant hearts resisting the gospel.
I was reminded that I am too apt to expect from God what I have already seen Him accomplish in the past, being too limited in my vision of the Spirit’s power, and too inhibited by unbelief. On Wednesday afternoon I realized that I am too focused on blog statistics, too focused on my puny life, too easily distracted by the temporal, too apt to forget the Holy Spirit’s power, too limited to pray for the awakening of whole cities, too selfish to pray beyond what I can accomplish on my own in one good day, too influenced by unbelief to see prayer as a priority over the distracting churning trivialities of this life.
Dr. Woodbridge reminds me of the greatness of God’s power on display in church history, and reminds me of the great God we serve, whose power is greater than we have seen and greater than we can imagine. May God give us eyes to look beyond the moment, to look back into the past, and to pray again, hope again, expect again, that God will once again answer the pleas of his children and pour out his awakening grace.