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Faith Parry ~ What Is an Awakening?

“[An awakening is] a renewing work of God, a fresh inbreaking of the Spirit’s love and power, and an abundant ingathering of the reborn into the church” — David Thomas, To Sow for a Great Awakening



In 1730, there was a spiritual movement called the First Great Awakening that lasted until around 1745. At the heart of this movement was John Wesley in England. It then stretched to Scotland with Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitfield spread it throughout the American colonies.

Then the Second Great Awakening started in Lexington with the Methodists again, spreading to Tennessee during the Revolutionary War. Churches multiplied four-fold.

But what is an awakening?

It’s when God’s Spirit moves and causes amazing results that can only be attributed to God. Communities are changed through God’s acts and transformed. This movement of God’s spirit is contagious.



“Travailing prayer is not the only thing we do. But it is the first thing, and the most important thing.” — David Thomas, To Sow for a Great Awakening

David Thomas explains in his book To Sow for a Great Awakening that “how” is the question he spent six years trying to answer. In the end, the answer was simply prayer.  Well, not quite that simple.

Consider words from the writer of Hebrews: “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” — Hebrews 5:6, NLT



Thomas explains that we must pray to God for others in earnest and that we must travail. He explains that travail is, “a kind of burdened, focused pressing—seems closer to the throbbing core of prayer in Scripture. He explains that scripture doesn’t describe causal prayer anywhere, but always about prayer that is a person emptying his or her heart to God of whatever emotions are there. 

If we pray publicly in prayer meetings for the unchurched earnestly, it can be the most powerful witness for God’s love. We need to show people that our hearts agonize over the souls that are lost.


Would you be willing to take up the call to pray with earnest and travail for the unchurched? Could you let your prayers hit your heart on an emotional state? Will you express your compassion to God on their behalf?

Awakening is messy and costly to people who love it and long for it. Reputation is the first thing to go in this kind of praying and leading. Jesus taught that our seeds have to die before anything will grow (John 12:24). And maybe it comes to mind what it is you may need to die for awakening to spring up: distraction, pride, an attitude of expertise, self-sufficiency, being hip, affluence, avoidance, ease. — David Thomas, To Sow for a Great Awakening 

I’m willing to take up the call if you are.



This article originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission.