Revival, Awakening and Reformation Part 1

Revival, Awakening and Reformation. I could have added renewal but three is enough words. Presently in Canada we are in a period of heightened expectation with what began at Asbury and has spread so it seems prudent to understand what these things look like in practice as these words are frequently used but generally without clarity. To aid in understanding and praying let’s take a look. To revive a person after they have passed out or been knocked out for example, our hope is to see them return to a previous state. To awaken is similar in that we return to a prior state such as waking from sleep or coming to a realization of something. For example, awakening to the possibility of some endeavour. The meaning of reformation is found in breaking down the word, re formation. Taking the constituent parts and reforming them into something else.

From a church history perspective, we have the Protestant Reformation, a fire that Luther set ablaze but initially kindled by men like Wycliffe, Hus and Tyndale and Savonarola. Savonarola was a Dominican Friar whose fiery preaching against the sins and excesses of the Roman Catholic Church paved the way for Luther but led to his being burned at the stake. The Roman Catholic church responded to the Protestant Reformation with a counter reformation to shore up their doctrinal positions.

This is a very scant overview of some church history. In this season we had revival, awakening and reformation. The revival and awakening were an awareness of the need to recover the truth of scripture and the reformation aspect was the reforming of the church into new structures.  

Today I believe we again need revival, awakening and reformation. In scripture we have examples of revival and a return to godly practices under king Josiah, and later Ezra and Nehemiah. There was an awakening to danger and purpose in Esther. When we read through Acts (it covers a period of over three decades) we see the almost immediate need for revival and awakening with the attempt by some to bring the new church into formulas and rituals contrary to the original freedom of the gospel. This fight for freedom is presented in Galatians and highlighted in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.

In history we always see rules and control seeking to come in and ‘manage’ things whenever the Spirit begins to move. Given that life and relationships are dynamic, we never ‘arrive’ at a place where we don’t need to continue to be aware of the ongoing tension between freedom and control. We always need to invest in relationships and be aware of what is happening around us. The same is true of our relationship with Jesus both individually and corporately. This leads to Paul’s prayers in scripture. Prayers for believers to walk in freedom in Christ and be formed in His image. The following prayers speak to revival, awakening and reformation.

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Ephesians 1:15–17 (NKJV)

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14–19 (NKJV)

9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; Colossians 1:9–11 (NKJV)

1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1–3 (NKJV)

19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, Galatians 4:19 (NKJV)

My purpose thus far in broaching the subject of revival, awakening and reformation is to stir up our thinking and prepare our hearts. More to come.

Published by


I have been walking with Jesus since 1985. I am currently retired from my career in the helping professions but still focused on ministering to others. I completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Apologetics in September 2020.

2 thoughts on “Revival, Awakening and Reformation Part 1

  1. The “control” issue is important because we don’t want to see things done indecently and out of order yet we know that genuine revival sometimes looks that way. Also, it is not wise to judge a reported revival (like Asbury) from afar. The best way to judge it to to experience it for one’s self without prejudice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *