Just 5 years before this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, 11 refugees migrating from Bohemia were given land by Count Nicolas Zinzerdorf on his country estate in Moravia. A clearing was made in the woods and the 11 people settled. Within a short period of time over 200 more people, fleeing persecution in Bohemia arrived and settled on the estate.
Converted at the age 4, Zinzendorf composed and signed his own covenant: ‘Dear saviour, do thou be mine and I will be Thine’. His motto in life was ‘I have one passion and it is Jesus only’. The Count quickly learned the secret of prevailing prayer and as a teenager established many prayer groups. The Count was obsessed by the sacrificial death of Jesus. Whilst in Italy visiting a gallery He encountered a painting that was called ‘Behold the Lamb’. On seeing this painting he asked His saviour to bring him into fellowship with His sufferings. Little did he realise that this prayer was to have a huge impact on his life. It was this passion for Jesus that propelled him to extend such an open-handed welcome and generous support to these believers fleeing threats of death in their homelands.
The diverse, deeply held beliefs and sectarian views of those who settled, led to the adult members of the community becoming divided in all sorts of different ways. Zinzendorf became something of a catalyst for this community. Concerned at the lack of unity among this gathered body of people, he called upon them to seek out and emphasise the points on which they agreed. Eventually in the July of 1627 he asked the community to covenant together to meet together to pour out their hearts to the Lord in prayer and repentance.
On the 5th August the Count spent the whole night in prayer with about 12 to 14 others. On the 10thAugust Pastor Rothe leading the congregation in a time of prayer was overwhelmed by the power of God and ‘sank down into the dust’; by midnight the whole congregation were on their knees. Then, on the 13th August 1627 the Holy Spirit came in power. Their prayers were answered in ways that were far beyond anyone’s expectations. By the 26th August 24 men and women had covenanted together to pray in intervals of one hour each, day and night.
The children, also touched powerfully by God began a similar plan among themselves. Those who heard the children’s prayers were deeply touched. In fact it was the children’s prayers that had the most profound effect on the whole community. This astonishing prayer meeting, beginning in 1727 went on continually for over 100 years. Its results impacted the whole of the world.
The Moravian community was a community of unceasing prayer; the birth place of 24/7 prayer, only relatively recently re-discovered in the 20th century.
House Groups or Life Groups aren’t new! This community set up ‘bands of people’ 9 to 12 people who together were responsible for each other, their mission; to love, encourage and admonish each other! This was a community who rapidly took on the shape of that first community of believers described in the early chapters of the book of Acts.
This was a movement that believed that there should be no division between the laity and the clergy. All were mobilised by the Lord as ministers of the Gospel.
Within one generation this small Moravian community had sent missionaries to every continent of the world. A fifth of the community became missionaries.
So, was this just some kind of spiritual pilgrimage or spiritual ‘jolly’? Or is there something concrete we can learn from the Moravian Revival? What can we in the Black Country learn from this amazing move of God? How is it relevant to us today? Let me share with you four things that I think I will take away from this week.
1: What motivates me?
Zinzendorf’s revelation of Christ, his passion for Him and His Kingdom, was the sole motivator for his remarkable service in homing and leading this diverse and initially divided people group. He talked of being mesmerised by the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’. He drew his strength from the compelling story of God’s love.
Question: what motivates you?
2: Intentionally building community
A vision for establishing community, not church as many of us know it today, but a truly Christ centred community of God’s people propelled both the Count and members of the Moravian community. The common life they shared together was more important than their own individual lives. What marked this community out was the absence of self-love and self-will, which was swept away as the Holy Spirit swept over the community with the ocean of divine love.
Question: are you intentionally building community?
3: The place of prayer
Prayer wasn’t a meeting, it was a way of life and became a pillar on which the Moravians depended. This was not ‘a ministry’ for those who felt called to pray, every member of the community was dedicated to humble themselves before the Lord daily. For many adults and children, praying through the night was the ‘norm’.
Question: what’s the shape of my prayer life? (You ask the other questions to us, then this one to you? Should it say what’s the shape of your prayer life?)
4: Prayer, Community and Mission are inseparable
Every great outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, both in historic and recent transforming revivals have all been birthed in prayer. However, just as in the Moravian revival, prayer always resulted in a deep work of repentance among believers and the transformation of their community. Ultimately the outcome of this work of the Spirit resulted in mission. The connection between, prayer, intentional community and the releasing of mission is indisputable. Let me give you just one remarkable example of this in the Moravian revival. Two men from the community, touched by the plight of the slaves in Jamaica and the absence of anyone preaching the gospel to these people, walked from Germany to Denmark to board a ship destined for Jamaica. Their intention was to offer themselves to be sold as slaves, so that they could work alongside African slaves and tell them about Christ!
Question: are these components in place in my life? (As above, Our lives??)
Much more could be said about the Moravians that testifies to the amazing transformation that takes place when we humble ourselves, pray and seek His face. Imagine 25% of the believers in the Black Country being sent to every continent across the globe with the life changing message of the Gospel! Come Lord
In the next and final instalment of this trilogy on ‘real revival?’, we will hopefully leave you with some MORE (There is quite a lot to ponder from what Adrian has said above) things to ponder, but until then, here are a couple of quotes on our theme from people who knew a lot more than just the theory or the history of revival….…..;
“There is a growing conviction everywhere, and especially among thoughtful people, that unless revival comes, other forces will take the field, that will sink us still deeper into the mire of humanism and materialism”. – Duncan Campbell
“There can be no revival when Mr. Amen and Mr. Wet-Eyes are not found in the audience”.
– Charles Finney
On behalf of ‘Love Black Country’.