A Biblical Revival:
Francis Asbury and the Second Great Awakening
“You sent abundant rain, O God, to refresh the weary land. There your people finally settled, and with a bountiful harvest, O God, you provided for your needy people.” (Ps 68:9-10 NLT)
Toil Proceeding Revival
In his journal entry on July 22nd, 1786, a tired circuit preacher writes these words,
“I preached with life and love at Leonard’s: the people here appear very lifeless. I have lately been much tired and much blessed.”
Francis Asbury came to America as a circuit preacher in 1771 at the conviction of John Wesley’s appeal for workers in the new colonies willing to preach along the circuit routes. He responded to the call and left his home in England for the American colonies, never to return home again. While largely unknown to the modern Christian, during his ministry, he traveled 6,000 miles per year or 270,000 miles in total. He preached around 15,500 sermons, ordained 4,000 clergymen, held 224 annual conferences; and when he left this earth he left 695 new preachers and 214,235 new members of his denomination.
Fruit in its Season
Yet, this fruit did not come all at once. God tiled the soil with men like Asbury for years ahead of the Second Great Awakening. In Asbury’s journal quotation, we can see the discouragement of ministering to lifeless people that made up the pre-second awakening America. It was, that the post-Revolutionary war period proved to be a time of moral decay. The church was waning, and people thought it was beyond help; some thought its days had passed. The church was dismissed as irrelevant, ministers were not respected; and in spite of the signs of societies decay, Asbury remained faithful and preached life, and love. No doubt, he preached eternal life to the lifeless, that new life only available in the promises of God, life brought forth through God’s love; a love that sent His son, Jesus Christ to die as a sacrifice for sin, while we were yet sinners of the worst kind. Preaching this message, Asbury grew tired but also blessed simultaneously.
Can we say that we are tired and worn out for Christ; having expended our energy in prayer and action to reach people for Christ?
In the book of Philippians, Paul said he was being poured out as a drink offering in his service to the Lord (Phil 2:17). We learn that, a drink offering would be given as a sacrifice in the form of wine along with each lamb sacrificed (Num 15:4-5) It would be poured into the altar fire, instantly turning to steam, completely used up. Let us, like Paul, dedicate our lives to be a drink offering to God. To be totally used up for the gospel and revival. If we are focused on seeing souls saved, we will be used up for the glory of God. Then we can say like Asbury , “I am much blessed” in our service to God and begin to see Him open the refreshing rain of transformation upon our weary service.
A Prayer for us
God give us the strength and focus on keeping our eyes fixed on you. Let our prayers be directed to see you refresh this land. Use us and pour us out for this purpose as we walk in obedience.
Francis Asbury, The Journal of the Rev. Francis Asbury, bishop of the Methodist Episcopal church, form August 7 1771, to December 7, 1815. (New York: N. Bangs and T. Mason, 1821), 4
Calvin Coolidge: “Address at the Unveiling of the Equestrian Statue of Bishop Francis Asbury, Washington, DC,” October 15, 1924. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=24170.