Countless Australians have been praying, seeking God, fasting, crying out and waiting for a miracle of revival and transformation in the Great Southland. This weekend we saw powerful evidence of a God Who wants to answer these prayers.
With even the mainstream media hailing Scott Morrison’s re-election a miracle, it’s hard to deny that this is one of God’s most astounding interventions in Australia in living memory.
What was quantified over the weekend wasn’t merely election votes—it was a cultural shift. To many, it feels like a nation-changing moment.
We must be realistic. ScoMo’s Coalition is no saviour from all the country’s woes. They’re not ‘God’s party’, perfect and immune from criticism. Just like Labor, they’re a group of fallen women and men who are destined to disappoint every Australian in one way or another.
But they do now stand as a steadfast bulwark against ideologies that would have caused great damage to freedom, faith and family in our land.
For those who share these values, a great victory has been achieved. But the work has only begun. There’s much to rejoice about, but so much still to do.
As believers, we’re not merely looking for a Christian PM. It’s not even a climate more favourable to faith that we seek. We want souls. We want to see revival and transformation sweep across Australia. We want to see hundreds of thousands of hearts turning back to God.
If you prayed for this election, thank you. Now, don’t stop. Keep praying for Australia. Here are ten reasons we must keep praying for revival and transformation Down Under.
Because politics can’t transform the culture
The election might have measured a cultural shift. But elections, politicians and political parties never create cultural shifts. In every way, politics is downstream from culture.
What we see happening in Canberra is only ever a reflection of attitudes and ideas that were birthed years—even decades earlier—in the country’s cultural hotspots: our universities, our bohemian coastlands, and our dense urban centres.
The world of politics can mark the cultural tides but it doesn’t cause them. Indeed, Scott Morrison’s re-election and his performance over the coming three years might cause a swing back the other way at the next election.
This is why God in His wisdom tells us,
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” (Psalm 146:3)
In another Psalm, King David wrote,
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
No political leader can bring about the kind of cultural change we want to see. Only God reviving hearts can do this. And so keep turning our face to seek Him.
Because our Christian foundations are still eroding
The book of Nehemiah is a book about revival. God’s people had been captive in Babylon for over 70 years, but in the providence of God, under Nehemiah’s leadership, they were able to return to the promised land.
Nehemiah is a story of restored foundations. As Israel rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, God rebuilt the nation of Israel, restoring their faith in him. In the closing chapters of the book, a great revival service takes place.
“At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.” (Nehemiah 12:27)
In Australia, we’re not there yet. There is a great work yet to do to restore the foundations of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Many of these foundations yet lie in ruins.
It is said that Billy Graham’s visit to Australia in 1959 is the closest we ever came to revival. Three million people—or one third of the country’s population—heard the gospel, and over 140,000 made a public decision for Christ.
This year, the Franklin Graham tour this year was an incredible event, with many thousands of Aussies coming to faith. And we praise God for all that he did back in February.
But culturally speaking, Franklin Graham was building on weaker foundations. Australia’s understanding of God, righteousness, sin, and our need for salvation has been weakened through those decades.
We must keep seeking God to restore our foundations so that when the next Graham visits, even Billy will be put to shame.
Because church attendance is still in decline
On any given Sunday, more Australians attend a church service than all AFL and NRL games combined. That’s an encouraging thought.
But as someone who has worked on staff at a very vibrant church, I made one very sobering observation. Many Aussies who go to church only once a month still consider themselves ‘regular’ attenders. That’s twelve church services a year.
In our most recent census, 52% of Australians identified with the Christian faith. But only one in seven, or 15% of the population, regularly attend a church. This number has been on a downward trend for many decades.
To be sure, church attendance isn’t the most accurate measurement of a person’s spiritual fervour. But on a nationwide scale, it’s a helpful thermometer. Put it this way: if Australia saw revival, these statistics would look dramatically different. So we need to pray.
King Asa was a great man of God. Under his leadership, the nation of Judah removed the foreign altars, the high places, the sacred stones and the Asharah poles. He built up Judah’s fortified cities, and God gave the nation peace and rest for many years (2 Chronicles 14:2-6).
But far more importantly, under his leadership, the people of Judah “entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their ancestors, with all their heart and soul” (2 Chronicles 15:12). Would that we see the same take place in Australia!
Because we still need to turn from our wicked ways
In God’s mercy, we’ve been spared from a government that planned to force taxpayers to fund abortions up to full term around the country. This is a great victory for the unborn and all those who defend them.
But the sobering reality is that even under the Liberals, over 70,000 of the unborn will continue to lose their lives each year. The silent holocaust continues unabated.
Real revival, biblically speaking, also looks like a turning from sin. 2 Chronicles 7:14 famously declares,
“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
We’ve humbled ourselves, prayed and sought God’s face. But as a nation, we are yet to turn from our wicked ways. Abortion is but one example. Throw into the mix domestic violence, greed, pornography, slavery, and a thousand other ills.
When revival comes, righteousness follows on its heels. In 1902, a great revival swept through the Illawarra on the NSW South Coast. 25,000 people came to faith as one coal mining village after another was touched by the Spirit of God.
Remarkable changes took place at a social level. The work ethic of miners improved markedly, people paid off debts that they’d long let go bad, and the swearing stopped—so much so that the pit ponies could no longer understand their masters!
How might revival in this time affect the moral compass of Australians? It’s exciting to imagine.
Because our worldview stops us from seeing our need
It’s a phenomenon we see around the West. There’s no longer a deep sense of need in our culture for God. I don’t just mean atheists and agnostics. As Christians, we can be just as guilty of this, living like practical atheists, forgetting our desperate dependance on the One who gives life.
Revival happened in the time of Elijah. And it came from a place of desperation. There was a severe famine in Samaria, and the notorious Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets (1 Kings 18:2-5).
Out of desperate need, hidden away in caves by Obadiah, those who wouldn’t bend their knee to Baal sought God for provision and protection, and he heard their prayers.
Australia has just had its own Obadiah moment. From a place of desperation, we’ve sought God in the secret place and we’ve seen him answer in a miraculous way. But it’s only the beginning.
A century and a half of secularism and individualism has meant that we so rarely see our need for God. Religious and irreligious alike, we Australians need revival to reset our thinking and return us to a radical reliance on Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides.
Because the revivals of the past have been forgotten
History’s single greatest lesson is that we don’t learn from history. But this also works in reverse. When we recall the past, it inspires the future.
So much of Scripture is a record of God’s people remembering God’s goodness in days gone by to inspire them to walk in God’s way in the present. This is a major theme of the Psalms. The Exodus alone was recalled by Israel on countless occasions to call them back to faith.
This is true also of the history of revivals. America’s Great Awakening under Jonathan Edwards was largely inspired as stories of the Wesleyan revival in England were shared. The Irish and Welsh revivals in turn were inspired by revivals in the United States.
In the 1930s, a man who had been touched by the Welsh revival bought a farm in Pinnacle Pocket, North Queensland. He ministered to the Aboriginal and Islander people he employed and a great revival took place in this region, lasting for decades. Its effect spread across Australia! Lives were transformed, illiterate people could suddenly read the Bible, the lame walked and even the dead were raised.
Our culture is so preoccupied with progress that we forget the past. And there’s a logic to this: if the progressivist doctrine is true—if history is only ever improving—then the past is ultimately irrelevant. C. S. Lewis called this ‘chronological snobbery’.
On the other hand, we can mistakenly think of the past as ‘the glory days’. But the truth is somewhere in between. God is taking this planet towards a great and glorious destiny. But to get there, we need to stay connected with the past, with His story. That’s why the Bible is a largely a book of history.
Revival will come as we recall the great revivals of the past. But first we need to know about them. It’s time to dust off the history books.
Because there is a great crying out for justice
Justice always accompanies revival. This was the central cry of Amos as he sought to revive God’s people:
“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
When revival truly grips Australia, it won’t merely be felt in our gatherings. It will flow out into the streets. It will hit our hip pockets. It will mark change for the orphan, the widow, the alien and the poor. It will spell justice for them.
Not all of Australia is happy with the election of Scott Morrison, and nor are all Christians. The Liberals are known as allies for Christian values, but they do not have a monopoly on justice—and there are justice issues that Christians must lobby the Morrison government about.
More importantly, there are justice issues that we ourselves must act on and be actively praying for. The unborn, our Indigenous communities, single mothers, innocent children exposed to sexual ideologies, the homeless, those fleeing persecution from overseas, those persecuted for speaking truth here in Australia.
Our land is crying out for justice. We need to be agents of change. And we need to pray for revival and transformation if we want to see seismic shifts for the vulnerable and marginalised.
Because we still need more unity in the body of Christ
It’s hard not to notice the incredible movement of unity taking place across the body of Christ in Australia. As just one recent example, when Pastor Margaret Court called the Aussie church to pray and fast for 21 days in the lead up to the election, a vast and colourful array of denominations and leaders got behind the movement, despite wildly differing theology. It was an absolute inspiration.
But we know that more unity is still needed. Not just from the top down but from the grassroots up. Believers with each other in the street, the workplace and at sporting events, regardless of their denomination. God’s people chatting out their differences but in a stubborn spirit of fondness and family. Loyalty to brand giving way to a generous love for the church universal.
The time of the Judges is infamous for those words, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”. But when revival came under Samuel, so did unity. Finally, a judge was able to gather God’s people.
“They gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” (1 Samuel 7:6)
It was a great turning to God. The church in Australia needs more of the same. We will know revival has come when we cease to build our own kingdoms and seek only to build God’s kingdom together.
Because our culture is desperate for purpose
We are a culture crying out for purpose. So many of the social ills that we read about daily in our newsfeeds and papers are a reflection of this. As is the surge in eastern mysticism, our ever-increasing materialism, and the now widespread idea that sexuality equals identity.
Even the polarisation of politics over the last few years is evidence of our deep hunger for meaning. In online echo chambers, people have lost hope in God but found faith in radical viewpoints, both left and right.
What we need and what we’re truly desperate for is God Almighty to quench our culture’s endless thirst.
“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6)
Another evidence of revival that we await is when the blank-faced masses are made alive, finding their purpose in God and in God alone, believing the promise of 1 Peter 2:9.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
We wait and we pray for that day.
Because democracy depends on righteousness
America’s founding fathers knew this. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t a Christian but in 18th century America, he breathed Christian air. And he said,
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
William V. Wells, an author of the period, wrote,
“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.”
More foreboding were the words of founding father Patrick Henry:
“It is when people forget God that tyrants forge their chains.”
If it’s true that the democracy depends on righteousness, then if democracy is to survive, we need revival. It has happened before in Australia, and it can happen again.
Let’s not let up! Please, keep praying for revival and transformation.