In 1742 in Cambuslang, Scotland, a pastor described the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in his community: “Vain persons, who minded no religion, but frequented taverns and frolics, passing their time in filthiness, foolish talking and jesting, or singing paltry songs, do now frequent Christian societies for prayer, seek Christian conversation, talk of what concerns the soul, and express their mirth in Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs.”
Like many periods of spiritual revival, this one began with the prayers of a small group, and its radical effects extended to an entire town. As Scripture tells us in the story of Solomon, God also promised revival to His people and their community if they would commit themselves to prayer.
Rather than strident demands, the Lord makes it clear that the prayer He hears is one of humility. God’s people kneel before Him in distressing circumstances—drought, plague, and sinful habits—and confess their weakness and failure. These prayers are public admissions that God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Humbled, we then lift our eyes to seek God’s face. We renounce our allegiance to sin and to Satan (v. 14) and declare instead that we desire to know and follow our God alone. The Lord answers by sending His Holy Spirit, the greatest gift the Father bestows on His children (see Luke 11:11–13). His Spirit heals the land and assures us that God’s eyes and heart will always be with us (v. 16).
In response to our humility, God promises to hear our cries. In response to our confession of sin, He promises to grant forgiveness. And in response to our request to know Him more, God promises to send His reviving and refreshing Spirit.