The Cane Ridge Revival – Part 1

What does 1798 have in common with 2014? More than you might think – at least in America. Many Christians bemoan the situation we face today, but it’s not too unlike the circumstances of the church shortly after we established our nation and declared our freedom. Two friends, Bill Elliff and Byron Paulus, have just written a book to call America to pray for spiritual awakening. In their book,One Cry, they cite research from Bob Bakke, a mutual friend as well as an authority on the Second Great Awakening. Bob lists some of the conditions found in America at the close of the 18th century: “eight years of war, pirates and terrorist threats, bankruptcy, real estate collapse, plagues, the Enlightenment, social unrest, Universalism, French ‘Reign of Terror,’ famine, political rancor, nasty elections, coarse sensuality, and empty churches. ”It sounds much like the conditions in which we find ourselves. It’s very interesting to note that when God set about to change the nation in the late 1700s, He chose one of the darkest places in which to pour out His Spirit – Logan County,Kentucky, also known as Rogue’s Harbor. The famed preacher, Peter Cartwright, described the area in his autobiography: “Murderers, horse thieves, highway robbers, and counterfeiters fled here until they combined and actually formed a majority. ”God’s stars seem to shine brightest on the darkest nights, in the most dangerous places, and the most dreadful circumstances. Cartwright described what took place next. “Somewhere between 1800 and 1801, in the upper part of Kentucky,at a memorable place called Cane Ridge, there was appointed a sacramental meeting by some of the Presbyterian ministers, at which meeting, seemingly unexpected by ministers or people, the mighty power of God was displayed in a very extraordinary manner; many were moved to tears, and bitter and loud crying for mercy…. Thousands heard of the mighty work, and came on foot, on horseback, in carriages and wagons. “It was supposed that there were in attendance at times during the meeting from twelve to twenty-five thousand people. Hundreds fell prostrate under the mighty power of God, as men slain in battle. Stands were erected in the woods from which preachers of different Churches proclaimed repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and it was supposed by eye and ear witnesses, that between  one and two thousand soulswere happily and powerfully converted to God during the meetng…. The heavenly fire spread in almost every direction.” The fire spread throughout the frontier, and a revival swept America. What God has done in the past, He is more than able to do today. I had the privilege of speaking at a conference on spiritual awakening with the late Dr. Roy Fish. During a question and answer time, he was asked, “Do you see any hope for America today?” His response reminded me of the Second Great Awakening as described in the autobiography of Peter Cartwright. Dr. Fish responded, “The greatest hope I see is that there is no hope. That’s when God visits His people. It’s when we feel hopeless and cry unto Him for a mighty outpouring of His Spirit upon the land that He hears and answers our prayers.” The Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky stands as a witness to the truth of Dr.’s statement. God has not changed. If we will do what God told us, He will answer our prayers and heal our land. He told the prophet Jeremiah, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NKJV Jer. 33:3). Let’s give ourselves to seeking Him until He visits our land once again.

Quotes from One Cry by Byron Paulus and Bill Elliff, published by Moody Press 2014, pages 219, 220 and Autobiography of Peter Cartwright, published in 1859, pages 24, 25, 30. For more information on the One Cry movement, visit: To read more of Peter Cartwright’s autobiography, visit:

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