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Alistair Begg Encourages Us to Pray for Revival

October Letter from Alistair Begg

Dear Friend,


Some years ago, I was invited to give two conference addresses on the doctrine of providence. The location of the conference was Princeton, New Jersey. I chose to use a free afternoon to visit the Princeton Cemetery, hoping to see the grave of Jonathan Edwards. I was successful in the end, but it took some searching. I assumed wrongly that it would be in an obvious and prominent position. It is just a couple graves down from the gravesite of John Witherspoon, sixth president of Princeton, a Founding Father and the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. Edwards’s grave is right behind that of his grandson Aaron Burr Jr., also a Founding Father and the third vice president of the US under Thomas Jefferson.


To say that Edwards’s grave is nondescript would be an understatement. The Latin inscription carved into the stone has faded, and a modern simple brass plate reads, “Jonathan Edwards, 3rd President of Princeton College.” I remember standing there being forcibly struck by the words of the psalmist: “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Ps. 103:15–16). Death is no respecter of persons, “no matter if you’re born to play the king or pawn.”

Edwards was born on Oct. 5, 1703, in East Windsor, Connecticut, and died March 22, 1758, at age fifty-four. He grew up in a home with a distinctly Puritan atmosphere and was educated at Yale. He was licensed to preach in 1722 and five years later settled at Northampton. After some seven years of routine preaching and pastoral ministry, he began to witness astonishing scenes.

At that time, he writes, “our public assemblies were then beautiful; the congregation was alive in God’s service, every one earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors.” This was a divine work, a revival impacting young and old, rich and poor. Conversions were multiplied, and Northampton seemed to be full of the presence of God.

Why all this church history today? Why now? To encourage us to pray and wait and hope for God to visit us once again. In the words of Habakkuk, “O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years.” The pressing need of the hour is surely a massive, unmistakable movement of the Spirit of God upon the people of God, disturbing us in our complacency, shaking us with fresh evidence of His power, and manifesting His love in and through us. Our predicament is on account of His judgment, which we found inescapably clear in studying the second half of Romans 1.

We cry again with Habakkuk, “In wrath remember mercy.” Having asked in a previous letter that you join me in praying for Paul Simon, I now ask you to pray for revival. And in doing so, we recall the advice of the British evangelist Rodney “Gipsy” Smith, who said that when praying for revival, we should draw a circle on the ground, stand inside the circle, and pray for God to revive everyone inside that circle!

May it please God to use our partnership in the ministry of the Gospel to surprise us with astonishing scenes of His power.

With my love in the Lord Jesus,



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Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.
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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.