|Vol. VIII, No. 2, 1995|
By Thelma Bilyeu
A friend asked me how could a revival continue for 100 nights?
The revival that I was saved in did go on 100 nights and it seemed no problem at that time. The holy spirit would move on a preacher to start a revival. A starting date would be set but no mention was made of a closing date. Everyone understood it would close when the Lord said it was enough. Today, a beginning and a closing date are set. It will go on from three to five nights and occasionally for a week. When the closing date comes the meeting closes regardless of the interest of the congregation.
I remember with nostalgia the good old brush arbor meetings we used to have. The framework was set up of poles and trees. The sides were open and tree branches covered the top to keep out the rain and sun. The seats were rudely constructed of logs and planks. There were no cushions but no one complained of them being uncomfortable. Their attention was all on the services.
There were few actual church houses. Most services were held in school houses. Services started at 7:00 or 7:30 PM. The service was opened with music and singing. They didn't just sing two songs and then change the order of the service. The congregation gave requests and the requests were graciously granted. Everyone sang like they meant it and there was hand clapping and shouting. The spirit was present and the singing was an enjoyable part of the services. Many times it lasted for about an hour.
Following the song service there came the testimony meeting. Whoever felt led took charge of this part of the service. I have seen as many as three people come forward to take charge. Christians were eager to praise the Lord for His many blessings.
Between the testimonies choruses and appropriate songs would be sung. This was a very important part of the service. This was a favorite part for me and I miss it greatly in the present day services where only a few are given a chance to testify. Of course I do realize in the large churches time would not allow all Christians to testify. This part of the service would last about an hour in the old days. When everyone was through testifying the service would be turned over to the preacher. He did not mind that the hour was late but took as much time as he needed to deliver the message. He would just take his time and tell it like it was. He extolled the greatness of heaven and described the awful terrors of hell. He strongly urged people to repent and be saved.
When the preacher finished it was time for the altar call. People were invited to come and ask for forgiveness and be saved. Today they call it a commitment or "making a decision for the Lord." Both terms are fine but for me it will always be getting saved.
In this part of the service those under conviction would come to the altar to pray. Christians gathered at the altar to pray with them. When someone prayed through to victory there was rejoicing, hugging, handshaking, and shouting. How did a person know when they had prayed through? Romans 8:16 tells us "The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
In the year of the hundred nights revival I was graduating from high school. There were many activities in which I was involved so I would have to miss the services to attend the school activities. However, I would hope to get back to church in time for the altar service. Is there any way in this day and time that you could attend school activities and get back to church before it was over? At that time church services often lasted until midnight.
I hope you will not feel from what I have written that I do not enjoy church services of today. I certainly do enjoy the services and I still feel God's presence when I get to attend. God is not only the God of yesterday, but he is God of today and will still be the God of tomorrow. Time and modes of worship may change but God never changes.
Copyright -- OzarksWatch