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A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of joining a conference of Acts 29 pastors and wives at their retreat. The theme of the conference was revival. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more important to seek as Christians than a fresh outpouring of God the Holy Spirit on the Church and on our communities. No single act of God short of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ could do more for our souls and our world than a visitation of God’s Spirit in power!

In the early 1800s, a revival broke out among Baptist churches in Vermont (among other places). Pastor Silvanus Haynes wrote an account of a nine year old girl who attended a meeting to relay her conversion experience. Here’s the back-and-forth between Haynes, working to be careful with the girl’s soul, and the young girl.

Haynes: You tell us about being so great a sinner; what have you done that is so bad?

Girl [after a short pause]: I do not know as my outward conduct has been worse than many others, but my heart is so wicked!

Haynes: You tell about God’s law being so good and just, but do you know the nature of that law?

Girl: That law is so severe that it will curse and condemn a person for ever for only committing one sin, unless he repents of it, and applies to Christ for pardon.

Haynes [in a serious tone]: Would it not be better to have that law altered a little, and not have it so severe?

Girl: No, Sir, not at all, it is not too strict.

Haynes: But you tell us that you love God; and this God can thunder when he pleases, and dash the world to atoms in a moment, and are you not afraid of him?

Girl: I used to be afraid of him, but now I love him.

Haynes: But do you know the nature of this God?

Girl: He is so holy that he does not allow people to commit one sin, and if they sin but once, he will send them to hell if they do not repent and apply to Christ.

Haynes: Would it not be really better if God were altered a little, so as not to be quite so strict with us?

Girl: No, Sir, he is just right, he is none too strict.

Haynes: But there must be some alteration somewhere or else such as we are can never enjoy the favour of God.

Girl: I need all the altering.

Haynes: Why do you love God?

Girl: Because he is so holy and so just.

Haynes: But you tell about going to heaven, and what do you wish to go there for?

Girl: To praise God.

Haynes: But what do you want to praise him for?

Girl: Because he is so holy, and so just.

Haynes: Well, and what if you should go to heaven, and God should tell you that you might forever enjoy those pearly walls, and golden streets, and have the company of saints and angels, and join and sing with them to all eternity; but I must go away to another heaven a great many million miles off; now, would not heaven be just as good without God, as with him?

Girl [pausing a moment]: It would be no heaven at all!

Haynes tells us that this nine-year-old girl joined the church not long after and remained in good standing ever since. Oh, how I wish the Spirit would give such holy knowledge of the Lord to children and adults in our neighborhood today!

I’ve continued to meditate on revival and I’m hoping to begin leading our church family in regular prayer for it. What about you?


Quoted in Tom J. Nettles, “Baptist Revivals in America in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” in Robert Davis Smart, Michael A.G. Haykin, and Ian Hugh Clary (eds), Pentecostal Outpourings: Revival and the Reformed Tradition (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016), pp. 209-210.

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2 thoughts on “Lord, Give Us the Faith of a Nine-Year Old Girl!”

  1. TQ says:

    I pray nearly every day for this revival. Just this Sunday I read that prayer (calling on God to pour out his Spirit to make the word effective in people’s hearts) is one of the 2 fundamental activities of Christian ministry (Trellis & the Vine p. 41)

  2. Jeff says:

    This is so far removed from a two sentence prayer that gets you to Heaven and lets you escape Hell. After the prayer you don’t have to worry about sin because God infuses you with Jesus’s righteousness, so any time you sin he doesn’t see the sin just Jesus. If we live a life indistinguishable from the world we go to Heaven just don’t get the rewards we would get there. I said that prayer as a teenage, but didn’t change anything about me.

    One day I realized that my life was a mess and God could do a better job of running it than I could. A little later I watched a horror movie and I was the monster. I saw myself the way he saw me, and all I could do is plead for mercy based on the cross and know that because Jesus died for me I could not only be forgiven, but changed little by little on the inside. It was only in absolute Lordship, faith in Jesus and the cross, and constant repentance that I had any hope of heaven. But it wasn’t a series of rewards, It was finding the Greatest Treasure— God Himself, and not being able to see anything in me worthy of that treasure, except to the extent Christ Himself was in me, totally in charge, and conforming me to be like him. Nothing I deserve. It would have been the greatest mercy if God had just forgiven me for who I was/still am too much, and the rebellion and one upmanship I lived and still do too much. Yet on top of forgiveness, there was an adoption, and there was love, and a new Father trying to give good gifts to his adopted child. Starting with the gift of himself.

    The Chinese have a song they sing all the time called “The Gift of Knowing You”. It was born in the underground church when the government was trying to take everything else away because of their love for Jesus.
    The song talks about the beauty and majesty of nature overwhelming the singer, not for their own beauty and majesty, but because of the beauty and majesty of the one who created them and reveals himself not only through the nature, but directly to the heart.

    Jeremiah 4:3-4
    This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and to Jerusalem:
    “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts,you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.

    1 John 1:5-9
    This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light;in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    Jeremiah 29:11-13
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

    Jeremiah 31:33-34
    “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
    “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
    No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

    Ezekiel 36:35-37
    I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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