From Asbury to Ashes

“{If} My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

A prayer service that lasted for almost two weeks has grabbed the attention of Christians around the world. A routine chapel service at Asbury University, a Christian college in Kentucky, began ordinarily on February 8 but took on a life of its own. A group of students remained after the service to spend time in prayer. According to some reports, one student stood up and confessed his sins and struggles to his remaining colleagues. They gathered to pray for him, and the prayers, praise, confession, testimonies, and worship continued until February 20. Evening services for local high school and college students will continue nightly until further notice, and services are being moved elsewhere in the area to accommodate the large crowds.

Hughes Auditorium at Asbury University, site of the recent Asbury Revival. Photo taken on July 22, 2010 by Nyttend, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Asbury Revival has inspired numerous churches and ministries throughout the country. Christians, including clergy and prominent Christian leaders, have visited the campus to see the revival in person. Many others watch live feeds of the prayer meeting online. Similar revivals, inspired by the Asbury outpouring, are beginning in churches and on college campuses nationwide. God is still working, and people are experiencing His power in a fresh way.

As many churches begin to observe Lent, the 40 days of fasting, self-examination, and repentance that precede Easter, the Asbury Revival came at a perfect time. Lent calls the church to a time like this, when people seek the Lord, confess their sins, and renew their commitment to praise and serve God.

It is too early to guarantee that the Asbury Revival will have a noticeable long-term impact. Will it lead to renewed evangelism, church growth, holiness among Christians, or renewal of morality in America? We shall see. But whether it continues to spread or rapidly fizzles out, it can inspire all of us to seek more of the power of God in our lives. It is not enough to talk about and watch the revival: We should seek revival in our own lives.

Some Christians have raved about the revival, posting pictures of the prayer meetings on social media or making extravagant claims about its impact. Others have been critical. Some accuse it of emotionalism (participants say it is not) or question if a genuine Holy Spirit outpouring can occur in a setting like this. Some distrust it, because they do not agree with the theology taught at Asbury’s seminary or dislike the style of worship at the prayer meetings (observers report a mixture of contemporary praise songs and classic hymns, usually with minimal instrumentation, little sound engineering, and none of the special effects and flashing lights seen at some megachurch services).

Photo from PxHere

Instead of criticizing the revival, let us each seek a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our own lives. All too often, the critics are doing nothing meaningful. Instead of getting together with your friends and pretending to be the Siskel and Ebert of God’s Kingdom, ask God to do something new in your life. The elements of the Asbury Revival are a great place to start for revival in your own life or your church or small-group fellowship: prayer, confession, repentance, testimony, praise, and worship. These are also the habits of a committed disciple of Christ: self-righteous judgmentalism is not.

For those who observe Lent, let us pursue it with greater zeal than before. Let this be a season of seeking the features of the Asbury Revival in our individual relationships with Christ. Even if revival does not break out in our local churches or fellowship groups, we can seek a lasting outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

For some Christians, Lent can be somewhat mechanical. We might choose the same fast every year or give something up without committing to spending more time in the Lord’s presence. If we want to catch some of that revival fire, perhaps we should ask God how we can do something different during this season of preparation for Easter.

If you have never observed Lent before, this would be a great time to try. Choose a simple but meaningful fast: abstain from meat on Fridays, give up a favorite snack, or abstain from a favorite hobby. Devote more time to prayer, Scripture reading, listening to Christian music, etc. Devote time to self-examination and confession of your sins. Clear away the obstacles that keep you from following Jesus wholeheartedly.

Whether the Asbury Revival continues or not, God can continue to transform, renew, and revive you for many years. He wants to do it. Will you let Him do His perfect work in you?

Heavenly Father, thank you for the revival that broke out at Asbury University. Let it continue to spread to other communities, churches, and countries. May it especially kindle a flame in my heart, so that I may live with a revival spirit during Lent and for many years to come. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Do you celebrate Lent? How do you plan to draw closer to the Lord in the weeks to come? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Copyright © 2023 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

5 responses to “From Asbury to Ashes”

    • Same here! I like how this one is not “revival as usual,” with scheduled hoopla and forced emotionalism. But it is spreading. Our church’s pastor went down to see Asbury in person and came back committed to removing whatever obstacles might hinder revival in our church. I’m eager to see what God’s going to do next: in my life and in the lives of those around me.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I believe Asbury was a taste of God’s outpouring this year across our nation and the world. Now that I know my church will have open doors 24/7 for Lent, I’m hearing Holy Spirit call me back to 6am prayer in the sanctuary.. I look forward to the discipline and seeing what Holy Spirit will do among us.


    • Amen. I am thrilled to hear that our pastor didn’t just go down to Asbury to “watch the show,” but went to see what God is doing and came back asking what He wants to do to bring revival to our church. I pray that more pastors and Christians ask the same questions and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.


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