In October 1969, an Asbury college student named Jeannine Brabon asked for permission to hold an all-night prayer meeting on campus. Asbury was just a small college of a few thousand students in Wilmore, Kentucky. It was at a time of great unrest in the nation: dissent over the Vietnam War, riots on college campuses, and the shadow of persistent racism. Jeannine had felt God calling her to pray as a student, leading regular 30 minute prayer meetings before the chapel services at Asbury. Now even more prayer was needed. At the all-night prayer gathering that October, over 150 students prayed into the night, with many sensing the power of God’s presence.
In days that followed, Jeannine and a handful of the students committed themselves to a Great Experiment for 30 days. Each day, they would spend half an hour in prayer and Bible study, writing down what they had learned, and then they would share it with someone. The experiment went so well that they embraced it a second time, this time with 36 students, starting January 2, 1970. God used this time to transform many hearts, and there were many stories of what God was doing. By February 1st, another 200 resolved to enter into another 30 days of this great experiment to meet with God. On Monday evening, February 2nd, a group of these Christians, deeply hungry for God, prayed late into the night for the next day’s chapel service. At 2:30AM they paused and decided to stop because they knew that “God was going to come tomorrow.”
On February 3rd, 1970, at 10AM the student body gathered for what seemed like a routine service. The academic dean felt led to not give a message as normal but to share a brief testimony. Then he invited the students to do the same. Students came forward to admit their personal sins and to declare the excitement of experiencing the reality of Christ in their lives. When the dean asked if anyone would want to come to the front for prayer, hundreds of young people streamed to the altar, worshiping, confessing sins, kneeling on the floor, calling on God. Hundreds gave their hearts to Jesus that morning.
The chapel service, which usually lasted one hour, did not end that day. Students and faculty flowed in and out of the chapel, experiencing God’s presence 24 hours a day for more than a week. Classes were cancelled, and as outsiders started to hear what was happening, more people would crowd into the sanctuary. But even before many would set foot in the chapel, they would describe a powerful sense of divine presence that filled them with conviction and drew them to apologize to those they had wronged and to seek restoration. Soon newspaper and TV reporters came to investigate this uncanny situation. And many colleges would ask for Asbury students to come and share with them their experience.
Over the next few months, Asbury would send out over 2000 witnessing teams across the country. By summertime, over 130 schools had been impacted as the revival spread from city to city. God would pour out a fresh flood of His Spirit resulting in spontaneous worship, prayer, and healing. Thousands would put their trust in Jesus Christ, and many more found themselves unexpectedly awakened to the mighty presence and reality of their God.
QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS:
1. What would you say were the core convictions of those involved in preparing for the Asbury Revival? How do you think they would describe the role of prayer in all this?
2. What grabs your attention as you read about the hundreds of students who committed themselves to the Great Experiment of seeking and encountering God for 30 minutes each day?
3. How hungry are you today for a fresh encounter with the powerful presence and reality of Jesus Christ? What would you be willing to do to draw closer to God in this way?