The story of Cane Ridge is one that seems too spectacular to be true. Had it not been for the many eyewitnesses who recorded the event in great detail, it might be easy to dismiss it as a tall tale. There is no denying that something supernatural took place in the cane fields of Kentucky. The camp meeting shook several denominations, including the Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists.
This revival ignited a fire that swept through the Western frontier like a wildfire through dry bush. It set the stage for America's next great awakening. Barton Stone testified, "To give a true description of this meeting cannot be done; it would border on the marvelous. Many, very many, will through eternity remember it with thanksgiving and praise."
The story of the Cane Ridge revival is one that stirs something deep within the spirit. Every year thousands of people still make the trek to Cane Ridge, Kentucky, to visit that old log cabin meeting house. They go to learn about and to remember this remarkable move of God. Some go in hopes of capturing a burning ember of that ancient fire. All leave with the same prayer resounding in their hearts, "Lord, do it again, like Cane Ridge!"
Oh, that God would do it again and do it like Cane Ridge! Oh, that He might visit this land with such a move of His Spirit that is so awesome it shakes sinners and stirs saints! Barton Stone described the nation before Cane Ridge like this: "So low had religion sunk, and such carelessness universally had prevailed, that I have thought that nothing common could have arrested the attention of the world." Revival came as a much-needed answer from heaven.
We find our nation in this place once again. The faith of many has sunk low, and worldliness has invaded not only the land but the church as well. America once again needs something uncommon to burn through the dry brush. We desperately need revival.
The psalmist Asaph wrote, "I will remember the works of the Lord; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate also on all Your work and ponder on Your mighty deeds" (Ps. 77:11–12, MEV). There is great benefit in looking back at the stories of the past to be encouraged by all God has done. Especially in times of great darkness or spiritual drought, these stories remind us that we've been here before, and when we finally turn back to God, He always revives.
In this passage from Psalm 77, the psalmist was recalling the marvelous wonders God performed in the desert. God met with His people in the wilderness with fire, smoke, thunder, and lightning (Exod. 19:16–18). Time and time again God delivered Israel from the hands of the enemy and miraculously provided for them in a desert wasteland. Asaph saw the wisdom of looking back and remembering the past moves of God. Asaph was King David's chief musician. Stop and think about that for a moment. Asaph was David's worship leader.
David was a celebrated musician himself, a man after God's own heart, the one from whose bloodline the Messiah would come. What kind of man would David choose to be his chief musician, the one responsible for leading continual worship before the Lord? For Asaph to have been in that role, he undoubtedly was a man who carried the heart of two kings—a natural one and an eternal one.
History tells us that Asaph was there the day the ark of the covenant was brought back into Jerusalem. It had remained outside the city for years. David jealously longed for the day it would be returned. Finally that day arrived, and with it came celebration and national revival. This was the day Asaph was appointed to lead worship continually before the ark (1 Chron. 15:16–17). What a powerful moment this must have been for Asaph!
However, over time something changed. Asaph found himself in great distress. From the very depths of his soul he said, "I cried out to God with my voice, even to God with my voice; and He listened to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out and does not weary, my soul refuses to be comforted" (Ps. 77:1–2).
It is not entirely clear exactly what Asaph was lamenting about. However, his words let us know he was experiencing a time of great affliction, and he could find no relief by day or rest at night. He cried out to the Lord, and it appeared as if God had not answered. Asaph inquires, "Will the Lord cast off forever, and will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever, and have His promises failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious, and has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?" (Ps. 77:7–9).
Of course, the answer to these questions is a resounding, "No!" Asaph knew this truth well. Still, he couldn't help but wonder why the answer tarried. Asaph's affliction brought the man of God to his knees. When in great distress, he had no choice but to call upon the Lord for an answer.
If revival tarries, it is because we have been reluctant to tarry before the Lord. It is true that as long as we remain content to live without revival, we will continue to remain without revival. However, I believe that in this day God is beginning to unsettle some Asaphs. The rebellion of the land is producing a great affliction within our souls, and with each passing day we are growing more and more distressed.
This divine affliction is bringing us, as lovers of God, to our knees to cry out, "Lord, do it again!"
The preceding was excerpted from Daniel Norris' book, Trail of Fire (Charisma House, 2016). You can purchase a copy of the book here.
Daniel K. Norris, the founder and head of Daniel K. Norris Ministries, served alongside evangelist Steve Hill for more than a decade. Today, Daniel continues on in the footsteps of his mentor, bringing that same message of revival and repentance to the nations.