(This has been adapted and updated from the lectures given by Charles Finney entitled, Lectures on Revivals of Religion).

Finney believed that a revival consisted of two parts: “as it respects the church, and as it respects the ungodly.”

(Hoses 10:12 NLT) I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’

We have a part to play in bringing revival to the church and the world around us. One of the parts that we play is “plow[ing] up the hard ground of [our] hearts.”

How does one plow the ground and prepare it for a deposit of God’s presence, power, and provision?

Finney offers a simple exercise that will unearth and excavate the ground in our life. He encourages that we examine our hearts by taking an inventory based on our human sin. He believes that when we see clearly our need for Christ, we will focus our entire being on God and when we do revival will come.

Do you believe that? If so, use this exercise to help prepare yourself for revival.

Mr. Finney said:

“Self-examination consists in looking at your lives, in considering your actions, in calling up the past, and learning its true character. Look back over your past history. Take up your individual sins one by one, and look at them. I do not mean that you should just cast a glance at your past life, and see that it has been full of sins, and then go to God and make a sort of general confession, and ask for pardon. That is not the way. You must take them up one by one. It will be a good thing to take a pen and paper, as you go over them, and write them down as they occur to you. Go over them as carefully as a merchant goes over his books; and as often as a sin comes before your memory, add it to the list. General confessions of sin will never do. Your sins were committed one by one; and as far as you can come at them, they ought to be reviewed and repented of one by one.”

SINS OF OMISSION

Ingratitude
Lack of love for God
Neglect of the Bible
Unbelief
Lack of Prayer
Neglect of the means of grace (small groups, attending church, communion, prayer meetings)
The attitude or manner in which you have preformed the above duties
Lack of care for your fellow human being
Lack of concern for the unsaved
Neglect of family and marriage commitments
Neglect of social commitments
Neglect of purity in your life
Lack of concern for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ
Lack of self-denial

SINS OF COMMISSION

Worldly mindedness
Pride
Envy
Critical spirit
Gossiping or Slanderous speech
Careless and irreverent with the things of God
Lying
Cheating
Hypocrisy
Robbing God (time, talents, treasures).
Bad tempers or uncontrolled anger
Being a distraction to those working hard
Offense
Unforgiveness

Instructions

A. Do it now. Don’t wait.
B. Once you have gone through it once, do it again. (You will see other sins)
C. And “yes” do it one more time.
D. Be sure and repent for each one and invite God’s power and grace into your life.

Finney adds:

“Unless you do take up your sins in this way, and consider them in detail, one by one, you can form no idea of the amount of your sins. You should go over it as thoroughly and as carefully, and as solemnly, as you would if you were just preparing yourself for the judgment.”

This inventory and examination is vital to preparing our hearts of a wonderful deposit of God’s Word into our life. As we end this exercise Finney shares about the ‘spirit of prayer’ that can come upon the people of God. I leave you with that picture. May we embrace prayer as individuals and a church as to usher in a ‘spirit of prayer’ as described by Mr. Finney:

“Set yourself to the work now; resolve that you never will stop till you find you can pray. You never will have the spirit of prayer, till you examine yourself, and confess your sins, and break up your fallow ground. You never will have the Spirit of God dwelling in you, till you have unraveled this whole mystery of iniquity, and spread out your sins before God. Let there be this deep work of repentance, and full confession, this breaking down before God, and you will have as much of the spirit of prayer as your body can bear up under. The reason why so few Christians know any thing about the spirit of prayer, is because they never would take the pains to examine themselves properly, and so never knew what it was to have their hearts all broken up in this way.”