Reflecting On A Man of God: Leonard Ravenhill

Posted: January 29, 2009 by Josiah Batten in Book Reviews, Christian living, Reform, Revival, The Church
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Throughout Church history, and certainly in the time of the Apostles, there was an urgency to fulfill the Great Commission because they were eagerly anticipating the return of the Lord and judgment.  Today, we totally neglect judgment. We ignore the possibility that Jesus could come back at any given moment.  Leonard Ravenhill once said that he believes five minutes into eternity we’ll all look back and wish we would have sacrificed more, loved more, grieved more, prayed more, wept more.

But we largely listen to preachers who satisfy our stagnant spiritual state and who tell us what we want to hear.  We think judgment is too hard to swallow, so we listen to people like Brian McLaren and Joel Osteen who tone the Word of God down so it is palpable.  Everything done in Churches today is done to maintain the status quo and the concept that Jesus is a yuppies’ accessory.  If someone threatens that status quo we quickly find an author or theologian who will dismiss that person and to whom we can cling.

Are we so concerned about making the Word of God politically correct that we are willing to let our fellow man stand before God and be sentenced to hell?  Do we doubt what God has revealed to the extent that we will not preach judgment?

People say “Well God is a God of love.”  Absolutely!  He loves us so much that He has provided Christ as the only sacrifice for our sins. He loves us so much that He warns us multiple times about coming judgment, and He makes it very clear how we can be declared righteous when that day comes!  We have to be pretty arrogant to ignore all that because we don’t like the idea of God Almighty judging us.  We have to be very arrogant to scrutinize and systematically ignore what He has revealed that we don’t find palpable.

In a chapter titled “We Plead or We Perish” in Leonard Ravenhill’s book Revival God’s Way, he challenges us:

“It’s time to leave the ‘prayer’ breakfast and banqueting circuit for the battlefield.  We have feasted long enough; now we must let those hands cling to the sword of the Spirit as we battle against principalities and powers.  The hours ahead of us will demand a showdown of strength.  The underpinnning of truth–the Bible is the infallible, inerrant, indestructible Word of the Lord–is being eaten away in the seminaries and schools by the acid rationalism of so-called intellectual progress.  Such a battle for the Bible is not won in the lecture halls.  It is won in the prayer closet.”  (Ravenhill 154)

Ravenhill goes on to ponder the question of what it will take to wake us from “our materialistic complacency and our spiritual sleep?”  He then rightly points out:

“While we sleep in the church the devil sows his tares, sets his snares, and weighs folks down with cares… Materialism has mesmerized us, and we count our calories more often then we count our blessings.

Time is running out on us…” (Ravenhill 154)

Is there any doubt that the Church is in a dire spiritual state?  I assume my readers are acquainted with the facts pointing to this, and that any one well-acquainted with the facts can not deny the horrendous condition of what passes as the Church (A.W. Tozer made this point in Religious Boredom, which can be found in his book Man:  The Dwelling Place of God).  Ravenhill outlines what we must do:

  1. Get down on our knees in prayer.
  2. Go up through the skies in intercession.
  3. Head out into the world, “fire-baptized in concern, compassion, and conquest for the final outpouring of mercy before the day of His wrath” (Ravenhill 156).

God heard Elijah; He heard Jonah, and He will hear us. “We plead or we perish!”  (Ravenhill 157).

The Revival Song

“Lord, we are hungry for blessing,

This is in tune with Thy Word;

Now as our need we’re confessing,

Give us new hearts, cleansed and stirred.

Great is the need of our nations,

Great is the need of this hour.

Lord, we abhor our stagnation,

Answer with Holy Ghost power.

Look on our great desperation;

Hold back Thy judgment we pray.

Move through the length of our nation;

Open They windows today.

Lord fill the Church with Thy Spirit.

Lord, save our nation we pray.

Quicken our love and our zeal, and

Send us revival today!”


With a humbled spirit,



  1. Leonard Ravenhill’s epitaph reads “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for?”

    In the twentieth century many men have been heralded as great men of God, but I know of no one whose influence toward true Revival, total consecration, and prayer can compare to that of Leonard Ravenhill. His voice more than any other seems to be stirring another generation to give themselves to God.

    As a side note, your “Ruler of the Synagogue” post reminded me of a quote by Leonard Ravenhill that I have not been able to locate. If memory serves, he was speaking of A.W. Tozer’s requirement when he (Tozer) took on a pastorate that he would not be required to perform the administrative duties commonly carried out by pastors (housecalls, ceremonies, and the like).

    Ravenhill imagines the objection by the congregation “What!? But who will visit the sick? Who will perform the marriages? Who will officiate funerals?” Then Ravenhill supplies the punch “The Deacons! The scripture clearly says ‘let the dead bury the dead….'”

    You probably have to be familiar with him to get the joke.

  2. sweetswede says:


    I pray the pattern of the Biblical prophets is true of Ravenhill, in that his message may have the greatest impact after his own lifetime.

    I remember hearing (or reading) that story about Tozer’s non-administrative pastorate before. I can’t recall from where though.

    To provide some context for the other readers “”The local “First Church” has just elected new deacons. Were they elected because they are “full of faith and of the Holy Ghost”? (Acts 6:5). Today, deacons and elders are usually “men of standing.” In the New Testament Church they were “men of kneeling”– praying men. Who checks the prayer lives of the men to be elected? Usually no one. In other words, we will choose whom we want and hope that the Lord will mercifully bless us.”” (Revival God’s Way, 24).

    God bless!

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