Revival – Devotion to Communion with God

Theme: Revival

‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’ Acts 2:42[/su_note]

I was brought up in a traditional Christian home. I attended Sunday school every week and once a month I accompanied my parents to take communion in the main sanctuary of the church building. The wooden pews were arranged facing the front of the building which was dominated by a large raised pulpit and an impressively solid rectangular communion table. Both of these were set apart from the people attending the service by a communion rail. The internal architecture sent out some strong messages. Message One: preaching is important; especially the robed man who ascended the pulpit stairs to reign above the congregation at least three meters above contradiction. Message Two: the ‘body and blood’ of the Lord Jesus is available on a sort of holy altar and may only be approached by the same robed gentleman. Message Three: “Stay at a distance, my child; your place is ‘that side’ of the communion rail.”

It is very sad that the means of grace that Jesus left with us to remember Him by has become, in so many churches, not so much a means of grace as a means of religious observance. The communion table that is supposed to remind us of the Last Supper looks like an altar of sacrifice and the man officiating looks more like a high priest than a loving pastor.
LA Times, 1906
Equally sad is how prayer has been denigrated from a means of communicating with God, to either a religious ritual or a supposed release of power. In many churches the minister says, “Let us pray” and then he, and he alone, proceeds to run through a formal litany of thanksgiving, intercession, and petition. When he is finished the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer with horrible speed and mindlessness. And how many times have we all heard the mantra ‘there is power in prayer’, as if praying releases some impersonal energy to our advantage. There is power in God, and when we speak to God, he hears us, and sometimes he responds with a release of Holy Spirit power – but there is no power in prayer itself!
The Lord’s Table, Eucharist, or whatever your denomination calls it, is meant to be a means of communing with God. Prayer is meant to be a means of communing with God. Through both means we speak to our Heavenly Father, we tell him how we feel about him and about our circumstances. We confess things to him and we share with him our hearts – we commune with him.

In times of revival prayer plays a major role. Before revival comes people start to pray, earnestly and regularly, asking God to come in power. During revival prayer often is the catalyst for bringing people to salvation. In the revivals in both China and India the services consisted mainly of corporate prayer and during those times people got healed and people got saved.
Now, of course, I have to end by asking some questions. What is your prayer life like – are you devoted to communion with God? Does prayer characterise your church? What role does it play in the gathered congregational life of your church?

I have to confess that in my church we are still failing in this regard but I am encouraged by the fact that more and more people are coming to the early morning prayer meetings. I am also encouraged, in a perverse sort of way, with how the Holy Spirit is chastising me in this area of my life.
Christopher Peppler

Christopher Peppler



1 thought on “Revival – Devotion to Communion with God”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for some interesting comments. The sociological ‘message’ of architecture is a subject that has interested me greatly of late. I must say I had never considered that aspect of communion practice in some churches, and the message it conveys.
    I am also intrigued by the 1906 Azusa Street paper clipping. Can you give me a URL as to where you got it from?
    In terms of the question you ask at the end of your posting: our church has a very positive prayer life and communion practice, with few walls or barriers.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.