Revival Anecdotes

Christ-centred Revival

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Melted with Affection for Christ
Aug. 26. Preached to my people from John VI. 51-55. After I had discoursed some time, I addressed those in particular who entertained hopes that they were “passed from death to life.” Opened to them the persevering nature of those consolations Christ gives his people, and which I trusted he had bestowed upon some in that assembly; showed them that such have already the “beginnings of eternal life,” (ver. 54.) and that their heaven shall speedily be completed, &c.

I no sooner began to discourse in this strain, but the dear Christians in the congregation began to be melted with affection to, and desire of, the enjoyment of Christ, and of a state of perfect purity. They wept affectionately, and yet joyfully, and their tears and sobs discovered brokenness of heart, and yet were attended with real comfort and sweetness; so that this was a tender, affectionate, humble, delightful melting, and appeared to be the genuine effect of a Spirit of adoption, and very far from that spirit of bondage that they not long since laboured under. The influence seemed to spread from these through the whole assembly,

And there quickly appeared a wonderful concern among them. Many who had not yet found Christ as an all-sufficient Saviour, were surprisingly engaged in seeking after him. It was indeed a lovely and very desirable assembly. Their number was now about ninety-five persons, old and young, and almost all affected either with joy in Christ Jesus, or with utmost concern to obtain an interest in him.

David Brainerds Journal, Part I., From A.D. 1745 June 19th To Nov 4th, At Crossweeksung And Forks Of Delaware

Filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory
Lord’s Day, March 9. While we were singing, there was one (the woman mentioned in my Journal of Feb. 9) who, I may venture to say, if I may be allowed to say so much of any person I ever saw, was “filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory,” and could not but burst forth in prayer and praises to God before us all, with many tears, crying sometimes in English and sometimes in Indian, “O blessed Lord, do come, do come! O do take me away, do let me die and go to Jesus Christ! I am afraid if I live I shall sin again! O do let me die now! O dear Jesus, do come! I cannot stay, I cannot stay, O how can I live in this world! Do take my soul away from this sinful place! O let me never sin any more! O what shall I do, what shall I do! Dear Jesus, O dear Jesus,” &c. –In this ecstasy she continued some time, uttering these and such like expressions incessantly. And the grand argument she used with God to take her away immediately, was, that “if she lived, she should sin against him.”

When she had a little recovered herself, I asked her, if Christ was not now sweet to her soul? Whereupon, turning to me with tears in her eyes, and with all the tokens of deep humility I ever saw in any person, she said, “I have many times heard you speak of the goodness and the sweetness of Christ, that he was better than all the world. But O! I knew nothing what you meant, I never believed you! I never believed you! But now I know it is true!” or words to that effect. –I answered, and do you see enough in Christ for the greatest of sinners? She replied, “O! Enough, enough! For all the sinners in the world if they would but come.” And when I asked her, if she could not tell them of the goodness of Christ; turning herself about to some poor Christ-less souls who stood by, and were much affected, she said, “Oh! There is enough in Christ for you, if you would but come! O strive, strive to give up your hearts to him!” &c. And upon hearing something of the glory of heaven mentioned, that there was no sin in that world, &c. she again fell into the same ecstasy of joy, and desire of Christ’s coming; repeating her former expressions, “O dear Lord, do let me go! O what shall I do, what shall I do! I want to go to Christ! I cannot live! O do let me die!” &c.

She continued in this sweet frame for more than two hours, before she was well able to get home. –I am very sensible there may be great joys, arising even to an ecstasy, where there is still no substantial evidence of their being well grounded. But in the present case there seemed to be no evidence wanting, in order to prove this joy to be divine, either in regard of its preparative, attendants, or consequents.

David Brainerd’s Journal, Part II. From A.D. 1745, Nov 24th, To June 19th, 1746, At Crossweeksung And Forks Of Delaware

A passion for Christ
Howell Harris: ‘I must have the Saviour, indeed. For he is my all; all that others have in the world, and in religion, and in themselves, I have in Thee; pleasures, riches, safety, honour, life, righteousness, holiness, wisdom, bliss, joy, gaiety, and happiness.. .And if a child longs for his father; a traveller for the end of his journey; a workman to finish his work; a prisoner for his liberty; an heir for the full possession of his estate; so, in all these respects, I can’t help longing to go home.’

Source unknown

A new sense of Jesus
C.H. Spurgeon said: “Revival begins with a vision, and the vision begins with a new sense of Jesus Christ”

Some attribute this quote to Douglas Brown, who was used to inaugurate the revival at Lowestoft in 1921.

Conditions Requiring Revival

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Before the Great Awakening – J. Edwin Orr
Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards: they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennox, Massachusetts in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Proovost, quit functioning: he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment. The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire averred, and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.”

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole of the student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place: they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College; and they put on anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burned it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790s that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

In case this is thought to be the hysteria of the moment, Kenneth Scott Latourette, the great church historian, wrote: “It seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.” The churches had their backs to the wall, seeming as if they were about to be wiped out.

How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer.

Edwin Orr, The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening.

State of the New England Churches before the Revival in Northampton in 1734.
There has been a great and just complaint for many years among the ministers and churches in Old England, and in New, (except about the time of the late earthquake there,) that the work of conversion goes on very slowly, that the Spirit of God in his saving influences is much withdrawn from the ministrations of his word, and there are few that receive the report of the gospel, with any eminent success upon their hearts….. The hand of God is not shortened that it cannot save, but we have reason to fear that our iniquities, our coldness in religion, and the general carnality of our spirits, have raised a wall of separation between God and us: and we may add, the pride and perverse humour of infidelity, degeneracy, and apostacy from the Christian faith, which have of late years broken out amongst us, seem to have provoked the Spirit of Christ to absent himself much from our nation. “Return, O Lord, and visit thy churches and revive thine own work in the midst of us.”

Introduction to Jonathan Edwards faithful narrative of the surprising work of God in the conversion of many hundred souls in Northhampton and the neighbouring towns and villages of New Hampshire, in New England in a letter to the Rev. Dr. Colman of Boston. Jonathan Edwards Works, Vol 1, p344.


Conviction of sin

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Northampton, Mass. 1734-5
Upwards of a year of growing seriousness, heightened by a succession of solemn events in the little community, had passed; “and then it was, in the latter part of December (1734), that the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in, and wonderfully to work among us; and there were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons who were, to all appearance, savingly converted, and some of them wrought upon in a very remarkable manner.

Presently upon this a great and earnest concern about the great things of religion and the eternal world became universal in all parts of the town, and among persons of all degrees and all ages; the noise among the dry bones waxed louder and louder; all other talk but about spiritual and eternal things was soon thrown by; all the conversation in all companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only, unless so much as was necessary for people carrying on their ordinary secular business. Other discourse when of the things of religion would scarcely be tolerated in any company. Religion was with all classes the great concern, and the world was a thing only by the by. The only thing in their view was to get the kingdom of heaven, and every one appeared pressing into it: the engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be hid; it appeared in their very countenances. There was scarcely a single person in the town, either old or young, that was left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those that were wont to be the vainest and loosest, and those that had been most disposed to think and speak slightly of vital and experimental religion, were now generally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; souls did, as it were, come by flocks to Jesus Christ.”

Jonathan Edwards, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God

Brainerd amongst the Indians 1745
Aug. 6. In the morning I discoursed to the Indians at the house where I lodged: many of them were then much affected, and appeared surprisingly tender, so that a few words about their souls’ concerns would cause the tears to flow freely, and produce many sobs and groans.

In the afternoon, they being returned to the place where I had usually preached amongst them, I again discoursed to them there. There were about fifty-five persons in all, about forty that were capable of attending divine service with understanding. I insisted upon 1 John IV. 10. “Herein is love,” &c. They seemed eager of hearing; but there appeared nothing very remarkable, except their attention, till near the close of my discourse; and then divine truths were attended with a surprising influence, and produced a great concern among them. There was scarce three in forty that could refrain from tears and bitter cries. They all, as one, seemed in an agony of soul to obtain an interest in Christ; and the more I discoursed of the love and compassion of God in sending his Son to suffer for the sins of men, and the more I invited them to come and partake of his love, the more their distress was aggravated, because they felt themselves unable to come. –It was surprising to see how their hearts seemed to be pierced with the tender and melting invitations of the gospel, when there was not a word of terror spoken to them.

David Brainerds Journal, Part I., From A.D. 1745 June 19th To Nov 4th, At Crossweeksung And Forks Of Delaware

The Spirit bears down on all
Aug. 8. In the afternoon I preached to the Indians; their number was about sixty-five persons, men, women, and children: I discoursed from Luke xiv. 16-23 and was favoured with uncommon freedom in my discourse. –There was much visible concern among them while I was discoursing publicly; but afterwards when I spoke to one and another more particularly, whom I perceived under much concern, the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly “like a rushing mighty wind,” and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it.

I stood amazed at the influence that seized the audience almost universally, and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent or swelling deluge, that with its insupportable weight and pressure bears down and sweeps before it whatever is in its way. Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarce one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation. Old men and women who had been drunken wretches for many years, and some little children not more than six or seven years of age, appeared in distress for their souls, as well as persons of middle age. And it was apparent these children (some of them at least) were not merely frightened with seeing the general concern; but were made sensible of their danger, the badness of their hearts, and their misery without Christ, as some of them expressed it. The most stubborn hearts were now obliged to bow. A principal man among the Indians, who before was most secure and self-righteous, and thought his state good because he knew more than the generality of the Indians had formerly done, and who with a great degree of confidence the day before, told me “he had been a Christian more than ten years,” was now brought under solemn concern for his soul, and wept bitterly. Another man advanced in years, who had been a murderer, a powwow, (or conjurer,) and a notorious drunkard, was likewise brought now to cry for mercy with many tears, and to complain much that he could be no more concerned when he saw his danger so very great.

They were almost universally praying and crying for mercy in every part of the house, and many out of doors, and numbers could neither go nor stand. Their concern was so great, each one for himself, that none seemed to take any notice of those about them, but each prayed freely for himself. And, I am led to think, they were to their own apprehension as much retired as if they had been individually by themselves in the thickest desert; or, I believe rather, that they thought nothing about any but themselves and their own states, and so were every one praying apart, although all together.

It seemed to me there was now an exact fulfilment of that prophecy, Zech. xii. 10, 11, 12. For there was now “a great mourning, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon;”–and each seemed to “mourn apart.” Me thought this had a near resemblance to the day of God’s power mentioned Josh. x. 14 for I must say, I never saw any day like it in all respects: it was a day wherein I am persuaded the Lord did much to destroy the kingdom of darkness among this people.

David Brainerds Journal, Part I., From A.D. 1745 June 19th To Nov 4th, At Crossweeksung And Forks Of Delaware

Deeply affected and wounded at heart
Aug 9. In the afternoon discoursed to them publicly. There were now present about seventy persons, old and young. I opened and applied the parable of the sower, Matt. xiii. Was enabled to discourse with much plainness, and found afterwards that this discourse was very instructive to them. There were many tears among them while I was discoursing publicly, but no considerable cry: yet some were much affected with a few words spoken from Matt. xi. 28. “Come unto me, all ye that labour,” &c. with which I concluded my discourse. But while I was discoursing near night to two or three of the awakened persons, a divine influence seemed to attend what was spoken to them in a powerful manner, which caused the persons to cry out in anguish of soul, although I spoke not a word of terror; but, on the contrary, set before them the fullness and all-sufficiency of Christ’s merits, and his willingness to save all that came to him; and thereupon pressed them to come without delay.

The cry of these was soon heard by others, who, though scattered before, immediately gathered round. I then proceeded in the same strain of gospel-invitation, till they were all melted into tears and cries, except two or three; and seemed in the greatest distress to find and secure an interest in the great Redeemer. –Some who had but little more than a ruffle made in their passions the day before, seemed now to be deeply affected and wounded at heart: and the concern in general appeared near as prevalent as it was the day before. There was indeed a very great mourning among them, and yet every one seemed to mourn apart. For so great was their concern, that almost every one was praying and crying for himself, as if none had been near. Guttummaukalummeh, guttummaukalummeh, i.e. “Have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me;” was the common cry.

It was very affecting to see the poor Indians, who the other day were hallooing and yelling in their idolatrous feasts and drunken frolics, now crying to God with such importunity for an interest in his dear Son!

David Brainerds Journal, Part I., From A.D. 1745 June 19th To Nov 4th, At Crossweeksung And Forks Of Delaware

Various testimonies of conviction of sin
“Cries for mercy rang all over the chapel. Before the sermon was done, I with many others, fell upon my knees to implore Salvation.”–One of Thos. Collins’ Converts.

“The sermon was swallowed up in victory. Seekers left their pews, and trooping, unbidden, up the aisles, knelt around the communion rail.” — Thos. Collins.

“A Quaker who stood by was not a little displeased at the dissimulation of these creatures, and was biting his lips and knitting his brows, when he dropped down as thunder-struck. The agony he was in was even terrible to behold. We besought God not to lay folly to his charge, and he soon lifted up his head and cried aloud, ‘Now I know thou art a prophet of the Lord.’ “ –John Wesley.

“J. H. was a man of regular life and conversation, one that constantly attended public prayers and sacrament, and was zealous for the church, and against dissenters of every denomination. Being informed that people fell into strange fits at the societies, he came to see and judge for himself. But he was less satisfied than before; inasmuch, that he went about to see his acquaintances one after another till one o’clock in the morning, and labored above measure to convince them it was a delusion of the devil.

“We were going home when one met us in the street, and informed us that J. H. was fallen raving mad.

“It seems he sat down to dinner, but had in mind first to end the sermon he had borrowed on Salvation by Faith. In reading the last page, he changed colour, fell off his chair and began screaming terribly, and beating himself against the ground.

“The neighbors were alarmed and flocked together to the house. Between one and two I came in and found him on the floor, the room being full of people whom his wife would have kept without, but he cried out aloud, ‘No, let them all come, let all the world see the just judgment of God.’ Two or three men were holding him as best they could. He immediately fixed his eyes upon me, and stretching out his hand cried, ‘Aye, this is he who I said was a deceiver of the people. But God has overtaken me. I said it was all a delusion. But this is no delusion.’ He then roared out, ‘O, thou devil! thou cursed devil! yea, thou legion of devils! thou canst not stay. Christ will cast thee out! I know His work is begun. Tear me to pieces if thou wilt, but thou canst not hurt me !’ He then beat himself against the ground again, his breast heaving at the same time, as in the pangs of death, and great drops of sweat trickling down his face.

“We all betook ourselves to prayer; his pangs ceased and both his body and soul were set at liberty.”–John Wesley.

“The power of God was present. They came to be saved, and were not disappointed. The sobs and cries were wonderful. It seemed as if God had come down in terror and power; as if the Spirit were passing through every region of every soul, diffusing Himself through all its capacities, and recesses; throwing light into the understanding, assailing and subverting the fortress of sin in the heart; revealing Himself as the antagonist of sin–disturbing and tracking it in all its windings–stirring the soul to its depths, drawing it slowly, but surely, to a crisis–piling up these sentences of condemnation, one upon another, until the whole soul, collecting all its energies into one out-cry for mercy, exclaimed, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner, what must I do to be saved? Save, Lord, or I perish! O, save or I sink into hell. Heal my soul for I have sinned against Thee !”–James Caughey.

“The power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly like a mighty, rushing wind, and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it. I stood amazed at the influence, which seized the audience almost universally; and could compare it to nothing more apt than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent or a swelling deluge that with its insupportable weight and pressure bears down and sweeps before it whatever comes in its way. Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarcely one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation; old men and women, who had been drunken wretches for many years and some little children, not more than six or seven years of age, appeared in distress for their souls, as well as persons of middle age.

“The most stubborn hearts were now obliged to bow. A principal man among the Indians, who, before, was most secure and self-righteous, and thought his state good, because he knew more than the generality of the Indians had formerly done, and who with a great degree of confidence the day before told me he had been a Christian more than ten years, was now brought under solemn concern for his soul and wept bitterly. Another man advanced in years, who had been a murderer, a conjurer, and a notorious drunkard, was likewise brought now to cry for mercy with many tears, and to complain much that he could be no more concerned when he saw his dangers so very great.

“They were almost universally praying and crying for mercy in every part of the house, and many out of doors, and numbers could neither go nor stand. Their concern was so great, each one for himself, that none seemed to take any notice of those about them, but each prayed freely for himself.”–David Brainerd.

“A young Indian woman, who, I believe, never knew before that she had a soul, nor ever thought of any such thing, hearing that there was something strange among the Indians, came to see what was the matter. On the way to the Indians she called at my lodgings; and, when I told her that I designed presently to preach to the Indians, she laughed and seemed to mock; but went however to them.

“I had not proceeded far in my public discourse before she felt effectually that she had a soul, and before I had concluded my discourse, was so convinced of her sin and misery and so distressed with concern for her soul’s salvation that she seemed like one pierced through with a dart, and she cried out incessantly. She could neither go nor stand, nor sit on her seat without being held up.

“After public service was over, she lay fiat on the ground praying earnestly, and would take no notice of, nor give any answer to, any who spoke to her. I hearkened to what she said, and perceived the burden of her prayer to be ‘Have mercy on me and help me give you my heart.’ Thus she continued praying incessantly for hours together.”-David Brainerd.

“In the midst of my discourse I saw a powerful looking man fall from his seat. As he sunk he groaned and then cried or shrieked out, that he was sinking to hell. He repeated that several times. Of course this created a great excitement. It broke up my preaching; and so great was his anguish that we spent the rest of our time in praying for him. The next morning I inquired for him; and found that he had spent a sleepless night in great anguish of mind.”–Chas. G. Finney.

“The chapel was crowded to excess. The Word was ‘quick and powerful,’ numbers ‘were pricked in their hearts,’ and in the agony of conviction cried mightily for mercy. The sermon was followed by a prayer meeting. Midnight arrived and the penitents were still upon their knees, resolved to plead till they prevailed. As one and another found peace through believing and withdrew, others whose hearts were stricken filled their places. So intense was the Awakening, that though the squire had retired, the alarmed and sorrowing people could not be induced to leave the chapel, but all night through, and all through the following day and night, the prayer meeting continued without intermission. It was supposed that over one hundred persons were converted, whilst many an old professor received quickening and gave himself to God by a fuller consecration.”–Memoir of Squire Brooke.

“Had the preacher fired upon the people with grapeshot, the wounded had not been more numerous, or the cry of anguish more bitter. It was simply impossible to proceed with the discourse. Leaving the pulpit the Squire came down amongst the people to gather the praying men for intercession, whilst he conversed with penitents and endeavoured to assist them into the kingdom.”-Memoir of Squire Brooke.

“While engaged in prayer, two of those who came in were awakened and began to cry for mercy.

“No sooner had she communicated the tidings, than her sister was cut to the heart and began to cry for mercy.

“While I was praying, the power of God descended and he and his penitent companion were cut to the heart and wept aloud for their sins.

“While talking with an old woman sixty years of age, she was soon cut to the heart, and in a very short time the Lord set her soul at liberty.

“In visiting from house to house, I fell in with a young woman, to whom I had not spoken many words before she was pricked in the heart and cried for mercy, as one hanging over the pit of hell.

“I had not spoken many words to her before she burst into tears and loud cries. She continued to groan under the weight of her guilty load. The cries and wailings of her broken heart were deeply affecting.”–Wm. Carvosso.

“The Spirit of the Lord was poured out abundantly and many cried aloud for mercy. Near the close he was like a flame of fire; the people burst into tears on every side, and could say, ‘Lo, God is here, of a truth! ‘Many cried, yea groaned, aloud for mercy, and God delivered them. Many were deeply convicted and cried out for mercy; an old woman about seventy years of age, was struck in a moment. She fell to the ground, making a frightful noise, and continued speechless and in an agony for above an hour. When she came to herself she jumped off the chair on which she had been placed, clapped her hands, and praised the Lord.”–Memoir of Wm. Bramwell.

“I had not discoursed long when the congregation melted into tears. This abated for a few minutes, till a little boy about seven or eight years of age cried out exceeding piteously indeed and wept as though his little heart would break. I asked the little boy what he cried for. He answered ‘my sins !’ I then asked him what he wanted. He answered, ‘Christ!’

“Others were so earnest for a discovery of the Lord to their souls that their eager crying obliged me to stop, and I prayed over them, as I saw their agonies and distress increase. Oh, the distress and anguish of their souls! oh, the pains that were upon them!

“Many of the assembled were deeply affected, groaning and sobbing; there was a great weeping and mourning.” –Wm. Bramwell.

“When the conviction as to its mental process reaches its crisis, the person, through weakness, is unable to sit or stand, and either kneels or lies down. A great number of convicted persons in this town and neighborhood, and now I believe in all directions in the north where the Revival prevails, are “smitten down” as suddenly and they fall as nerveless and paralyzed and powerless, as if killed instantly by a shotgun. They fall with a deep groan, some with a wild cry of horror–the greater number with the intensely earnest plea, ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy on my soul !’ The whole frame trembles like an aspen leaf, an intolerable weight is felt upon the chest, a choking sensation is experienced and relief from this found only in the loud, urgent prayer for deliverance, usually the bodily distress and mental anguish continue till some degree of confidence in Christ is found. Then the look, the tone, the gestures, instantly change. The aspect of anguish and despair is changed for that of gratitude, and triumph, and adoration. The language and the looks, and terrible struggles, and loud desperate depreciation, tell convincingly, as the parties themselves declare, that they are in deadly conflict with the old serpent. The perspiration rolls off the anguished victims; their very hair is moistened. Some pass through this exhausting conflict several times; others but once. There is no appetite for food; many will eat nothing for a number of days. They do not sleep, though they may lie down with their eyes shut.”–The Irish Revival 1859.

‘The power of the Lord’s spirit became so mighty upon their souls as to carry all before it, like the rushing mighty wind of Pentecost. Some were screaming out in agony; others–and among these strong men–fell to the ground as if they had been dead. I was obliged to give out a psalm, our voices being mingled with the mourning and groans of many prisoners sighing for deliverance.” –Wm. Burns.

All the above quotes: Oswald J. Smith, The Revival We Need, pp. 47-59

John Wesley asks God to confirm His Word
When John Wesley concluded his message he cried to God to “confirm His Word,” to “set to His Seal,” and to “bear witness to His Word.” And God did. Sinners were stricken immediately, and began to cry for mercy under fearful conviction of sin, and soon after, in a moment they were set at liberty, and filled with unspeakable joy in the knowledge of a present Salvation. In his wonderful journal he sets down what his eyes witnessed, and his ears heard in the following words:

“We understood that many were offended at the cries of those on whom the power of God came; among whom was a physician, who was much afraid there might be fraud or imposture in the case. Today one whom he had known many years was the first who broke out in strong cries and tears. He could hardly believe his own eyes and ears. He went and stood close to her, and observed every symptom, till great drops of sweat ran down her face, and all her bones shook. He then knew not what to think, being clearly convinced it was not fraud, nor yet any natural disorder. But when both her soul and body were healed in a moment, he acknowledged the finger of God.”

Oswald J. Smith, The Revival We Need, pp. 16-17

The power of a holy life – Finney in a factory
The next morning, I went into the factory, to look through it. I observed there was a good deal of agitation among those who were busy at their looms, and their mules, and other implements. On passing through one of the apartments, where a great number of young women were attending to weaving, I observed a couple of them eyeing me, and speaking very earnestly; and I could see that they were a good deal agitated, although they laughed. I went slowly towards them. They saw me coming, and were evidently much excited. One of them was trying to mend a broken thread, and her hands trembled so that she could not mend it. I approached slowly, looking at the machinery, as I passed; but this girl grew more and more agitated, and could not proceed with her work. When I came within eight or ten feet of her, I looked solemnly at her. She was quite overcome, sunk down, and burst into tears. The impression caught almost like powder, and in a few moments nearly all in the room were in tears. This feeling spread through the factory Mr. W——, the owner was present, and seeing the state of things, he said to the superintendent, “Stop the mill, and let the people attend to religion; for it is more important that our souls should be saved than that this factory run.” The gate was shut down, and the factory stopped; but where should we assemble? The superintendent suggested that the mule room was large; and, the mules being run up, we could assemble there. We did so, and a more powerful meeting I scarcely ever attended. It went on with great power. The revival went through the mill with astonishing power, and in the course of a few days nearly all in the mill were hopefully converted.

Charles Finney, Autobiography, English version, p154

Examples of conviction recorded in Brian Edward’s ‘Revival’
In encouraging his congregations in Wales in 1904 to prepare for revival, Evan Roberts would remind them that the Spirit would not come until the people were prepared: ‘We must rid the churches of all bad feeling — all malice, envy, prejudice, and misunderstandings. Bow not in prayer until all offences have been forgiven: but if you feel you cannot forgive, bend to the dust, and ask for a forgiving spirit. You shall get it then.’ Eifion Evans, The Welsh Revival of 1904, p166

In 1949, on the Isle of Lewis off the west coast of Scotland, Duncan Campbell witnessed similar scenes of conviction over personal sin: The awful presence of God brought a wave of conviction of sin that caused even mature Christians to feel their sinfulness, bringing groans of distress and prayers of repentance from the unconverted. Strong men were bowed under the weight of sin and cries for mercy were mingled with shouts of joy from others who had passed into life.’ Woolsey, Duncan Cambell, p118

When God came to Cornwall in 1814, the people spoke of the ‘penitential pain’ when men and women were in great distress over their sin. At Tuckingmill a meeting lasted from Sunday until Friday, with people coming and going all the time. During this ‘meeting’ this ‘penitential pain’ was extreme in some cases: ‘Hundreds were crying for mercy at once. Some remained in great distress of soul for one hour, some for two, some six, some nine, twelve and some for fifteen hours before the Lord spoke peace to their souls — then they would rise, extend their arms, and proclaim the wonderful works of God…’ Carvosso, The Life of William Carvosso, p28

In the first half of the nineteenth century God used the ministry of Asahel Nettleton in revival for over thirty years, and during his preaching scenes of deep conviction were commonplace. One observer described a meeting at Calway near Saratoga Springs in the summer of 1819: The room was so crowded that we were obliged to request all who had recently found relief to retire below, and spend their time in prayer for those above. This evening will never be forgotten. The scene is beyond description. Did you ever witness two hundred sinners, with one accord in one place, weeping for their sins? Until you have seen this, you have no adequate conceptions of the solemn scene. I felt as though I was standing on the verge of the eternal world; while the floor under my feet was shaken by the trembling of anxious souls in view of a judgement to come. The solemnity was still heightened, when every knee was bent at the throne of grace, and the intervening silence of the voice of prayer was interrupted only by the sighs and sobs of anxious souls. I have no time to relate interesting particulars. I only add that some of the most stout, hard-hearted, heaven-daring rebels have been in the most awful distress.’ Thornton, God Sent Revival, p91-92

The same terrible conviction of sin was experienced in the previous century under the preaching of David Brainerd among the Susquehannah Indians in North America: ‘I stood amazed at the influence which seized the audience almost universally and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent or swelling deluge, that with its insupportable weight and pressure bears down and sweeps before it whatever is in its way. Almost all persons of all ages were bowed down with concern together, and scarce one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation. Old men and women who had been drunken wretches for many years, and some little children, not more than six or seven years of age, appeared in distress for their souls, as well as persons of middle age. And it was apparent these children (some of them at least) were not merely frightened with seeing the general concern, but were made sensible of their danger, the badness of their hearts, and their misery without Christ, as some of them expressed it. The most stubborn hearts were now obliged to bow.’ Page, David Brainerd, p81-82

In October 1791 there was a powerful work of God in Bala, North Wales. It began during the preaching of Thomas Charles one Sunday evening, and by ten o’clock that night, ‘There was nothing to be heard from one end of town to the other but the cries and groans of the people in distress of soul.’ Preaching and Revival p93.

At Cambuslang in 1742, Dr John Hamilton of Glasgow observed: ‘I found a good many persons under the deepest exercise of soul, crying out most bitterly of their lost and miserable state, by reason of sin; of their unbelief, in despising Christ and the offers of the gospel; of the hardness of their heart; and of their gross carelessness and indifference about religion.. .not so much.. .from fear of punishment as from a sense of the dishonour done to God.’ Dallimore, george Whitefield, Vol 2, p123.

At Cambuslang — and the experience was by no means exceptional in the story of revivals — men and women suffered such agony and distress over their sin that some would faint or cry out under the burden. One of the ministers, James Robe, freely admits that at first he did not approve of this and tried to stop it, even asking that these people should be carried away from the scene! However, he later admitted that this was wrong because always such suffering led eventually to a great peace and joy in forgiveness. Robe, When the Wind Blows, p108.

So universal is this work of conviction in revival that Jonathan Edwards puts it at the top of his list in describing how the sinner is converted: ‘Persons are first awakened with a sense of their miserable condition by nature [and] the danger they are in of perishing eternally.’ But in coming to this position, Edwards admits that ‘Persons are sometimes brought to the borders of despair, and it looks as black as midnight to them a little before the day dawns in their souls. Some few instances there have been, of persons who have had such a sense of God’s wrath for sin, that they have been overcome; and made to cry out under an astonishing sense of their guilt, wondering that God suffers such guilty wretches to live upon the earth…’ Edwards, A Narrative of Surprising Conversions, p25.

Brian Edward’s ‘Revival’ p115-118

Evangelism and Revival

Your Subtitle Goes Here
Passion for the lost

“As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell. Oh how I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had a frame like iron, that I might visit every one and say, ‘Escape for thy life! Ah sinner! You little know how I fear that you will lay the blame of your damnation at my door.”

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Quoted

The Holy Spirit and Revival

Your Subtitle Goes Here
Charles Finney receives the power of the Holy Spirit

Just before evening the thought took possession of my mind, that as soon as I was left alone in the new office, I would try to pray again — that I was not going to abandon the subject of religion and give it up, at any rate; and therefore, although I no longer had any concern about my soul, still I would continue to pray.

By evening we got the books and furniture adjusted; and I made up, in an open fireplace, a good fire, hoping to spend the evening alone. Just at dark Squire W——, seeing that everything was adjusted, bade me goodnight and went home. I had accompanied him to the door; and as I closed the door and turned around, my heart seemed to be liquid within me. All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out; and the utterance of my heart was, “I want to pour my whole soul out to God.” The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room behind the front office, to pray.

There was no fire, and no light, in the room; nevertheless it appeared to me as if it were perfectly light. As I went in and shut the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to face. It did not occur to me that it was wholly a mental state. On the contrary it seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man. He said nothing, but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at his feet. I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state of mind; for it seemed that he stood before me, and I fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him. I wept aloud like a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance.

I must have continued in this state for a good while; but my mind was too much absorbed with the interview to recollect anything that I said. But I know, as soon as my mind became calm, I returned to the front office, and found that the fire that I had made of large wood was nearly burned out. But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul.

I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings. No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more;” yet I had no fear of death.

How long I continued in this state I do not know. But it was late in the evening when a member of my choir came to see me. He was a member of the church. He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said, “Mr. Finney, what ails you?” I could make him no answer for some time. He then said, “Are you in pain?” I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, “No, but so happy that I cannot live.”

He left the office, and in a few minutes returned with one of the elders of the church, whose shop was nearly across the way from our office. This elder was a very serious man; and in my presence had been very watchful, and I had scarcely ever seen him laugh. He asked me how I felt, and I began to tell him. Instead of saying anything, he fell into a most spasmodic laughter. It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep from laughing from the very bottom of his heart.

Charles Finney, Autobiography, Chapter 2. Conversion to Christ

Finney’s further testimony to the continuing power of the Spirit

“I was powerfully converted on the morning of the 10th of October, 1821,” writes Chas. G. Finney. “In the evening of the same day I received overwhelming baptisms of the Holy Ghost, that went through me, as it seemed to me, body and soul. 1 immediately found myself endued with such power from on high that a few words dropped here and there to individuals were the means of their immediate conversion. My words seemed to fasten like barbed arrows in the souls of men. They cut like a sword. They broke the heart like a hammer. Multitudes can attest to this. Oftentimes a word dropped without my remembering it would fasten conviction, and often result in almost immediate conversion. Sometimes I would find myself, in a great measure, empty of this power. I would go and visit, and find that I made no saving impression. I would exhort and pray, with the same result. I would then set apart a day for private fasting and prayer, fearing that this power had departed from me, and would inquire anxiously after the reason of this apparent emptiness. After humbling myself, and crying out for help, the power would return upon me with all its freshness. This has been the experience of my life.

“This power is a great marvel. I have many times seen people unable to endure the Word. The most simple and ordinary statements would cut men off their seats like a sword, would take away their strength, and render them almost helpless as dead men. Several times it has been true in my experience that I could not raise my voice, or say anything in prayer or exhortation, except in the mildest manner, without overcoming them. This power seems sometimes to pervade the atmosphere of the one who is highly charged with it. Many times great numbers of persons in a community will be clothed with this power when the very atmosphere of the whole place seems to be charged with the life of God. Strangers coming into it, and passing through the place will be instantly smitten with conviction of sin and in many instances converted to Christ. When Christians humble themselves and consecrate their all afresh to Christ, and ask for this power, they will often receive such a baptism that they will be instrumental in converting more souls in one day than in all their lifetime before. While Christians remain humble enough to retain this power, the work of conversion will go on, till whole communities and regions of country are converted to Christ. The same is true of the ministry.”

Charles Finney, Tract, Words of Life – Extra Edition, Nov. 1921

Evan Roberts experience of the Holy Spirit

“For thirteen years I had prayed for the Spirit, and this is the way I was led to pray. William Davies, the deacon, said one night in the society:-

“Remember to be faithful. What if the Spirit descended and you absent? Remember Thomas! What a loss he had!”

“I said then to myself: ‘I will have the Spirit.’ And through all weather, and in spite of all difficulties, I went to the meetings. Many times, on seeing other boys with the boats on the tide, I was tempted to turn back and join them. But, no. Then I said to myself: ‘Remember your resolve to be faithful,’ and on I went. Prayer meeting Monday evening at the chapel; prayer meeting Tuesday evening at Pisgah (Sunday School branch); Church meeting Wednesday evening; Band of Hope Thursday; class Friday evening-to these I went faithfully throughout the years. For ten or eleven years I have prayed for a revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals. It was the Spirit that moved me to think about a revival.

“One Friday night last spring, when praying by my bedside before retiring, I was taken up to a great expanse – with out time and space. It was communion with God. Before this a far-off God I had. I was frightened that night, but never since. So great was my shivering that I rocked the bed, and my brother, being awakened, took hold of me, thinking I was ill.

“After that experience I was awakened every night a little after one o’clock. This was most strange, for through the years I slept like a rock, and no disturbance in my room would awaken me. From that hour I was taken up into the Divine Fellowship for about four hours. What it was I cannot tell you; except that it was Divine. About five o’clock I was again allowed to sleep on till about nine.

At this time I was again taken up into the same experience as in the earlier hours of the morning until about twelve or one o’clock.

“I got up Sunday. The Rev. Seth Joshua was there. Tuesday evening there was a prayer meeting, and Sydney Evans and others came to see me, and asked if I would go to the meeting. At that moment I felt the Spirit coming upon me, and so irresistible did He come that I rushed to the chapel without my topcoat. The influence began. I was ready to pray – to pray for power to the young women who were there from New Quay, lest the people should wait upon them……

“The seven o’clock meeting was devoted to asking and answering questions. The Rev. W. W. Lewis conducted. At the close the Rev. Seth Joshua prayed, and said, during his prayer, ‘Lord, do this, and this, and this, &c., and bend us.’ He did not say, ‘O Lord, bend us.’ It was the Spirit that put the emphasis for me on ‘Bend us.’ ‘That is what you need,’ said the Spirit to me. And as I went out I prayed, ‘O Lord, bend me.’….

“‘It is possible that God is offering me the Spirit, and that I am unprepared to receive Him; that others are ready to receive, but are not offered?’ Now my bosom was quite full-tight.

‘On the way to the nine o’clock meeting the Rev. Seth Joshua remarked, ‘We are going to have a wonderful meeting to-day.’ To this I replied, ‘I feel myself almost bursting.’…..

“The meeting, having been opened, was handed over to the Spirit. I was conscious that I would have to pray. As one and the other prayed I put the question to the Spirit, ‘Shall I pray now?’ ‘Wait a while,’ said He. When others prayed I felt a living force come into my bosom. It held my breath, and my legs shivered, and after every prayer I asked, ‘Shall I now?’ The living force grew and grew, and I was almost bursting. And instantly someone ended his prayer-my bosom boiling. I would have burst if I had not prayed. What boiled me was that verse, ‘God commending His Love.’ I fell on my knees with my arms over the seat in front of me, and the tears and perspiration flowed freely. I thought blood was gushing forth. Mrs. Davies, Mona, New Quay, came to wipe my face. On my right was Mag Phillips, and on my left Maud Davies. For about two minutes it was fearful. I cried, ‘Bend me! Bend me! Bend us!’ Then, ‘Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!’ and Mrs Davies said, ‘O wonderful Grace!’ What bent me was God commending His Love, and I not seeing anything in it to commend. After I was bent a wave of peace came over me, and the audience sang, ‘I hear Thy welcome Voice.’ And as they sang I thought of the bending at the Judgement Day, and I was filled with compassion for those who would be bent on that day, and I wept.

Henceforth the salvation of souls became the burden of my heart. From that time I was on fire with a desire to go through all Wales, and, if it were possible, I was willing to pay God for allowing me to go.

Evan Roberts, Western Mail, Religious Revival in Wales No. 3. Mr. Roberts Tells The Story Of His Conversion

Prayer and Revival

Your Subtitle Goes Here
The place of prayer in the Second Great Awakening

There was a Scottish Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh named John Erskine, who published a Memorial (he called it) pleading with the people of Scotland and elsewhere to unite in prayer for the revival of religion. He sent one copy of this little book to Jonathan Edwards in New England. That great theologian was so moved he wrote a response which grew longer than a letter, so that finally he published it as a book, entitled: “A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of All God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on earth, pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies concerning the Last Time.” That was the title of the book, not the book itself.

But do not miss its message: “A Humble Attempt” (New England’s modesty) “to promote explicit agreement and visible union of God’s people in extraordinary prayer for a revival of religion and extension of Christ’s Kingdom.” Is not this what is missing so much from all our evangelistic efforts: explicit agreement; visible union, unusual prayer? This movement had started in Britain through William Carey, Andrew Fuller and John Sutcliffe and other leaders who began what the British called “the Union of Prayer.” Hence, the year after John Wesley died, the Second Great Awakening began and swept Great Britain. In New England, there was a man of prayer named Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, who in 1794, when conditions were at their worst, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States.

Churches knew that their backs were to the wall. So the Presbyterians of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania adopted it for all their churches. Bishop Francis Asbury adopted it for all the Methodists. The Congregational and Baptist Associations, the Reformed and the Moravians all adopted the plan, until America like Britain was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings, which set aside the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before the revival reached the frontier in Kentucky, it encountered a people really wild and irreligious. Congress had discovered that in Kentucky there had not been more than one court of justice held in five years. Peter Cartwright, Methodist evangelist, wrote that when his father settled in Logan County, it was known as Rogues’ Harbor. If someone committed a murder in Massachusetts or robbery in Rhode Island, all he needed to do was to cross the Alleghenies. The decent people in Kentucky formed regiments of vigilantes to fight for law and order, fought a pitched battle with outlaws and lost.

There was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister named James McGready whose chief claim to fame was he was so ugly that he attracted attention. It was reported that people sometimes stopped in the street to ask: ‘What does he do?” “He’s a preacher.” Then they reacted, saying: “A man with a face like that must really have something to say.” McGready settled in Logan County, pastor of three little churches. He wrote in his diary that the winter of 1799 for the most part was “weeping and mourning with the people of God.” Lawlessness prevailed everywhere. McGready was such a man of prayer that, not only did he promote the concert of prayer every first Monday of the month, but he got his people to pray for him at sunset on Saturday evening and sunrise Sunday morning. Then in the summer of 1800 came the great Kentucky revival. Eleven thousand people came to a communion service. McGready hollered for help, regardless of denomination. Baptists and Methodists came in response and the great camp meeting revivals started to sweep Kentucky and Tennessee, then spread over North and South Carolina, along the frontier.

Out of that second great awakening after the death of John Wesley came the whole modern missionary movement and its societies. Out of it came the abolition of slavery, and popular education, Bible societies and Sunday schools, and many social benefits accompanying the evangelistic drive.

Edwin Orr, The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening.

The place of prayer in the 1859 Revival

In September 1857, a man of prayer, Jeremiah Lanphier, started a prayer meeting in the upper room of the Dutch Reformed Church Consistory building, in Manhattan. In response to his advertisement, only six people out of the population of a million showed up. But, the following week, there were fourteen, and then twenty-three, when it was decided to meet every day for prayer. By late winter, they were filling the Dutch Reformed Church, then the Methodist Church of John Street, then Trinity Episcopal Church on Broadway at Wall Street. In February and March of 1858, every church and public hall in downtown New York was filled.

Horace Greeley, the famous editor, sent a reporter with horse and buggy racing around the prayer meetings to see how many men were praying: in one hour, he could get to only twelve meetings, but he counted 6100 men attending. Then a landslide of prayer began, which overflowed to the churches in the evenings. People began to be converted, ten thousand a week in New York City alone.

The movement spread throughout New England, the church bells bringing people to prayer at eight in the morning, twelve noon, six in the evening. The revival raced up the Hudson and down the Mohawk, where the Baptists, for example, had so many people to baptize that they went down to the river, cut a big hole in the ice, and baptized them in the cold water: when Baptists do that, they really are on fire.

When the revival reached Chicago, a young shoe salesman went to the superintendent of the Plymouth Congregational Church, and asked if he might teach Sunday School. The superintendent said, “I am sorry, young fellow. I have sixteen teachers too many, but I will put you on the waiting list.” The young man insisted: “I want to do something just now.” “Well, start a class.” “How do I start a class?” “Get some boys off the street, but don’t bring them here. Take them out into the country and after a month you will have control of them, so bring them in. They will be your class.” He took them to a beach on Lake Michigan and he taught them Bible verses and Bible games; then he took them to the Plymouth Congregational Church. The name of the young man was Dwight Lyman Moody, and that was the beginning of his ministry that lasted forty years.

For instance, Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago had 121 members in 1857; in 1860,1400. That was typical of the churches. More than a million people were converted to God in one year out of a population of thirty million. Then that same revival jumped the Atlantic, appeared in Ulster, Scotland and Wales, then England, parts of Europe, South Africa and South India, anywhere there was an evangelical cause. It sent mission pioneers to many countries. Effects were felt for forty years. Having begun in a movement of prayer, it was sustained by a movement of prayer.

Edwin Orr, The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening.

The place of prayer in the Welsh Revival

Most people have heard of the Welsh Revival, which started in 1904. It began as a movement of prayer. I knew Evan Roberts personally (of course, I met him thirty years later), a man devoted to God. Seth Joshua, the Presbyterian evangelist, had come to the Newcastle Emiyn College where Evan Roberts was studying for the ministry. Evan Roberts, then 26, had been a coal miner. The students were so moved that they asked if they could attend his next campaign nearby, so they cancelled classes to go to Blaenanerch, where Seth Joshua prayed publicly “O God, bend us.” And Evan Roberts went forward, where he prayed with great agony, “O God, bend me.”

Upon his return, he could not concentrate on his studies. He went to the principal of his college, and explained: “I keep hearing a voice that tells me I must go home to speak to our young people in my home church. Principal Phillips, is that the voice of the devil or the voice of the Spirit?” Principal Phillips answered, very wisely, “The devil never gives orders like that. You can have a week off.”

So he went back home to Loughor and announced to the pastor, “I’ve come to preach.” The pastor was not at all convinced, but asked: “How about speaking at the prayer meeting on Monday?” He did not even let him speak to the prayer meeting, but told the praying people, “Our young brother, Evan Roberts, feels he has a message for you, if you care to wait.” Seventeen people waited behind, to be impressed with the directness of the young man’s words. Evan Roberts told his follow members; “I have a message for you from God. You must confess any known sin to God and put any wrong done to man right. Second, you must put away any doubtful habit. Third, you must obey the Spirit promptly. Finally, you must confess your faith in Christ publicly.” And by ten o’clock, all seventeen had responded. The pastor was so pleased that he asked “How about your speaking at the mission service tomorrow night? Midweek service Wednesday night?” He preached all week, and was asked to stay another week; and then “the break “came.

I have read the Welsh newspapers of the period. In them were snippets of ecclesiastical news, such as: “The Rev. Peter Jones has just been appointed chaplain to the Bishop of St. David’s.” “Mowbray Street Methodist Church had a very interesting sale.” But suddenly there was a headline, “Great Crowds of People Drawn to Loughor.” For some days a young man named Evan Roberts was causing great surprise. The main road between Uanelly and Swansea on which the church was situated was packed, wall to wall, people trying to get into the church. Shopkeepers closed early to find a place in the big church.

Now the news was out. A reporter was sent down and he described vividly what he saw, a strange meeting, which closed at 4:25 in the morning, and even then the people did not seem willing to go home. They were still standing in the street outside the church, talking about what had taken place. There was a very British summary: “I felt that this was no ordinary gathering.” Next day, every grocery shop in that industrial valley was emptied of groceries by people attending the meetings, and on Sunday, every church was filled. The movement went like a tidal wave over Wales, in five months there being a hundred thousand people converted throughout the country. Five years later, Dr. J.V. Morgan wrote a book to debunk the revival, his main criticism that, of a hundred thousand joining the churches in five months of excitement, after five years only 75,000 still stood in the membership of those churches. The loss of 25,000 could be explained by a drifting away of unsympathetic people, or of others attracted to mission halls and the emerging groups of Pentecostals after glossolalia in 1907, or emigration.

It was the social impact that was astounding. For example, judges were presented with white gloves, not a case to try; no robberies, no burglaries, no rapes, no murders, and no embezzlements, nothing. District councils held emergency meetings to discuss what to do with the police now that they were unemployed. In one place, the sergeant of the police was sent for, and asked: “What do you do with your time?” He replied, “Before the revival, we had two main jobs, to prevent crime and to control crowds, as at football games. Since the revival started, there is practically no crime, so we just go with the crowds.” A councillor asked: “What does that mean?” The sergeant replied: “You know where the crowds are. They are packing out the churches.” “But how does that affect the police?” He was told: “We have seventeen police in our station, but we have three quartets; and if any church wants a quartet to sing, they simply call the police station.”

As the revival swept Wales, drunkenness was cut in half. There was a wave of bankruptcies, but nearly all taverns. There was even a slowdown in the mines. You say, “How could a religious revival cause a strike?” It did not cause a strike, just a slow down, for so many Welsh coal miners were converted and stopped using bad language that horses that dragged the trucks in the mines could not understand what was being said to them, hence transportation slowed down for a while until they learned the language of Canaan.

That revival also affected sexual moral standards. I had discovered through the figures given by British government experts that, in Radnorshire and Merionethshire, the actual illegitimate birth rate had dropped 44% within a year of the beginning of the revival. That revival swept Britain. It so moved all of Norway that the Norwegian Parliament passed special legislation to permit laymen to conduct

Communion because the clergy could not keep up with the number of the converts desiring to partake. It swept Sweden, Finland and Denmark, Germany, Canada from coast to coast, all of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, touching also Brazil, Mexico, and Chile.. .yet until 1973, the extent of that revival was unknown. As always, it began through a movement of prayer …

Edwin Orr, The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening

Revival in an Indian school through prayer, 1930

At a school for the sons of missionaries in Ootacamund, South India, there was a remarkable movement of the Spirit, during a mission held by R. T. Naish, although the work began before he arrived. Out of 130 boys in the school 100 professed conversion and with almost all of these there was deep conviction of sin and much brokenness. It took the staff completely by surprise, for they had no expectation of it and were unable to cope with it. One day the lads were ordinary boys, full of fun, mischief and distraction. The next they were singing hymns all day, became intensely Bible-conscious, many spontaneously desired baptism and the communion table was filled with devoted converts.

What was the explanation for this sudden movement? It was afterwards discovered that three boys, under the age of twelve had been going out in the early morning to the edge of the jungle to pray. They had prevailed with God and He had answered by fire. Psalms 8:2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Arthur Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power, p121

The Hebrides Revival, 1949

One night God gave one of the sisters a vision in which she saw the churches crowded with young people and she told her sister, “I believe revival is coming to the parish.” At that time, there was not a single young person attending public worship, a fact which cannot be disputed. Sending for the minister, she told him her story, and he took her message as a word from God to his heart. Turning to her he said, “What do you think we should do?” What?” she said, “Give yourself to prayer; give yourself to waiting upon God. Get your elders and deacons together and spend at least two nights a week waiting upon God in prayer. If you will do that at your end of the parish, my sister and I will do it at our end of the parish from ten o’clock at night until two or three o’clock in the morning.”

So, the minister called his leaders together and for several months they waited upon God in a barn among the straw. During this time they plead one promise, “For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3). This went on for at least three months. Nothing happened. But one night a young deacon rose and began reading from Psalm 24, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:3-5). Closing his Bible, he addressed the minister and other office bearers in words that sound crude in English, but not so crude in our Gaelic language, “It seems to me so much humbug. To be waiting as we are waiting, to be praying as we are praying, when we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” Then, he lifted his hands toward heaven and prayed, “O God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” Then, he went to his knees and fell into a trance. Now, don’t ask me to explain the physical manifestations of this movement because I can’t, but this I do know, that something happened in the barn at that moment in that young deacon. There was a power loosed that shook the heavens and an awareness of God gripped those gathered together.

Duncan Cambell, transcript of a sermon

Praying in faith

Referring to the awakening in Kilsyth, July 23rd, 1839, William Burns wrote, ‘Some of the people of God who had been longing and wrestling for a time of refreshing from the Lord’s presence, and who had, during much of the previous night, been travailing in birth for souls, came to the meeting, not only with the hope, but with well-nigh the certain anticipation of God’s glorious appearing.

Arthur Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power, p149

A Medley of revivalists at prayer
John Livingstone 1630

“John Livingstone spent the whole night prior to June 21, 1630, in prayer and conference, being designated to preach next day. After he had been speaking for an hour and a half a few drops of rain disconcerted the people, but Livingstone asking them if they had any shelter from the storm of God’s wrath went on another hour. There were about 5oo converted on the spot. “—Livingstone of Shotts.

Charles Finney

“I once knew a minister who had a Revival fourteen winters in succession. I did not know how to account for it, till I saw one of his members get up in a prayer meeting and make a confession. ‘Brethren,’ said he, ‘I have been long in the habit of praying every Saturday night till after midnight, for the descent of the Holy Ghost upon us. And now, brethren,’ and he began to weep, ‘I confess that I have neglected it for two or three weeks.’ The secret was out. That minister had a praying church.”—Chas. G. Finney.

“Prevailing, or effectual prayer is that prayer which attains the blessing that it seeks. It is that prayer which effectually moves God. The very idea of effectual prayer is that it effects its objects.”— Chas. G. Finney.

“In a certain town there had been no Revival for many years; the Church was nearly extinct, the youth were all unconverted and desolation reigned unbroken. There lived in a retired part of the town an aged man, a blacksmith by trade, and of so stammering a tongue that it was painful to hear him speak. On one Friday, as he was at work in his shop alone, his mind became greatly exercised about the state of the Church and of the impenitent. His agony became so great that he was induced to lay by his work, lock the shop door, and spend the afternoon in prayer.

“He prevailed, and on the Sabbath called on the minister and desired him to appoint a ‘conference meeting.’ After some hesitation, the minister consented, observing however, that he feared few would attend. He appointed it the same evening at a large private house. When evening came, more assembled than could be accommodated in the house. All were silent for a time, until one sinner broke out in tears, and said if anyone could pray, would they pray for him. Another followed, and another, and still another, until it was found that persons from every quarter of the town were under deep conviction. And what was remarkable was that they all dated their conviction at the hour the old man was praying in his shop. A powerful Revival followed. Thus this old stammering man prevailed, and as a prince had power with God.”— Chas. G. Finney.

“It loaded me down with great agony. As I returned to my room I felt almost as if I should stagger under the burden that was on my mind; and I struggled, and groaned, and agonized, but could not frame to present the case before God in words, but only in groans and tears. The spirit struggled within me with groanings that could not be uttered.”—Chas. G. Finney.

“I proposed that we should observe a closet concert of prayer for the revival of God’s work; that we should pray at sunrise, at noon, and at sunset, in our closets, and continue this for one week, when we should come together again and see what further was to be done. No other means were used for the revival of God’s work. But the spirit of prayer was immediately poured out wonderfully upon the young converts. Before the week was out I learned that some of them, when they would attempt to observe this season of prayer, would lose all their strength and be unable to rise to their feet, or even stand upon their knees in their closets; and that some would be prostrate on the floor, and pray with unutterable groanings for the Outpourings of the Spirit of God. The Spirit was poured out and before the week ended all the meetings were thronged; and there was as much interest in religion, I think, as there has been at any time during the Revival. “—Chas. G. Finney.

Thomas Collins

“I have pleaded with God this day for hours, in the wood, for souls; He will give them. I know His sign. I shall have souls to-night. Yours, I trust will be one.’ Night came, and with it such a power as I had never felt. Cries for mercy rang all over the chapel. Before the sermon was done, I, with many others, fell upon my knees to implore salvation..”—One of Thos. Collins’ Converts.

“I went to my lonely retreat among the rocks. I wept much as I besought the Lord to give me souls. “—Thos. Collins.

“I spent Friday in secret fasting, meditation, and prayer for help on the Lord’s Day. About the middle of the sermon a man cried out; at the cry my soul ran over. I fell to prayer, nor could we preach any more for cries and tears all over the chapel. We continued in intercessions, and salvation came.” —Thos. Collins.

“He gave himself unto prayer. Woods and lonely wayside places became closets. In such exercises time flew unheeded. He stopped amid the solitary crags to pray, and Heaven so met him there that hours elapsed unconsciously. Strong in the might of such baptisms, he became bold to declare the cross, and willing to bear it.”—Life of Thos. Collins.

John Smith

“I have often seen him come downstairs in the morning after spending several hours in prayer, with his eyes swollen with weeping. He would soon introduce the subject of his anxiety by saying, ‘I am a broken-hearted man; yes, indeed, T am an unhappy man; not for myself, but on account of others. God has given me such a sight of the value of precious souls that I cannot live if souls are not saved. Oh give me souls, or else I die!’” —Life of John Smith.

“Where the result which he desired did not attend his own ministry, he would spend days and nights almost constantly on his knees, weeping and pleading before God; and especially deploring his own inadequacy to the great work of saving souls. He was at times when he perceived no movement in the church, literally in agonies; travailing in birth for precious souls, till he saw Christ magnified in their salvation.”—Life of John Smith.

David Brainerd

“God enabled me to so agonize in prayer that I was quite wet with perspiration, though in the shade and the cool wind. My soul was drawn out very much from the world, for multitudes of souls.”— David Brainerd.

“Near the middle of the afternoon God enabled me to wrestle ardently in intercession for my friends. But just at night the Lord visited me marvellously in prayer. I think my soul never was in such an agony before. I felt no restraint; for the treasures of Divine grace were opened to me. I wrestled for my friends, for the ingathering of souls, for multitudes of poor souls, and for many that I thought were the children of God, personally in many different places. I was in such an agony from sun, half an hour high, till near dark, that I was all over wet with sweat.”—David Brainerd.

“I withdrew for prayer, hoping for strength from above. In prayer I was exceedingly enlarged and my soul was as much drawn out as I ever remember it to have been in my life. I was in such anguish, and pleaded with so much earnestness and importunity, that when I rose from my knees I felt extremely weak and overcome. I could scarcely walk straight; my joints were loosed; the sweat ran down my face and body; and nature seemed as if it would dissolve.”—David Brainerd.

Richard Baxter

“Prayer must carry on our work, as well as preaching. He does not preach heartily to his people who does not pray for them. If we do not prevail with God to give them repentance and faith, we are not likely to prevail with them to repent and believe. Paul gives us frequently his example of praying night and day for his hearers. “— Richard Baxter.

Jonathan Edwards

“Several members of Jonathan Edwards’ church had spent the whole night in prayer before he preached his memorable sermon, ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.’ The Holy Ghost was so mightily poured out, and God so manifest in holiness and majesty during the preaching of that sermon, that the elders threw their arms around the pillars of the church and cried, ‘Lord, save us, we are slipping down to hell!’”

William. Bramwell

“I find it necessary to begin at five in the morning and to pray at all opportunities till ten, or eleven, at night. “—Wm. Bramwell.

“Almost every night there has been a shaking among the people; and I have seen nearly twenty set at liberty. I believe I should have seen many more, but I cannot yet find one pleading man. There are many good people; but I have found no wrestlers with God. At two or three small places, we had cries for mercy; and several were left in a state of deep distress. “—Wm. Bramwell.

John Nelson

“If you spend several hours in prayer daily, you will see great things. “—John Nelson.

“He made it a rule to rise out of bed about twelve o’clock, and sit up till two, for prayer and converse with God; then he slept till four; at which time he always rose.”—Life of John Nelson.

David Stoner

“Be instant and constant in prayer. Study, books, eloquence, fine sermons, are all nothing without prayer. Prayer brings the spirit, the life, the power. “—Memoir of David Stoner.

All above quoted by Oswald J. Smith, The Revival We Need, p24-32

The 1859 revival in Ulster

James McQuilkin and three others began to meet in a school house every week for prayer and Bible study. They kept themselves warm with armfuls of peat gathered on the way to the school house every Friday evening. While peat warmed their bodies, the Spirit kindled the fire in their hearts. By the end of 1858, the participants at the prayer meeting had grown to fifty. Intercession without distraction to other subjects was made for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on themselves and the country. Their prayers and possibly many more were wonderfully answered in 1859 when an estimated 100,000 were added to the churches in Ulster.

Errol Hulse

Prayer revived New York and the nation

It was not a good time for churches in downtown Manhattan , and the North Dutch Reformed Church on Fulton Street resorted to creative measures, hiring a businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier as a sort of outreach minister. He knocked on doors in the neighborhood and distributed pamphlets and Bibles, but response generally was dismal.

“One day as I was walking along the streets,” Lanphier wrote in his journal, “the idea was suggested to my mind that an hour of prayer, from twelve to one o’clock, would be beneficial to businessmen.” The idea blossomed: a weekly prayer time open to anyone, bankers to broom-pushers. Come when you can, leave when you must. Handbills advertised the first meeting – at noon on September 23, 1857.

Lanphier waited for the first attenders. No one showed up for the first thirty minutes. Then one man straggled in, then another. The hour ended with six men present, praying. The following week there were twenty, the next week forty. Soon a hundred. Rooms were packed. The church had to ask another church to handle the overflow. When churches ran out of room, the prayer meetings moved to theaters.

By March, 1858, the New York Times could report that Burton ’s Theater on Chambers Street was packed as famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher led a crowd of 3,000 in prayer. Some estimate that up to a million people became Christians in the 1857-58 revival.

What caused such immense interest in prayer? A stock market crash might have had something to do with it. Business leaders enslaved by money were suddenly seeking a more reliable master. But when he started his humble prayer time, Jeremiah Lanphier had no way of knowing about the impending financial collapse. He just knew people needed to pray.

William J. Petersen, 100 Amazing Answers to Prayer

Praying Johnny

An incident is told of a place called Filey in the early days of Methodism, to which preacher after preacher had been sent, but all to no purpose. The village was a stronghold of Satanic power, and each one in turn had been driven out until at last it was decided to give it up as a hopeless task.

Just before the matter was finally settled, however, the now famous John Oxtoby, or “Praying Johnny” as he was called, begged the Conference to send him, and so let the people have one more chance. They agreed, and a few days afterwards John set out on his journey. On the way a person who knew him inquired where he was going. “To Filey,” was the reply, “where the Lord is going to revive His work.”

As he drew near the place, on ascending the hill between Muston and Filey, suddenly a view of the town burst upon his sight. So intense were his feelings that he fell upon his knees under a hedge and wrestled and wept and prayed for the success of his mission. We have been told that a miller, who was on the other side of the hedge, heard a voice and stopped in astonishment to listen, when he heard Johnny say “Thou munna mak a feal o’ me! Thou munna mak a feal o’ me! I told them at Bridlington that Thou was going to revive Thy work, and Thou must do so, or I shall never be able to show my face among them again, and then what will the people say about praying and believing?”

He continued to plead for several hours. The struggle was long and heavy, but he would not cease. He made his very weakness and inefficiency a plea. At length, the clouds dispersed, the glory filled his soul, and he rose exclaiming, ‘It is done, Lord. It is done. Filey is taken. Filey is taken.’

And taken it was, and all in it, and no mistake. Fresh from the Mercy-seat he entered the place, and commenced singing up the streets, “Turn to the Lord and seek salvation,” etc. A crowd of stalwart fishermen flocked to listen. Unusual power attended his address, hardened sinners wept, strong men trembled, and while he prayed over a dozen of them fell on their knees, and cried aloud for mercy and found it.”

Oswald J. Smith, The Revival We Need, p70-72

The mighty prayers of a feeble woman

“The first ray of light that broke in upon the midnight which rested on the Churches in Oneida County, in the fall of 1825 was from a woman in feeble health, who, I believe, had never been in a powerful revival. Her soul was exercised about sinners. She was in an agony for the land. She did not know what ailed her, but she kept praying more and more, till it seemed as if her agony would destroy her body. At length she became full of joy. and exclaimed: ‘God has come! God has come! There is no mistake about it, the work is begun, and is going all over the region.’ And sure enough the work began, and her family were all converted, and the work spread all over that part of the country.” – Chas. G. Finney.

Daily prayer for revival

The story is told of an invalid who formed the habit of praying for a Revival, daily, for some thirty towns and communities, and from time to time made this entry in his diary: “I was enabled to pray the prayer of faith for—– today.” After his death Revivals swept over each of these thirty places, almost exactly in the order he had noted them down. God had spoken, and though he did not live to see any of the answers, yet he was given the assurance that he had been heard.

Oswald J. Smith, The Revival We Need, p73-74

The burden of prayer for souls quickly heard and answered

Here is a scene witnessed during the first days of the movement: a crowded church: the service is over: the congregation, reluctant to disperse, stand outside the church in a silence that is tense. Suddenly a cry is heard within: a young man, burdened for the souls of his fellow men, is pouring out his soul in intercession. He prays until he falls into a trance and lies prostrate on the floor of the church. But heaven had heard, and the congregation, moved by a power that they could not resist, came back into the church, and a wave of conviction of sin swept over the gathering, moving strong men to cry to God for mercy. This service continued until the small hours of the morning, but so great was the distress and so deep the hunger which gripped men and women, that they refused to go home, and already were assembling in another part of the parish. An interesting and amazing feature of this early morning visitation, was the number who made their way to the church, moved by a power they had not experienced before: others were deeply convicted of their sin and crying for mercy, in their own homes, before ever coming near the church…..

There was a moving scene, some weeping in sorrow and distress, others, with joy and love filling their hearts, falling upon their knees, conscious only of the presence and power of God who had come in revival blessing. Within a matter of days the whole parish was in the grip of a spiritual awakening. Churches became crowded, with services continuing until three o’clock in the morning. Work was largely put aside, as young and old were made to face eternal realities. Soon the fire of blessing spread to the neighbouring parishes. Carloway witnessed a gracious manifestation of the power of God that will surely live in the annals of Lewis revivals

Duncan Campbell, The Lewis Awakening, 1949-1953, p17-18

The mighty weapon of prayer in the Hebrides revival

Perhaps the greatest miracle of all was in the village of Arnol. Here, indifference to the things of God held the field and a good deal of opposition was experienced, but prayer, the mighty weapon of the revival, was resorted to and an evening given to waiting upon God. Before midnight God came down, the mountains flowed down at His presence, and a wave of revival swept the village opposition and spiritual death fled before the presence of the Lord of life. Here was demonstrated the power of prevailing prayer, and that nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer except that which lies outside the will of God. There are those in Arnol to-day who will bear witness to the fact that, while a brother prayed, the very house shook. I could only stand in silence as wave after wave of Divine power swept through the house, and in a matter of minutes following this heaven-sent visitation, men and women were on their faces in distress of soul. It is true that in this village God had His “watchmen.” Thank God there are many such in Lewis and Harris; it is one of such men who, when he witnessed the mighty power of God in this village, asked that we might sing the 126th Psalm:-

“When Sion’s bondage God turned back,

As men that dreamed were we,

Then filled with laughter was our mouth,

Our tongue with melody.”

Duncan Campbell, The Lewis Awakening, 1949-1953, p19

More revival prayers answered in Hebrides

Bernera is a small island off the coast of Harris, with a population of about 400. In April, 1952, it was my privilege to visit this parish and witness one of the most remarkable movements of the revival, Here, as in other districts, there were men who, on their faces before God, cried for an outpouring of His Spirit; and an incident occurred which goes to demonstrate the power of prevailing prayer and to reveal how true it is that “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” One morning an elder of the Church of Scotland was greatly exercised in spirit, as he thought of the state of the church and the growing carelessness toward Sabbath observance and public worship. While waiting upon God, this good man was strangely moved, and was enabled to pray the prayer of faith and lay hold upon the promise, “I will be as the dew unto Israel.” This word from God came with such conviction and power, that he was assured that revival was going to sweep the island, and in that confidence he rose from his knees.

While this man was praying in his barn, I myself, taking part in the Faith Mission Convention at Bangor in Northern Ireland, was suddenly arrested by the conviction that I must leave at once and go to the Island of Bernera, where I found myself within three days! Almost immediately on arriving, I was in the midst of a most blessed movement. Again the promise was being fulfilled, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty and floods upon the dry ground.” The first few meetings were very ordinary, but the prayers offered by elders of the congregation breathed a confidence in the sure promise of God. Again and again reference was made to the words of Psalm 50, verse 3, “Our God shall surely come.” They did not wait long for the fulfilment of this word from God! One evening, just as the congregation was leaving the church and moving down towards the main road, the Spirit of God fell upon the people in Pentecostal power: no other word can describe it: and in a few minutes the awareness of the presence of the Most High became so wonderful and so subduing, that one could only say with Jacob of old, “Surely the Lord is in this place.” There, under the open heavens and by the road side, the voice of prayer was mingled with the groans of the penitent, as “free grace awoke men with light from on high.” Soon the whole island was in the grip of a mighty movement of the Spirit, bringing deep conviction of sin and a hunger for God. This movement was different from that in Lewis in this respect, that while in Lewis there were physical manifestations and prostrations, such were not witnessed here; but the work was as deep and the results as enduring, as in any other part touched by the revival.

Duncan Campbell, The Lewis Awakening, 1949-1953, p23-24

How Whitfield prayed

In 1737 George Whitfield was on his way to Georgia when he prayed, ‘God, give me a deep humility, a well-guided zeal, a burning love and a single eye, and then let men or devils do their worst!’ Five years later he could still record in his diary: ‘I spent most part of my time in secret prayer…..Pray that I may be very little in my own eyes, and not rob my dear Master of any part of his glory.’

Quoted Brian Edwards, Revival, p57

The Lewis Awakening in 1949 began in a prayer burden

I believe this gracious movement of the Holy Spirit – The Lewis Awakening in 1949 – began in a prayer burden; indeed there is no doubt about that. It began in a small group who were really burdened. They entered into a covenant with God that they would “give Him no rest until He had made Jerusalem a praise in the earth”. They waited. The months passed, and nothing happened, until one young man took up his Bible and read from Psalm 24: “Who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart… He shall receive the blessing from the Lord.” The young man closed the Bible and, looking at his companions on their knees before God, he cried: “Brethren, it is just so much humbug to be waiting thus night after night, month after month, if we ourselves are not right with God. I must ask myself – “Is my heart pure? Are my hands clean?”

Duncan Campbell, quoted A.Wallis, In the Day of Thy Power

Revival Manifestations

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Manifestations not always present

And as there has been no room for any plausible objection against this work, in regard of the means; so neither in regard of the manner in which it has been carried on. It is true, persons’ concern for their souls has been exceeding great, the convictions of their sin and misery have risen to a high degree, and produced many tears, cries, and groans: but then they have not been attended with those disorders, either bodily or mental, that have sometimes prevailed among persons under religious impressions. –There has here been no appearance of those convulsions, bodily agonies, frightful screaming, swooning, and the like, that have been so much complained of in some places; although there have been some who, with the jailer, have been made to tremble under a sense of their sin and misery, –numbers who have been made to cry out from a distressing view of their perishing state, –and some that have been, for a time, in a great measure, deprived of their bodily strength, yet without any such convulsive appearances.

David Brainerd’s Journal, General Remarks On Part First, Comment 5

Prostrations in Hebrides Revival

I have known men out in the fields, others at their weaving looms, so overcome by this sense of God that they were found prostrate on the ground….. Physical manifestations and prostrations have been a further feature. I find it somewhat difficult to explain this aspect, indeed I cannot; but this I will say, that the person who would associate this with satanic influence is coming perilously near committing the unpardonable sin. Lady Huntingdon on one occasion wrote to George Whitefield respecting cases of crying out and falling down in meetings, and advised him not to remove them from the meetings, as had been done. When this was done it seemed to bring a dampener on the meeting. She said, ‘You are making a great mistake. Don’t be wiser than God. Let them cry out; it will do a great deal more good than your preaching. p29-30

I have seen this happen over and over again during the recent movement in the Western Isles. Suddenly an awareness of God would take hold of a community, and, under the pressure of this divine presence, men and women would fall prostrate on the ground, while their cry of distress was made the means in God’s hand, to awaken the indifferent who had set unmoved for years under the preaching of the gospel.

Duncan Campbell, The Lewis Awakening, 1949-1953, p29-30, 33

Manifestations – characteristics of revivals

Perhaps the most common sign in times of revival has been the prostration of convicted souls. It was common in the Wesley-Whitefield Revivals. Lady Huntingdon wrote to Whitefield regarding the cases of crying out and falling down at the meetings, and advised him not to remove them, as had been done, for it seemed to bring a damper on the meeting. She wrote: “You are making a mistake. Don’t be wiser than God. Let them cry out; it will do a great deal more good than your preaching.” Wesley in his journals dated July 7th, 1739, recorded a conversation with Whitefield on this subject, whose objections were evidently founded on misrepresentations of fact. “But the next day he [Whitefield] had an opportunity of informing himself better: for no sooner had he begun . . . to invite all sinners to believe in Christ, than four persons sunk down close to him, almost in the same moment. One of them lay without either sense or motion. A second trembled exceedingly. The third had strong convulsions all over his body, but made no noise, unless by groans. The fourth, equally convulsed, called upon God, with strong cries and tears. From this time, I trust, we shall all suffer God to carry on His own work in the way that pleaseth Him.”

In the 1860 Revival in Tinevelly, South India, the main instrument God used was a native evangelist called Aroolappen,* a disciple of A. N. Groves. The movement began in the Brethren assemblies in which he had laboured, later spreading to other communities. Aroolappen wrote of the beginning of the movement as follows: “From the 4th May to the 7th the Holy Spirit was poured out openly and wonderfully. Some prophesied and rebuked the people: some beat themselves on their breasts severely, and trembled and fell down through the shaking of their bodies and souls. . . . They saw some signs in the air. They were much pleased to praise God. Some ignorant [uninstructed] people gave out some songs and hymns that we never heard before. – . All the heathen marvelled, and came and saw and heard us with fearful minds.”

This man of God wrote again later, “In the month of June some of our people praised the Lord by unknown tongues, with their interpretations. In the month of July the Spirit was poured out upon our congregation at Oleikollam, and above 25 persons were baptized. They are steadfast in prayers. . . . Some missionaries admit the truth of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Lord meets everywhere one after another, though some tried to quench the Spirit.”

Henry Groves, son of A. N. Groves, writing in the Indian Watchman for July, 1860, gives a fuller account of this movement, and of how two poor native women received visions which led to days of deep conviction of sin, after which they found peace. The husband of one of them bitterly attacked his wife while she was under conviction, and accused her of being demon-possessed. Soon after he himself fell into a trance while out in the fields in which someone appeared to him and told him to read Revelation 1 and to tell others “I am coming quickly”. He returned to the house weeping and under deep conviction, soon afterwards finding peace. These converts went forth to tell their neighbouring heathen what God had done for their souls.

Henry Groves continues his account: “The day following when Aroolappen was engaged in prayer, he says, the spirit of prophecy was given to some there, and a little boy said that in a certain village, which he named, about a mile distant, the Spirit of God had been poured out. Within a quarter of an hour, some men and women came from that village, beating their breasts in great fear and alarm of conscience. They fell down and rolled on the ground. This continued a short time; they all asked to have prayer made for them, after which they said with great joy, ‘The Lord Jesus has forgiven our sins’, and clapping their hands together, in the fulness of their hearts’ gladness, they embraced and kissed one another. For nearly three days this ecstatic joy appears to have lasted. They ate nothing, except a little food taken in the evening, and passing sleepless nights, they continued the whole time in reading of the word, in prayer and in singing praises to the Lord. Of some it is said, ‘they lifted up their eyes to heaven and saw blood and fire and pillars of smoke, and, speaking aloud, they told what they had seen.’“

Several missionaries, at first sceptical or even opposed to the movement, were won over when they saw the fruit of it, and were compelled to acknowledge that the work was of God, though some remained dubious of the revival phenomena. One declared, “I do not know that there has been one single case, where one, whom my dear native brethren and myself have considered really influenced, has fallen back.” Another wrote, “What God is now doing in the midst of us was altogether beyond the expectations of missionaries and other Christians: who can say what manifestations the Spirit of God will or will not make of His power?”

It is strange, yet all too often true, that when the Spirit of God is working in supernatural power in revival, unbelievers will often be more quickly convinced that this work is wrought of God, than some believers. No doubt there always have been and always will be the prejudiced and sceptical among the people of God, who in unbelief would limit the Holy One of Israel; who cannot bear to think of the Almighty working outside the range of their own finite understanding, or beyond the bounds of their own limited experience. They would have revival, but only if it comes along the quiet orderly lines of their own preconceived ideas. Where it is otherwise they will attribute the work to the flesh, or where this does not provide adequate explanation, to the Devil. Of course there is always the possibility of satanic intrusion, or of the admixture of the flesh in such times of blessing, but this calls for a spirit of discernment, not a spirit of prejudice; the ability to “prove the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1), not the wholesale, out-of-hand condemnation of them, which must often result in quenching the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). There is a general tendency to err on the side of prejudice, suspicion and unbelief; and this attitude is nowhere countenanced in the New Testament. Where there is doubt, let there be a patient waiting upon God until the true character of the work is manifest, for the tree will be known by its fruit. Let all take heed. If we indulge in hasty criticism we may be speaking against the Holy Spirit; if we oppose we may “be found even to be fighting against God”.

Arthur Wallace, In the Day of Thy Power, p75-78, Quoted Brian Edwards, Revival, p53

Revival Harvest

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Revival Harvest

In the Great Awakening in 1740-42, it is reckoned that 50,000 were added to the churches of New England, and about 300,000 across all thirteen colonies. In what we now call the “forgotten revival” between the years 1790 and 1840, 1,500,000 people were gathered into chapels in England and Wales alone. That constituted one out of every ten people in the country being converted. In the revival in 1859, around 100,000 were added to the churches in Ulster and 50,000 to the churches in Wales. It is estimated that in the 1859 revival in the USA over 2,000,000 were added to the churches.

Psalm 145:4-7, 11-13

4  One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. 5  They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. 11  They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12  so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13  Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.

This Psalm speaks of the divine pattern of spreading the fire by telling of God’s mighty acts, awesome works and great deeds.

When promoting revival in the local church it is always helpful to recount stories of past advances and victories. The history of revivals is full of examples of local awakenings being ignited by retelling what God did somewhere else with other believers.

Whether by books, pamphlets, letters or by the spoken word, retelling the stories imparts understanding, inspires faith and creates hunger for God to move in similar ways in the hearers’ world.