At the turn of the 20th Century one of the greatest outpourings since the 2nd Great Awakening broke forth, impacting much of the world. Leading up to this great outpouring known as the Welsh Revival of 1904, there was a rumbling of prayer going forth in the land. Prayer was not just isolated to Wales, but the believers in the area were being stirred up to see a revival and started what they called ‘Prayer Circles’.
Pastors were being convicted, prayer meetings were filled through the night and into the early morning hours and the youth were being struck by the presence of the Lord. The Spirit was moving upon the darkness and chaos that filled Wales during that period of time; as alcoholism, gambling, prostitution, and other serious crimes were running rampant. In the midst of these stirrings the Lord moved in a dramatic way upon a young man named Evan Roberts.
Evan Roberts was born June 8, 1878 in Loughor, Wales. By the age of 9 he was helping his dad in the coal mines, due to his dad breaking his leg. He continued in the mines and also learned the trade of a blacksmith, but it was during these younger years that he acquired his hunger for Scripture, prayer, and revival. The deacon at his church, William Davies told Evan to never miss a prayer meeting in case the Holy Spirit would come and he would be missing. Evan faithfully attended a prayer meeting or bible class nearly 6 days a week for over 10 years! Evan had very little education but his pastor encouraged him to pursue the ministry. At the age of 26 in 1904 he left the mines behind and entered into a preparatory college. Evan never did go on to finish his education, as the Lord had much greater plans for the young man.
Evan started having intense encounters with the Lord during the year of 1904 in his quiet times. Often he would be woken up at 1 am and would spend time with the Lord until 5am and then would go back to sleep. It was during a prayer meeting that year, held at the college where an evangelist named Seth Joshua was praying, “O’ God, bend us”. This prayer caused Evan Roberts to come forth in great agony of spirit saying, “O’ God, bend me!” He received a great burden for lost souls and felt like he was going to burst.
After this Evan knew he could no longer pursue his education as he felt the Spirit was telling him to go speak at his home church. It was at this prayer meeting at his home church, Moriah Chapel, where he was impressed to share in front of the 17 young adults that stayed to listen. He shared these four tenets that were key points through out the entire revival.
‘You must confess any known sin to God and put any wrong done to others 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.’ – (source pg. 7)
By November 1904 upon Evans return, the fire from heaven consumed him and his band of friends during their prayer meetings. Evan had prophesied that a great revival was coming to Wales. The reports spread like wildfire as more people were being drawn to these meetings. Eventually the newspapers caught on and started reporting on this miraculous move. The meetings were spontaneous and would break out in prayer and song (one of their favorites). There was very little preaching or leading in the traditional sense. The youth were being filled and led by the spirit in great and marvelous ways. Dave Matthews an eye-witness of the revival said,
“Even the little children between nine and twelve years of age prayed with wisdom and fluency that sounded uncanny.” (source)
Can you imagine turning on the T.V. on a Sunday afternoon to watch a NFL football game only to hear the announcer’s state that ALL the players were absent because they were in revival meetings?! Pubs were closed, jails were empty, police men were jobless, coal mines were filled with prayer and praise and churches were packed out. They say that crime was cut in half and that many denominational churches were flourishing. People from all over the globe were coming to taste and see and to bring the fire back home. There was a holiness and obedience to God throughout the revival.
Many were being convicted and true conversions were multiplying by the day. Some said that it looked like there was no order, but there was never any confusion! Through the next year, thousands were saved and the entire regions of Wales and beyond were transformed. Evan Roberts was an obvious leader that the Lord had marked during this revival, but Evan was very humble and always pointed to Jesus. The revival in all its fervency is said to have lasted between two and three years, but the impact in Wales and around the world lasted much longer.
We can learn a lot from historic revivals, good and bad; there is a lot to glean from how the Lord has poured out His Spirit in the past and how His people have been steward’s of it. But what can we do now? Pray! Pray for another outpouring of the Spirit, personally, corporately and globally. What kind of spiritual atmosphere will we be leaving for our children and grandchildren? I am not against growth strategies, evangelistic outreach, bible studies, added church functions, weekly services or anything that involves the coming together of His people. Most of the Kingdom work is done daily through the small and often tedious steps of life. But I want to see the church alive. I want to see the Spirit poured out on His people. I want to see a city transformed! Is the Spirit stirring you up to see revival in your city? Press into Jesus and ask Him what He wants to do in you and through you!
“Before the Spirit can flow through you, He must work in you” Evan Roberts