Friday is for Heart Songs
No one who reads the Bible, no one one knows the history of the church, no one who is a follower of Christ can doubt that the nation needs revival. But what will it take? What might be the start of revival of real abandoned-to-Christ discipleship that is sorely needed in our time?
I don’t know all of the things that it might take but one thing I am sure of, the God who has revived dead, dying, lifeless, apathetic churches in the past is the same God that calls us to Himself today. Will we heed the call? The jury is still out. We don’t know.
But perhaps a look back at a past revival might begin to stir the fires in some Christ-followers to begin to seek the living God with passion. “Oh God, bend us to such a project. What You did in Wales in the past, would You do in America in our day?”
This morning in my devotions I was reading in Psalm 119. Verse 136 spurred my heart to prayer.
My eyes shed streams of tears,
. because people do not keep Your law.
My journal entry was short: “Is this not what is missing in our time? Oh God, where is the lament of your people over the rebellion in our land? Where is mine?”
After my time in the word, I opened my email and found the following account in the Kairos Journal. My hope is that God might use it in some way to light a small match toward a great work of God in the United States.Would you join in praying (until it comes) for an awakening of spiritual passion in the Christians of America?
Revival in Wales, 1904
The second Sunday of February 1904, Florrie Evans rose to speak in a youth meeting at Tabernacle Calvinistic Methodist Church in New Quay, Wales: “I am unable to say very much today but I love the Lord Jesus with all my heart—he died for me.”1 Her words were few, but they were quite enough to spark a nationwide revival, with 85,000 new professions of faith in Christ.
Distressed at the low spiritual state of churches in the area, her pastor, Joseph Jenkins, had scheduled meetings to address the problem. Florrie attended and became convicted of sin. When she sought Jenkins’ counsel, he asked if Jesus was Lord of her life. She delivered her answer at that February youth gathering, and the Word and Spirit spread from that place mightily.
The groundwork laid in previous centuries was considerable. Elizabeth I saw the Bible translated into Welsh in the 16th century.2 In the 17th century, Rees Pritchard put Puritan teaching to rhyme as a memory aid for laymen.3 In the early 18th century, Griffith Jones founded literacy schools, with the Welsh Bible as the text.4 Mid-century, the preaching of Hywel Harris and Daniel Rowland complemented the work of Wesley and Whitefield in England.5 Meanwhile, William Williams, the “Welsh Charles Wesley,” penned such hymns as “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah.”6 With the 19th century came Non-Conformist chapels and preachers, including the Baptist Christmas Evans.7 In 1859, the New York Prayer Revival jumped the Atlantic, adding perhaps 100,000 souls to Welsh churches. But by 1900, liberalism and worldliness had sapped the strength of Welsh Christianity.8
The first Keswick-in-Wales Convention, held in the summer of 1903, stirred the hearts of many young ministers, causing them to yearn for more spiritual power. This was their prayer, and in 1904, this was God’s gift to them.9 The fire was lit in February, and the subsequent blessings were manifold and widespread. Here are some of the more noteworthy features of the revival:
1. The Prayer. Seth Joshua prayed, “Bend us, Oh Lord,” and that became the revival cry.10
2. The Preacher. At Seth Joshua’s and the Holy Spirit’s prompting, Evan Roberts prayed “Bend me, Oh Lord,” and God empowered him to be the revival’s lead preacher.11
3. The Library. Besides the Bible, Evan Roberts credited three books with greatest impact on his ministry: Thomas Charles’ Christian Instructor: A Summary of Christian Teaching, The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Hymnbook, and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.12
4. The Healing. When doctors told Roberts’ brother Dan that his eyesight was deteriorating, Evan said the Lord needed him, and his eyes would be healed. They were—immediately.13
5. The Way. Roberts urged hearers to:
(1) Confess sin to God as the Spirit reveals it;
(2) Remove doubtful things from one’s life;
(3) Surrender to the Spirit totally;
(4) Confess Christ publicly.14
6. The Revival “Love Song.” Annie Davies’ rendition of “Here Is Love Vast as the Ocean.”15
7. The Political Impact. Welsh MP and later British Prime Minister Lloyd George cancelled political meetings to avoid conflicts with the revival.16
8. The Social Impact. The crime rate dropped, old debts were repaid, ale houses stood empty, and work improved in the mines.17
9. The Unity. Denominational rivalry largely disappeared during the revival.18
10. The Attacks. No work of God would be complete without its detractors. Rev. Peter Price, a Congregational Minister in Dowlais, took to the newspapers to denounce Evan Roberts.19
The revival was a glorious time, but spiritual vitality is not inherited. Today, Wales languishes in spiritual disarray. But God has returned in power to that region repeatedly—in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Now, in the 21st century, it is time once again for urgent utterance of the prayer, “Bend us, Oh Lord.” It appears that great things happen when the people thus petition God.
1 Kevin Adams and Emyr Jones, A Pictorial History of Revival: The Outbreak of the 1904 Welsh Awakening (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2004), 40-43.
2 Ibid., 20. 3 Ibid., 22. 4 Ibid., 23. 5 Ibid., 24. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid., 25.
8 Ibid., 30-31. 9 Ibid., 36. 10 Ibid., 65. 11 Ibid. 12 Ibid., 52. 13 Ibid., 75.
14 Ibid., 76. 15 Ibid., 98. 16 Ibid., 93. 17 Ibid., 103, 105, 107. 18 Ibid., 110.
19 Ibid., 114.