I am sitting at my desk with one of the original copies of “The Great Revival in Wales”, a book that was published in 1905 and handed out in that same year throughout Western American congregations. It was distributed by a relatively unknown man named Frank Bartleman (author of “Azusa Street”), a revivalist whose fasting, praying and preaching was effectual during this time. It is an early collection of many eye-witness accounts of the revival which made history at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Holy Spirit revival of Wales in 1904 was one of the greatest movings of God’s Spirit in the history of the Church. The most popular sporting events were barely attended. The nation sold out of Bibles. An estimated 100,000-plus souls were brought from darkness to light over a period of about nine months. Bars went out of business, and the praises of God could be heard from the sanctuaries to the streets to the coal mines and back. We’ve never seen anything like it in our generation, at least not in the West.
This book on Wales was used, in part, to fuel the faith and hunger of many believers in America at the turn of last century. In particular, several congregations in California were radically moved by the reports of such a Divine invasion of society. Repentance and prayer for like awakenings became the cry of many hearts during this time. People began to realize that if the Church was not having an effect on the surrounding society, something was tragically amiss. From that conviction the prayers arose. The kinds of prayers that move things in the heavenlies were offered up. People travailed and groaned for the salvation of unbelievers, and for the fire of God to fall in the Church.
The result of this stirring was an answer from heaven that would again alter the course of history, when coupled with other events, a broken-hearted black man named William Seymour made his pilgrimage to Los Angeles, a place where he would be a part of what came to be known as the Azusa Street Revival. This was a movement which saw the fire of God’s Spirit spread with fervent rapidity, touching many parts of the world. John G. Lake, speaking of Seymour noted that “when the fire of God came it glorified him, and the glory and the power of a real Pentecost shook the world.”
Friends, we need to be revived! We need outpourings of God’s Spirit! We need floods of mercy to sweep through the streets of our cities! We need a fire of impassioned prayer and worship kindled in our churches! We need the Spirit of the fear of the Lord to be released in our communities! We need an ever-increasing consciousness of Jesus Christ! I am thinking of the Psalmists’ cry:
“The humble have seen it [the salvation of the Lord] and are glad;
You who seek God, let your heart revive.” -Psm. 69:32
There are some of you who once rejoiced in the presence of the Lord, filled with a heart of simplistic praise and an innocence that came from knowing you had been cleansed and shown mercy. Now you are burdened with busyness, suspicious of others, entrapped in the stranglehold of fear and compromise, and there is no living song in your heart. Dear saint, “seek God,” and “let your heart revive.”
There are those who knew a pure communion with the Lord in the secret place, where you sat at His feet and wondered in adoration before the Throne. You had a love for the scriptures, and a grace-charged passion in prayer. Now you can scarcely remember a time of fresh and new exchange with the God of life. He has become a taskmaster, or an employer, or an unknowable figure. Once he was to you both King and friend. Now your heart is weary and aimless. You’ve grown worldly, and all that this world has to offer- its fashions, its foods, its entertainment, its false light- has caught your eye. You are not conscious either of His Lordship or His kind and personal embrace. Yet He is as near as He ever was. Dear child, “let your heart revive.”
There are those of you who once anticipated the works of God. You expected the Gospel to penetrate the society. You prayed and believed for words of conviction and life that would have an eternal effect on unbelievers in your sphere of relationship. You believed that the lame really could walk, the blind really could see, the dead really could arise, and demons really could be driven out. Your heart was aflame in God for the needs of the suffering ones. Now He has become a mere concept. You wonder whether or not He will break into history at all. Perhaps you’ve “been there, done that” and been let down. You’re not willing to let faith arise in your heart. You would rather just go through life as it is. But that is not the cry of true sons! That is not the faith your heart once knew! That is not the compassion that once burned in your spirit. Dear saint, “let your heart revive.”
We have gone too far to turn back. While I believe that the greatest time of upheaval, suffering, and tumult that history has known is just around the corner, I also believe that we are on the path to seeing the greatest awakening the Church has ever witnessed. This time, it will not fade into memory, only to be recalled and wept over. It will culminate in the return of our Heavenly King, and the establishment of His perfect rule. Hallelujah!
…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner-man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; so that…you…may know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
-Eph. 3:16, 17, 19
We need to believe as Evan Roberts believed for Wales. We need to believe as Jesus Himself believed:
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
It’s time for us to cry out to the Lord. If there is sin, let it be brought into the light and repented of. If there’s discouragement or fear, let it be cast aside. There is a great harvest to be reaped, and it will only be brought in rightly by “revived” souls. Servants whose hearts have been kindled by the fire of God’s own Spirit will be the bearers of the ark in these final days. This is not a plea for hollow emotionalism, or the repetition of some method for success. This is the inheritance of the children of God.
Maybe you’ve been handpicked by the Lord for some specific function in the church and you’ve valued your “place” or position above God Himself. Maybe you’ve some lingering bitterness toward someone in the Body. Maybe you’ve lost all perseverance and hope of seeing the realization of a God-given vision. “…let your heart revive.”
Revive unto what? The psalmist has a question that is also to us an answer:
Will You not Yourself revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You? (85:6)
True revival, before it is anything else, is the recovery of a living union with the God of Israel. If we are not rejoicing in God as He is, that itself is sufficient evidence that we need to be touched again with newness of Life.
Tozer was fond of the early mystic’s phrase, “the fellowship of the burning heart”. I am growing fonder of it myself. How about you? I can’t see a valid reason for theology, mission, meetings, or preaching unless my heart has a living flame from heaven.
Dear friends, let’s not settle for something less or other than going in past the veil. In gracious covenantal loyalty He waits for us. He watches us, even now. May He not look upon us in vain. Don’t take this as a conceptual teaching or a theory to consider. God yet awaits you. Respond to Him, beloved.
My God! Have my heart completely, and may it burn fervently with the light of eternal love and holiness today. Revive our hearts, O God. Cause us to look now upon Your majesty.