Prayer and Revival

A Compilation taken from materials found on the web, arranged and edited.

J. Edwin Orr

Dr J. Edwin Orr was a leading scholar of revivals who published detailed books about evangelical awakenings. His research discovered major spiritual awakenings about every fifty years following the great awakening from the mid-eighteenth century in which John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards featured prominently. This article, based on one of Edwin Orr's messages, is adapted from articles reproduced in the National Fellowship for Revival newsletters in New Zealand and Australia.

There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.

Dr A. T. Pierson once said, 'There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.' Let me recount what God has done through concerted, united, sustained prayer.

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution (following 17761781) 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 Lennos, 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 Provost, 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 student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place, where 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 antiChristian 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 they burnt it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790's that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

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

There was a Scottish Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh named John Erskine, who published a Memorial (as 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. The great theologian was so moved he wrote a response which grew longer than a letter, so that finally he published it is 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...'

Is not this what is missing so much from all our evangelistic efforts: explicit agreement, visible unity, 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 (he died in 1791), 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. All the churches 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 revival came.

When 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 had settled in Logan County, it was known as Rogue's Harbour. The decent people in Kentucky formed regiments of vigilantes to fight for law and order, then fought a pitched battle with outlaws and lost.

There was a ScotchIrish Presbyterian minister named James McGready whose chief claim to fame was that he was so ugly that he attracted attention. 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 come the great Kentucky revival. Eleven thousand people came to a communion service. McGready hollered for help, regardless of denomination.

Out of that second great awakening, came the whole modern missionary movement and it's societies. Out of it came the abolition of slavery, popular education, Bible Societies, Sunday Schools, and many social benefits accompanying the evangelistic drive.


Following the second great awakening, which began in 1792 just after the death of John Wesley and continued into the turn of the century, conditions again deteriorated. This is illustrated from the United States.

The country was seriously divided over the issue of slavery, and second, people were making money lavishly.

In September 1857, a man of prayer, Jeremiah Lanphier, started a businessmen's 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 a population of a million showed up. But the following week there were fourteen, and then twentythree when it was decided to meet everyday for prayer. By late winter they were filling the Dutch Reformed Church, then the Methodist Church on John Street, then Trinity Episcopal Church on Broadway at Wall Street. In February and March of 1858, every church and public hall in down town New York was filled.

Horace Greeley, the famous editor, sent a reporter with horse and buggy racing round the prayer meetings to see how many men were praying. In one hour he could get to only twelve meetings, but he counted 6,100 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, and six in the evening. The revival raced up the Hudson and down the Mohawk, where the Baptists, for example, had so many people to baptise that they went down to the river, cut a big hole in the ice, and baptised them in the cold water. When Baptists do that they are really 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 that young man was Dwight Lyman Moody, and that was the beginning of a ministry that lasted forty years.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago had a hundred and twenty-one members in 1857; fourteen hundred in 1860. 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.


That movement lasted for a generation, but at the turn of the century there was need of awakening again. A general movement of prayer began, with special prayer meetings at Moody Bible Institute, at Keswick Conventions in England, and places as far apart as Melbourne, Wonsan in Korea, and the Nilgiri Hills of India. So all around the world believers were praying that there might be another great awakening in the twentieth century.

* * *

In the revival of 1905, I read of a young man who became a famous professor, Kenneth Scott Latourette. He reported that, at Yale in 1905, 25% of the student body were enrolled in prayer meetings and in Bible study.

As far as churches were concerned, the ministers of Atlantic City reported that of a population of fifty thousand there were only fifty adults left unconverted.

Take Portland in Oregon: two hundred and forty major stores closed from 11 to 2 each day to enable people to attend prayer meetings, signing an agreement so that no one would cheat and stay open.

Take First Baptist Church of Paducah in Kentucky: the pastor, an old man, Dr J. J. Cheek, took a thousand members in two months and died of overwork, the Southern Baptists saying, 'a glorious ending to a devoted ministry.'

That is what was happening in the United States in 1905. But how did it begin?

* * *

Most people have heard of the Welsh Revival which started in 1904. It began as a movement of prayer. Seth Joshua, the Presbyterian evangelist, came to Newcastle Emlyn College where a former coal miner, Evan Roberts aged 26, was studying for the ministry. The students were so moved that they asked if they could attend Joshua's next campaign nearby. So they cancelled classes to go to Blaenanerch where Seth Joshua prayed publicly, 'O God, bend us.'

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 and 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 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, and were impressed with the directness of the young man's words.

Evan Roberts told his fellow members, 'I have a message for you from God.

* 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.'

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. Then the break came. Suddenly the dull ecclesiastical columns in the Welsh papers changed:

'Great crowds of people drawn to Loughor.'

The main road between Llanelly and Swansea on which the church was situated was packed with 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 people did not seem willing to go home. 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 being that, of a hundred thousand joining the churches in five months of excitement, after five years only seventy-five thousand still stood in the membership of those churches!

The social impact 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 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, for so many Welsh coal miners were converted and stopped using bad language that the horses that dragged the coal trucks in the mines could not understand what was being said to them.

That revival also affected sexual moral standards. I had discovered through the figures given by British government experts that in Radnorshire and Merionethshire the illegitimate birth rate had dropped 44% within a year of the beginning of the revival.

The revival swept Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, North America, Australasia, Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Chile.

As always, it began through a movement of prayer.

What do we mean by extraordinary prayer? We share ordinary prayer in regular worship services, before meals, and the like. But when people are found getting up at six in the morning to pray, or having a half night of prayer until midnight, or giving up their lunch time to pray at noonday prayer meetings, that is extraordinary prayer. It must be united and concerted.

(c) Renewal Journal #1 (93:1), Brisbane, Australia, pp. 1318.

Reproduction is allowed as long as the copyright remains intact with the text.

James Caughey

J. A. Stewart has rightly said, "Apart from the mighty enduement of the Spirit of Pentecost, all our Gospel services will be in vain. The natural, unregenerate man cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit. His darkened mind can only be enlightened by the divine intervention of God, the Holy Ghost. He cannot be argued, fascinated, bullied or enthused into accepting Christ as Savior. It is not enough that we clearly expound the Gospel. It must be given in the demonstration and power of the Spirit and then applied by Him." It was this burning revelation that radically transformed the ministry of a young Methodist preacher by the name of James Caughey.

James Caughey was born in Northern Ireland on April 9, 1810. The Caughey family later immigrated to America while James was still very young. By 1830 Mr. Caughey was working in a large flour mill in Troy, New York. Between the years of 1830-31, he was soundly converted, along with thousands of others during the Second Great Awakening in the "Burned-over District." Two years after his conversion, he was admitted as a Methodist preacher into the Troy Conference. He was later ordained in 1834 as deacon and after two more years was finally ordained as an elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Initially he seemed to be merely another sincere but quite ordinary Methodist preacher. His first ministry labors were not distinguished by any uncommon results; therefore his friends and family did not entertain any lofty hopes for his future ministry. However, Mr. Caughey had already begun to embrace his own desperate need for a genuine upper room experience. He resolved to fully yield and entrust his ministry to the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.

Burdened and burning with conviction, James Caughey vowed to God to always submit to the following points;

"(1) The absolute necessity of the immediate influence of the Holy Ghost to impart power, efficacy, and success to a preached Gospel.

(2) The absolute necessity of praying more frequently, more fervently, more perseveringly, and more believingly for the aid of the Holy Spirit in my ministry.

(3) That my labors will be powerless, and comfortless, and valueless, without this aid; a cloud without water, a tree without fruit, dead and rootless; a sound uncertain, unctionless and meaningless; such will be the character of my ministry. It is the Spirit of God alone which imparts significance and power to the Word preached, without which, as one has expressed it, all the threatenings of the Bible will be no more than thunder to the deaf or lightning to the blind. A seal requires weight, a hand upon it in order to make an impression. The soul of the penitent sinner is the wax; Gospel truth is the seal, but without the Almighty hand of the Holy Ghost, that seal is powerless . . .

(4) No man has ever been significantly useful in winning souls to Christ without the help of the Spirit. With it the humblest talent may astonish earth and hell, by gathering into the path of life thousands for the skies, while without the Spirit, the finest and most splendid talents remain comparatively useless . . ."

From this time Mr. Caughey's labors were more fruitful, but not so as to distinguish him above many other Methodist preachers of the day. He pastored and occasionally evangelized in the Northeastern United States until 1840. Caughey was then impressed of the Lord to leave his church and go preach in Britain. Almost immediately he began to minister with a new anointing and power. He obtained permission from the Methodist Conference to visit Europe, and quickly set out to bring reformation and revival to the heartland of Wesleyan Methodism.

In July 1841, James Caughey arrived in Liverpool England and began an extensive tour of Britain that lasted until 1847. For nearly seven years Caughey was the ordained means of sparking revival in one industrial city after another all across Britain. Throughout this continuous season of revival, Caughey preached on an average of six to ten times a week, resulting in 22,000 souls converted and thousands more refreshed and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Mr. Caughey's revival ministry repeatedly emptied the public drinking houses and miraculously transformed entire communities. Most of his converts were young people, between the ages of sixteen and thirty years old. One of those converts was a tall and gangly youth named William Booth, who after his conversion immediately began street preaching in the forgotten city slums of England.

Mr. Caughey's ministry consistently left an intense impact on all those who attended his meetings. Often his services were filled with the sounds of hundreds of hungry souls simultaneously sobbing and crying out for more of Jesus. In the autumn of 1843 in Hull England, Mr. Caughey recalled the following miraculous events: "At this moment an influence, evidently from Heaven, came upon the people suddenly; it seemed like some mighty bursting of a storm of wind upon some extensive forest. The entire congregation was in motion; some preparing to flee from the place, and others in the act of prostrating themselves before the Lord God of hosts. Cries for mercy, and piercing supplications for purity of heart were heard from all parts of the agitated mass -in the galleries, as well as throughout the body of the chapel; While purified souls were exulting in the loftiest strains of adoration. The scene was, beyond description, grand and sublimely awful. It was God's own house, and heaven's gate. Poor sinners were amazed, and fled; but some of them fell down, some distance from the chapel, in terror and agony. Many however remained, repeating the publican's plea, 'God be merciful to me a sinner!' My soul, full of holy awe, trembled before the majesty of God. Like Elijah, who covered his face in his mantle when the Lord passed by, I was glad to have a place of concealment in the bottom of the pulpit.

The superintendent minister, the Rev. Thomas Martin, who was with me in the pulpit at the time, was so overpowered, that he could do nothing but weep and adore. Thus it continued for about twenty-five minutes, when the Lord stayed His hand, and there was a sudden and heavenly calm, full of sunshine and glory. The number converted and sanctified on that night was great. It appears the influence was almost as powerful outside the chapel as within. An unconverted man, who was standing outside at the time, waiting to accompany his wife home, said, when she came out, 'I don't know what has been going on in the chapel, or how you have felt, but there was a very strange feeling came over me while I was standing at the door.' A few such shocks of almighty power would turn the kingdom of the devil in any place or city upside down, and go far to convert the entire population."
On occasions the manifestations accompanying Mr. Caughey's ministry went far beyond the accepted norms usually associated with modern, English Methodism. As we have already noted, extended seasons of intense weeping and piercing cries were quite common in Caughey's meetings.

However, there were also some occasional instances of a more drastic nature. In Ireland there were manifestations of exuberant jumping and rejoicing accompanied by others being violently overcome with uncontrollable shaking and trembling.

As a result, it was not uncommon for Mr. Caughey to be accused of promoting emotional fanaticism by those who were resisting his reforms among the Wesleyan Methodists. The following comments from Mr. Caughey's book "Revival Miscellanies" are indicative of how he responded to his critics. He writes, "I understand the design of such names as 'fanatics, enthusiasts, madmen, etc.' These names are fastened upon some of the zealous servants of God for the same purpose that the skins of wild beasts were put upon the primitive Christians by their persecutors, that they might more readily be torn in pieces by the hungry lions in the arena of the amphitheater. Yet they were Christians still, notwithstanding these deforming skins, and so are we, though some cover us from head to foot with the hideous imputations of fanaticism."

Those who were closest to the revivalist were often asked how Mr. Caughey managed to consistently flow in the power of the Holy Spirit. The answer was almost always the same. -Knee work! Knee work! Knee work! This was his secret! James Caughey was a man committed to faith-filled, travailing prayer. "He spent many hours of each day on his knees, with his Bible spread open before him, asking wisdom from on high, and beseeching a blessing from God on the preaching of His Word. This was his almost constant employment between breakfast and dinner." Caughey's anointed ministry was merely the outward fruit of a lifestyle of constant praying in the Holy Ghost.

Mr. Caughey's lengthy revival ministry in Britain had brought about an unexpected refreshing among the common people of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. As a result, his ministry naturally empowered the growing, Methodist reform movement. These Methodist reformers sought to encourage spiritual renewal and ministry-participation among the common English people. They understood that a lasting revival would prepare and empower the common man to take his rightful place in the Church. Thus, they strongly supported James Caughey, as he challenged the Wesleyan people to return to the apostolic roots of John Wesley's Methodism. Eventually, Mr. Caughey was stubbornly opposed and censored by England's Methodist leadership. Finally, in 1847 Caughey reluctantly consented to close his revival meetings in England and quietly return to America.

Revivals are seasons of intense and rapid spiritual growth, and such growth always involves change. Growing children demand new and larger garments, just as growing trees need room for their expanding roots. The sincere seekers of lasting revival must be willing to change and yield to the Spirit's control. The wind, water, and fire of the Holy Ghost are ever moving elements that require plenty of room to breathe. We must beware of quenching and smothering the influence of the Holy Spirit by our predetermined preferences and stiff religious traditions. True revival will not come through our fleshly might or organizational power, but ONLY by God's Spirit! Have we given the Holy Spirit permission to change US?

References - Methodism in Ernest by James Caughey, Showers of Blessing by James Caughey, Revival Miscellanies by James Caughey, Arrows from my Quiver by James Caughey, Transatlantic Revivalism by Richard Carwardine, Men and Women of Deep Piety by Mrs. Clara McLEISTER, The Eager Feet by J. Edwin Orr, The Light of the Nations by J. Edwin Orr, A History of American Revivals by Frank G. Beardsley.

Pray On

For Spiritual Awakening in America

by Sarah Foulkes Moore

It is 24 years ago in July that God took Sarah Foulkes Moore, co-founder of Herald of His Coming, to her rest. In tribute to this saint of God who poured out her life as few others have, in passion and prayer for world evangelization through world revival, we reprint this anointed plea from her pen.

"Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. 14:34).

Men of sober thought are persuaded that nothing will solve the grave problems that menace our nation except a spiritual awakening.

A thoughtful study of the effects of religious awakenings on our national history should make prayerful men and women, at this crisis time, feel seriously the grave responsibility of praying frequently and working effectively for a heaven-sent Spirit-given revival of Christian faith - to restore multitudes in backslidden churches and save our civilization.

The old-fashioned revival which began about 1800 in Kentucky spread through seventeen states. Historians writing of those "camp meeting days" declare: "Neighborhoods noted for vicious and profligate life are as much noted now for piety and good order."

The transformation resulting from this spiritual awakening directly opened the way for winning the West and annexing it to the United States. With the discovery of gold in California, and the extension of the national boundaries in the bold acquisition of Mexican states, and the ensuing prosperity of rich harvests, railway and steamship developments, America once more turned from God to the worship of mammon. In 1855 she found herself in the midst of a terrible panic, underemployment, want and despair. To add to the grim terror of those days were the ominous rumblings of the coming Civil War, national disruption and fearful strife.

The National Peril Was Great!

Again God turned His hand upon America and saved her from ruin. Beginning in a businessmen's noonday prayer meeting, a revival burst into flame which rapidly spread north and south. The cry: "What must I do to be saved?" pierced the air. Thousands turned to God. The revival continued unabated throughout the conflict of the North and South and was, under God, the means of reconciling the warring interests in the Civil conflict. "Never in the history of mankind," comments one historian, "was a Civil war followed so quickly by a reconciliation so genuine and so perfect."

Today America is facing a crisis! It is a moral collapse, a breakdown of modern civilization consequent upon its failure in meeting the higher, spiritual needs of the race.

One Thing Can Save The Nation!

The one thing that can save the nation is to get back to her spiritual undergirdings and return to the faith of our forefathers. Only a visitation from on high will turn the tide, and save the day.

The responsibility of securing this spiritual revival rests entirely with praying men and women. Prayer groups and companies, whole churches and assemblies should be mobilized to intercede for a national awakening.

In the early years of the present century, Wales faced a crisis. This crisis was met by organizing three hundred extra prayer groups to pray down a heavenly visitation upon the land. All Wales became as one great prayer meeting! What was the result of this organized banding together to seek the face of God for an imperiled nation? Within a short time revival fires began to sweep Wales and in two months over seventy thousand turned to the Lord!

Revival Follows Prayer!

There is no revival where there is no prayer. What America needs today more than able statesmen in politics is men and women to get desperately determined and in earnest to have God work in revival power, and to take hold of the Lord in an agony of importunate prayer!

The responsibility of calling America to prayer and of taking hold of God, of getting down on our faces before Him and staying there until He again visits us from on high, and once more diverts a crisis in our national history - is your responsibility and mine! (Isa. 64:7).

Our one solemn concern in these days of waning national allegiance and threatened revolutions should be to give ourselves to faithful, constant, prevailing prayer for our beloved land.

Hold your hours of prayer with an iron grasp. Let the people of God everywhere in America recognize the tremendous power of prayer, and mobilize and organize their forces at this strategic point, and our country will be swept out of the present crisis and into a great religious revival!

Pray On!

Include the ends of the earth in your prayers. Thank God for His movings, but we need more! Pray God will send a worldwide outpouring of His Spirit "on all flesh" (Joel 2:28) so His people shall be "one" (John 17:11-23) and shall see "eye to eye!" (Isa. 52:8). 

"HERALD OF HIS COMING" July 1997 Vol. 56 No. 7 (667) International Edition

"Herald of His Coming" is published monthly by Gospel Revivals Inc.
304 North Main Street, Newton KS 67114. Tel 316 283 7747
Fax: 316 284 2311 Electronic mail: CompuServe 102716,1613

Praying the Price

Stuart Robinson

The Rev Dr Stuart Robinson is the Senior Pastor at the Blackburn Baptist Church in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Luke 11:1 Lord teach us to pray


In 1952 Albert Einstein was asked by a Princeton doctoral student what was left in the world for original dissertation research? Einstein replied, 'Find out about prayer'.

English preacher Sidlow Baxter, when he was eighty five years of age, said, 'I have pastored only three churches in my more than sixty years of ministry. We had revival in every one. And not one of them came as a result of my preaching. They came as a result of the membership entering into a covenant to pray until revival came. And it did come, every time' (Willhite 1988:111).

Chaplain of the United States Senate, Richard Halverson, advised that we really don't have any alternatives to prayer. He says, 'You can organise until you are exhausted. You can plan, program and subsidise all your plans. But if you fail to pray, it is a waste of time. Prayer is not optional. It is mandatory. Not to pray is to disobey God' (Bryant 1984:39).

Roy Pointer, after extensive research in Baptist churches in the United Kingdom, arrived at the conclusion that wherever there was positive growth, there was one recurring factor: they were all praying churches.

In the United States of America, at Larry Lea's Church on the Rock in Rockwall, Texas, numerical growth was from 13 people in 1980 to 11,000 people by 1988. When he was asked about such amazing growth, he said 'I didn't start a church I started a prayer meeting'. When David Shibley, the minister responsible for prayer in that church was asked the secret of the church, he said, 'The evangelistic program of our church is the daily prayer meeting. Every morning, Monday through Friday, we meet at 5.00 am to pray. If we see the harvest of conversions fall off for more than a week, we see that as a spiritual red alert and seek the Lord' (Shibley 1985:7).

In Korea, where the church has grown from almost zero to a projected 50% of the entire population in this century alone, Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho attributes his church's conversion rate of 12,000 people per month as primarily due to ceaseless prayer.

In Korea it is normal for church members to go to bed early so they can arise at 4.00 am to participate in united prayer. It is normal for them to pray all through Friday nights. It is normal to go out to prayer retreats. Cho says that any church might see this sort of phenomenal growth if they are prepared to 'pray the price,' to 'pray and obey.'

Cho was once asked by a local pastor why was it that Cho's church membership was 750,000 and his was only 3,000 when he was better educated, preached better sermons and even had a foreign wife? Cho inquired, 'How much do you pray?' The pastor said, 'Thirty minutes a day.' To which Cho replied, 'There is your answer. I pray from three to five hours per day.'

In America one survey has shown that pastors on average pray 22 minutes per day. In mainline churches, it is less than that. In Japan they pray 44 minutes a day, Korea 90 minutes a day, and China 120 minutes a day.

It's not surprising that the growth rate of churches in those countries is directly proportional to the amount of time pastors are spending in prayer.

Growth a Supernatural Process

The church is a living organism. It is God's creation with Jesus Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18). From Him life flows (John 14:6). We have a responsibility to cooperate with God (1Corinthians 3:6). We know that unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain (Psalm 127:1).

The transfer of a soul from the kingdom of darkness to that of light is a spiritual, supernatural process (Colossians 1:14). It is the Father who draws (John 6:44).

It is the Holy Spirit who convicts (John 16:811). He causes confession to be made (1Corinthians 12:3). He completes conversion (Titus 3:5). It is the Holy Spirit who also strengthens and empowers (Ephesians 3:16). He guides into truth (John 16:16). He gives spiritual gifts which promote unity (1 Corinthians 12:25), building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12), thus avoiding disunity and strife which stunt growth.

This is fundamental spiritual truth accepted and believed by all Christians. However, the degree to which we are convinced that all real growth is ultimately a supernatural process and are prepared to act upon that belief, will be directly reflected in the priority that we give to corporate and personal prayer in the life of the church.

It is only when we begin to see that nothing that matters will occur except in answer to prayer that prayer will become more than an optional program for the faithful few, and instead it will become the driving force of our churches.

Obviously God wants our pastors, other leaders and His people to recognise that only He can do extraordinary things. When we accept that simple premise, we may begin to pray.

In the Bible

The battle which Joshua won, as recorded in Exodus 17:813, was not so dependent upon what he and his troops were doing down on the plain. It was directly dependent upon Moses' prayerful intercession from on top of a nearby hill, with the support of Aaron and Hur.

In the Old Testament, not counting the Psalms, there are 77 explicit references to prayer.

The pace quickens in the New Testament. There are 94 references alone which relate directly to Jesus and prayer. The apostles picked up this theme and practice.

So Paul says, 'Pray continually, for this is God's will for you' (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

Peter urges believers to be 'clear minded and self controlled' so that they can pray (1 Peter 4:7).

James declares that prayer is 'powerful and effective' (James 5:16).

John assures us that 'God hears and answers' (1 John 5:15).

In the book of Acts there are 36 references to the church growing. Fifty eight percent (i.e. 21 of those instances) are within the context of prayer.

We would all love to see growth in every church in the world like it was at Pentecost and immediately thereafter. The key to what happened there is found in Acts 1:14 when it says: 'They were all joined together constantly in prayer.'

They were all joined together one mind, one purpose, one accord. That is the prerequisite for effectiveness. Then, they were all joined together constantly in prayer. The word used there means to be 'busily engaged in, to be devoted to, to persist in adhering to a thing, to intently attend to it.' And it is in the form of a present participle. It means that the practice was continued ceaselessly. The same word and part of speech is used in Acts 2:42: 'They devoted themselves... to prayer.' Over in Colossians 4:2, Paul uses the same word again in the imperative form: 'Devote yourselves to prayer.'

Most significant expansion movements of the church through its history took up that imperative.

In history

When we read the biographies of William Carey, Adoniram Judson, David Livingstone, Hudson Taylor, or whomever, the initiating thrust of the work of their lives began in prayer encounters.

About a century ago, John R. Mott led an extraordinary movement which became known as the Student Christian Movement. It was based amongst college and university students. It supplied 20,000 career missionaries in the space of thirty years. John Mott said that the source of this amazing awakening lay in united intercessory prayer. It wasn't just that these missionaries were recruited and sent out in prayer; their work was also sustained through prayer.

Hudson Taylor told a story of a missionary couple who were in charge of ten stations. They wrote to their home secretary confessing their absolute lack of progress, and they urged the secretary to find intercessors for each station. After a while, in seven of those stations, opposition melted, spiritual revival broke out and the churches grew strongly. But in three there was no change. When they returned home on their next furlough, the secretary cleared up the mystery. He had succeeded in getting intercessors for only seven of the ten stations. S. D. Gordon (1983:40) concludes, 'The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is to pray.'

Luther, Calvin, Knox, Latimer, Finney, Moody, all the `greats of God' practised prayer and fasting to enhance ministry effectiveness.

John Wesley was so impressed by such precedents that he would not even ordain a person to ministry unless he agreed to fast at least until 4.00 pm each Wednesday and Friday.

Yonggi Cho (1984:103) says, 'Normally I teach new believers to fast for three days. Once they have become accustomed to three day fasts, they will be able to fast for a period of seven days. Then they will move to ten day fasts. Some have even gone for forty days.'

These people seem to have latched onto something which we here in Australia hardly know anything about. We are so busy, so active. We try so hard to get something good up and running. But it doesn't seem to grow much, or permanently change many lives. Why? Is it that the ground in Australia is too hard? Compared with other times and places, this could hardly be so. For example, back in the 18th century things didn't look good.

Eighteenth century

France was working through its bloody revolution, as terroristic as any of our modern era.

America had declared its Rights of Man in 1776. Voltaire was preaching that the church was only a system of oppression for the human spirit. Karl Marx would later agree. A new morality had arisen. Amongst both sexes in all ranks of society, Christianity was held in almost universal contempt. Demonic forces seemed to have been unleashed to drive the church out of existence. In many places it was almost down and out. Preachers and people would be pelted with stones and coal in places in England if they dared to testify to Jesus Christ in public.

But even before those satanic forces collaborated to confound and confuse, it appears that the Holy Spirit had prepared His defense, like a plot out of some Peretti novel.

In the 1740s, John Erskine of Edinburgh published a pamphlet encouraging people to pray for Scotland and elsewhere. Over in America, the challenge was picked up by Jonathan Edwards, who wrote a treatise called, 'A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God's People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ's Kingdom.'

For forty years, John Erskine orchestrated what became a Concert of Prayer through voluminous correspondence around the world. In the face of apparent social, political and moral deterioration, he persisted.

And then the Lord of the universe stepped in and took over. On Christmas day 1781, at St. Just Church in Cornwall, at 3.00 am, intercessors met to sing and pray. The heavens opened at last and they knew it. They prayed through until 9.00 am and regathered on Christmas evening. Throughout January and February, the movement continued. By March 1782 they were praying until midnight. No significant preachers were involved just people praying and the Holy Spirit responding.

Two years later in 1784, when 83year old John Wesley visited that area, he wrote, 'This country is all on fire and the flame is spreading from village to village.' And spread it did. The chapel which George Whitefield had built decades previously in Tottenham Court Road had to be enlarged to seat 5,000 people the largest in the world at that time. Baptist churches in North Hampton, Leicester, and the Midlands, set aside regular nights devoted to the drumbeat of prayer for revival. Methodists and Anglicans joined in.

Matthew Henry wrote, 'When God intends great mercy for His people, He first sets them praying.'

Across the country prayer meetings were networking for revival. A passion for evangelism arose. Converts were being won not through the regular services of the churches, but at the prayer meetings! Some were held at 5.00 am, some at midnight. Some preChristians were drawn by dreams and visions. Some came to scoff but were thrown to the ground under the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes there was noise and confusion; sometimes stillness and solemnity. But always there was that ceaseless outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Whole denominations doubled, tripled and quadrupled in the next few years. It swept out from England to Wales, Scotland, United States, Canada and to some Third World countries.

Social Impact

The social impact of reformed lives was incredible. William Wilberforce, William Pitt, Edmund Bourke, and Charles Fox, all touched by this movement, worked ceaselessly for the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.

William Buxton worked on for the emancipation of all slaves in the British Empire and saw it happen in 1834.

John Howard and Elizabeth Fry gave their lives to radically reform the prison system.

Florence Nightingale founded modern nursing.

Ashley Cooper, the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, came to the rescue of the working poor to end their sixteen hour, seven day a week work grind. He worked to stop exploitation of women and children in coal mines, the suffocation of boys as sweeps in chimneys. He established public parks and gymnasia, gardens, public libraries, night schools and choral societies.

The Christian Socialist Movement, which became the British Trade Union movement, was birthed.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed to protect animals.

There was amazing growth in churches, and an astounding change in society came about because for forty years a man prayed and worked, seeing the establishment of thousands of similar prayer meetings, all united in calling on God for revival.

Missionary societies were established. William Carey was one who got swept up in that movement. We speak of him as the 'father of modern missions'.

The environment of his situation was that he was a member of a ministers' revival prayer group which had been meeting for two years in Northampton in 1784-86. It was in 1786 he shared his vision of God's desire to see the heathen won for the Lord.

He went on to establish what later became known as the Baptist Missionary Society. In 1795 the London Missionary Society was formed. In 1796 the Scottish Missionary Society was established, and later still the Church Missionary Society of the Anglicans was commenced.

Nineteenth century

The prayer movement had a tremendous impact, but waned until the middle of the 19th century. Then God started something up in Canada, and the necessity to pray was picked up in New York.

A quiet man called Jeremiah Lanphier had been appointed by the Dutch Reformed Church as a missionary to the central business district. Because the church was in decline and the life of the city was somewhat similar, he didn't know what to do. He was a layman. He called a prayer meeting in the city to be held at noon each Wednesday. Its first meeting was on the 23rd September 1857. Eventually, five other men turned up. Two weeks later, they decided to move to a daily schedule of prayer. Within six months, 10,000 men were gathering to pray and that movement spread across America.

Surprise, surprise! Within two years there were one million new believers added to the church. The movement swept out to touch England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster.

Ireland was as tough a nut to crack as any. But when news reached Ireland of what was happening in America, James McQuilkan gathered three young men to meet for prayer in the Kells schoolhouse on March 14, 1859. They prayed and prayed for revival. Within a couple of months a similar prayer meeting was launched in Belfast. By September 21, 20,000 people assembled to pray for the whole of Ireland.

It was later estimated that 100,000 converts resulted directly from these prayer movements in Ireland. It has also been estimated that in the years 1859-60, some 1,150,000 people were added to the church, wherever concerts of prayer were in operation.

Twentieth century

Many would be aware of the Welsh Revival this century. It commenced in October 1904. It was spontaneous and was characterised by simultaneous, lengthy prayer meetings. In the first two months, 70,000 people came to the Lord. In 1905 in London alone, the Wesleyan Methodists increased from their base membership of 54,785 by an additional 50,021 people.

Coming closer in time and nearer to Australia, in the Enga churches in Papua New Guinea there was a desperate spiritual state 20 years ago. To redress the situation, people there committed themselves to pray.

Prayer meetings began amongst pastors, missionaries and Bible College students. It spread out to the villages. In some villages, groups of people agreed to pray together every day until God sent new life to the church.

On 15 September 1973, without any prior indication, simultaneously, spontaneously, in village after village as pastors stood to deliver their normal Sunday morning messages, the Holy Spirit descended bringing conviction, confession, repentance and revival. Normal work stopped as people in their thousands hurried to special meetings. Prayer groups met daily, morning and evening. Thousands of Christians were restored and thousands of pagans were converted. Whole villages became Christian, and the church grew not only in size but in maturity.

In the Philippines in the 1980s, as a result of some people attending an international prayer conference in Korea, 200 missionaries of the Philippine Missionary Fellowship each organized prayer group meetings daily at 7.00 pm to pray for the growth of the church. They report that within a couple of years this directly resulted in the formation of 310 new churches.

Spectacular growth is occurring in Argentina. Jose Luis Vasquez saw his church explode from 600 to 4,500 with a constituency of 10,000 members in five years following a visit from Carlos Annacondia.

Hector Gimenez started his church from zero in 1983. His congregation now numbers 70,000. Omar Cabrera started his church in 1972 with 15 members. There is now a combined membership of 90,000 members.

Peter Wagner, who is intensely investigating what lies behind such effective ministry, has arrived at the conclusion that powerful intercessory prayer is the chief weapon. Much of it is happening in a Pentecostal, charismatic environment. But the structure or doctrine is not the essential thing.

Walter Hollenweger, a prolific researcher into Pentecostalism said that for them, from the earliest Pentecostals onwards, it was more important to pray than to organise (1972:29).

Wherever that principle is invoked, amazing things happen. In 1982 Christians in East Germany started to form small groups of ten to twelve persons, committed to meet to pray for peace. By October 1989, 50,000 people were involved in Monday night prayer meetings. In 1990, when those praying people moved quietly into the streets, their numbers quickly swelled to 300,000 and 'the wall came tumbling down.'

In Cuba in 1990, an Assemblies of God pastor whose congregation never exceeded 100 people meeting once a week suddenly found himself conducting 12 services per day for 7,000 people. They started queuing at 2.00 am and even broke down the doors just to get into the prayer meetings.

Asked to explain these phenomena, Cuban Christians say 'it has come because we have paid the price. We have suffered for the Gospel and we have prayed for many, many years' (O'Connor 1990:79).

When a group known as the Overseas Missionary Society saw that after 25 years of work in India all they could report was 2,000 believers in 25 churches, they adopted a new strategy. In their homelands they recruited 1,000 people committed to pray for the work in India for just 15 minutes per day. Within a few years the church exploded to 73,000 members in 550 churches.

Will we 'pray the price'?

Today there is great pressure from many directions in our society to work harder, to become smarter, to produce results, or to be moved aside. The church in many western countries is in danger of absorbing this mentality into its own attitudes and practices, forgetting that in the divinehuman endeavour, success comes not by might nor by power but by a gracious release of God's Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

Years ago, R. A. Torrey (1974:190) said, 'We live in a day characterised by the multiplication of man's machinery and the diminution of God's power. The great cry of our day is work, work, work! Organise, organise, organise! Give us some new society! Tell us some new methods! Devise some new machinery! But the great need of our day is prayer, more prayer and better prayer.'

Friends, in the church in the west we now have the most up to date, state of the art technology available to communicate the Gospel. Yet comparatively little seems to be happening in so many countries.

In terms of the growth and mission of our churches, could it be that whilst the world has learned to communicate with robots on Mars, in sections of the church we have forgotten to communicate with the Lord of the earth?

If that is so, then our best course of action is to stand again with the company of the first disciples and, like them, return to the Head of the church Jesus Christ and say 'Lord, teach us to pray' (Luke 11:1).


David Bryant (1984) Concerts of Prayer. Ventura, California: Ventura.
Paul Y Cho (1984) Prayer: Key to Revival. Waco, Texas: Word.
S D Gordon (1983) 'Prayer, the greatest thing,' Australia's New Day, April, 40.
Walter J Hollenwager (1972) The Pentecostals. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg.
Greg O'Connor (1990) 'Miracles in Cuba,' New Day, May.
David Shibley (1985) Let's Pray in the Harvest. Rockwall, Texas: Church on the Rock.
R A Torrey (1974) The Power of Prayer. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.
Bob J Whillhite (1988) Why Pray? Altamonte Springs, Florida: Creation House.
(c) Stuart Robinson. First published by the Australian Baptist Missionary Society, 1992.
Used by permission.
Renewal Journal #1 (93:1), Brisbane, Australia, pp. 512.
Reproduction is allowed as long as the copyright remains intact with the text.

The Seeds Of Revival

Prophetic Insights from the Writings of Frank Bartleman on the Causes and Conditions of Revival.

Compiled and Edited by David Smithers

Evan Roberts, while reflecting on the problems of The Welsh Revival of 1904, once wrote, -

"The mistake was to become occupied with the effects of the revival and not to watch and pray in protecting the cause of the revival."

The lasting success of the next move of God may very well depend upon our willingness to receive Mr. Roberts WARNING! There are many today who are foolishly pursuing the effects of revival at the expense of neglecting the conditions of revival.

No harvest is ever any greater than the seeds and soil in which it was planted. To neglect the seeds of revival is to ultimately plague the fruit of revival. A rich source of instruction on this subject is found in the obscure writings of Frank Bartleman. Mr. Bartleman was an active participant in the famous Azusa Street Revival of 1906.

(While I can not endorse all of Mr. Bartleman's doctrines and opinions, it would be foolish to ignore his genuine spiritual insight.)

Unlike many other Church historians, Bartleman paid careful attention to each step the Holy spirit took in preparing God's people for revival. In fact he wrote more about the Church's preparation for revival than he did about the actual revival. Being a man gifted and active in intercession, he was aware of a revival coming to Los Angeles long before many others. As Bartleman watched and prayed, he was able to accurately trace the Spirit's preliminary movements among the churches in Los Angeles. It is these kinds of observations that make Frank Bartleman's writings so rich and prophetic for our needy generation.

Undeniably, revival is a miraculous work of God, BUT true revival never comes apart from the preparation and the participation of a remnant of God's people. Oh, how the Church needs to rediscover the unchanging principles of revival. It is time for a new wave of young pioneers to rise up and cooperate with the Holy spirit's revival process. It is time for us to break up our fallow ground and once again nurture the fruitful seeks of revival. Let's now go back with Mr. Bartleman through his own personal records and writings, as he identifies these precious seeds.

Almost a year before The Azusa Street Revival, in an article written for God's Revivalist, Frank Bartleman urged the Church to prepare herself for a mighty visitation. He writes, "Christendom is rapidly assuming an attitude of expectancy, the great prerequisite for a visitation from God. The Lord is choosing His workers, our chance is at the door. This is a time to realize the vision of service, we can not afford to miss the blessing and reward He desires for us. It may be our last great chance to win souls for heaven. Oh what a privilege! What a responsibility!" Bartleman later recorded in his autobiography (My Story: The Latter Rain) how many Christians missed The Azusa outpouring because of their own unwillingness to seek revival on God's terms. He writes, "During those months preceding the Pentecost the Spirit was constantly seeking a company through which He could manifest Himself, and gather the people. He used various agencies and instruments just as far as He could... After the Spirit had made several desperate efforts, and a number had failed Him, he finally succeeded with a crude, weak body... There was little to commend itself even in this, aside from a desperate abandonment and childlike faith. But these were the prerequisites for the beginning of the work."

On December 22, 1904, Frank Bartleman and his wife and two daughters moved to Los Angeles. He had a unexplainable impression that God was getting ready to do something wonderful in the Los Angeles area. For months he moved around the city visiting and preaching at various Holiness missions. During this time he also came into a deeper dimension of prayer and intercession. He had been corresponding with Evan Roberts and had received encouragement from him to pray for a mighty awakening in California. Soon Bartleman began to increasingly experience seasons of intense travailing prayer. After visiting Joseph's Smale's First Baptist church, Mr. Bartleman was greatly encouraged to find some tokens of what he had been praying for.

Bartleman writes, "June 17, 1905 I went to Los Angeles to attend a meeting at the First Baptist Church. They were waiting on God for an outpouring of the Spirit there. Their pastor, Joseph Smale, had just returned from Wales. He had been in touch with the revival and Evan Roberts and was on fire to have the same visitation and blessing come to his own church in Los Angeles..." Upon Joseph Smale's return to Los Angeles, he quickly organized his church into small home prayer groups. He also encouraged his people to look for the return of the apostolic gifts to the church. The prayer meetings lasted fifteen weeks and almost immediately produced a deep sense of need and expectation for revival. Bartleman describes the meetings as follows, "(Pastor Smale) started prayer meetings in his church to wait on God for an outpouring of the Spirit similar to that which they were having in Wales. God wonderfully anointed him to exhort the people. He was full of faith for mighty things. These prayer meetings ran for a number of weeks, and there was much spontaneous worship and some very wonderful healings. Faith increased rapidly for extraordinary things.... God made Pastor Smale a regular Moses to lead us toward the promised land. But soon the church dignitaries could tolerate the new, spontaneous order no longer. They ordered it to cease, or the Pastor to resign. The consequence was the Pastor wisely decided to go on with God, and the Lord and the people went with him. The cloud moved. A New Testament Church was formed. Here God wonderfully led and blessed, up to the Spring of 1906."

Sadly, the freedom in prayer and worship that Joseph Smale had encouraged was ultimately not accepted by some of his fellow Baptists. One of the first signs of this was seen in their open attack on the spirit of prayer. Bartleman describes one such occasion, "At Smale's church one day I was groaning in prayer at the altar. The spirit of intercession was upon me. A brother rebuked me severely. He did not understand it. The flesh naturally shrinks from such ordeals.

The groans are no more popular in most churches than is a woman in birth-pangs in the home. Soul-travail does not make pleasant company for selfish worldlings. But we cannot have souls born without it.

Child bearing is anything but a popular exercise these days. And so with a real revival of new born souls in the churches. Modern society has little place for a child-bearing mother, and so with the church's regarding soul-travail of birth, and so the church desires no groans today. She is too busy enjoying herself." Again Bartleman comments on the Baptist leader's unwillingness to go on with God. "I went to Smale's church that night, and he resigned. The meetings had run daily in the First Baptist Church for fifteen weeks. It was now September. The officials of the church were tired of the innovations and wanted to return to the old order. He was told to either stop the revival, or get out. He wisely chose the latter. But what an awful position for a church to take, to throw God out. In this same way they later drove the Spirit of God out of the churches in Wales. They were tired of His presence, desiring to return to the old, cold, ecclesiastical order. How blind men are! The most spiritual of Pastor Smale's members naturally followed him, with a nucleus of other workers who had gathered to him from other sources, during the revival. They immediately contemplated organizing a New Testament church...."

Pastor Smale established the First New Testament Church in Burbank Hall at 542 South Main Street, Los Angeles, in early 1906. For months the newly organized church experienced great freedom and blessing. However, before long they too were struggling to keep in step with the Spirit of revival. Bartleman became very concerned for this little fellowship which once looked so promising. "The New Testament Church seemed to be losing the spirit of prayer as they increased their organization. They now tried to shift this ministry on a few of us. I knew God was not pleased with that, and I became much burdened for them. They had taken on too many secondary interests. It began to look as though the Lord would have to find another body. My hopes had been high for this particular company of people. But the enemy seemed to be sidetracking them now, leading them to miss God's best for them... They were now even attempting to organize prayer, a thing impossible. Prayer is spontaneous. I felt it were better not to have organized than to lose the ministry of prayer and spirit of revival as a body. It was for this they had been called in the beginning. They had become ambitious for a church and organization. It seemed hard to them not to be like the other nations (churches) round about them. And right here they surely began to fail. As church work increased the real issue was lost sight of. Human organization and human programs leave very little room for the free Spirit of God."

It is very easy to choose second best. The prayer life is needed much more than even buildings or organizations. These are often a substitute for the other. Souls are born into the Kingdom only through prayer. I feared the new Testament church might develop a party, sectarian spirit. A rich lady offered them the money to build a church edifice with. The devil was bidding high. But she soon withdrew her offer. I confess I was glad she did. They would soon have had no time for anything but building then. It would have been the end of their revival. We had been called out to evangelize Los Angeles, not to build up another sect or party spirit. We needed no more organization nor machinery than what was really necessary for the speedy evangelizing of the city. Surely we had enough separate rival church organizations already on our hands. Each working largely for its own interest, advancement, and glory... The New Testament Church seemed to be drifting toward intellectualism. I became much burdened for it... I felt the New Testament church was failing God, and I was looking to see where the Spirit might come forth... The curse everywhere was spiritual pride. Hiding their nakedness from God.... The oil (The Holy Ghost) ceases to flow, as in Elijah's time when there are no more empty vessels to be filled. People do not sense their need of God. But wherever there is a hungry heart, God will fill it. 'The rich or (full) He has sent away empty.'"

"They did not break through at Pastor Smale's assembly (The First New Testament Church). There was too much reserve there. God had taken them as far as He could." Yet God was still determined to find a people whom He could use to bring revival. He now moved in among a small group of humble and praying people at 214 N. Bonnie Brae Street. Bartleman found himself among them just as the revival fires started to burn. He writes, "March 26, I went to a cottage meeting on Bonnie Brae Street. Both white and colored saints were meeting there for prayer. I had attended a cottage meeting shortly before this, at another place, where I first met Brother Seymour. He had just come from Texas. He was a colored man, very plain, spiritual, and humble. He attended the meetings at Bonnie Brae Street. He was blind in one eye.... There was a general spirit of humility manifested in the meeting. They were taken up with God. Evidently the Lord had found the little company at last, outside as always, through whom He could have right of way.

There was not a mission in the country where this could be done. All were in the hands of men. The spirit could not work. Others far more pretentious had failed. That which man esteems had been passed by once more and the Spirit born again in a humble stable, outside ecclesiastical establishments as usual.

A body must be prepared, in repentance and humility, for every outpouring of the Spirit... They decided to wait on God in a ten-days special petitioning of God and in yielding themselves to Him. The time had come. God had found the right company at last."

Soon the meeting at Bonnie Brae became dangerously crowded and another place had to be found for the prayer services. The meeting was moved to 312 Azusa Street under the leadership of William Seymour. Discerning as usual, Bartleman describes the spiritual atmosphere in and around the new meeting place; "They opened public meetings in old Azusa St. in an old Methodist Church that had been for a long time in disuse, except as a receptacle for old lumber, plaster, etc. It was very dirty. A space was cleared large enough to seat a score or two of persons. We sat on planks resting on old nail kegs, if I remember correctly. But God was there. The work began in earnest. The fire had fallen.

It was on the 9th of April 1906, that the Spirit was first poured out on Bonnie Brae. On April 18th we had the terrible San Francisco earthquake. It had a very close connection with the Pentecostal outpouring... This shook the whole state, as well as the nation. Men began to fear God... Their conscience needed to be knocked at. This paved the way for the revival. Otherwise they would have mocked us.... God suddenly shut up many little Holiness Missions, Tent meetings, etc., that had been striving with one another a long time for the preeminence. It would not work any more. They had to come together. God only could tame them. There was little going on anywhere else, but at Azusa St. All the people were coming. Even Pastor Smale finally came to Azusa Mission to hunt his people up. Then he invited them back to let God have His way. The fire broke out at his own Assembly also. When God dries a place up, it is dry. This, many churches which opposed the Azusa work soon found out to their sorrow. And many are yet sorrowing over it. They would not take God's way. They were also among the prophets, but when the Lord came He did not come through them. This killed them. They would not go to Azusa, nor let Azusa come to them. Azusa was despised in their eyes." Bartleman continues, "The present Pentecostal manifestation did not break out in a moment, like a huge prairie fire, and set the world on fire. In fact no work of God ever appears that way. There is a necessary time for preparation. The finished article is not realized at the beginning. Men may wonder where it came from, not being conscious of the preparation, but there is always such. Every movement of the Spirit of God must also run the gauntlet of the devil's forces. The Dragon stands before the bearing mother, ready to swallow up her child.-(Rev. 12:4.) And so with the present Pentecostal work in its beginning. The enemy did much counterfeiting. God kept the young child well hid for a season from the Herods, until it could gain strength and discernment to resist them.

Frank Bartleman's writing are a prophetic reminder that there are distinct seasons of revival that require our preparation and cooperation. Revivals don't just mysteriously happen, they are born through a cooperative effort between the Church and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begins this process by filling us with a holy discontentment over our own impotence and spiritual barrenness. Next, in response to our hunger, He imparts a divine seed vision for revival deep within us. God then requires us to become broken and willing to cooperate with this vision in an ongoing process of faith, humility, repentance and prayer. Truly, God is the only one who can open the womb of revival, yet no revival is ever born without much costly travail and cooperation by the Church. In the Kingdom of God there is no such thing as the luxury of a surrogate mother or a caesarean. We must become willing to be painfully stretched and disfigured, as we carry and nurture the growing sparks of revival within us. Sleepless nights, a change of appetite and unusual pains are all part of carrying a developing child.

Are you willing for your life to be radically changed and inconvenienced in your pursuit of revival? God longs for a help-meet, a co-laborer, a bride through which He can father a revival of His presence. In God's love and wisdom He had sovereignly chosen to use frail human beings in this birthing process. Therefore it is possible for us to hinder or even completely abort the work of revival within us. Let us BEWARE lest we quench or miscarry the work of the Holy Spirit through our own unbelief and neglect. Like the young virgin Mary, it's time for us to totally yield to the Father's desire, saying "Let it be done unto me according to your word." Luke 1:38. I believe the opportunity for a lasting revival stands before us today. We need to recognize the time of our visitation. The Holy Spirit is imparting the vision for revival within many hearts. This is no time to be experimenting with untested church growth theories, borrowed from books. Clever human schemes will never substitute for a lack of true heart preparation and travailing prayer. By neglecting these, I fear many are needlessly squandering away their last opportunity for true revival. "Opportunity once passed, said Frank Bartleman, is lost forever. There is a time when the tide is sweeping by our door. We may plunge in and be carried to glorious success and blessing and victory. To stand on the bank shivering from timidity, or paralyzed by stupor at such a time is to miss all, and most miserably and eternally fail. Oh, our responsibility! The mighty tide of God's grace and favor even now is sweeping by us, in its prayer directed course." Opportunity is pounding at our door. The Father is searching for a people who will yield to His revival birthing process. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is LOYAL to Him." (2 Chronicles 16:9)

The Father has already begun this process among some of His praying people. Still if such a remnant of revival pioneers are to succeed where so many others have failed, they must avoid the mistakes of their forefathers. Within nine years of the Azusa Street revival, Frank Bartleman was expressing deep concern for the future of the Pentecostal movement. He recognized that many of the revival participants had become distracted by the effects of the revival and thus lost sight of God's primary purpose for revival. By neglecting the roots of the revival, Bartleman believed they had inadvertently cursed the spiritual fruit they so dearly desired.

Our modern churches must take heed and learn that there are no shortcuts to lasting revival.

"Except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. (John 12:24)"

There will be no true and lasting revival until we die to our own stupid pride and selfish ambition. We must let God the Holy Spirit have control of His church again. We need to repent and let the knocking Bridegroom back into His house.

In early 1905 Frank Bartleman wrote, "I received from God the following keynote to revival:

The depth of a revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance..." Again he writes,

"A body must be prepared, in repentance and humility for every outpouring of the Spirit." This is one of God's great unchanging laws of true revival. It applies to all people and for all time.

We can not afford to ignore these clear warnings from our spiritual forefathers any longer. There will be no glorious, end time harvest until God finds a people who will embrace and nurture the fruitful seeds of revival; FAIIH, HUMILITY, REPENTANCE and PRAYER.

References Used:

How Pentecost Came to Los Angeles - by Frank Bartleman

MY STORY "The Latter Rain" - by Frank Bartleman

The Apostolic Faith Restored - by B.F. Lawrence

The Time of Our Visitation - by Frank Bartleman

God's Revivalist, The Revival - by Frank Bartleman

Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements by Burgess, McGee and Alexander

Vision of The Disinherited by Robert M. Anderson

Taken from: THE WATCHWORD No. 50
Visit The Watchword website.

This is Revival!

When men in the streets are afraid to open their mouths and utter godless words lest the judgments of God should fall; when sinners, overawed by the Presence of God tremble in the streets and cry for mercy; when, without special meetings and sensational advertising, the Holy Ghost sweeps across cities and towns in Supernatural Power and holds men in the grip of terrifying Conviction; when "every shop becomes a pulpit; every heart an altar; every home a sanctuary" and people walk softly before God, this is Revival!

Today the word Revival has largely lost its real meaning. Our present generation, never having witnessed the mighty movings of God in nation-wide spiritual awakening such as has taken place in past generations, has little conception of the magnitude of such a "visitation."

Heaven-sent revival is not religious entertainment, where crowds gather to hear outstanding preachers and musical programs; neither is it the result of sensational advertising - in a God-sent revival you don't spend money on advertising; people come because Revival is there! Revival is an "awareness of God" that grips the whole community, and the roadside, the tavern, as well as the church, become the places where men find Christ. Here is the vast difference between our modern evangelistic campaigns and true revival. In the former, hundreds may be brought to a knowledge of Christ and churches experience seasons of blessings, but as far as the community is concerned little impact is made; the taverns, dance halls, and movies are still crowded, and the godlessness marches on. In revival, the Spirit of God, like a cleansing flame, sweeps through the community. Divine conviction grips people everywhere; the strongholds of the devil tremble, and many close their doors, while multitudes turn to Christ!

References Used:

"When God Stepped Down From Heaven" by Owen Murphy

Back to "Misrepresentations of Revivals"

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