This week we want to pray for the nation of Wales with its magnificent mountains, its rugged industrial landscape, its deep passion and emotion and, of course, it’s singing. 2018 saw the Turning – a widespread evangelism campaign when hundreds came to Christ but we know there can be more. We recently had a European-wide event praying for the wells of revival to open again across the continent. It takes us back to four months bridging 1904 and 1905 when 84,000 people came to Christ in South Wales. It was described as the great revival and its impact spread across the United Kingdom and then went global. Every aspect of society was impacted – long-standing debts were repaid, old enmities healed, families reconciled, drunkenness dropped. It was reported that a football match was transformed when the whole crowd starting singing revival hymns! Courts and jails were emptied and the pit ponies were confused and did not know what to do because the miners had stopped swearing at them!
Of course, our cry is – do it again. But let us understand the roots, revivals do not come easily, God tests and stretches those involved to see if they are going to be fanatically committed so the work will be sustained. A major catalyst in this story is a young former coal miner called Evan Roberts. He started work in the pits at twelve and became a Christian at thirteen. From that time on, he hungered for revival. He often spent every night in a church or prayer meeting. He soaked himself in the Word of God. In his twenties, he drew closer and closer to Jesus. He prayed “I have to wait for the fire, I have built the altar.” He entered a three month period in 1904 when God woke him at 1.00am every morning and let him sleep at 5.00am. He then experienced a deep move of God which transformed his ministry and character, He wrote: “God is a happy God and a joyful God” not for him the sombre judgemental Christianity that had characterised many chapels.
He felt called to preach in his home town, after a week of meetings 65 people came to Christ. Roberts then proclaimed that a great revival was starting. This was a real statement of faith but he was right, thus began this historic move of God. One of the many interesting features of the Welsh revival was it was so given over to Jesus. The meetings were simple and spontaneous. Often lasting from 7.00pm to 4.00am. They might be started by Roberts but then everything was spontaneous. There were no hymn books or leadership but the congregations flowed from song to song, many were new hymns birthed in the revival. Up to 75% of the time was taken up with singing, praising God and drawing close to him, and hungry for his presence. Someone reported, “revival has sung its way from one end of South Wales to the other”. The singing was often inspired by spontaneous testimonies as people stood to declare the remarkable works of God. Preaching was limited, the focus and hunger were all for Jesus. Bill Johnson wrote, “God honoured Evan Roberts and his team for the simplicity of his devotion to Christ.”
Evan Roberts famously described the revival by saying, “The church has been sleeping, but she is awake and putting on her armour now, and marching triumphantly. But do not make a mistake – God cannot do great things through you without doing a great thing in you.” There is great wisdom in this, God shows that when His spirit takes over remarkable things will happen, and it starts with surrender – not just of our lives and thoughts but of our meetings and time. It was reported the congregations did not ask for the Holy Spirit to come – they simply acknowledged His presence and very soon released His power.
The great intercessor Rees Howells illustrates this, his life was turned upside down during the revival when he experienced five days alone with God, he knew God wanted his complete surrender and he let God purge him of sin during these five days. Howells wrote, “My will would have to go, he was to live in me.”
So when we pray, “do it again” we are not just asking for the great singing and the thousands of conversions we have to agree to our complete surrender. Bill Johnson reflecting on the revival reflects on “their absolute hunger for more and their profound purity.”
- Wales – may God send revival to you again.
- May the worship and joy of Wales bless the nations
- Put a deep hunger in the people of Wales, may this be a time of complete surrender to the Holy Spirit.