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1904 A.D.: A Great Welsh Revival Arises and Spreads

It is typical when imagining the winning of lost souls to picture jungles, exotic locations, and a pagan people deciding whether to listen to the missionaries, or eat them. Of course, all locations are exotic to someone somewhere.

So, if an English missionary goes to Borneo to teach of Jesus, the people of Borneo are bound to ask about the exotic location called England.  What would a Christian land be like, they might wonder?  It must be pure and wonderful and full of Christian virtue, right?  Just listen to the wonderfully kind and good ways of behaving that these missionaries are describing as being the basics of Christian behavior...surely a Christian land is like heaven itself, almost. 

Which puts it in perspective that, while gaining new ground for Jesus is vital, it is no less important to maintain knowledge of the Lord among a people who have long had Jesus's teachings available to them. Satan works just as hard to eradicate as he does to prevent. To pervert a saved nation is as great a victory to the enemies of Jesus as it is when they successfully shield a people from hearing of Him. I believe that, anyway. Who can say which is sweeter to the Evil One?

In the late 1800's, in what is the UK today, there was a young man who was born one of 14 children to Henry and Hannah Roberts. His name was Evan Roberts. His upbringing was a very religious one (people write that at the Roberts residence, home and chapel were one, again emphasizing the influence that parents can have) but in his nation the Welsh people had begun to become pretty indifferent Christians in many cases. Many men swore profusely, alcoholism was common, and in general the land had become pretty hardened towards God. They had 'gone cold' towards Jesus in the estimation of some pastors of the time.

It was a time of hard thankless coal mining and political corruption, but as Evan Roberts grew up he reached adulthood and became a pastor.

Growing up as a young man he had an odd thing happen that is sometimes recalled when you read about Evan Roberts life. He carried a Bible nearly always. Once, a page of it became scorched by the flame of some lamp upon a certain passage of 2 Chronicles Chapter 6 where Solomon, at the consecration of the newly built temple, asks God's grace upon the temple and the people of Israel. Essentially, Solomon is praying for revival upon the Israelites of the 10th century B.C. time frame; praying that God would dwell among His people, that He would always be attentive to His peoples' prayers.

It was almost prophetic that fire would mark those particular pages, when he was to become a key player in the unleashing of a spiritual fire among his own Welsh people.

As a Pastor, Evan Roberts saw his nation's fallen spiritual state and he began to pray often for revival. He began to pray that the Holy Spirit could fall upon his people. And he began to just plain pray a lot ......period!  Many many hours of prayer in a single day became common for him. He once asked a friend if perhaps 100,000 people newly commited to the Lord might not be possible if there was a strong enough revival.

And at a certain point in 1904, he began to feel a strange compulsion.  He apparently began to wake up at 1:00 A.M. and pray in the 'presence of God'  for hours, night after night. His prayer had reached a new level. He was not praying 'to' God. He was praying in God's presence he told people.  I suppose that meant that he could feel God's presence as he prayed, but I don't know. 

He was described as a very earnest and serious young man, rather than as a dynamic speaker. But one thing that he was careful to always point out was that he was not the one that could bring revival to his people. Only the Holy Spirit could do that, he felt. Only the Holy Spirit had such power.

He became posessed of a powerful urge to speak in churches, and he did so with great affect. He went to his home town of Loghair and spoke at prayer meeting...until the early hours of the morning. The people were greatly moved.

He soon spoke in many churches, in North Wales and in South. He wasn't really the central figure in this great revival, but he is remembered as its powerful sparking force. And he came with a very simple, yet effective message of spiritual reform. It had 4 basic points that he felt were necessary Christian commitments:

1) Give up all questionable practices.

2) Confess all known sin.

3) Publically proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.

4) You must obey the Holy Spirit promptly.

In this environment of 'revival beginning to draw near' a Pastor named Joseph Jenkins held a prayer meeting for the young people of his area.  During this meeting, a young girl named Florrie Evans stood up among them all and in a shy but fervent voice simply said "I love Jesus Christ with all my heart!" And somehow, in that service, it melted every heart to hear it.  People of the time recalled that service at that church as being the point of outbreak of revival upon the land. Evan Roberts had sowed seed, but that night it had suddenly sprouted.

It was a church by church expansion, but it happened very steadily in all directions, so that it seemed to sweep the nation suddenly. They call it the Welsh Revival of 1904 and 1905, so those are remembered as its greatest years, but its affects lasted quite a while and before it was over affected Wales, England, Scotland, and Ireland as well, which were not yet called the United Kingdom.

And things truly changed in the land. Some taverns only served a few beers on all of a Saturday night. Prostitution decreased. Courts sometimes reported the odd phenomenum of Judges coming to hold court and having no cases to hear. Long standing rivalries between churches were put aside in some instances.

Sometimes prayer meetings lasted so long that the rough tough coal miners had time afterwards only to wash up and throw on their work clothes prior to going back to work.

Sports events were on occasion canceled to not interfere with prayer meetings. Prayer meetings were now involving open tearful confessions, long hours of praise and scripture reading, and prayer not just for self and family but for the nation.

Some schools reported that classes were sometimes only 1/2 to 1/3 full. The young people went to prayer meetings instead.

Pastor Evan Roberts hope for 100,000 newly committed Christians was met and surpassed early on, it is said.

God was moving. God was moving mightily. The people were remembering their sin, and their Lord's sacrifice. Prayer and tear. Truth and healing. The deep things of the Lord were being remembered.

There is a difference between worship and revival. The accounts report enough specifics to get the picture: there is a palpable power from God at work during revival which crushes the hearts of men and women, and makes them earnestly repent and seek God with passion and fervor. It consumes them. That is revival. It spreads, affecting the people deeply. That is revival.

So, when you pray for your area, remember to pray - with real intent - for revival. It is a different level of response from the Lord. It is deep calling to Deep, and Deep answering back. It is lost children crying out to a needed and greatly missed Father. It is remembering again to walk the walk, and focus your life on the Kingdom of God. It's crying out for forgiveness.

All lands need revival. Perhaps more than ever in this markedly wicked age. So, remember to pray for true revival. Remember the 4 steps that changed these people.

1) Give up all questionable practices.

2) Confess all known sin.

3) Publically confess Jesus Christ as Lord.

4) Obey the Holy Spirit promptly.

In short, it had a transforming affect upon most of the nations in the UK, yet it was a response to simple and earnest prayer.  Prayer has power, because the God who hears our prayers holds all things in His hands.  No human is too small to take an important part in very great things.  And no great thing is done by the power of humans alone.

Jesus is our given Lord, our worthy and mighty King, and the only path to salvation in our Father's heavenly home.  Prayer to Jesus always matters!   

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website