1. The Power of the Cross was at the Center of everything.
The following is the recorded prayer of Evan Roberts. He silently waited for some time and then began to pray:
Lord Jesus, help us now through the Holy Spirit to come face to face with the cross. Whatever the hindrances may be, we commit the service to Thee. Put us all under the blood. Oh, Lord, place the blood on all our past up to this moment. We thank Thee for the blood. In the name of Jesus Christ, bind the devil this moment. We point to the cross of Christ. It is our cross and we take its conquest. Reveal the cross through the name of Jesus. Oh, open the heavens, Descend upon us now. Tear open our hearts—tear–give us such a sight of Calvary that our hearts may be broken. O Lord, descend now…..now…..open our hearts to receive the heart that bled for us. If we are to be fools, make us fools for Thee. Take us—spirit, soul, and body. We are thine. Thou hast purchased us. Reveal the cross for the sake of Jesus –the cross that is to conquer the world. Place us under the blood. Forbid that we should think of what men may say of us. O speak –speak—speak—speak, Lord Jesus. Thy words are “wine indeed.” O reveal the cross, beloved Jesus—the cross in its glory. Reign in every heart for the sake of Jesus. Lord, do Thou help us to see the dying Savior. Enable us to see Him conquering the hosts of darkness. Claim victory for Thy Son now, Lord. He is worthy to have victory. Thou art the all-powerful God. Oh, claim victory. We shall give all the glory to Thy Name. No one else has a right to the glory but Thee—take it, Lord. Glorify Thy Son in this meeting. Oh, Holy Spirit, do Thou work through us and in us now. Speak Thy word in power for Thy Name’s sake. Amen – and Amen!
The love, sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus were the theme of every meeting, every sermon, and every prayer and became the passion of every heart. The people were converted only to Jesus and not to a new doctrine, denomination, personality, or even a new movement. The leaders of the revival held steadfast to the exhortation of the apostle Paul who is said:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
Conversions in the Welsh Revival were not just statistics, they were new births. Men and women were so radically changed that being “born again” was not just a cliché—it was a reality. The new believer’s first encounter with the Lord was not the promise of blessings; it was a profound comprehension of his own sinful condition. When moved by the Spirit come to the wells of salvation, converts did not just raise their hands in the back of the building to acknowledge their “decision” they were racked with such a holy desperation for the mercy of the Savior that they tumbled on the floor as if in physical pain.
Those under conviction would sometimes writhe in their own tears until they gained the assurance of forgiveness; then their grief would turn into a joy of an equal depth that would be impossible to contain. As the meetings began to disband, often at two or three in the morning, new converts just could not leave and would continue singing, praying and at times laughing uncontrollably until the prayer meetings started at sunrise.
2. It was a Revival of Prayer and Intercession.
The Welsh revival was initiated and carried by devotion to prayer and intercession that also spread throughout the worldwide Christian community. As someone has noted that much of the fire that continues in some of the great prayer movements of today could likely trace their origin to a lingering spark from the Welsh Revival. The prayer and praise mingled together in most of the meetings. James Stewart wrote:
It was praying that rent the heavens; praying that received direct answers there and then. The spirit of intercession was so mightily poured out that the whole congregation would take part simultaneously for hours! Strangers were startled to hear the young and unlettered pray with such unction and intelligence as they were swept up to the Throne of Grace by the Spirit of God. Worship and adoration was unbounded. Praise began to mingle with the petitions as answered prayer was demonstrated before their very eyes. Often when unsaved loved ones were the focus of the intercession, they would be compelled to come to the very meeting and be saved!
This further fed the fires of both the worship and the intercession. When the believers understood that God really heard their prayers, prayer quickly rose to the highest priority in their lives. As they prayed with more faith, they began to see quick answers to them. When they became increasingly specific in their requests, the answers became even more spectacular. They would pray for specific friends or family members in one meeting, and that person would be at the altar seeking salvation in the next one. This would fan the flames of intercession even more. This unquestionably fanned the flames of the revival.
Prayer meetings that had been drudgery before became the main attractions, even for entire cities. Meetings swelled until overflowing, both with people and with the anointing. Meetings that were expected to be regular services quickly became prayer meetings, as it became the first nature of everyone to pray. Groups walking to work would start praying and soon they would be joined by a swelling crowd who were drawn by the anointing. Spontaneous prayer meetings started in shops, homes and there even cases when factories shut down so that the workers could pray.
At the peak of the revival, the whole population of towns were gathering to march around their neighborhoods and claim them for Christ. On at least several occasions, the population of a town would march to a neighbouring town to pray for it and the revival would inevitably be ignited there. This revival was a witness that few things can so energize believers as when they discover the power of prayer.
3. It was a Revival for Young People
Evan Roberts himself was only twenty-six years of age. Mary, his sister who took such as active part was sixteen, while their brother Dan and her future husband Sydney Evans were around twenty. The “Singing Sisters,” as they were lovingly called, were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two. Thousands of young people, when they became converted, went everywhere testifying. Little children had their own prayer and praise meetings. The chapels were crowded out with the young.
4. It was a Revival of Singing.
The Welsh are famous for their native gift of congregational singing. No part in the harmony of a tune is missing and most of the singers sing as those who have been thoroughly trained. Imagine, then, if you can, an instrument its every string swept by the breath of the Spirit of God! As blessed R.B. Jones, a leader in the revival said, “The fact is, unless heard it is unimaginable, and when heard, indescribable. There was no hymnbook. No one gave out a hymn. Just anybody started singing, and very rarely did it happen that the hymn started – no one knew by whom –was out of harmony with the mood at the moment.
Once started, as if moved by simultaneous impulse, the hymn was caught up by the whole congregation almost as if what was about to be sung had been announced and all were responding to the baton of a visible human leader. I have nothing like it. You felt that the thousand or fifteen hundred persons before you had become merged into one myriad-headed but single-souled personality. Such was the perfect blending of the mood and purpose that it bore eloquent testimony to a unity created only by the Spirit of God. “The praying and singing,” to quote another witness, “were both wonderful. No need for an organ. The assembly was its own organ as a thousand sorrowing or rejoicing hearts found expression in the psalmody of their native hills.”
5. It was a Revival of Soul-winning.
Instead of a few preachers and a few of their church members testifying to the saving grace of the Lord Jesus, it seemed now as if every Christian in Wales had a burning agony for lost men and women. It was a most natural thing for a true believer to testify of his glorious Redeemer in the coal mine, in the tramcar, in the office, and in the school. Thousands were saved through the personal witness of ordinary, common believers who spoke to them of the claims of Christ during ordinary conversation.
6. It was a Revival that united the Church
The Church must be united if at all we are to see a spiritual awakening. Some have speculated that it will take only persecution to unite the church, this might be true to an extent, but an example is given during the terrible persecution of the Church in Uganda under Idi Amin, where the church in this country came together and seemed to be one. However, it is reported that thirty days after the persecution was over, all of the previous barriers were erected again and spiritual infighting picked up right where it left off before the persecution, of which I might add is still going on to this very day where pastors are accusing each other all kinds of despicable acts that should be settled in the church instead of the court system.
This only proves that the unity was only dictated by the external pressures and was not a true unity of the heart. As one writer has clearly noted, “persecution can force us together for a time, but it does not correct the problems of the heart which cause the divisions in the first place. It is by seeing the glory of God and healed of the spiritual politics that so injure the Lord’s body and our witness to the world…This was the unity that was brought about in Wales during the revival. It is only the Lord’s presence that can hold us together in true unity. But we must maintain His presence to maintain the unity.”
7. It was a Revival of Forgiveness
Historically every great revival in the history of the world has provided the release necessary for that generation. In Garndiffaith a man who had been a great drunkard and blasphemer and who had starved his wife and children by missing his work for weeks at the time, found his way into one of the meetings and, with tears streaming from his eyes, he cried aloud for forgiveness. He prayed that God might find a way to his wife’s heart and she, too, soon cried for pardon. Shouts of joy were raised. In Glynneath, the two independent churches Addoldy and Capel-y-glyn which had been on unbrotherly terms for a period of nearly twelve years have been reconciled and united meetings were held. The two ministers shook hands before a united church of nearly 400 members.
8. It was a Revival of Personal Experience.
How John and Charles Wesley would have revelled in these meetings! No wonder General William Booth was thrilled to hear the testimonies. It was worthwhile travelling thousands of miles, even from Australia and New Zealand, just to be in one revival service, even though Evan or Dan Roberts or Sydney Evans was not there –just to hear the dynamic testimonies of the spiritual experiences of the Christians in Wales! Here was really the old-fashioned Methodist class-meeting over again—revived by the Spirit of God. Here was an intimate walk with God – a God with whom they had personal dealings and whom they had come to know in a deep, intimate way.
Here was a God who answered prayer! No wonder the people could not sleep and could not stay away from the meetings. No wonder the services carried on till two and three o’clock in the morning and then resulted in a march through the streets with the people singing the praises of the Lamb! Many at the time and since have criticized the emotionalism displayed in the meetings. Yes, when thousands of people are convicted of their sins and are gloriously saved by the grace of God, how can they contain their joy?
When believers are elevated to a new heavenly position in Christ and at the same time see the answer to years of agonizing prayer in the salvation of their loved ones, surely there must be shouts of joy and songs of adoration. The mountains had melted in God’s presence and the heavens were opened. The Church in Wales had a new and glorious sight of their wonderful Lord. This was expressed in the following chorus which called “The Love Song” of the revival:
Wondrous love, unbounded mercy! Vast as oceans in their flood: Jesus, Prince of life, is dying — Life for us is in His blood! Oh! What heart can e’er forget Him? Who can cease His praise to sing? Wondrous love! Forever cherished, While the heavens with music ring.