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(Prayer Makes History)
On March 9, 1791, when John Wesley was carried to his grave, he left behind him a good
library of books, a well-worn clergyman's gown, and a much-abused reputation. But also, an England moved to the very depths
and a Church thrilled through and through with an awakened spiritual life. John Wesley was a man who truly possessed both
apostolic vision and gifts, but most importantly, he was a man who lived in view of eternity. "Consumed
by the thought of the shortness of time, the great work to be done, and the need for haste in doing it, on he marched, preaching,
pleading, warning and guiding . . ."
John Wesley was a man mighty in faith and prayer. Time and again, people possessed with devils
were brought to him and in answer to prayer, the demons were cast out. Not only were evil spirits cast out, but the sick were
healed as well. As Wesley preached, the power of God often came upon his listeners, and hundreds would fall under the power
of the Spirit. Then, in
answer, to prayer their souls and bodies were healed. A physician became offended at the cries
of many who fell under the power of God. He attended Wesley's meeting and a woman he knew fell under the power. "Great
drops of sweat ran down her face, and all her bones shook. But when both her soul and body were healed in a moment he acknowledged
the finger of God."
On another occasion when Wesley was traveling the preaching circuit, his horse suddenly
became lame. With no one near to offer help, he stopped and prayed. "Immediately the horse's lameness
Wesley was a constant traveler. In his Oxford
days, he often walked twenty-five miles a day. He also discovered he could read
as he walked for up to ten or twelve miles at a time without discomfort. One
year he walked 1050 miles to preach in the churches around Oxford. In all it
is estimated he traveled 226,000 miles in his ministry and preached 46,000 times.
Wesley pleaded with men to repent and by faith make peace with God or suffer in an everlasting
hell. People who had entertained false hopes of salvation had their masks torn away by his plain preaching. Wesley believed
that those who failed to warn the sinner and backslider themselves stood under the judgment of Christ. He was determined to
declare the whole counsel of God, offering the love of God in Christ and giving warning of the dreadful consequences of rejecting
the gospel. Wesley wrote, "Before I can preach love and grace, I must preach sin, law and judgment."
John Wesley, as well as the other early Methodist preachers, was both a bold advocate and a
living example of sanctification. Wesley preached with unceasing zeal that complete holiness was the primary fruit of a vibrant
faith in Christ. Counseling another minister, Wesley wrote, . . .till you press believers to expect full
salvation from sin, you must not look for any revival."
If John Wesley were to make an anonymous visit to the Methodists of today, it is doubtful whether
many of its churches would welcome him. They would most likely resent his fervent zeal and enthusiasm. When he was eighty-three
he made a note that he was regretful that he could not write more than fifteen hours a day without hurting his eyes. Wesley
faithfully preached almost up to the very day he died. Truly, his vigor and zeal in old age were the reward of his faithful
stewardship of time. He seemed to consider every thought, word and deed in light of eternity.
"Amid all his arduous labors, his innumerable engagements, his coming
and going, Wesley lived a hidden life of intimacy with God. When worn out with overwork he often found new strength in answer
to prayer." It was Wesleys strict habit to daily spend one hour in prayer in the morning, and then another hour
in the evening. John Wesley shook the world by his preaching because he first shook heaven and hell with his praying. His
preaching had a sense of eternal urgency because he had touched eternity on his knees.
It was March 2, 1791, and John Wesley was 88 years of age.
The day before his funeral, his body was laid in City Road Chapel. People
insisted that a heavenly smile lingered on his face. Some ten thousand people
came to the chapel to see him. His tomb reads, This great
light arose (by the singular providence of God) to enlighten these nations. Reader, if thou art constrained to bless
the instrument, give God the glory.
For some years,
Rev. Andrew Murray, Sr., longed and prayed for revival in South Africa. Every Friday night he spent several hours in prayer.
The revivals of 1858 in the United States and 1859 in Northern Ireland were reported in the Dutch Reformed journals. A little
book on "The Power of Prayer" was published. Individuals and prayer groups in various places across South Africa began to
pray specifically for revival.
In April 1860,
a conference attended by 374 was convened at Worcester, South Africa. Representatives of twenty congregations-sixteen Dutch
Reformed, plus Methodist and Presbyterian gathered. The main topic was revival. Andrew Murray, Sr., was moved to tears and.
had to stop speaking. His son, Andrew Murray, Jr., prayed with such power that some say the conference marked the beginning
of the revival.
days after the Worcester conference, revival fires began to burn. In Montague, near Worcester, a prayer revival began in the
Methodist church. Prayer meetings were held every night and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, sometimes as early
as 3:00 A.M. People who had never prayed before began to pray. One evening God anointed a young girl to pray. Young and old
began to cry to God for mercy and continued until midnight. As Dutch Reformed people left their prayer meetings, they crowded
into the Methodist church.
the village of Montague experienced great conviction of sin. Strongmen cried to God in anguish. Six prayer meetings were going
on throughout the village. The report reached Worcester, and prayer meetings began there as well. Whole families, both European
and native African, were humbled before God.
THUNDER FROM HEAVEN
One Sunday evening, during the youth fellowship meeting, an African
servant girl arose and asked permission to sing a verse and pray. The Holy Spirit fell upon the group and she prayed. In the
distance, there came a sound like approaching thunder. It surrounded the hall, and the building began to shake. Instantly
everyone burst into prayer. The assistant minister knelt at the table.
had been speaking in the main sanctuary to the service there. He was notified and came running. Murray called in aloud voice,
"I am your minister, sent from God. Silence!"' No one noticed as all continued calling out loudly to God for forgiveness.
Murray asked his assistant to sing a hymn, but the praying continued undiminished.
All week long,
the prayer meetings were held. Each service began with profound silence. "But as soon as several prayers had arisen the place
was shaken as before and the whole company of people engaged in simultaneous petition to the throne of grace." The meetings
often continued until 3:00 A.M., and as the people reluctantly dispersed, they went singing their way down the streets.
moved to a larger building because of the crowds. On Saturday, Andrew Murray led the prayer meeting, preaching from the Bible.
He prayed and then invited others to do so. Again, the mysterious sound of thunder approached from a distance, coming nearer
until it enveloped the building. Everyone broke out in simultaneous prayer.
up and down the aisle trying to quiet the people, but a stranger in the service tiptoed up to him and whispered, "Be careful
what you do, for it is the Spirit of God that is at work here." Murray learned to accept the revival praying. As many as twenty
found the Lord in one service. Mrs. Murray wrote, "We do feel and realize the power and presence of God so mightily. His Spirit is indeed poured out on us.
The South African
revival then scattered like buckshot and spread to other areas. One pastor reported
something of the glory of the church in the first century. Prayer meetings multiplied. Many Christians met each week in prayer groups of three to four. Some churches could not hold all who came to worship. Spiritual
awakening came to places up to two hundred miles away.
Charles G. Finney (1792-1875)
Charles G. Finney was an evangelist in the United States during the nineteenth century.
Billy Graham writes of Finney, "Few men have had such a profound impact on their generation as Charles Grandison Finney. Through
his Spirit-filled evangelistic ministry, uncounted thousands came to know Christ... resulting in one of the greatest periods
of revival in the history of America."
But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism
of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing
for me, without my recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Ghost descended
on me in a manner that seemed to go through body, soul and me. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going
through and through me. Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other
way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud
with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushing of my heart. The waves
came over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, "I shall die if these waves continue to pass
over me." I said, "Lord, I cannot bear any more"; yet, I had no fear of death.
How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and
go through me, I do not know. But I know it was late in the evening when a member of my choir--for I was the leader of the
choir--came into the office to see me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, "Mr. Finney, what ails you?" I could
make him no answer for some time. He then said, "Are you in pain?" I gathered myself up as best I could, and replied, "No,
but so happy that I cannot live."
He turned and left the office, and in a few minutes returned with one of the elders of the
church, whose shop was nearly across the way from our office. This elder was a very serious man; and in my presence had been
very watchful, and I had scarcely ever seen him laugh. When he came in, I was very much in the state in which I was when the
young man went out to call him. He asked me how I felt, and I began to tell him. He asked me how I felt, and I began to tell
him. Instead of saying anything, he fell into a most spasmodic laughter. It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep
from laughing from the very bottom of his heart.
From the time of his conversion and his infilling with the Spirit, Finney was a man ablaze
for God with holy boldness, a lawyers directness, and constant guidance and anointing by the Holy Spirit. Usually wherever Finney preached, people quickly became convicted of their sins, humbled themselves in
repentance before God, and received the assurance of salvation. His revivals
spread from town to town like a creeping vine, and wherever he went, new spiritual awakening came to individuals, churches
In his early walk with the Lord, Finney learned many lessons about prevailing prayer and prayer
burdens. He gathered some of the young men of Adams in the early mornings before
daylight for a daily prayer meeting. Finney began spending hours in prayer, often
going to the woods to be alone with God. He began to add fasting to his prayer
regimen. Just as Wesley had made rules for his Holy Club, so Finney proposed
to the young people that they set aside three special times of prayer each day at sunrise, noon, and sunset. God poured out a spirit of prayer upon the other young people as they prayed faithfully.
Finney lists the striking characteristics of these revivals as:
1) The prevalence of a mighty Spirit of prevailing
2) Overwhelming conviction of sin
3) Sudden and powerful conversions to Christ
4) Great love and abounding joy of the converts
5) Intelligence and stability of the converts
6) Their great earnestness, activity, and usefulness
in their prayers and labors for others.
The seeds of revival are always nurtured in
the hearts of the humble. And so it was with the great Welsh Revival of 1904. It was in a young coal miner named Evan Roberts
that God imparted a burning vision for spiritual revival. Evan Roberts did not possess the gifts of a great intellect or eloquent
speech, but simply a burning passion for Jesus. While other young men were sailing boats in the bay, young Roberts was faithfully
attending prayer meetings.
Though only 26 years old, Evan Roberts had no time for youthful entertainment
and pleasure. "Day and night without ceasing, he prayed, wept and sighed for a great spiritual awakening . . ." Roberts writes,
"for ten or eleven years I have prayed for revival. I could sit up all night to read or talk about revivals." Eventually Evan
Roberts was turned out of his lodging by his landlady who thought that in his enthusiasm he was possessed or somewhat mad.
"He spent hours praying and preaching in his room until the lady became afraid of him, and asked him to leave."
The role of Evan Roberts in the Welsh revival was anything but conventional.
Often he would simply lead the people in prayer or read the Scriptures. Then at other times he sat silent, while, one after
another, people confessed their sins or gave testimony of Christ's victory and power. There were also glorious times of worship
which lasted literally hours. Roberts merely gave humble instruction from time to time and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.
He was a constant example not of how to preach, but of how to be led by the Spirit.
The Welsh revival was a mighty invasion of the Spirit; God's Kingdom radically
manifested on earth. "The earnings of workmen, instead of being squandered on drink and vice, were now bringing great joy
to their families. Outstanding debts were being paid by thousands of young converts. Restitution was the order of the day.
The gambling and alcohol business lost their trade and the theaters closed down from lack of patronage. Football during this
time was forgotten by both players and fans, though nothing was mentioned from the pulpits about it. The people had new lives
and new interests. Political meetings were canceled or abandoned. They seemed completely out of the question since nobody
was interested. The political leaders from the Parliament in London abandoned themselves to the revival meetings. The man-made
denominational barriers completely collapsed as believers and pastors worshipped their majestic Lord together." One
of the outstanding features of the revival was the confession of sin, not but among the unsaved alone, but among the saved.
All were broken down and melted before the cross of Christ.
Throughout the revival, Evan Roberts constantly stressed the necessity
of dealing honestly with sin, complete obedience to the Holy Spirit, and the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evan Roberts
was instrumental in bringing healing to an entire country because he cared and wept and prayed. He embraced the broken heart
of God and offered it back up through prayer and intercession. As a result "wherever he went, hearts were set aflame with
the Love of God!"
Evan did not preach against gambling, dishonesty, drunkenness, injustice
or immorality. He pointed people to Christ, the Savior. Yet the social impact of the revival was profound, and many of these sins for a period almost disappeared
Repeatedly Evan Roberts expressed his concern over three things: (i) that all the glory be given
to God, (ii) that the people pray, and (iii) that all obey God. Bend the church
and save the world, was Evan Roberts battle cry. He said, It is certainly
beyond my power to instigate a fresh revival, for revival can alone be given by the Holy Spirit of God when the conditions