This article is adapted from a taped message delivered
by Mr. Duncan Campbell approximately thirty years ago to the students of the Faith Mission Bible College in Edinburgh, Scotland.
It chronicles some of Mr. Campbell's experiences and insights related to the revival from 1949-1953 in Hebrides Islands off
the northwestern coast of Scotland.
Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come
down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence. As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to
boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible
things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence(Isaiah 64:1-3).
I never read that third verse without my mind going back to what
actually happened in the parish of Barvas on the island of Lewis. At the outset, let me make it clear that I did not bring
revival to the Hebrides. I had the privilege of being there and in some small way leading the movement for about three years
but God moved in the parish of Barvas before I set foot on the island. Revival is still a sign, which is spoken against, and
you cannot believe every story you have heard about the Lewis Awakening. Down through the years things have been said which
have no foundation in fact, however, facts are powerful things.
First, let me tell you what I mean by revival. An evangelistic
campaign or special meeting is not revival. In a successful evangelistic campaign or crusade, there will be hundreds or even
thousands of people making decisions for Jesus Christ, but the community remains untouched, and the churches continue much
the same as before the outreach. In revival, God moves in the district. Suddenly, the community becomes God conscious. The
Spirit of God grips men and women in such a way that even work is given up as people give themselves to waiting upon God.
In the midst of the Lewis awakening, the parish minister at Barvas wrote, "The Spirit of the Lord was resting wonderfully
on the different townships of the region. His Presence was in the homes of the people, on meadow and moorland, and even on
the public roads." This presence of God is the supreme characteristic of a God-sent revival. Of the hundreds who found
Jesus Christ during this time fully myself or any other ministers in the parish saved seventy-five per cent before they came
near a meeting or heard a sermon. The power of God, the Spirit of God, was moving in operation, and the fear of God gripped
the souls of men - this is God-sent revival as distinct from special efforts in the field of evangelism.
of Intercession and Vision
How did this gracious movement begin? In 1949, the local presbytery
issued a proclamation to be read on a certain Sunday in all the Free Churches on the island of Lewis. This proclamation called
the people to consider the "low state of vital religion . . . throughout the land . . . and the present dispensation of
Divine displeasure . . . due to growing carelessness toward public worship . . . and the growing influence of the spirit of
pleasure, which has taken growing hold of the younger generation." They called on the churches to "take these matters
to heart and to make serious inquiry what must be the end if there be no repentance. We call upon every individual as before
God to examine his or her life in light of that responsibility which attends to us all and that happily in divine mercy we
may be visited with a spirit of repentance and turn again to the Lord whom we have so grieved." I am not prepared to say
what effect the reading of this declaration had upon the ministers or people of the island in general, but I do know that
in the parish of Barvas a number of men and women took it to heart, especially two old women. I am ashamed to think of it
- two sisters, one eighty-two and one eight-four, the latter blind. These two women developed a great heart concern for God
to do something in the parish and gave themselves to waiting upon God in their little cottage.
One night God gave one of the sisters a vision. Now, we have got
to understand that in revival remarkable things happen. It is supernatural; you are not moving on human levels; you are moving
in divine places. In the vision, she saw the churches crowded with young people and she told her sister, "I believe revival
is coming to the parish." At that time, there was not a single young person attending public worship, a fact that cannot
be disputed. Sending for the minister, she told him her story, and he took her message as a word from God to his heart. Turning
to her he said, "What do you think we should do?" What?" she said, "Give yourself to prayer; give yourself
to waiting upon God. Get your elders and deacons together and spend at least two nights a week waiting upon God in prayer.
If you will do that at your end of the parish, my sister and I will do it at our end of the parish from ten o'clock at night
until two or three o'clock in the morning." So, the minister called his leaders together and for several months they waited
upon God in a barn among the straw. During this time they plead one promise, "For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,
and floods upon dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring" (Isaiah 44:3).
This went on for at least three months. Nothing happened. But
one night a young deacon rose and began reading from Psalm 24, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand
in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24:3-5). Closing his
Bible, he addressed the minister and other office bearers in words that sound crude in English, but not so crude in our Gaelic
language, "It seems to me so much humbug. To be waiting as we are waiting, to be praying as we are praying, when we ourselves
are not rightly related to God." Then, he lifted his hands toward heaven and prayed, "O God, are my hands clean? Is
my heart pure?" Then, he went to his knees and fell into a trance. Now, don't ask me to explain the physical manifestations
of this movement because I can't, but this I do know, that something happened in the barn at that moment in that young deacon.
There was a power loosed that shook the heavens and an awareness of God gripped those gathered together.
Now, I wasn't in the island at the time. I was in another area
when word came asking me to come to Lewis for ten days. I had other meetings scheduled and wrote back that I would put Barvas
on my calendar for the following year. However, due to circumstances I won't go into, my other meetings were cancelled, and
I found it possible to go to the islands as requested. Arriving by boat, I was met by the minister of the church and one of
his office bearers. As I stepped ashore, the office bearer came to me and said, "Mr. Campbell, may I ask you a question?
Are you walking with God?" I was happy to be able to respond, "I can say this at any rate, and I fear God."
They had arranged for me to address the church at a short meeting
beginning at nine o'clock that night. It was a remarkable meeting. God, in His sovereignty, moved and there was an awareness
of God, which was wonderful. The meeting lasted until four o'clock in the morning, and I had not witnessed anything to compare
with it at any other time during my ministry. Around midnight, a group of young people left a dance and crowded into the church.
There were people who couldn't go to sleep because they were so gripped by God. Although there was an awareness of God and
a spirit of conviction at this initial meeting, the real breakthrough came a few days later on Sunday night in the parish
church. The church was full, and the Spirit of God was moving in such a way that I couldn't preach. I just stood still and
gazed upon the wondrous moving of God. Men and women were crying out to God for mercy all over the church. There was no appeal
made whatsoever. After meeting for over three hours, I pronounced the benediction and told the people to go out, but mentioned
that any who wanted to continue the meeting could come back later. A young deacon came to me and said, "Mr. Campbell, God
is hovering over us." About that time the clerk of the session asked me to come to the back door. There was a crowd of
at least 600 people gathered in the yard outside the church... Someone gave out Psalm 102 and the crowd streamed back in to
the church, which could no longer hold the number of people. A young schoolteacher came down front crying out, "O God,
is there nothing left for me?" She is a missionary in Nigeria today. There was a busload of people coming to the meeting
from sixty miles away. The power of God came into the bus so that some could not even enter the church when the bus arrived.
People were swooning all over the church, and I cannot remember one single person who was moved on by God that night who was
not gloriously born again. When I went out of the church at four o'clock in the morning there were a great number of people
praying alongside the road. In addition to the schoolteacher, several of those born again that night are in foreign mission
Meadow, and Moorland
From Barvas, the move of God spread to the neighboring districts.
I received a message that a nearby church was crowded at one o'clock in the morning and wanted me to come. When I arrived,
the church was full and there were crowds outside. Coming out of the church two hours later, I found a group of 300 people,
unable to get into the church, praying in a nearby field. One old woman complained about the noise of the meetings because
she could not get to sleep. A deacon grabbed her and shook her, saying, "Woman, you have been asleep long enough!"
There was one area of the islands, which wanted me to come, but
I didn't feel any leading to accept the invitation. The blind sister encouraged me to go and told me, "If you were living
as near to God as you ought to be, He would reveal His secrets to you." I agreed to spend a morning in prayer with her
in the cottage. As we prayed, the sister said, "Lord, you remember what you told me today that you were going to save seven
men in this church. I just gave your message to Mr. Campbell and please give him wisdom because he badly needs it." She
told me if I would go to the village, God would provide a congregation. I agreed to go, and when I arrived at seven o'clock,
there were approximately 400 people at the church. The people could not tell what it was that had brought them; the Spirit
of God had directed it. I spoke for a few minutes on the text "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth
all men everywhere to repent(Acts 17:30). One of the ministers stopped me and said, "Come and see this." At one
end of the meetinghouse, the most notorious characters in the community were on their faces crying out to God.
On a trip to a neighboring island I found the people were very
cold and stiff. Calling for some men to come over and pray, I particular requested that a young man named Donald accompany
them. Donald, who was seventeen years old, had been recently saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit about two weeks later on
a hillside. As we were in the church that night, Donald was sitting toward the front with tears falling off his face onto
the floor. I knew Donald was in touch with God in a way that I was not. So I stopped preaching and asked him to pray. Donald
rose to his feet and prayed, "I seem to be gazing into an open door and see the Lamb in the midst of the throne and the
keys of death and hell on his waist." Then he stopped and began to sob. After he composed himself, he lifted his eyes
toward heaven, raised his hands, and said, "God, there is power there. Let it loose!" And at that moment the power
of God fell upon the congregation. On one side of the room, the people threw up their hands, put their heads back and kept
them in that position for two hours. It is hard to do this for ten minutes, much less two hours. On the other side, the people
were slumped over, crying out for mercy. In a village five miles away, the power of God swept through the town and there was
hardly a house in that village that didn't have someone saved in it that night.
In one area of the district there was bitter opposition to the
movement because I preached the baptism of the Holy Ghost as a separate and distinct occurrence following conversion. Those
who opposed me were so successful in their opposition that very few people came to the meetings. One night, the session clerk
came to me and said, "There is only one thing we can do to the correct the situation which now prevails. We must give ourselves
to waiting upon God in prayer. I have been told there is a farmer who said we could meet in his home. He is not a Christian
and his wife isn't saved, but they are God-fearing people." About thirty of us, ministers and elders from the district,
met in this farmer's house. I felt the going very, very hard. I prayed. All the ministers prayed. One felt that the very powers
of hell were unleashed.
About midnight I
turned to one of the elders and told him I thought the time had come for him to lay hold of God. This man rose to his feet
and prayed for about half and hour. (Of course, you must remember that we were in revival, and in revival time doesn't exist.
Nobody was looking at the clock.) The man paused, lifted his hand toward heaven and said, "God, did You know that your
honor is at stake? You gave the promise that You would pour water on the thirsty and floods upon the dry ground, and You are
not doing it." I wonder how many of us could approach God with words like that on our lips? Then he said, "There are five
ministers in this meeting, including Mr. Campbell, and I don't know where a one of them stands in Your Presence. But if I
know anything about my own heart, I think I can say that I am thirsty for a manifestation of Your power." He paused again,
and then cried out in aloud voice, "God, Your honor is at stake and I now challenge You to pour water on the thirsty and
floods upon the dry ground." And in that moment the stone-built house literally shook like a leaf. I immediately went
to the Acts of the Apostles where it is recorded that they prayed and the place where they were assembled was shaken. As soon
as this dear man stopped praying, I pronounced the benediction a little after two o'clock in the morning and went out to find
the whole village ablaze with God.
I went into one house
and found nine women on their knees in the kitchen crying out to God. One woman saved that night has written some of the finest
Gaelic hymns in our Gaelic hymnal. On the following Sunday, the road was black with the people walking two miles to the church.
The drinking house in that particular village closed that night and has never reopened since. This is God at work. A God sent
revival is always a revival of holiness.
It takes the supernatural to break the bonds of the natural. You
can make a community mission-conscious. You can make a community crusade-conscious. But only God can make a community God-conscious.
Just think about what would happen if God came to any community in power. I believe that day is coming. May God prepare us
all for it. Amen.
Duncan Campbell: Duncan Campbell (1898-1972) was
raised in the Highlands of Scotland. He came to the Lord as a teenager and served congregations of the United Free Church
(Presbyterian) and as an itinerant evangelist. In addition to his involvement in the Lewis Awakening, he was much in demand
as a speaker throughout the British Isles.
Prayer and Revival
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,
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, and 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 Harbor. 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 Scotch Irish 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 also he got his people to pray for him at sunset on Saturday evening
and sunrise Sunday morning. Then in the summer of 1800 comes 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 twenty-three 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 baptize that they
went down to the river, cut a big hole in the ice, and baptized them in the cold water. When Baptists do that they are really
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 was 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
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
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, people attending the meetings emptied every grocery shop
in that industrial valley of groceries, 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 councilor 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.
God Advances His Work By Outpourings Of His Spirit
By A.W. Tozer
"Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain
righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12).
Here are two kinds of ground: fallow ground and ground that
has been broken up by the plow.
The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock
of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the
crow and the blue jay. Had it intelligence, it might take a lot of satisfaction in its reputation: it has stability; nature
has adopted it; it can be counted upon to remain always the same while the fields around it change from brown to green and
back to brown again. Safe and undisturbed it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment.
But it is paying a terrible price for its tranquility: never
does it see the miracle of growth; never does it feel the motions of mounting life nor see the wonders of bursting seed nor
the beauty of ripening grain. Fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow.
In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded
itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always
come, practical, cruel, business-like and in a hurry. The shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery have shattered peace.
The field has felt the travail of change; it has been upset, turned over, bruised and broken.
But its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots
up into the daylight its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. All over the field the hand of God is
at work in the age-old and ever renewed service of creation. New things are born, to grow, mature, and consummate the grand
prophecy latent in the seed when it entered the ground. Nature's wonders follow the plow.
There are two kinds of lives also: the fallow and the plowed.
For example of the fallow life we need not go far. They are all too plentiful among us.
The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit
he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in tolerant superiority at revivals, fasting, self-searching, and
all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him. He is steady, "faithful,"
always in his accustomed place (like the old field), conservative, and something of a landmark in the little church. But he
The curse of such a life is that it is fixed, both in size
and in content. To be has taken the place of to become. The worst that can be said of such a man is that he
is what he will be. He has fenced himself in, and by the same act he has fenced out God and the miracle.
To Bring Forth Fruit
The plowed life is the life that has, in the act of repentance,
thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul. The urge of the Spirit, the pressure of circumstances
and the distress of fruitless living have combined thoroughly to humble the heart. Such a life has put away defense, and has
forsaken the safety of death for the peril of life.
Discontent, yearning, contrition, and courageous obedience
to the will of God: these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And as always, fruit follows
the plow. Life and growth begin as God "rains down righteousness." Such a one can testify, "And the hand of the Lord was
upon me there" (Ezek. 3:22).
Corresponding to these two kinds of life, religious history
shows two phases, the dynamic and the static. The dynamic periods were those heroic times when God's people stirred themselves
to do the Lord's bidding and went out fearlessly to carry His witness to the world. They exchanged the safety of inaction
for the hazards of God-inspired progress. Invariably the power of God followed such action. The miracle of God went when and
where His people went. It stayed when His people stopped.
The static periods were those times when the people of God
tired of the struggle and sought a life of peace and security. They busied themselves trying to conserve the gains made in
those more daring times when the power of God moved among them.
Bible history is replete with examples. Abraham "went out"
on his great adventure of faith, and God went with him. Revelations, theophany, the gift of Palestine, covenants and promises
of rich blessings to come were the result. Then Israel went down into Egypt, and the wonders ceased for four hundred years.
At the end of that time Moses heard the call of God and stepped forth to challenge the oppressor. A whirlwind of power accompanied
that challenge, and Israel soon began to march. As long as she dared to march God sent our His miracles to clear the way for
her. Whenever she lay down like a fallow field He turned off His blessing and waited for her to rise again and command His
This is a brief but fair outline of the history of Israel and
of the Church as well. As long as they "went forth and preached every where," the Lord worked "with them... confirming the
word with signs following" (Mark 16:20). But when they retreated to monasteries or played at building pretty cathedrals, the
help of God was withdrawn till a Luther or a Wesley arose to challenge hell again. Then invariably God poured out His power
In every denomination, missionary society, local church or
individual Christian, this law operates. God works as long as His people live daringly: He ceases when they no longer need
His aid. As soon as we seek protection out of God, we find it to our own undoing. Let us build a safety-wall of endowments,
by-laws, prestige, multiplied agencies for the delegation of our duties, and creeping paralysis sets in at once, a paralysis
which can only end in death.
Follow The Plow
The power of God comes only where it is called out by the plow.
It is released into the Church only when she is doing something that demands it. By the word "doing" I do not mean mere activity.
The Church has plenty of "hustle" as it is, but in all her activities she is very careful to leave her fallow ground mostly
untouched. She is careful to confine her hustling within the fear-marked boundaries of complete safely. That is why she is
fruitless; she is safe, but fallow.
Look around today and see where the miracles of power are taking
place. Never in the seminary where each thought is prepared for the student, to be received painlessly and at second hand;
never in the religious institution where tradition and habit have long ago made faith unnecessary; never in the old church
where memorial tablets plastered over the furniture bear silent testimony to a glory that once was. Invariably where daring
faith is struggling to advance against hopeless odds, there is God sending "help from the sanctuary."
In the missionary society with which I have for many years
been associated I have noticed that the power of God has always hovered over our frontiers. Miracles have accompanied our
advances and have ceased when and where we allowed ourselves to become satisfied and ceased to advance. The creed of power
cannot save a movement from barrenness. There must be also the work of power.
But I am more concerned with the effect of this truth upon
the local church and the individual. Look at that church where plentiful fruit was once the regular and expected thing, but
now there is little or no fruit, and the power of God seems to be in abeyance. What is the trouble? God has not changed, nor
had His purpose for that church changed in the slightest measure. No, the church itself has changed.
A little self-examination will reveal that it and its members
have become fallow. It has lived through its early travails and has now come to accept an easier way of life. It is content
to carry on its painless program with enough money to pay its bills and a membership large enough to assure its future.
Its members now look to it for security rather than for guidance
in the battle between good and evil. It has become a school instead of a barracks. Its members are students, not soldiers.
They study the experiences of others instead of seeking new experiences of their own.
The only way to power for such a church is to come out of hiding
and once more take the danger-encircled path of obedience. Its security is its deadliest foe. The church that fears the plow
writes its own epitaph. The church that uses the plow walks in the way of revival.
If we are to advance we must have power. Since "power" is a
word of many uses and misuses, let me explain what I mean by it.
I mean that effective energy which God has, both in Biblical
and in post-Biblical times, released into the Church and into the circumstances surrounding her, which made her fruitful in
labor and invincible before her foes. Miracles? Yes. Answers to prayer? Special providence? All of these - and more.
It is summed up in the words of the Gospel of Mark: "And
they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" (Mark
16:20). The whole book of Acts and the noblest chapters of Church history since New Testament times are but an extension of
By power I mean that divine afflatus which moves the heart
and persuades the hearer to repent and believe in Christ. It is not eloquence. It is not logic. It is not argument. It is
not any of these things, though it may accompany any or all of them.
It is more penetrating than thought, more disconcerting than
conscience, more convincing than reason. It is the subtle wonder that follows anointed preaching, a mysterious operation of
spirit on spirit.
Such words as those in the second chapter of Hebrews stand
as a rebuke to the unbelieving Christians of our day: "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders and with
divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will" (Hebrews 2:4).
By Doctrinal Prejudices
A disinterested observer, reading without the handicap of doctrinal
prejudice, would surely gather from the Scriptures that God desires to advance His work among men by frequent outpourings
of the Spirit upon His people, as they need them, and are prepared to receive them.
We make this statement with the full knowledge that some teachers
will hotly challenge it. "It is not scriptural, " they say, "to pray for or expect an outpouring of the Spirit today. The
Spirit was poured out once for all at Pentecost and has not left the Church since that time. To pray for the Holy Spirit now
is to ignore the historical fact of Pentecost."
That is the argument used to discourage expectation, and it
has been successful in damping down the fervor of many congregations, and silencing their prayers. There is a specious logic
about this objection, even an air of superior orthodoxy; but for all that, it is contrary to the Word of God and out of harmony
with the operations of God in Church history.
with The Spirit - And Refilled
The Bible does not sponsor this chilling doctrine of once-for-all
blessing. Rather, it encourages us to expect "showers of blessing" and "floods upon the dry ground" (Isa. 44:3). The Spirit
must fill not only that first company of "about an hundred and twenty," but others as well, or the blessings of that experience
would cease with the death of the last member of the original band.
All this seems reasonable enough, but we have a more sure word
of Scripture: come time after Pentecost a company of believers met to pray for strength and power to meet the emergency then
facing them, and to enlist the help of God on their behalf.
"And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they
were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31).
Some of these were of the original number filled at Pentecost.
It is hardly conceivable that God acted contrary to His own will in filling them again after Pentecost. Still other outpourings
are recorded in Acts 8, 10, and 19. All these occurred some years after the original act.
Of The Holy Spirit
In brief, the teaching of the New Testament is that the outpouring
at Pentecost was the historic beginning of an era, which was to be characterized by a continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Through the prophet Joel, God had promised that He would, in the last days, pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. That God's
promise of poured-out power is meant for the Church for the whole time of her earthly warfare is confirmed to us by the recorded
experiences of 1900 years.
Powerful moving called "reformation," rushes of missionary
activity, sudden breakings out of revival flame over communities and nations - have been the sign of the fire to indicate
the goings forth of God. In these days in which we live there are evidences that God is still pouring out His Spirit upon
men. These mighty works can be explained only as new chapters in God's unfinished Book - the Acts of the Holy Ghost.
Now if God wills to pour our His Spirit upon us, why do not
more Christians and more churches receive an experience of power like that of the early Church? That some have so received
is joyfully admitted, but why is the number so few? When the provision is so broad and the promise so sure, what doth hinder
One obstacle to the reception of power is a widespread fear
of our emotions wherever they touch the religious life. This has gone so far that it has become a phobia with many serious-minded
people. Men who should know better will kneel for an hour beside a seeker, all the time warning him against his emotions as
against the devil himself.
Bible teachers declaim against feelings till we are ashamed
to admit that we ever entertained anything so depraved. Feeling and faith are opposed to each other in modern teaching, and
the listener is given to understand that any exhibition of emotion is indelicate, if not carnal, and should be avoided at
This anti-emotionalism, though it is sponsored by some good
people and travels in pretty orthodox company, is nevertheless an unwarranted inference, not a Scriptural doctrine.
Where in the Bible are feeling and faith said to be at odds?
The fact is that faith engenders feeling as certainly as life engenders motion. We can have feeling without faith, it is true,
but we can never have faith, without feeling. Faith as a cold unemotional light is wholly unknown in Scriptures.
The faith of those bible heroes listed in the Book of Hebrews
invariably aroused emotion and led to positive action in the direction of their faith. A statement, a promise, a warning always
produced a corresponding excitation of feeling in the heart of the believer.
Noah was "moved with fear," Abraham "rejoiced" and "obeyed."
The Book of Acts is almost hilarious with joy. Perhaps Paul when writing to the Romans makes the best summary of the whole
matter, "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Romans 14:17).
And Peter says, "Believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).
Another hindrance is fear of fanaticism. Instinctive revulsion
from fleshly excesses and foolish, undisciplined conduct on the part of some who profess lofty spiritual attainments have
closed the door to a live of power for many of God's true children.
Such victims must be taught that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit
of Jesus, and is as gracious and beautiful as the Savior Himself. Paul's words should be kept in mind:
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power,
and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). The Holy Spirit is the cure for fanaticism, not the cause of it.
Another thing that greatly hinders God's people is a hardness
of heart caused by hearing men, without the Holy Spirit, constantly preaching about the Spirit. There is no doctrine so chilling
as the doctrine of the Spirit when held in cold passivity and personal unbelief. The hearers will turn away in dull apathy
from an exhortation to be filled with the Spirit unless the Spirit Himself is giving the exhortation through the speaker!
The hearers sense the lack and go away with numbed hearts.
Theirs is not opposition to the truth, but an unconscious reaction from unreality.
Then I would mention another thing, which clearly hinders believers
from knowing the power of the Holy Spirit: it is the habit of instructing seekers to "take it by faith" when they become concerned
with their need of the power of the Spirit.
It is a fact written all over the New Testament that the benefits
of atonement are to be received by faith. This is a basic in redemptive theology, and any departure from it is fatal to true
Christian experience. Paul teaches emphatically that the Spirit is received through faith, and rebukes anyone who would teach
otherwise. So it would seem, on the surface of it, to be sound procedure to instruct a seeker to "take it by faith." But there
is something wrong somewhere.
One is forced to wonder whether the words "by faith," mean
the same thing when used by modern teachers as they did when used by Paul.
A sharp contrast is observable between Spirit-filled Christians
of Paul's time and many who claim to be filled with the Spirit today. Paul's converts received the Spirit by faith to be sure,
but they actually received Him! Thousands now go through the motion of taking Him by faith, but show by their continual feebleness
that they do not know Him in real power!
The trouble seems to be with our conception of faith. Faith,
as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing, leading to surrender, and obedience to the commandments of Christ. Faith in our
day often means no more than a mental assent to a doctrine.
Many persons, convinced of their need of power, but unwilling
to go through the painful struggle of death to the old life, turn with relief to this "take it by faith" doctrine as a way
out of their difficulty. It saved their face - and enables them to march along with the true Israel.
But it is they who constitute the "mixed multitude" which slows
down the progress of the Church and causes most of the trouble when things get tight. And unless they see it differently and
decide to go through the hard way, they are fated to spend the rest of their powerless lives in secret disappointment.
Let it be remembered that no one ever received the Holy Spirit's
power without knowing it. He always announces Himself to the inner consciousness. God will pour out His Spirit upon us in
answer to simple faith, but real faith will be accompanied by deep poverty of spirit and mighty heart yearnings, and will
express itself in strong crying and tears.
"HERALD OF HIS COMING" July 1997 Vol. 56 No. 7 (667) International Edition
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