The Welsh Revival, though comparatively small in its initial effects, proved to be one of the most effective of all histories of revival. There have been few spiritual awakenings that have touched so many millions of people with such a powerful impact as the Welsh Revival.
The most well-known and most-remembered evangelist of the revival was Evan Roberts. He was a young man of only 26 years, not a dynamic person, not a notable preacher nor a persuasive orator. On the contrary, throughout his childhood and teens, he appeared quite withdrawn, even introverted.
Nevertheless, he was an energetic follower of Jesus who longed for God to visit the ailing church of Wales. Spurred on by revival history he prayed and read and talked, for ten or eleven years, about revivals. Through his teenage years he spent hours in communion with God, praying for a revival to come to Wales again. “I could sit up all night,” he said, “to read or talk about revivals. It was the Spirit that moved me thus.”
In early October, 1905 Evan, with his close friend Sydney Evans, attended a revival meeting at Twrgwyn, 5 miles from Newcastle Emlyn, led by Joseph Jenkins. The message was “How to Win Souls for Christ and Joy of his Religion”. The meeting lasted four hours, finishing at 10:15pm. On the way home Roberts first suggested the idea to Sidney of 100,000 converts: “Do you think,” he said, ‘that it is too much to ask God to save one hundred thousand in Wales?’ ‘No,’ was the answer, ‘it would not be too much to ask Him to save Wales and the world.’ ‘Well,’ Roberts replied, ‘we must go at it earnestly.’
During the night, a few days later, Evans Roberts woke up Sidney who saw Evan’s face glowing. “Sid, I’ve got wonderful news for you. I had a vision of all Wales lifted up to heaven. We are going to see the mightiest revival that Wales has ever known - and the Holy Spirit is coming just now. We must get ready. We must have a little band and go over all the country preaching'. “Do you believe that God can give us 100,000 souls now?” They were looking at the moon and both saw a vision of an arm stretching from it down to Earth. This they took as confirmation of the 100,000 souls saved that they have been praying for. Sometime afterwards Evan had more visions of an arm stretching to Earth - sometimes holding a piece of paper with 100,000 written on it.
There can be no doubt that Evan Roberts was passionate and full of faith for a visitation of God which had been birthed in his heart as he read the Scriptures and revival stories from church history. At this point he totally surrendered to God, totally yielded to God’s will and was ready to obey the promptings of the Spirit. Years of nurturing this vision gradually began to bear fruit.
In Nov. 5th, 1904 Evan wrote this letter to his friend, Sydney, telling him about his meetings with the youth group in his home church:
“Dear Syd, — I have been to Loughor …. I have been a blessing and have been blessed since then..….. I felt a wave of love for my fellow-men flowing into my soul. ….. Praise God. I passed the football field, and I said, “Oh! that God would thunder over their heads.”
A glorious week, the Spirit working with power. This is the plan — We begin by asking someone to read, another to give out a hymn, and another to pray. Then I say a few words. This is what is said every night:
1. We must confess before God every sin in our past life that has not been confessed.
2. We must remove anything that is doubtful in our lives.
3. Total Surrender. We must say and do all that the Spirit tells us.
4. Make a public confession of Christ.
That is the plan that the Spirit revealed to me. Sixty-five have stood up to confess Christ, and the effect in their lives is some strange joy within them, their lives are purer, and a desire to say more of Jesus, and do more for him. This is the song of the girls now — religion. That is the question, “How do you feel?” Religion from morn till night. Many of the differences that people had between themselves have been removed. I wish I could write more. I am going to see your family. Your mother and three brothers have confessed Christ. Praise God!
This, with kindest regards,
On the same day he wrote this letter to Miss Elsie Phillips, further expanding on his “Four Ways”:
Now I am working at Loughor among our young people. The Holy Spirit led me to this place. He has blessed my mission abundantly. We began this mission Monday night, and we hold a prayer meeting every night at eight p.m. These meetings have been a success The young people say that they could sit all night. Monday night I explained to them the object of the mission. Then I told them of the work the Spirit was and is doing at New Quay and Newcastle-Emlyn, and urged them to prepare for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Now, this is the plan I have taken under the guidance of the Holy Spirit — There are four things to be right:
(1) If there is some sin or sins in the past not confessed, we cannot have the Spirit. Therefore, we must search, and ask the Spirit to search us.
(2) If there is something doubtful in our life, it must be removed — something we say of it we do not know whether it is wrong or right. This thing must be removed.
(3) Total surrender to the Spirit. We must do and say all He asks us.
(4) Public confession of Christ.
These are the four things leading us to the grand blessing. This is our success this week in public confession — Monday night, 16, Tuesday, 6, Wednesday, 4; Thursday, 20, Friday, 19 — Total, 65.”
Six days later, on Nov. 11th, 1904 he wrote another letter to Sydney Evans:
“Dear Syd, —
Continue to pray for us. The friends at Newcastle-Emlyn must be more fervent, and say that they will have the blessing. Establish revival meetings there. Call all the denominations together. Explain the “four ways” and at the close of the meeting, let those who have confessed Christ remain behind, and send this prayer around. All must see to it that they pray it: —
1. Send the Spirit now, for Jesus Christ’s sake
2. Send the Spirit now powerfully, for Jesus Christ’s sake.
3. Send the Spirit now more powerfully, for Jesus Christ’s sake.
4. Send the Spirit now still more powerfully, for Jesus Christ’s sake.
Pray No. 1 again and again, all together or individually, according as you are prompted by the Holy Spirit, and in silence. Then no. 2 in the same way. No 3 again No 4 afterwards. That is the simple instrument of the Holy Spirit.
Nov. 6, 1904
“Dear Florrie, (Evans)
We had the Spirit with us throughout last week, and last night three girls and one man were baptised by the Holy Spirit. Oh! it was an awful meeting. Every person present was praying this Prayer — “Send the Holy Spirit now, for Jesus Christ’s sake.” This was a “Circle Prayer” — each one had to pray. Oh! the effect was marvellous. And while the prayer was going on, one of our young men was filled with the Spirit. Praise Him! Yes! Yes! When this had gone around, we began again — this time with the addition “more powerfully” — “Send the Spirit now more powerfully, for Jesus Christ’s sake.”
1. He developed a passion for Revival through reading revival histories and biographies.
2. He prayed intensely and continually for revival to come.
3. He was totally submissive, consecrated and yielded to the Lord Jesus.
4. His “’Four Ways” set the foundation for the revival:
1. A passionate love for Jesus Christ and his will to be done.
2. A deep repentance of sins, including ‘doubtful things.’
3. A total surrender to God.
4. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and obedient to his prompting.
5. Corporate prayer
6. Specific and continual prayer for an immediate visitation of the Holy Spirit
Let us head the charge of this humble revival warrior. These things were the foundation that he built into his life under God’s guidance. They may sound simple – and they are – but it is a hard thing to deal ruthlessly with the barriers we have built which restrict God’s presence, to become more intimate with Him and to secretly travail in prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit without spiritual pride and personal popularity. It is hard – but it is the only way.