This is a question for Trinitarian Protestants regarding devotion to the Lord prior to evangelical activities.

After the persecution at the time of Stephen's martyrdom, Luke relates the gathering of those who were first called 'Christians' at Antioch and records Barnabus going to Tarsus to find Paul and tells us of the year that they spent there, teaching. Then we learn of the activity of certain :

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. [Acts 13:2 KJV]

Only after a time of such ministration did the Holy Spirit move among that congregation to send out Barnabus and Paul, and subsequently Paul on further journeys, to carry the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean region.

Is there a time in recent Church History when we see such a period of 'ministering to the Lord' resulting in such an initiative ?

I have heard, anecdotally, of such times during the Primitive Brethren movement, during the early 1800s, when prayer meetings were held as Christians gathered out of dead congregations to 'minister to the Lord'. But I have not seen the record of this in print.

And I have heard, again anecdotally, of times of 'revival' in Wales, early in the 1900s, when similar experiences led to 'times of refreshing'.

Can anyone point me in the direction of such narratives reliably documented ?


I found an interesting comment in my NIV Study Bible with regard to Acts 13:2 which says that the prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch were worshipping the Lord and fasting prior to being led by the Holy Spirit. The NIV notes that the missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas “did not result from a planning session but from the Spirit’s instruction”.

With regard to the Welsh Revival, the following extracts (which come from a seemingly reliable document) suggest that after prolonged study, worship and prayer, Evan Roberts was led by the Holy Spirit to evangelise to the people in his native land. No mention is made of fasting, however.

The article begins by acknowledging that revival is a work of the Holy Spirit, not a work of man, something that God does to a believer in Jesus Christ. Revival starts when God does a work in people to bring glory to God by growing his church through saving unbelievers. Mention is made, in passing, of the Methodist revival in England which started when George Whitfield, John Wesley and others began preaching in the late 1730’s. Here is a partial quote about the young Evan Roberts and how he was influenced:

Having been convinced of the call to preach, he set about preparing himself for ministry by reading spiritual books and seeking to be baptised with the Holy Spirit. This baptism happened in the spring of 1904, an experience that brought him into close communion with God. “I was taken up into divine fellowship for about four hours” [Evans, p.66]. This continued nightly for three months. He was a revived Christian.

In September Roberts went away to ministry school at Newcastle Emlyn in Carmarthenshire. He was still putting aside at least half an hour every day for communion with God; the spiritual result of his “baptism” continuing in him. He very quickly realised that a revival was taking place nearby in Cardiganshire, and that many young people had received spiritual experiences similar to his own. However, they also had a passion to share the experience with others. This had a powerful effect on him: “We have come into contact with the young men and women of New Quay and the fire has taken hold of us.” [Evans, p.73]

Influenced by these revived Christians, Roberts again experienced the baptism of the Spirit, especially receiving the assurance of sins forgiven. He now came to believe that he and the others in this Cardiganshire revival were to take this message to the whole of Wales, and, following some visions, was convinced that God had promised 100,000 converts as a result. He was now an “enthusiast”, on fire and in the position to influence others.

The article goes on to describe the start of the revival in West Wales in 1903. Two Cardiganshire Calvinistic Methodist ministers, Joseph Jenkins and John Thickens became burdened for the spiritual life of their churches. Who influenced them?

At that time in Wales the teaching of the Keswick convention was beginning to have an influence due to a number of ministers sensing the lack of power in their ministry. Jenkins and Thickens came under the influence of such men, notably RB Jones and WW Lewis. Both Jones and Lewis were used as enthusiasts in the Welsh revival quite apart from Evan Roberts. It took more than one initial enthusiast to spread the revival! In turn the “Keswick” ministers, who became enthusiasts, were influenced by a Welsh minister, WS Jones, who received the baptism with the Spirit, while serving a congregation in Scranton Pennsylvania. He brought the fire back when he returned to minister in Carmarthen late in the 1890’s.

WS Jones received this baptism at the hands of people influenced by DL Moody. Likewise the British minister FB Meyer, also influenced by Moody, was active in urging people to seek the deeper life, and he was instrumental in the work of Keswick. Thus the Welsh revival can trace its line back to the work of Moody. Indeed no beginning can be found as each person was made an enthusiast through another enthusiast. Despite all these lines of influence, it will be shown that what took place after 31st October 1904 was on a completely different scale from the events in Cardiganshire described here. The effectiveness of the enthusiasts increased dramatically. As such this date is the best starting date for the national revival that has become so well known throughout the world.
Source: How Did The Welsh Revival of 1904-5 Start? John Hayward. https://www.churchmodel.org.uk/Back04.pdf

Another source of information I found starts with a message from Evan Roberts who declares that the power behind the revival in South Wales was not of men, but entirely of God who “has been close to us and has shown us the way.”

I have been asked concerning my methods. I have none. I never prepare the words I shall speak. I leave all that to Him. I am not the source of this revival. I am only one agent in what is growing to be a multitude. I am not moving men’s hearts and changing men’s lives; not I, but “God worketh in me.” I have found what is, in my belief, the highest kind of Christianity. I desire to give my life, which is all I have to give, to helping others to find it also. Many have already found it, thank God, and many more are finding it through them.

This is my work as He has pointed it out to me. His Spirit came to me one night, when upon my knees I asked Him for guidance, and five months later I was baptised with the Spirit. He has led me as He will lead all those who, conscious of their human weakness, lean upon Him as children upon a father. I know that the work which has been done through me is not due to any human ability that I possess. It is His work and to His Glory.

There follows ‘The Story of the Welsh Revival’ by Arthur Goodrich, but because it is copyright protected all I can do is leave you the link for you to read. http://www.revival-library.org/index.php/catalogues-menu/1904/the-story-of-the-welsh-revival

Another article ‘The Legacy of the Welsh Revival 1904-1905by Patrick Slattery’ contains this interesting quote:

David Lloyd George in one of his speeches before 1904 said: 'The material conditions of this country will not improve until there comes a spiritual awakening, and I charge you ministers with the responsibility of promoting and fostering such a revival'.

The article concludes thus:

Perhaps one of the most important lessons we need to learn from the 1904 Revival is that, good as we are at arranging new strategies and structures for our churches, we cannot arrange a revival. We can and should be prepared for it, and when God sees the time is right we must respond by ensuring that it reaches out into society and is not confined to church buildings. Source: https://www.methodistevangelicals.org.uk/Articles/523541/The_Legacy_of.aspx

  • 1
    Thank you. Much appreciated. (Up-voted +1.) Memorable words : we cannot arrange a revival. Therefore, we must pray. – Nigel J Sep 3 '20 at 15:46

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