The year was 1950. The famous revival on the windswept Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides was already underway. It began when two elderly sisters fervently prayed. Peggy Smith was 84 and completely blind. Christine, her younger sister by two years, could hardly walk and was bent over double from arthritis.
With a deep burden in their hearts, they began praying. Twice a week for many months, they went down on feeble knees at 10:00 p.m. and did not rise until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. In the midst of their prayers, God gave them a vision of a man they had never met, a man God would use to change the island. The man’s name was Duncan Campbell—and God brought him to the Hebrides to preach and shepherd the revival.
Supernatural Movement of God
People on the island were inexplicably drawn to Christ. Without publicity, telephones, or Internet, they awoke in the middle of the night and felt compelled to gather in a farmer’s field or at a local parish church. Sometimes they did not make it—and instead simply fell by the side of the road, confessing their sins to God. Bars and dance halls shut their doors for good. Starting with the small town of Barvas, the entire Isle of Lewis turned from darkness to light. Entire towns were being converted to Christ, with the exception of the stubborn little parish of Arnol.
Arnol defiantly resisted the gospel. No one wanted to hear what Duncan Campbell had to say. In fact, the citizenry held opposition meetings to denounce the revival. Campbell and his fellow leaders knew the only answer was prayer.
They gathered one evening in a farmhouse and began to pray, earnestly appealing to the promises God had made in the Bible. At midnight, Campbell asked John, the local blacksmith, to pray, which he did for more than two hours. Near the end of his prayer, with his cap in his hand, John looked heavenward and said, “God, do You know that Your honor is at stake? You promised to pour water on the thirsty and floods on the dry ground. . . . I stand before You as an empty vessel and I am thirsty—thirsting for Thee and for a manifestation of Thy power. I’m thirsty to see the devil defeated in this parish. I’m thirsty to see this community gripped as You gripped Barvas. I’m longing for revival and, God, You are not doing it! I’m thirsty and You promised to pour water on me. God, Your honor is at stake, and I take it upon myself to challenge You now to fulfill Your covenant engagement.”
At that moment, the house shook violently. A jug on the sideboard crashed to the ground and broke. Those who were present said that wave after wave of power swept over the room.
At the same time, the town of Arnol was awakened from its slumber. Lights went on. People came into the streets and started praying. Others knelt where they were and asked God to forgive them. Men carried chairs and women held stools, asking if there was room for them in the church. At 2:00 a.m., revival came to this last resistant town on the island.
As I reflect on this historic account, I wonder why my prayers don’t seem to shake much except my own confidence in prayer itself. How can I connect with God in such an intimate way that I can pray with absolute certainty that God has both heard and will answer? Why do I so willingly accept a “No” from God and chalk it up to His all-knowing nature instead of taking the time to understand His heart so that He can respond “Yes” to me?
There is no question that our society needs a shaking from God, a response that manifests His presence and His power, a deliverance that restores communities and nations. But I sense that any outward shaking will be preceded by an inward one that changes the very core of my being.
Before I can challenge God to remember His covenant, it is God’s prerogative to challenge me on the condition of my heart. Does my pulse stay in sync with the rhythm of His? Do I know God’s heartbeat well enough to pray His will so that He can say, “Yes”?
The history of revivalism shows that prevailing prayer precedes all major moves of God’s Spirit. “Lord, do not callous my heart. Callous my knees.” This is my longing as I pray.
Content from Church Prayer Leaders Network. Used by permission.