Posted on Tue, Mar 10, 2009
Almost a year before The Azusa Street Revival, in an article written for God's Revivalist, Frank Bartleman urged the Church to prepare herself for a mighty visitation. He writes, "Christendom is rapidly assuming an attitude of expectancy, the great prerequisite for a visitation from God. The Lord is choosing His workers, our chance is at the door. This is a time to realize the vision of service, we can not afford to miss the blessing and reward He desires for us. It may be our last great chance to win souls for heaven. Oh what a privilege! What a responsibility!" Bartleman later recorded in his autobiography (My Story: The Latter Rain) how many Christians missed The Azusa outpouring because of their own unwillingness to seek revival on God's terms. He writes,
"During those months preceding the Pentecost, the Spirit was constantly seeking a company through which He could manifest Himself, and gather the people. He used various agencies and instruments just as far as He could. After the Spirit had made several desperate efforts, and a number had failed Him, He finally succeeded with a crude, weak body. There was little to commend itself even in this, aside from a desperate abandonment and childlike faith. But these were the prerequisites for the beginning of the work."
On December 22, 1904, Frank Bartleman and his wife and two daughters moved to Los Angeles. He had a unexplainable impression that God was getting ready to do something wonderful in the Los Angeles area. For months he moved around the city visiting and preaching at various Holiness missions. During this time he also came into a deeper dimension of prayer and intercession. He had been corresponding with Evan Roberts and had received encouragement from him to pray for a mighty awakening in California. Soon Bartleman began to increasingly experience seasons of intense travailing prayer. After visiting Joseph's Smale's First Baptist church, Mr. Bartleman was greatly encouraged to find some tokens of what he had been praying for. Bartleman writes, "June 17, 1905 I went to Los Angeles to attend a meeting at the First Baptist Church. They were waiting on God for an outpouring of the Spirit there. Their pastor, Joseph Smale, had just returned from Wales. He had been in touch with the revival and Evan Roberts and was on fire to have the same visitation and blessing come to his own church in Los Angeles..."
Upon Joseph Smale's return to Los Angeles, he quickly organized his church into small home prayer groups. He also encouraged his people to look for the return of the apostolic gifts to the church. The prayer meetings lasted fifteen weeks and almost immediately produced a deep sense of need and expectation for revival. Bartleman describes the meetings as follows, "(Pastor Smale) started prayer meetings in his church to wait on God for an outpouring of the Spirit similar to that which they were having in Wales. God wonderfully anointed him to exhort the people. He was full of faith for mighty things. These prayer meetings ran for a number of weeks, and there was much spontaneous worship and some very wonderful healings. Faith increased rapidly for extraordinary things. God made Pastor Smale a regular Moses to lead us toward the promised land. But soon the church dignitaries could tolerate the new, spontaneous order no longer. They ordered it to cease, or the Pastor to resign. The consequence was the Pastor wisely decided to go on with God, and the Lord and the people went with him. The cloud moved. A New Testament Church was formed. Here God wonderfully led and blessed, up to the Spring of 1906."