Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Effects of Revival

Leslie Basham: What do the effects of revival look like? Bill McLeod’s church couldn’t hold all the people who wanted to come.

Pastor Bill McLeod: By Saturday night, it was hopeless to move in the church, and Sunday night was worse.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, October 13.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: On this day forty years ago, a series of meeting started in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Those who organized this meeting had been praying for revival for years. Over the next days, weeks, and even months, the people who gathered in that little church saw dramatic, visible demonstrations of the power of God.

In fact, over those months, God demonstrated His power to change not only an entire community, but to send ripple effects that would have an impact in multiple nations.

As we present this story of the Canadian Revival, I think you’ll be encouraged to engage in a whole new way in the important work of prayer.

We’ll hear from Bill McLeod who at the time was the pastor at that little church in Saskatoon. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Bill for many years, and have been deeply impacted by the life, the heart, the ministry of this dear man of God who is now in his nineties,

Over the years on a number of occasions I’ve heard Bill tell the story of how God moved back in the early seventies—beginning in those first auspices prayer meetings.

I never get tired of hearing from this pastor who has seen firsthand the power of god to move in the response to the prayers of His people.

Pastor McLeod: In 1962 I moved from Winnipeg to Saskatoon—500 miles west of Winnipeg. Winnipeg is about 400 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

I became the pastor of a Baptist church of 175 members—which in Canada is about an average size. In Canada we are only about 7% evangelical. Here in the States you are about 30% evangelical. So you have to keep that in mind when you are thinking in terms of what happened in Canada.

I had a good church, I thought. We had some university people in the church—a lot of university students. We had quite a few Bible school graduates. So when I got there I thought, “If we could just could just get this church on the road . . .” They loved God . . . to a point. They served God with some reserve. They praised God with a lot of restraint. But they were an average church.

After I had been there long enough to know the people, I divided the church into five groups. I published this on the bulletin board and explained to the people that all of you are on one of these teams. “Check the board and figure out which team you are on. Once in five weeks your team will be on-deck to do some cold calling.”

I left the door open and said, “You may not feel able to do this or perhaps spiritually unable, so feel free to stay home and pray.” So all of them stayed home and prayed—nobody showed up! And I don’t even think they were praying at home. They were just at home.

Then it dawned on me what the problem really was—they didn’t know how to do it. So I had classes in how to do it—soul winning. We had a good enrollment, and people hardly missed a night for eight weeks. Then I announced to the group, “Now, next Monday will be a time where we’re going to hit the trail and ring doorbells and talk to people about God.” But again I left the door open, “If you feel you are not quite ready to do this, you stay home and pray.” So guess what happened? Well, two people showed up, both shaking from head to foot.

Then it dawned on me what the problem was—they didn’t have a heart to do it, and I started praying for revival.

Five years before the revival in 1971, I got our deacons to meet every Saturday night at 9:00 for an hour or so to pray for revival. We had ten deacons in the church. We averaged about seven in attendance in those Saturday night prayers meetings. The first night we did this, the next day was Sunday.

Sunday morning is the church we had a powerful moving of the Holy Spirit of God. People were leaving the congregation during the service and trying to find a room where they could be alone to pray. It was if God was saying, “You are on the right track. Stay with it!” That was five years before the revival.

On another occasion, at a deacon’s meeting, I think all I said was something like, “We’re going to have a time of prayer. Brother, it’s not much use to pray if we have unconfessed sin in our heart.” God just broke in on the brethren.

I used to tell people about the prayer meeting: Miss Sunday morning if you have to, miss Sunday evening if you must, but don’t ever miss the prayer meeting unless you’re dead.

People took it to heart. The prayer meeting went from twenty-five to thirty-five to fifty-five to sixty-five to seventy minutes. It kept climbing. We started children’s prayer meetings, and we had twenty to thirty to forty children, so we had to divide it into two groups. We had an adult leader in each of these two groups. This meant more people could attend the adult prayer meeting, and they did!

We got up as high as 175 people in a prayer meeting. Now remember, we only had 175 members in the church. I think that’s a pretty good record.

We put up a prayer wheel thing on the bulletin board with pie-shaped wedges. They were fifteen minutes slices, slots of time. We asked people, “If you would pray for revival once a day for fifteen minutes, just sign your name and the time slot you’d like to have.”

Pretty soon we had the whole twenty-four hours taken up, and sometimes two or three names in one slot. This meant, of course, any time day or night there were people from our church on their knees calling on God.

Now, Finney, the evangelist, said something about prayer that is very interesting. He said, “If I ever lose (what he called) the  Spirit of prayer, I can’t converse with people privately or publically with any effect whatever.” He based it on a verse in Zechariah which speaks about God pouring on His people the Spirit of grace and supplication (see Zech. 12:10). One translation says, “The Spirit of grace to supplicate.” We’ve lost that somehow.

But when God saw that we meant business in the area of prayer, He began to give us as a church the Spirit of prayer. People were telling me, “Last night I was to pray fifteen minutes, but Pastor, I prayed for forty-five minutes. I lost all thought of time.” This was very common. More and more we were hearing from people who were having such a wonderful time praying—just calling on God.

Nancy: Some of our listeners are familiar with the name Duncan Campbell. He was a preacher that God used in a significant way in a great revival that took place on the Isle of Lewis, just off the coast of Scotland in the early 1950s. We’ve told you that story on Revive Our Hearts. If you’d like to hear it for yourself, visit and listen to the series, When God Comes Down.

While Bill McLeod’s congregation continued to pray for revival, Duncan Campbell visited them in Canada.

Pastor McLeod: We had Duncan Campbell with us in Saskatoon two years before the revival. He was a godly, godly person. It was so great to talk with him. There’s an old saying, “If you ever go through revival fire, you have the smell of revival smoke on your clothes until the day you die." And that’s true. You’ll never forget it. No matter what happens, you’ll remember what you saw God do. Then you’ll know what God can do.

That was a challenge to us. We did see revival in the church when he came, but God used him in the congregation. Some people were wonderfully helped and blessed by his ministry at that time.

Dr. Henry Blackaby: Before he left he said, “I’m not given to visions, but God has given me a vision of revival fires breaking out all across Canada from one coast to the other.”

This is Henry Blackaby, remembering Duncan Campbell’s visit and his hope for revival in Canada.

Dr. Blackaby:
“When it will be, I do not know. But that it will be, God has given me full assurance.”

Duncan Campbell told those gathered in Saskatoon a story that illustrated the power of fervent prayer. Bill McLeod remembers it.

Pastor McLeod: He was speaking at a conference in central England. On the platform just before he was to speak, God told him that he was to leave immediately and fly down to the coast and go to the Isle of Skye, which off the coast of Scotland, part of the Hebrides.

So he told the chairman what he was going to do and the chairman said, “You can't do that! You’re committed here for several days.” He said, “I have to do it.” So he went.

Nancy: So instead of focusing on programs and plans, as we often tempted to do, Pastor McLeod and his congregation continued to spend their time and energy praying for revival.

Pastor McLeod: We used to have every Sunday night for about a year to a year-and-a-half before the crusade, every Sunday evening we’d end with a half hour of prayer.

I would invite the people to stay. We’d have thirty or forty or fifty people stay. I’d let them know it would be a half an hour and we’d be doing nothing but praying for revival in the congregation.

Saturday nights I used to go to the church and stand at the end of every pew and pray the God would bless the people who sat in that pew the following day.

I used to ask the people, “When you ask a blessing over the food, why not take a few minutes longer and pray for revival in the congregation?” And people started doing that. So we prepared as best we knew how. We did very little else but pray—I mean by way of preparation.

Nancy: Bill McLeod’s passion encouraged others who were seeking God for revival. Here’s Dr. Henry Blackaby.

Dr. Blackaby: I went in 1970 to Saskatoon. Of course, already because of Duncan Campbell’s visit in Ebenezer Baptist Church with Bill McLeod, he had begun to pray. So I prayed with him and a few others every week for two years.

Pastor McLeod:
Two years before the revival, I was talking to a missionary that we had in the congregation. I told him how I felt about the church and about what we were trying to do. He said, “Why don’t you invite Ralph and Lou Sutera."  I contacted them, but they couldn’t come for two years. Their schedule was full. So we had it arranged, and we began with this on a Wednesday night, October the thirteenth.

Leading up to this time, the church pastored by Bill McLeod as well as other churches in this community had been diligently asking God to send revival. And on this date, October 13, 1971, they began so see the answer to their prayers.

Dr. Blackaby:
Then all of a sudden Bill called me and said, “Henry, for that which we’ve been crying to God has happened!”

Four days after the revival began on that Wednesday, this church couldn’t hold all the people who wanted to come.

Pastor McLeod:
By Saturday night, it was hopeless to move in the church, and Sunday night was worse.

Dr. Blackaby:
The movement went from his church to St. Timothy’s Anglican, and then to the University Drive Alliance, and then to Third Avenue United. For seven-and-a-half weeks we experienced the presence of God.

Pastor McLeod:
So we contacted a neighboring Anglican church and they opened up their facilities to us. They didn’t have evening services at all. I think it would seat about 600, and we were packed out Monday night. Tuesday night was even worse. We had to ask all the young people to come forward and sit on the platform on the floor to make room for people. So we were only there two nights.

Then the Alliance church . . . They were in the throes of a missionary conference which is something to them that you never wash out for anything . . . But they sensed that God was doing something unusual, so they opened up their church. They washed out their missionary conference, and they opened up their church to us. You could probably pack about 1000 people at the Alliance church. We were there several nights then it was too small.

We moved to the largest church building in the city. It would seat either 1600 or 1800 people. I remember one of the first services we had; we were packed to the doors. The caretaker came, and he was very excited. He lost he cool and even got to swearing. He told us, “You have to get some of these people to leave the building. You have to do something about it. The fire marshal will close this place down.”

So I asked my people to go down to the Alliance church, and I had a meeting with them down there, and Ralph and Lou carried on. When my people went out, as many more people came in off that street who were trying to get in. So they had the same problem. But you know what happened? The caretaker got saved about a week later! Then he said, “Hang them on the lights; put them anywhere!” That was inevitable considering what God was up to.

Well that building became too small and we started having double services in the building—an early service and a later service. Then Sunday evenings we had to move to the Centennial Auditorium which would seat, I think, about 2200. We had to have double services there.

Instead of going as planned for a week-and-a-half, we went for six or seven weeks. This included not just the services themselves, but afterglows, smaller meetings where thirty, forty, or even one hundred met in a circle of chairs and shared and prayed for one another. In those afterglows there were hundreds of people who met God in a very, very powerful way.

Dr. Blackaby:
Well, it was like what I always felt God wanted. The churches came together. We met in the largest facility. If you went three hours before the meeting began, you couldn’t get in. There was such a touch of God in the meetings, and people would give testimonies.

They had an after-meeting that would go to 5 and 6:00 in the morning. There were so many lives being profoundly touched that they had to have two or three places to meet. Then we began to read in the local paper: “Sears is seeing many things being returned that were stolen.” The income tax people were saying there are confessions coming from all over the place how people cheated on their income tax. The paper for weeks would have articles about what was happening in the city.

I was involved the whole seven-an-a-half weeks. So I was there two years before, went all the way through it, and stayed ten years after.

I saw the impact in our own little church. This little group of ten that wanted to disband, instead of disbanding, the Spirit of God hovered over our church, and we started thirty-eight new congregations all over two provinces.

We began to cry out for laborers the way God told us, and over a hundred from our little church. . . . Well, we first baptized 180 college students, and about 100 felt called into the ministry and missions.

So we started a whole theological college in our church just to train them. I really prayed earnestly for God to come among His people to cleanse us, to make us available and obedient. So that little church that had never started as a mission church, when the Spirit of God comes upon a people, they’re obedient.

I had people ask, "How large do you have to be before you can start a new church? I’d say, "You’re asking the wrong question. How large do you have to be to be obedient?" It’s a matter of obedience, not whether you can do it or not. God will do it.

So we kept hearing about towns and villages crying out for a church. They would come to us, and I would take it to the church family. They’d say, “Pastor, it’s obvious God’s at work. We don’t have an option; we just need to go.”

There’s a whole story coming out of that, but I think a major part of revival is when God comes to His people and they repent and are cleansed. They become a highway of holiness over which God can do anything He wants and go anywhere He wants and do whatever He wants with His people. And they’ll always respond with, “Yes, Lord.”

Pastor McLeod:
There was one gal in our church. She was a beautiful singer, a soloist. She sang at funerals; she sang at weddings. During the crusade she discovered she had never been born again.

Another lady in our congregation seemed to be a stalwart, evangelical Christian. She found Christ as her personal savior.

There was a man who had been an assistant to me as a pastor several years before the revival. We had asked him to go because there seemed to be something wrong. He just wasn’t producing. He made a few friends in the congregation, but never seemed to be doing what he was supposed to do. So we simply asked him to go, and he went.

Then he heard about the revival in Saskatoon. He phoned me one night. He said, “Brother Bill, last night God showed me in prayer that I’ve never been saved. Could I come to Saskatoon? Would you help me out?” I said, “You come!” I got some preachers together, and we had a wonderful time. He got on our knees. He started to pray. He burst into tears. And finally, he hollered and said, “God is real!”

His family found it very hard to believe because he had worked for Evangelism something (I forget now) in the States and in Canada. He had led these groups. He trained people in evangelism. He said, “I knew the language, but I never knew God.”

I remember one gal, her husband had left her with three kids (I think it was). She was just an emotional wreck. She was seeing psychiatrists and they were doing all they could for her. She was almost like a walking post. But she saw God in those meetings. A few days later her husband dropped in to see the kids and took one look at his wife and said, “What happened to you?” She told him. He started to attend the meetings, and six or seven days later he got saved, and the home was restored.

That’s Bill McLeod describing what happens when God meets with His people in genuine revival. People get right with God and right with others. We’ll hear more of these kinds of accounts tomorrow as we continue listening to the story of the Canadian Revival that began on this date, forty years ago, October 13, 1971.

Along with Bill McLeod, we heard from Henry Blackaby, who was also pastoring in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada when this revival began.

The story we just heard shows how important it is to be crying out to the Lord in prayer for true revival. That congregation in Saskatoon that was seeking the Lord didn’t create any mammoth programs. They didn’t rely on gimmicks or marketing campaigns. They focused on something you and I can focus on as well. They prayed for God to visit them in revival.

When I hear a story like that—of the Canadian Revival—my own heart is stirred as ask the Lord to give me a greater burden in praying for revival. I wonder if after hearing today’s message you would want to ask the Lord to do the same in your heart. Perhaps you could start with something as simple as Bill McLeod suggested. When you pray over meals, include a prayer for revival.

You might want to pray, as I did this morning, “Lord, please revival my heart, and revive my family.” Then ask God to revive your church, to revive your community, and to make His presence and His name known, not only in this country, but throughout the world.

In the months ahead, we’ll let you know about some specific ways you can join with thousands of others in praying for national revival and spiritual awakening in a concentrated way. It’s a new initiative that will be launched in February 2012, called, One Cry. I hope you’ll keep listening for more announcements about the One Cry movement.

And I hope you’ll join us for True Woman ‘12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening. At this national women’s conference, we will spend three days together seeking the Lord for personal and corporate revival. I hope you’ll get the dates on the calendar for True Woman ‘12 in Indianapolis. That’s September 20-22, 2012.

I’ll be speaking along with my friends Joni Eareckson Tada, Priscilla Shirer, Janet Parshall, Mary Kassian, and many others. For details on the True Woman ‘12 Conference, visit

Thanks, Nancy. Through efforts like this conference we’re asking the Lord to bring widespread revival to our nation, and we’re asking Him to revive individual hearts as well. It happens all the time on the radio as women are moved and changed by God’s Word. Personal revival leads them to get right with the Lord, and it affects their relationships with others.

We’re able to come to you each day with the solid Bible teaching you expect on Revive Our Hearts thanks to listeners who support the ministry financially. Would you consider joining them, helping to make the program possible?

When you provide a gift of any size,  we’ll say thanks by sending you a book that will deepen your understanding of revival. Nancy, will you tell us more?

The book is called Ablaze with His Glory by Del Fehsenfeld, Jr. who was the founder of Life Action Ministries, the parent organization to Revive Our Hearts. Del has been with the Lord many years, but actually wrote many portions of this book within months and weeks of his going home to be with the Lord. So this book reflects the passion of a dying man to see God visit this nation once again with His glory. His book, Ablaze with His Glory, will show you what revival is and why it matters. When you read this book, I believe God will give you a deeper passion for revival. I believe you’ll be encouraged to seek the Lord even more fervently for revival in our day.

We’ll send Ablaze with His Glory when you call with your donation of any size. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit and make your donation there.
Tomorrow we’ll look at how the Canadian revival spread from Saskatoon and began to reach around the world. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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