GREG SIMASFaith-Leadership-Culture
Azusa Street

Amazing Story! Connecting Revival, The Prayer Room And The Baptism In The Holy Spirit

We have just finished a teaching series at Convergence House of Prayer  though the first nine chapters of the Book of Acts and now in the middle of a series on “The Power of Speaking In Tongues.”

I’ve never really done an extended study on the speaking in tongues but I’ve found it to be both refreshing and revelatory for my own personal life and growth.

Just recently family member passed this story on to me and I had to push this up on the blog. I believe it’s prophetic to the day and time I sense the Lord is taking the church. It brings together revival, a prayer room reality, speaking in tongues and even the gospel impacting the Jews.

The Testimony

Note by the author: During my research I was in correspondence with one of the few surviving eyewitnesses to the Azusa Street revival. He is Mr. Harvey McAlister of Springfield, Missouri, who wrote me that he had visited the Mission himself many times. He had one especially interesting incident to relate:

“My brother, Robert E. McAlister, now deceased, was in Los Angeles when the following incident took place and he reported it to me. The girl, whom I knew well, and I heard the incident also from her parents, was Kathleen Scott.

“This … took place in what is known as Old Azusa Street Mission. People traveled from every part of the world to investigate what was happening there. There was a large auditorium with an ‘Upper Room,’ upstairs. The place was open day and night for several years, with preaching services two or three times daily, and people in prayer in the Upper Room day and night. At the close of the preaching, crowds would retire to the Upper Room to pray. When time came for preaching, someone would ring a bell and all would come downstairs for the services.

“Kathleen was in the Upper Room, teenage, at this particular time. A man entered the building, the service now being in process, and hearing people pray, he ventured upstairs to the prayer room. The moment he entered, Kathleen, moved by the Spirit, arose and pointed to the man as he stood at the head of the stairway, and spoke in a language other than her own for several minutes.

“The ringing of the bell, calling the people to the preaching service, interrupted. All the people arose and made their way to the stairway. The man, as Kathleen approached the stairs, took her arm and directed her downstairs to the speaker’s desk and waited until order was restored in the auditorium. Then he spoke.

“ ‘I am a Jew, and I came to this city to investigate this speaking in tongues. No person in this city knows my first or my last name, as I am here under an assumed name. No one in this city knows my occupation, or anything about me. I go to hear preachers for the purpose of taking their sermons apart, and using them in lecturing against the Christian religion.

“ ‘This girl, as I entered the room, started speaking in the Hebrew language. She told me my first name and my last name, and she told me why I was in the city and what my occupation was in life, and then she called upon me to repent. She told me things about my life which it would be impossible for any person in this city to know.’

“Then [Mr. McAlister’s letter concludes], the man dropped to his knees and cried and prayed as though his heart would break.”

Harvey McAlister

Endnote:  1. From John L. Sherrill, They Speak With Other Tongues (New York: McGraw Hill, 1964), 41,42.

Closing Thoughts

I believe the Lord is baptizing the church again with a fresh wave of His Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. He is bringing back a praying church with Upper Rooms [Prayer Rooms] that serve as a place of continual corporate communion and a heavenly power supply.

It’s time to move on into the depths of the Spirit with greater willingness and hunger, praying in the Spirit and displaying God’s love unto a greater global awakening.

Love to get your thoughts on this. Just drop a comment in the comment section below!  And if you have not subscribed yet do that too! 

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  • Amen and amen. I pray for an Awakening again in the Church. Many have been misled by half-truths and are becoming disillusioned with the idea of God.

    I pray for my country Nigeria, currently undergoing great insecurity and terrorism like never before, that God will intervene in His Sovereign Power. That people will become desperate for God and hunger after righteousness. That God will turn what was meant for our destruction to our eternal salvation. That there will be a holy discontent with the status quo and a return to Timeless Truths.

    Have mercy on your people O Lord, thank you because you want to revive your people and you will do it again. Amen.

    • Love your passion and intercession for an awakening in the church, namely your country, Nigeria! May the power of the Holy Spirit sweep into the nations of the earth bringing people to Christ and filling them with the Holy Spirit. I’m in full agreement and am praying with you!

  • I appreciate you underscoring this theme recently, Greg. I’m not sure how we’ve under-valued the clear connection between the prayer room (Upper Room principle) and the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. I’m interested in your perspective, but it seems that even in Spirit-filled streams in the church, there generally seems to be an under-valuing of Spirit baptism and speaking in heavenly languages. And I’m wondering if it’s connected to our low prayer emphasis, especially corporate prayer. Actually, we may not need to wonder too hard! There was concerted prayer in Acts 2. Surely, Cornelius and his family and friends were in prayer before Peter arrived and the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles in Acts 10. We know he was a person of prayer. Thanks for the emphasis. If we are to experience authentic spiritual awakening and the kind of societal influence the Lord is looking for from us, prayer and the Holy Spirit moving in our lives at a higher level are key. We’re going to have to be passionate about it, because it is resisted. Yet no resistance is a match for the Spirit’s power!

    • Great comment, Brian. You bring up a good question about Spirit baptism. Where in recent church history, namely the last 50 years, has the ball dropped? Where did the de-emphasis begin after God awakened Spirit baptism globally in the early 1900’s. This is worth looking into. Maybe you can launch a study on your own about this as well as myself. It’s no surprise to anyone who reads my blog that I believe the Prayer Room (Upper Room) was never meant to be separated from the center of life in the church and am pleasantly surprised to see great revivals fueled by corporate prayer. What is amazing to me is that the church is birthed in tongues (Acts 2) and the gentle church is birthed in tongues (Acts 10). What we don’t emphasize, gets lost and I’m afraid that this is exactly what has happened. But things are changing! There is no greater gift to the church (outside of the saving power of Jesus) than the baptism in the Holy Spirit with our heavenly prayer language.

      • Would be interested in your perspective, Greg, on a few thoughts from J. Rodman Williams who taught at Regent University in the graduate school. He wrote ‘Renewal Theology, Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective.’ Those who say the baptism in the Holy Spirit was just for the first generation church, and not for our day, like to say that the Jews who were living in Jerusalem heard the 120 speaking in their native languages in Acts 2. And this was a temporary purpose for those Jews from various nations. Thus speaking in tongues or heavenly prayer languages really has no purpose today if it is unintelligible to natural hearing. Williams suggests though that they were “each one hearing them speak in his own language” — he believes they were heavenly languages, but the Holy Spirit interpreted and caused the individual hearers to comprehend the speech in their native languages. It would have sounded to them like they knew the language. I certainly don’t think you have to believe this to believe that the baptism and tongues have not ceased. It is just fascinating to me. Could it be similarly, if not exactly like tongues and interpretation in 1 Corinthians 12? Williams also makes the point that Peter’s testimony of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Cornelius’ house upon the Gentile believers (Acts 10) was no different than the outpouring in Acts 2. “For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, ‘Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?'” (Acts 10:46-47). Peter made “no differentiation between the tongues spoken in Caesarea and those spoken in Jerusalem” (Renewal Theology).

        • Brian. First, sorry for the delay. 🙂
          I am not familiar with Williams work but he does bring up a very interesting point. My take on this is that this “could” be a possibility. Because we believe in a supernatural God, we can easily embrace this reality.
          I know for me personally, sometimes I feel like my spiritual language changes on occasion, at least it sounds as if it does to me. I don’t know if this happened to the disciples or not. What Williams thinks does cause me to at least consider the possibility and truth is I haven’t really thought about this before. What I do know is God can certainly do this! Thanks for bringing this up!!

  • Hi Greg,
    Thank you for sharing that testimony. It is very relevant to what is happening in my church. I agree that Father is awakening His church as I see it happening in my small town and in my very ‘old fashioned’ church. People are coming alive! Our prayer room is growing and I totally see this as being ‘pregnant’, as a pregnant lady slowly gets bigger and more uncomfortable as she gets closer to delivery. The gift of tongues question has arisen a couple times now and I see a spark where there was no spark before.

    I agree we need more prayer.


    • Hi Child of God. Good to hear from you! What is happening in your church must be an encouraging sign for both you and the body. I imagine many churches are moving like yours; slow but it’s in the right direction! This is good news!


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