In 1936 he quit the blues after witnessing a murder where he played, and joined the church. In 1950 he was ordained. In 1964 Wilkins was "rediscovered" by blues revival enthusiasts Dick and Louisa Spottswood, making appearances at folkfestivals and recording his gospel blues for a new audience. These include the 1964 Newport Folk Festival; his performance of "Prodigal Son" there was included on the Vanguard Records album Blues at Newport, Volume 2. In 1964 he also recorded his first full album, Piedmont Records' Rev. Robert Wilkins: Memphis Gospel Singer. Another full session was recorded live at the 1969 Memphis Country Blues Festival, and released in 1993 as "...Remember Me".
Wilkins died on May 26, 1987 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 91. His son, Reverend John Wilkins, continues his father's gospel blues legacy.
His best known songs are "That's No Way To Get Along" and his reworked gospel version, "The Prodigal Son", which was covered under that title by The Rolling Stones, as well as "Rolling Stone", and "Old Jim Canan's". The Stones were forced to credit "The Prodigal Son" to Wilkins after lawyers had approached the band and asked the credit to be changed. Original pressings of Beggars Banquet had credited only Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as sole composers, not Wilkins.