Missionary Biography – Charles Thomas (C.T.) Studd

May 4, 2009

Charles Thomas (C.T.) Studd
by Stephen Ross

Forward Ever, Backward Never!
“Some wish to live within the sound
of Church or Chapel bell;
I want to run a Rescue Shop
within a yard of hell.”
— C.T. Studd.
Charles T. Studd was a servant of Christ who faithfully served His Saviour in China, India, and Africa. As Alfred Buxton in the forward to the book intitled C.T. Studd: Cricketer & Pioneer by Norman Grubb states:

“C.T.’s life stands as some rugged Gibraltar — a sign to all succeeding generations that it is worth while to lose all this world can offer and stake everything on the world to come. His life will be an eternal rebuke to easygoing Christianity. He has demonstrated what it means to follow Christ without counting the cost and without looking back.

C.T. was essentially a cavalry leader, and in that capacity he led several splendid charges. Three in particular stand out: when C.T. and Stanley Smith led forth the Cambridge Seven to China, in 1885; ten years later when C.T. toured the American Universities at the start of the Student Volunteers; and when in 1910 he initiated the campaign for the region between the Nile and Lake Chad (the largest unevangelized region in Africa at the time)…”

As a soldier of the Cross, C.T. is remembered for “his courage in any emergency, his determination never to sound the retreat, his conviction that he was in God’s will, his faith that God would see him through, his contempt of the arm of the flesh, and his willingness to risk all for Christ.”

Charles Thomas Studd was born in England in 1860, one of three sons of a wealthy retired planter, Edward Studd, who had made a fortune in India and had come back to England to spend it. After being converted to Christ during a Moody-Sankey campaign in England in 1877, Edward Studd became deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of his three sons and influenced them for the cause of Christ before his death two years later.

By the time C.T. was sixteen he had become an expert cricket player and at nineteen was captain of his team at Eton College. He was further educated at Trinity College, Cambridge where he was also recognized as an outstanding cricketer.

C.T. was saved in 1878 at the age of 18 when a visiting preacher at their home caught C.T. on his way to play cricket. “Are you a Christian?” he asked. C.T’s answer not being convincing enough, the guest pressed the point and C.T. tells what happens as he acknowledges God’s gift of eternal life received through faith in Christ: “I got down on my knees and I did say ‘thank you’ to God. And right then and there joy and peace came into my soul. I knew then what it was to be ‘born again,’ and the Bible which had been so dry to me before, became everything.” His two brothers were also saved that same day!

But there followed a period of six years in a backslidden state. C.T. relates: “Instead of going and telling others of the love of Christ, I was selfish and kept the knowledge to myself. The result was that gradually my love began to grow cold, and the love of the world began to come in. I spent six years in that unhappy backslidden state.” The Lord in His goodness worked in his life and after a serious illness of his brother and his going to hear D.L. Moody the Lord met C.T. again and restored to him the joy of His salvation.

“Still further, and what was better than all, He set me to work for Him, and I began to try and persuade my friends to read the Gospel, and to speak to them individually about their souls.””I cannot tell you what joy it gave me to bring the first soul to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have tasted almost all the pleasures that this world can give … but those pleasures were as nothing compared to the joy that the saving of that one soul gave me.”

The Lord continued to work in his life, and led C.T. to go to China. C.T. seeking to comfort his mother wrote: “Mother dear, I do pray God to show you that it is such a privilege to give up a child to be used of God to saving poor sinners who have never even heard of the name of Jesus.” C.T. was one of the “Cambridge Seven” who offered themselves to Hudson Taylor for missionary service in the China Inland Mission and in February, 1885, sailed for China. Once there, they followed the early practice of the Mission by living and dressing in Chinese fashion. He and the others began at once to learn the language and to further identify themselves with the nationals by wearing Chinese clothing and eating with them.

It was while in China that C.T. reached the age (25 years old) in which according to his father’s will he was to inherit a large sum of money. Through reading God’s Word and much prayer, C.T. felt led to give his entire fortune to Christ! “This was not a fool’s plunge on his part. It was his public testimony before God and man that he believed God’s Word to be the surest thing on earth, and that the hundred fold interest which God has promised in this life, not to speak of the next, is an actual reality for those who believe it and act on it.”

Before knowing the exact amount of his inheritance, C.T. sent £5000 to Mr. Moody, another £5000 to George Müller (£4000 to be used on missionary work and £1000 among the orphans); as well as £15,000 pounds to support other worthy ministries. In a few months, he was able to discover the exact amount of his inheritance and he gave some additional thousands away, leaving about £3400 pounds in his possession.

Three years after arriving in China, C.T. married a young Irish missionary from Ulster named Priscilla Livingstone Stewart. Just before the wedding he presented his bride with the remaining money from his inheritance. She, not to be outdone, said, “Charlie, what did the Lord tell the rich young man to do?” “Sell all.” “Well then, we will start clear with the Lord at our wedding.” And they proceeded to give the rest of the money away for the Lord’s work.

They served the Lord together in inland China through many perils and hardships until in 1894 after ten years in China, ill health forced the Studds to return to England, where they turned their property over to the China Inland Mission.

From 1896-1897, C.T. toured American universities in behalf of the newly formed Student Volunteer Movement. C.T. describes one of the meetings at Bucknell College in Pennsylvania:

“Had a splendid student’s meeting at 6:30. The Lord was greatly with us. After some hymns and a prayer, I spoke for about 30 minutes; then all got on knees, and one after another gave themselves to God in such sentences as ‘Lord, take me as I am,’ ‘I will go with Thee, Lord Jesus.’ There must have been a score of them. Oh, surely that is the sweetest music that can ever be heard by any ears, and if sweet to us, how much sweeter to Jesus. Afterwards I got them to sing a hymn:”The cleansing blood I see, I see,
I plunge, and oh, it cleanseth me.”

In 1900 the Studd family went to South India where C.T. served as a pastor of a church in Ootacamund for six years. From the time of his conversion, C.T. had felt the responsibility upon their family to take the Gospel to India.

China, then India, and now the heart of Africa. After their return home to England in 1906, C.T. was stirred by the need for missionary pioneer work in Central Africa. But again the path was not without obstacles. Penniless, turned down by the doctor, dropped by a Committee of businessmen who had agreed to support him, yet told by God to go, once more C.T. staked all on obedience to God. As a young man he staked his career, in China he staked his fortune, now he staked his life. His answer to the Committee was; “Gentlemen, God has called me to go, and I will go. I will blaze the trail, though my grave may only become a stepping stone that younger men may follow.” Leaving his wife and four daughters in England, C.T. sailed, contrary to medical advice, for the heart of Africa in 1910, where he continued to work until his death in 1931.

C.T. bore much fruit for the Saviour while in Africa as he endured weakness and sickness; loosing most of his teeth and suffering several heart attacks; but he endured hardness as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ!

In a letter home, C.T. gave a last backward look at the outstanding events of his life:

“As I believe I am now nearing my departure from this world, I have but a few things to rejoice in; they are these:1. That God called me to China and I went in spite of utmost opposition from all my loved ones.

2. That I joyfully acted as Christ told that rich young man to act.

3. That I deliberately at the call of God, when alone on the Bibby liner in 1910, gave up my life for this work, which was to be henceforth not for the Sudan only, but for the whole unevangelized World.

My only joys therefore are that when God has given me a work to do, I have not refused it.”

Shortly after 10:30 p.m. on a July day in 1931, C.T. Studd went home to be with His Lord whom he had loved so dearly and served so faithfully! The last word he spoke was “Hallelujah”!

All quotes from C. T. Studd: Cricketer & Pioneer by Norman P. Grubb.

Prayer Tele-conference call scheduled for Monday 5/4/09 at 8:00 pm

May 3, 2009

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We have scheduled a prayer conference call for this Monday night 5/4  at 8:00 Eastern time.

The Early Night Watch or First Watch of the Night (6PM – 9PM)Lamentations 2:18-18; Exodus 27:21; Psalm 119:148

 

It is the first watch of the day: the gate and beginning for the generic day.

Conference call dial in information:

Conference Dial-in Number: (605) 475-4800
Host Access Code: 652077*
Participant Access Code: 652077#

Prayer points as the Lord leads:

Jesus said he came not to do his own will, but the will of the father. We will be praying that our wills become God’s will.

We will be praying that the fire of God burn off the chaff in this season.

Prayer for the government, society and the church for an another great awakening.

THE REVIVAL WE NEED

May 3, 2009

by OSWALD J. SMITH

With a Foreword BY REV. JONATHAN GOFORTH, D.D.

The Christian Alliance Publishing Company 260 West 44th Street, New York, N.Y. 1925

Preface

Five years ago there came into my life a spiritual experience that revolutionized my work, and resulted in a Ministry characterized by some of the manifestations that usually accompany Revivals.

It was in this atmosphere that these messages were born; and while the writing of them has occupied the five intervening years, they but breathe the spirit that then prevailed.

May God through them reveal this His servants the shallowness apparent in so much of our Modern Evangelism, and turn them to that deep and abiding work of the Holy Spirit which will alone stand the test of divine fire!

Oswald J. Smith

Toronto, 1922

 

Foreword by Jonathan Goforth

MR. SMITH’S book, “The Revival We Need,” for its size is the most powerful plea for revival I have ever read. He has truly been led by the Spirit of God in preparing it. To his emphasis for the need of a Holy Spirit revival I can give the heartiest amen. What I saw of revival in Korea and in China is in fullest accord with the revival called for in this book.

It is most timely that Mr. Smith has called attention to man effort and man method in modern revival. If we all had faith to wait upon God in intense believing prayer there would be genuine Holy Ghost revival, and the living God would get all the glory. In Manchuria and China, when we did nothing else than give the address and let the people pray, and kept out of sight as far as possible, we saw the mightiest manifestations of Divine power.

Had I the wealth of a millionaire I would put “The Revival We Need” in every Christian home on this continent and confidently look for a revival which would sweep round the world.

JONATHAN GOFORTH.

Toronto, May 5, 1925

 Chapter 1: The Outpouring of the Spirit

IT was in 1904. All Wales was aflame. The nation had drifted far from God. The spiritual conditions were low indeed. Church attendance was poor. And sin abounded on every side.

Suddenly, like an unexpected tornado. the Spirit of God swept over the land. The Churches were crowded so that multitudes were unable to get in. Meetings lasted from ten in the morning until twelve at night. Three definite services were held each day. Evan Roberts was the human instrument, but there was very little preaching. Singing, testimony, and prayer, were the chief features. There were no hymn books; they had learnt the hymns in childhood. No choir, for everybody sang. No collection; and no advertising.

Nothing had ever come over Wales with such far-reaching results. Infidels were converted, drunkards, thieves, and gamblers saved; and thousands reclaimed to respectability. Confessions of awful sins were heard on every side. Old debts were paid. The theatre had to leave for want of patronage. Mules in the coal mines refused to work, being unused to kindness. In five weeks 20,000 joined the Churches.

In the year 1835 Titus Coan landed on the shore belt of Hawaii. On his first tour multitudes flocked to hear him. They thronged him so that he had scarcely time to eat. Once he preached three times before he had a chance to take breakfast. He felt that God was strangely at work. In 1837 the slumbering fires broke out. Nearly the whole population became an audience. He was ministering to 15,000 people. Unable to reach them, they came to him, and settled down to a two years’ camp meeting. There was not an hour day or night when an audience of from 2,000 to 6,000 would not rally to the signal of the bell.

There was trembling, weeping, sobbing, and loud crying for mercy, sometimes too loud for the preacher to be heard; and in hundreds of cases his hearers fell in a swoon. Some would cry out, “The two edged sword is cutting me to pieces.” The wicked scoffer who came to make sport dropped like a dog, and cried, “God has struck me !” Once while preaching in the open field to 2,000 people, a man cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” and prayed the publican’s prayer, and the entire congregation took up the cry for mercy. For half an hour Mr. Coan could get no chance to speak, but had to stand still and see God work.

Quarrels were made up, drunkards reclaimed, adulterers converted, and murderers revealed and pardoned. Thieves returned stolen property. And sins of a lifetime were renounced. In one year 5,244 joined the Church. There were 1,705 baptised on one Sunday. And 2,400 sat down at the Lord’s table, once sinners of the blackest type, now saints of God. And when Mr. Coan left he had himself received and baptised 11,960 persons.

In the little town of Adams across the line, in the year 1821, a young lawyer made his way to a secluded spot in the woods to pray. God met him there and he was wondrously converted, and soon after filled with the Holy Spirit. That man was Charles. G. Finney.

The people heard about it, became deeply interested, and as though by common consent, gathered into the meeting house in the evening. Mr. Finney was present. The Spirit of God came on them in mighty, convicting power, and a Revival started. It then spread to the surrounding country until finally nearly the whole of the Eastern States was held in the grip of a Mighty Awakening. Whenever Mr. Finney preached the Spirit was poured out. Frequently God went before him so that when he arrived at the place he found the people already crying out for mercy.

Sometimes the conviction of sin was so great and caused such fearful wails of anguish that he had to stop preaching until it subsided. Ministers and Church members were converted. Sinners were reclaimed by thousands. And for years the mighty work of grace went on. Men had never witnessed the like in their lives before.

I have recalled to your minds three historical incidents of the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Hundreds of others might be cited. But these are sufficient to show what I mean. And this is what we need today more than anything else. When I remember that such an Outpouring has come to China, India, Korea, Africa, England, Wales, the States, the Islands of the Seas, and many other places, but that Canada, our Dominion, our own beloved country, has never in its history experienced a national Revival, my heart cries out to God for such a Manifestation of Himself.

Do we need it? Listen! How many of our churches are more than half empty Sunday after Sunday? What a multitude there are who never enter God’s house? How many mid-week prayer meetings are alive and prosperous? Where is the hunger for spiritual things? Oh, the shame of it!

And Missions–the lands beyond the seas, heathen darkness–what are we doing? Does the fact that multitudes are perishing ever cause us an anxious thought? Have we grown selfish?

What about the tremendous wealth that God has given us? Take the United States as an example, the richest nation in the world today, and the major portion of her wealth in the hands of professing Christians. And yet the United States spent more on gum in one year than she spent on Missions. How many Christians are giving God even the tenth of what He gives them ?

Then take our colleges and seminaries, both at home and on the mission field where higher criticism is taught. We are told that Jesus never performed any miracles, never rose from the dead, and was not born of a virgin, did not die as our Substitute, and is not coming again. Oh, what blasphemy !

How many professing Christians are living the Christ-life before men? Oh, how like the world we are becoming! How little opposition do we find! Where are the persecutions that were heaped on the Early Church? How easy it is now to be a Christian!

And what of the Ministry? Does the minister grip, convert, and save by his message? How many souls are won through the preaching of the Word? Oh, my friends, we are loaded down with countless Church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing the world and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.

Where is the conviction of sin we used to know? Is it a thing of the past? Let us look at one of Finney’s meetings. Oh, that we could repeat it today! He tells us that one time when he was conducting meetings in Antwerp, an old man invited him to preach in a small school house near by. When he arrived the place was packed so that he could barely find standing room near the door. He spoke for a long time. At last he began to press home upon them the fact that they were an ungodly community; for they held no services in their district. All at once they were stricken with conviction. The Spirit of God came like a thunderbolt upon them. One by one they fell on their knees, or prostrate on the floor, crying for mercy. In two minutes they were all down, and Mr. Finney had to stop preaching for he was unable to make himself heard. At last he got the attention of the old man who was sitting in the middle of the room and gazing around him in utter amazement, and shouted to him at the top of his voice to pray. Then taking them one by one he pointed them to Jesus. The old man took charge of the meeting while he went to another. All night it continued, so deep was the conviction of sin. The results were permanent, and one of the young converts became a most successful minister of the gospel.

Ah, yes, men have forgotten God. Sin flourishes on every side. And the pulpit fails to grip. And I know of nothing less than the Outpouring of His Spirit that can meet the situation. Such a Revival has transformed scores and hundreds of communities, it can transform ours.

Now, how may we secure such an Outpouring of the Spirit? You answer, by prayer. True, but there is something before prayer. We will have to deal first of all with the question of sin; for unless our lives are right in the sight of God, unless sin has been put away, we may pray until doomsday, and the Revival will never come. “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you so that He will not hear.” ( Isa. 59: 2. )

Probably our best guide just here is the prophecy of Joel. Let us look at it. It is a call to repentance. God is anxious to bless His people, but sin has withheld the blessing. And so in His love and compassion He brings a fearful judgment upon them. We have it described in chapters 1 and 2. It has almost reached the gates of the city. But see–how great is His love! Notice verses 12-14 of chapter 2, where He says, “Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him?”

Now my friend, I don’t know what your sin is. You know and God knows. But I want you to think about it, for you may as well stop praying and rise from your knees until you have dealt with it, and put it away. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Let God search your heart and reveal the hindrance. Sin must be confessed and put away.

It may be you will have to forsake some cherished idol. It may be you will have to make restitution. Perhaps you are withholding from God, robbing Him of His own. But this is your affair, not mine. It lies between you and God.

Now notice verses 15-17. The prophet has called for a prayer meeting. Sin has been confessed and forsaken. Now they may pray. And they are to entreat God for His own name’s sake, lest the nations say, “Where is their God ?” They are dead in earnest now and their prayer is going to prevail. Listen! “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders, gather the children. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, “Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, “Where is their God ?”

Ah! my brethren, are you praying? Do you plead with God for this city? Are you beseeching Him night and day for an Outpouring of His Spirit? For now is the hour to pray. We are told of a time in the work of Finney when the Revival had died out. He then made a covenant with the young people to pray at sunrise, noon and sunset in their closets for one week. The Spirit was poured out, and before the week ended the meetings were thronged.

And of course it must be believing prayer, prayer that expects. If God stirs up hearts to pray for a Revival it is a sure sign that He wants to send one and He is always true to His Word. “There shall be showers of blessing.” His promises never fail. Have we faith? Do we expect an Awakening?

Now notice the speedy answer in verse 18. “Then!” After they had forsaken sin and cried unto God in prayer. “Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people.” The answer is not long in coming once the conditions have been met. We have it fully described in verses 28-29: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also upon the servants and upon the hand-maids in these days will I pour out my Spirit.”

Oh, my brethren, the trouble is not with God. It lies right here with ourselves. He is willing, more than willing. But we are not ready. And He is waiting for us. Are we going to keep Him waiting long?

Prayer Tele-conference call for Thrusday 4/30

April 28, 2009

Dear praying saints,

The next  prayer tele-conference call is scheduled for Thursday 4/30  at 4:00 am Eastern time, durning the 4th watch.   Please join us as we will be praying for revival, both personal and corporate.  

Conference call dial in information:

Conference Dial-in Number: (605) 475-4800
Host Access Code: 652077*
Participant Access Code: 652077#

Prayer points as the Lord leads:

We will be praying to turn to the Lord with ALL our hearts. 

Jesus said he came not to do his own will, but the will of the father. We will be praying that our wills become God’s will.

We will be praying that the fire of God burn off the chaff in this season.

Prayer for the government, society and the church for a revival in the Body of Christ and an another great awakening among the lost.

THE DAWN WATCH

Fourth Watch of the Night

3:00am – 6:00am

Declare a Psalm            

 Psalm 24, 72, 100, 133, 148, 149, 150

Time of Repentance and Cleansing


Enter into God’s fortress, secret place

Scriptures to Declare:    Proverbs 1:20-23; Proverbs 11:10-11; Lamentations 2:18-19; Jeremiah 51:12; Jeremiah 6:4; Jeremiah 27:7-14; Isaiah 62:6-7; Psalm 127:1         

Name and call out loud every wall SALVATION,   Declare every gate PRAISE.  Isaiah 56:4-8    Isaiah 60:18                 

Command the morning!   Job 38:12,13  Speak to the dawn to take its rightful place.

Speak to the earth!  “Oh earth, earth hear the Word of the Lord” Jeremiah 22:29   Bring forth every righteous seed that has been planted,   Removal of all ungodly root systems and foundations in our city,  Remove every obstacle and stumbling block from the progress of the Kingdom.        Isaiah 57:14; Isaiah 62: 10

Pray release to the defilements upon our land

Idolatry            Exodus 20:3,4              Jeremiah 3:6-10

Immorality and Fornication       Lev. 18:1-23    Ez. 16:25-27

Bloodshed        Numbers 35:33,34       Isaiah 59:2,3

Broken covenants       Isaiah 24:5,6     Jer.23:10

Deliverance:  Psalm 101:8

 Ask the Lord to throw into confusion all the chariots of hell, all the  distractions,  and the spirit of deception that seeks to derail the progress of God’s people.

Uproot the kingdom of darkness and build the Kingdom of God  Jeremiah 1:9-10

Resurrection:  Mary went to the tomb and met Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, at dawn!  Matthew 28: 1

Rise and Shine!  Peter 1:19-21; Revelation 22:16; Isaiah 58:8; Isaiah 60:1-5;  Psalm 18:28

 

Pray that the Lord wake you up from spiritual slumber!  Ask Him to wake the church up from a deep sleep

Ask Him to train our hands for war and our fingers for battle.                              Psalm 144:1          Psalm 121:3          Isaiah 62:6 

Pray and ask Jesus to uproot the mountains of oppression, ignorance and idolatry that have kept us unnecessarily bound, blind-folded leadership and made our people dependent on the West rather than God.         Exodus 14:19

Pray and ask the light of Jesus to expose every darkness and every den of wickedness.  Ask Him to uproot them and replace them with the light of His countenance.              Hebrews 4:13

Pray for the light of God to drown the walls of darkness on the continent.  May the light of Jesus shine in every place; May the star of Christ arise in the hearts of American government, businesses, etc.      
2 Peter 1:19-21

Pray that the Lord will take His place in His courts and may He arise to judge all wickedness in the land (1 Peter 1:19).  Let the morning star of Christ and the brightness of His presence consume every iota of darkness and satanic strongholds in the land.             Isaiah 13:13

Bless!           Jeremiah 29:4-14                Genesis 24:60

The Lord

Our spouse, family, loved ones

The church

Our leaders 

Our city, state, nation

 

 

 

 

How to Have Personal Revival

April 28, 2009

Leonard Ravenhill gives us the steps for personal revival from the book of Joel,  taken from his classic book “Revival Praying”.

Joel 2: 12   “Therefore…. saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning….. Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God”.

How to rend your hearts:  (from page 113)

1.  Self examination
2.  The conviction of the Holy Spirit
3.  Recognition of our failure to pray
4.  Confessing that we have more appetite for material food than for spiritual
5. Acknowledging that we like the company of men more than the company of God.
6. Aboring ourselves because we love to play, more than pray
7. Trusting in the flesh

“We are wondering why we have no revival, God is wondering why we do not break” (pg 114)

“We must turn to him to receive compassion for the multitudes; we must turn to him for power to pray; we must turn to him for vision; we must turn to him for endurance to overcome principalities and powers”

2 Audio message on personal revival:

Steps To Personal Revival by Bill McLeod
  Romans 12:1-2, 2 Timothy 1:6  

Description: Bill McLeod shares on the subject of a personal revival from the Word of God. He expresses clearly how the subject of revival and renewal is a very biblical topic and is needful for every Christian. He clearly shows how we can have revival, why we need revival and how to have a personal revival. 

Greg Locke – Principles for Personal Revival – 6-8-01.mp3

Prayer Tele-conference Monday Night 4/27

April 26, 2009

We have scheduled a prayer conference call for this Monday night 4/27 at 8:00 Eastern time.

We will be praying for revival, both personal and corporate.

Conference call dial in information:

Conference Dial-in Number: (605) 475-4800
Host Access Code: 652077*
Participant Access Code: 652077#

Prayer points as the Lord leads:

Jesus said he came not to do his own will, but the will of the father. We will be praying that our wills become God’s will.

We will be praying that the fire of God burn off the chaff in this season.

Prayer for the government, society and the church for an another great awakening.

A Call to Prayer

April 23, 2009

by J.C. Ryle

I have a question to offer you. It is contained in three words, Do you pray?

The question is one that none but you can answer. Whether you attend public worship or not, your minister knows. Whether you have family prayers in your house or not, your relations know. But whether you pray in private or not, is a matter between yourself and God.

I beseech you in all affection to attend to the subject I bring before you. Do not say that my question is too close. If your heart is right in the sight of God, there is nothing in it to make you afraid. Do not turn off my question by replying that you say your prayers. It is one thing to say your prayers and another to pray. Do not tell me that my question is unnecessary. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you good reasons for asking it.

I ask whether you pray, because prayer is absolutely needful to a man’s salvation.

I say, absolutely needful, and I say so advisedly. I am not speaking now of infants or idiots. I am not settling the state of the heathen. I know that where little is given, there little will be required. I speak especially of those who call themselves Christians, in a land like our own. And of such I say, no man or woman can expect to be saved who does not pray.

I hold salvation by grace as strongly as any one. I would gladly offer a free and full pardon to the greatest sinner

that ever lived. I would not hesitate to stand by his dying bed, and say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ even now, and you shall be saved.” But that a man can have salvation without asking for it, I cannot see in the Bible. That a man will receive pardon of his sins, who will not so much as lift up his heart inwardly, and say, “Lord Jesus, give it to me,” this I cannot find. I can find that nobody will be saved by his prayers, but I cannot find that without prayer anybody will be saved.

It is not absolutely needful to salvation that a man should read the Bible. A man may have no learning, or be blind, and yet have Christ in his heart. It is not absolutely needful that a man should hear public preaching of the gospel. He may live where the gospel is not preached, or he may be bedridden, or deaf. But the same thing cannot be said about prayer. It is absolutely needful to salvation that a man should pray.

There is no royal road either to health or learning. Princes and kings, poor men and peasants, all alike must attend to the wants of their own bodies and their own minds. No man can eat, drink, or sleep by proxy. No man can get the alphabet learned for him by another. All these are things which everybody must do for himself, or they will not be done at all.

Just as it is with the mind and body, so it is with the soul. There are certain things absolutely needful to the soul’s health and well-being. Each must attend to these things for himself. Each must repent for himself. Each must apply to Christ for himself. And for himself each must speak to God and pray. You must do it for yourself, for by nobody else can it be done.

To be prayerless is to be without God, without Christ, without grace, without hope, and without heaven. It is to be on the road to hell. Now can you wonder that I ask the question, Do you pray?

I ask again whether you pray, because a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.

All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect. From the moment there is any life and reality about their religion, they pray. Just as the first sign of life in an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying.

This is one of the common marks of all the elect of God, “They cry unto him day and night” (Luke 18:1). The Holy Spirit, who makes them new creatures, works in them the feeling of adoption, and makes them cry, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). The Lord Jesus, when he quickens them, gives them a voice and a tongue, and says to them, “Be dumb no more.” God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They can not do otherwise than they do. They must pray.

I have looked carefully over the lives of God’s saints in the Bible. I cannot find one of whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a man of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that “they call on the Father” (I Peter 1:17), or “the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:2). Recorded as a characteristic of the wicked is the fact that “they call not upon the Lord” (Ps. 14:4).

I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, and some unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, and some Christians of other names. Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians. Some have loved to use a liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing, I see, they all had in common. They have all been men of prayer.

I study the reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with joy that heathen men and women are receiving the gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in Hindustan, in China. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect. But one striking thing I observe at all the missionary stations: the converted people always pray.

I do not deny that a man may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact of a person’s praying proves is everything about his soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there may be deception and hypocrisy.

But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins. He cannot love God. He cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ. He cannot long after holiness. He cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again. He has yet to be made a new creature. He may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope, and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he does not pray.

And I say, furthermore, that of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion. When he sent Ananias to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, “Behold, he prayeth” (Acts 9: 11).

I know that much may go on in a man’s mind before he is brought to pray. He may have many convictions, desires, wishes, feelings, intentions, resolutions, hopes, and fears. But all these things are very uncertain evidences. They are to be found in ungodly people, and often come to nothing. In many a case they are not more lasting than the morning cloud, and the dew that passeth away. A real, hearty prayer, coming from a broken and contrite spirit, is worth all these things put together.

I know that the Holy Spirit, who calls sinners from their evil ways, does in many instances lead them by very slow degrees to acquaintance with Christ. But the eye of man can only judge by what it sees. I cannot call any one justified until he believes. I dare not say that any one believes until he prays. I cannot understand a dumb faith. The first act of faith will be to speak to God. Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to life. How a man can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a man can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.

Never be surprised if you hear ministers of the gospel dwelling much on the importance of prayer. This is the point we want to bring you to; we want to know that you pray. Your views of doctrine may be correct. Your love of Protestantism may be warm and unmistakable. But still this may be nothing more than head knowledge and party spirit. We want to know whether you are actually acquainted with the throne of grace, and whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God.

Do you wish to find out whether you are a true Christian? Then rest assured that my question is of the very first importance – Do you pray?

I ask whether you pray, because there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer.

We live in days of abounding religious profession. There are more places of public worship now than there ever were before. There are more persons attending them than there ever were before. And yet in spite of all this public religion, I believe there is a vast neglect of private prayer. It is one of those private transactions between God and our souls which no eye sees, and therefore one which men are tempted to pass over and leave undone. I believe that thousands never utter a word of prayer at all. They eat. They drink. They sleep. They rise. They go forth to their labor. They return to their homes. They breathe God’s air. They see God’s sun. They walk on God’s earth. They enjoy God’s mercies. They have dying bodies. They have judgment and eternity before them. But they never speak to God. They live like the beasts that perish. They behave like creatures without souls. They have not one word to say to Him in whose hand are their life and breath, and all things, and from whose mouth they must one day receive their everlasting sentence. How dreadful this seems; but if the secrets of men were only known, how common.

I believe there are tens of thousands whose prayers are nothing but a mere form, a set of words repeated by rote, without a thought about their meaning.

Some say over a few hasty sentences picked up in the nursery when they were children. Some content themselves with repeating the Creed, forgetting that there is not a request in it. Some add the Lord’s Prayer, but without the slightest desire that its solemn petitions may be granted.

Many, even of those who use good forms, mutter their prayers after they have gotten into bed, or while they wash or dress in the morning. Men may think what they please, but they may depend upon it that in the sight of God this is not praying. Words said without heart are as utterly useless to our souls as the drum beating of the poor heathen before their idols. Where there is no heart, there may be lip work and tongue work, but there is nothing that God listens to; there is no prayer. Saul, I have no doubt, said many a long prayer before the Lord met him on the way to Damascus. But it was not till his heart was broken that the Lord said, “He prayeth.”

Does this surprise you? Listen to me, and I will show you that I am not speaking as I do without reason. Do you think that my assertions are extravagant and unwarrantable? Give me your attention, and I will soon show you that I am only telling you the truth.

Have you forgotten that it is not natural to any one to pray? “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” The desire of man’s heart is to get far away from God, and have nothing to do with him. His feeling towards him is not love, but fear. Why then should a man pray when he has no real sense of sin, no real feeling of spiritual wants, no thorough belief in unseen things, no desire after holiness and heaven? Of all these things the vast majority of men know and feel nothing. The multitude walk in the broad way. I cannot forget this. Therefore I say boldly, I believe that few pray.

Have you forgotten that it is not fashionable to pray? It is one of the things that many would be rather ashamed to own. There are hundreds who would sooner storm a breach, or lead a forlorn hope, than confess publicly that they make a habit of prayer. There are thousands who, if obliged to sleep in the same room with a stranger, would lie down in bed without a prayer. To dress well, to go to theaters, to be thought clever and agreeable, all this is fashionable, but not to pray. I cannot forget this. I cannot think a habit is common which so many seem ashamed to own. I believe that few pray.

Have you forgotten the lives that many live? Can we really believe that people are praying against sin night and day, when we see them plunging into it? Can we suppose they pray against the world, when they are entirely absorbed and taken up with its pursuits? Can we think they really ask God for grace to serve him, when they do not show the slightest desire to serve him at all? Oh, no, it is plain as daylight that the great majority of men either ask nothing of God or do not mean what they say when they do ask, which is just the same thing. Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. I cannot forget this. I look at men’s lives. I believe that few pray.

Have you forgotten the deaths that many die? How many, when they draw near death, seem entirely strangers to God. Not only are they sadly ignorant of his gospel, but sadly wanting in the power of speaking to him. There is a terrible awkwardness and shyness in their endeavors to approach him. They seem to be taking up a fresh thing. They appear as if they wanted an introduction to God, and as if they had never talked with him before. I remember having heard of a lady who was anxious to have a minister to visit her in her last illness. She desired that he would pray with her. He asked her what he should pray for. She did not know, and could not tell. She was utterly unable to name any one thing which she wished him to ask God for her soul. All she seemed to want was the form of a minister’s prayers. I can quite understand this. Death beds are great revealers of secrets. I cannot forget what I have seen of sick and dying people. This also leads me to believe that few pray.

I cannot see your heart. I do not know your private history in spiritual things. But from what I see in the Bible and in the world I am certain I cannot ask you a more necessary question than that before you – Do you pray?

I ask whether you pray, because prayer is an act in religion to which there is great encouragement.

There is everything on God’s part to make prayer easy, if men will only attempt it. All things are ready on his side. Every objection is anticipated. Every difficulty is provided for. The crooked places are made straight and the rough places are made smooth. There is no excuse left for the prayerless man.

There is a way by which any man, however sinful and unworthy, may draw near to God the Father. Jesus Christ has opened that way by the sacrifice he made for us upon the cross. The holiness and justice of God need not frighten sinners and keep them back. Only let them cry to God in the name of Jesus, only let them plead the atoning blood of Jesus, and they shall find God upon a throne of grace, willing and ready to hear. The name of Jesus is a never-failing passport for our prayers. In that name a man may draw near to God with boldness, and ask with confidence. God has engaged to hear him. Think of this. Is not this encouragement?

There is an Advocate and Intercessor always waiting to present the prayers of those who come to God through him. That advocate is Jesus Christ. He mingles our prayers with the incense of his own almighty intercession. So mingled, they go up as a sweet savor before the throne of God. Poor as they are in themselves, they are mighty and powerful in the hand of our High Priest and Elder Brother. The bank note without a signature at the bottom is nothing but a worthless piece of paper. The stroke of a pen confers on it all its value. The prayer of a poor child of Adam is a feeble thing in itself, but once endorsed by the hand of the Lord Jesus it availeth much. There was an officer in the city of Rome who was appointed to have his doors always open, in order to receive any Roman citizen who applied to him for help. just so the ear of the Lord Jesus is ever open to the cry of all who want mercy and grace. It is his office to help them. Their prayer is his delight. Think of this. Is not this encouragement?

There is the Holy Spirit ever ready to help our infirmities in prayer. It is one part of his special office to assist us in our endeavors to speak with God. We need not be cast down and distressed by the fear of not knowing what to say. The Spirit will give us words if we seek his aid. The prayers of the Lord’s people are the inspiration of the Lord’s Spirit, the work of the Holy Ghost who dwells within them as the Spirit of grace and supplication. Surely the Lord’s people may well hope to be heard. It is not they merely that pray, but the Holy Ghost pleading in them. Reader, think of this. Is not this encouragement?

There are exceeding great and precious promises to those who pray. What did the Lord Jesus mean when he spoke such words as these: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7, 8). “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:22). “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will 1 do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13, 14). What did the Lord mean when he spoke the parables of the friend ‘at midnight and the importunate widow (Luke 11:5; 18:1)? Think over these passages. If this is not encouragement to pray, words have no meaning.

There are wonderful examples in Scripture of the power of prayer. Nothing seems to be too great, too hard, or too difficult for prayer to do. It has obtained things that seemed impossible and out of reach. It has won victories over fire, air, earth, and water. Prayer opened the Red Sea. Prayer brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer made the sun stand still. Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah’s sacrifice. Prayer turned the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. Prayer overthrew the army of Sennacherib. Well might Mary Queen of Scots say, “I fear John Knox’s prayers more than an army of ten thousand men.” Prayer has healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. Prayer has procured the conversion of souls. “The child of many prayers,” said an old Christian to Augustine’s mother, “shall never perish.” Prayer, pains, and faith can do anything. Nothing seems impossible when a man has the spirit of adoption. “Let me alone,” is the remarkable saying of God to Moses when Moses was about to intercede for the children of Israel – the Chaldee version has, “Leave off praying” – (Exod. 32:10). So long as Abraham asked mercy for Sodom, the Lord went on giving. He never ceased to give till Abraham ceased to pray. Think of this. Is not this encouragement?

What more can a man want to lead him to take any step in religion, than the things I have just told him about prayer? What more could be done to make the path to the mercy seat easy, and to remove all occasions of stumbling from the sinner’s way? Surely if the devils in hell had such a door set open before them, they would leap for gladness, and make the very pit ring with joy.

But where will the man hide his head at last who neglects such glorious encouragements? What can possibly be said for the man who, after all, dies without prayer? Surely I may feel anxious that you should not be that man. Surely I may well ask – Do you pray?

I ask whether you pray, because diligence in prayer is the secret of eminent holiness:

Without controversy there is a vast difference among true Christians. There is an immense interval between the foremost and the hindermost in the army of God.

They are all fighting the same good fight but how much more valiantly some fight than others. They are all doing the Lord’s work but how much more some do than others. They are all light in the Lord; but how much more brightly some shine than others. They are all running the same race; but how much faster some get on than others. They all love the same Lord and Saviour; but how much more some love him than others. I ask any true Christian whether this is not the case. Are not these things so?

There are some of the Lord’s people who seem never able to get on from the time of their conversion. They are born again, but they remain babes all their lives. You hear from them the same old experience. You remark in them the same want of spiritual appetite, the same want of interest in any thing beyond their own little circle, which you remarked ten years ago. They are pilgrims, indeed, but pilgrims like the Gibeonites of old; their bread is always dry and moldy, their shoes always old, and their garments always rent and torn. I say this with sorrow and grief; but I ask any real Christian, Is it not true?

There are others of the Lord’s people who seem to be always advancing. They grow like the grass after rain; they increase like Israel in Egypt; they press on like Gideon, though sometimes faint, yet always pursuing. They are ever adding grace to grace, and faith to faith, and strength to strength. Every time you meet them their hearts seem larger, and their spiritual stature taller and stronger. Every year they appear to see more, and know more, and believe more, and feel more in their religion. They not only have good works to prove the reality of their faith, but they are zealous of them. They not only do well, but they are unwearied in well-doing. They attempt great things, and they do great things. When they fail they try again, and when they f all they are soon up again. And all this time they think themselves poor, unprofitable servants, and fancy they do nothing at all. These are those who make religion lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all. They wrest praise even from the unconverted and win golden opinions even from the selfish men of the world. It does one good to see, to be with, and to hear them. When you meet them, you could believe that like Moses, they had just come out from the presence of God. When you part with them you feel warmed by their company, as if your soul had been near a fire. I know such people are rare. I only ask, Are there not many such?

Now how can we account for the difference which I have just described? What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others? I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer. I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much.

I dare say this opinion will startle some readers. I have little doubt that many look on eminent holiness as a kind of special gift, which none but a few must pretend to aim at. They admire it at a distance in books. They think it beautiful when they see an example near themselves. But as to its being a thing within the reach of any but a very few, such a notion never seems to enter their minds. In short, they consider it a kind of monopoly granted to a few favored believers, but certainly not to all.

Now I believe that this is a most dangerous mistake. I believe that spiritual as well as natural greatness depends in a high degree on the faithful use of means within everybody’s reach. Of course I do not say we have a right to expect a miraculous grant of intellectual gifts; but this I do say, that when a man is once converted to God, his progress in holiness will be much in accordance with his own diligence in the use of God’s appointed means. And I assert confidently that the principal means by which most believers have become great in the church of Christ is the habit of diligent private prayer.

Look through the lives of the brightest and best of God’s servants, whether in the Bible or not. See what is written of Moses and David and Daniel and Paul. Mark what is recorded of Luther and Bradford the Reformers. Observe what is related of the private devotions of Whitefield and Cecil and Venn and Bickersteth and M’Cheyne. Tell me of one of all the goodly fellowship of saints and martyrs, who has not had this mark most prominently – he was a man of prayer. Depend upon it, prayer is power.

Prayer obtains fresh and continued outpourings of the Spirit. He alone begins the work of grace in a man’s heart. He alone can carry it forward and make it prosper. But the good Spirit loves to be entreated. And those who ask most will have most of his influence.

Prayer is the surest remedy. Against the devil and besetting sins. That sin will never stand firm which is heartily prayed against. That devil will never long keep dominion over us which we beseech the Lord to cast forth. But then we must spread out all our cage before our heavenly Physician, if he is to give us daily relief.

Do you wish to grow in grace and be a devoted Christian? Be very sure, if you wish it, you could not have a more important question than this – Do you pray?

I ask whether you pray, because neglect of prayer is one great cause of backsliding.

There is such a thing as going back in religion after making a good profession. Men may run well for a season, like the Galatians, and then turn aside after false teachers. Men may profess loudly while their feelings are warm, as Peter did, and then in the hour of trial deny their Lord. Men may lose their first love as the Ephesians did. Men may cool down in their zeal to do good, like Mark the companion of Paul. Men may follow an apostle for a season, and like Demas go back to the world. All these things men may do.

It is a miserable thing to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can befall a man, I suppose it is the worst. A stranded ship, a brokenwinged eagle, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in ruins, all these are sad sights, but a backslider is a sadder sight still. A wounded conscience – a mind sick of itself – a memory full of self-reproach – a heart pierced through with the Lord’s arrows -a spirit broken with a load of inward accusation – all this is a taste of hell. It is a hell on earth. Truly that saying of the wise man is solemn and weighty, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways” (Prov. 14:14).

Now what is the cause of most backslidings? I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglect of private prayer. Of course the secret history of falls will not be known till the last day. I can only give my opinion as a minister of Christ and a student of the heart. That opinion is, I repeat distinctly, that backsliding generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.

Bibles read without prayer; sermons heard without prayer; marriages contracted without prayer; journeys undertaken without prayer; residences chosen without prayer; friendships formed without prayer; the daily act of private prayer itself hurried over, or gone through without heart: these are the kind of downward steps by which many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritual palsy, or reaches the point where God allows him to have a tremendous fall. This is the process which forms the lingering Lots, the unstable Samsons, the wife-idolizing Solomons, the inconsistent Asas, the pliable Jehoshaphats, the over-careful Marthas, of whom so many are to be found in the church of Christ. Often the simple history of such cases is this: they became careless about private prayer.

You may be very sure men fall in private long before they fall in public. They are backsliders on their knees long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world. Like Peter, they first disregard the Lord’s warning to watch and pray, and then like Peter, their strength is gone, and in the hour of temptation they deny their Lord.

The world takes notice of their fall, and scoffs loudly. But the world knows nothing of the real reason. The heathen succeeded in making a well-known Christian offer incense to an idol, by threatening him with a punishment worse than death. They then triumphed greatly at the sight of his cowardice and apostasy. But the heathen did not know the fact of which history informs us, that on that very morning he had left his bed chamber hastily, and without finishing his usual prayers.

If you are a Christian indeed, I trust you will never be a backslider. But if you do not wish to be a backsliding Christian, remember the question I ask you: Do you pray?

I ask, lastly, whether you pray because prayer is one of the best means of happiness and contentment.

We live in a world where sorrow abounds. This has always been its state since sin came in. There cannot be sin without sorrow. And until sin is driven out from the world, it is vain for any one to suppose he can escape sorrow.

Some without doubt have a larger cup of sorrow to drink than others. But few are to be found who live long without sorrows or cares of one sort or another. Our bodies, our property, our families, our children, our relations, our servants, our friends, our neighbors, our worldly callings, each and all of these are fountains of care. Sicknesses, deaths, losses, disappointments, partings, separations, ingratitude, slander, all these are common things. We cannot get through life without them. Some day or other they find us out. The greater are our affections the deeper are our afflictions, and the more we love the more we have to weep.

And what is the best means of cheerfulness in such a world as this? How shall we get through this valley of tears with least pain? I know no better means than the regular, habitual practice of taking everything to God in prayer. This is the plain advice that the Bible gives, both in the Old Testament and the New. What says the psalmist? “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 50:15). “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Ps. 55:22). What says the apostle Paul? “Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God: and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6, 7). What says the apostle James? “Is any afflicted among you? let him pray” (James 5:13).

This was the practice of all the saints whose history we have recorded in the Scriptures. This is what Jacob did when he feared his brother Esau. This is what Moses did when the people were ready to stone him in the wilderness. This is what Joshua did when Israel was defeated before the men of Ai. This is what David did when he was in danger at Keilah. This is what Hezekiah did when he received the letter from Sennacherib. This is what the church did when Peter was put in prison. This is what Paul did when he was cast into the dungeon at Philippi.

The only way to be really happy in such a world as this, is to be ever casting all our cares on God. It is trying to carry their own burdens which so often makes believers sad. If they will tell their troubles to God, he will enable them to bear them as easily as Samson did the gates of Gaza. If they are resolved to keep them to themselves, they will find one day that the very grasshopper is a burden.

There is a friend ever waiting to help us, if we will unbosom to him our sorrow – a friend who pitied the poor and sick and sorrowful, when he was upon earth – a friend who knows the heart of man, for he lived thirty-three years as a man among us – a friend who can weep with the weepers, for he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief – a friend who is able to help us, for there never was earthly pain he could not cure. That friend is Jesus Christ. The way to be happy is to be always opening our hearts to him. Oh that we were all like that poor Christian who only answered, when threatened and punished, “I must tell the Lord.”

Jesus can make those happy who trust him and call on him, whatever be their outward condition. He can give them peace of heart in a prison, contentment in the midst of poverty, comfort in the midst of bereavements, joy on the brink of the grave. There is a mighty fulness in him for all his believing members – a fulness that is ready to be poured out on every one that will ask in prayer. Oh that men would understand that happiness, does not depend on outward circumstances, but on the state of the heart.

Prayer can lighten crosses for us however heavy. It can bring down to our side One who will help us to bear them. Prayer can open a door for us when our way seems hedged up. It can bring down One who will say, “This is the way, walk in it.” Prayer can let in a ray of hope when all our earthly prospects seem darkened. It can bring down One who will say, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Prayer can obtain relief for us when those we love most are taken away, and the world feels empty. It can bring down One who can fill the gap in our hearts with himself, and say to the waves within, “Peace; be still.” Oh that men were not so like Hagar in the wilderness, blind to the well of living waters close beside them.

I want you to be happy. I know I cannot ask you a more useful question than this: Do you pray?

And now it is high time for me to bring this tract to an end. I trust I have brought before you things that will be seriously considered. I heartily pray God that this consideration may be blessed to your soul.

Let me speak a parting word to those who do not pray. I dare not suppose that all who read these pages are praying people. If you are a prayerless person, suffer me to speak to you this day on God’s behalf.

Prayerless reader, I can only warn you, but I do warn you most solemnly. I warn you that you are in a position of fearful danger. If you die in your present state, you are a lost soul. You will only rise again to be eternally miserable. I warn you that of all professing Christians you are most utterly without excuse. There is not a single good reason that you can show for living without prayer.

It is useless to say you know not how to pray. Prayer is the simplest act in all religion. It is simply speaking to God. It needs neither learning nor wisdom nor book knowledge to begin it. It needs nothing but heart and will. The weakest infant can cry when he is hungry. The poorest beggar can hold out his hand for alms, and does not wait to find fine words. The most ignorant man will find something to say to God, if he has only a mind.

It is useless to say you have no convenient place to pray in. Any man can find a place private enough, if he is disposed. Our Lord prayed on a mountain; Peter on the housetop; Isaac in the field; Nathanael under the fig tree; Jonah in the whale’s belly. Any place may become a closet, an oratory, and a Bethel, and be to us the presence of God.

It is useless to say you have no time. There is plenty of time, if men will employ it. Time may be short, but time is always long enough for prayer. Daniel had the affairs of a kingdom on his hands, and yet he prayed three times a day. David was ruler over a mighty nation, and yet he says, “Evening and morning and at noon will I pray” (Ps. 55:17). When time is really wanted, time can always be found.

It is useless to say you cannot pray till you have faith and a new heart, and that you must sit still and wait for them. This is to add sin to sin. It is bad enough to be unconverted and going to hell. It is even worse to say, “I know it, but will not cry for mercy.” This is a kind of argument for which there is no warrant in Scripture. “Call ye upon the Lord,” saith Isaiah, “while he is near” (Isa. 55:6). “Take with you words, and turn unto the Lord,” says Hosea (Hos. 14:1). “Repent and pray,” says Peter to Simon Magus (Acts 8:22). If you want faith and a new heart, go and cry to the Lord for them. The very attempt to pray has often been the quickening of a dead soul.

Oh, prayerless reader, who and what are you that you will not ask anything of God? Have you made a covenant with death and hell? Are you at peace with the worm and the fire? Have you no sins to be pardoned? Have you no fear of eternal torment? Have you no desire after heaven? Oh that you would awake from your present folly. Oh that you would consider your latter end. Oh that you would arise and call upon God. Alas, there is a day coming when many shall pray loudly, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” but all too late; when many shall cry to the rocks to fall on them and the hills to. cover them, who would never cry to God. In all affection, I warn you, beware lest this be the end of your soul. Salvation is very near you. Do not lose heaven for want of asking.

Let me speak to those who have real desires for salvation, but know not what steps to take, or where to- begin. I cannot but hope that some readers may be in this state of mind, and if there be but one such I must offer him affectionate counsel.

In every journey there must be a first step. There must be a change from sitting still to moving forward. The journeyings of Israel from Egypt to Canaan were long and wearisome. Forty years pass away before they crossed Jordan. Yet there was some one who moved first when they marched from Ramah to Succoth. When does a man really take his first step in coming out from sin and the world? He does it in the day when he first prays with his heart.

In every building the first stone must be laid, and the first blow must be struck. The ark was one hundred and twenty years in building. Yet there was a day when Noah laid his axe to the first tree he cut down to form it. The temple of Solomon was a glorious building. But there was a day when the first huge stone was laid deep in mount Moriah. When does the building of the Spirit really begin to appear in a man’s heart? It begins, so far as we can judge, when he first pours out his heart to God in prayer.

If you desire salvation, and want to know what to do, I advise you to go this very day to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first private place you can find, and earnestly and heartily entreat him in prayer to save your soul.

Tell him that you have heard that he receives sinners, and has said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Tell him that you are a poor vile sinner, and that you come to him on the faith of his own invitation. Tell him you put yourself wholly and entirely in his hands; that you feel vile and helpless, and hopeless in yourself: and that except he saves you, you have no hope of being saved at all. Beseech him to deliver you from the guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin. Beseech him to pardon you, and wash you in his own blood. Beseech him to give you a new heart, and plant the Holy Spirit in Your Soul. Beseech him to give you grace and faith and will and power to be his disciple and servant from this day forever. Oh, reader, go this very day, and tell these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you really are in earnest about your soul.

Tell him in your own way, and your own words. If a doctor came to see you when sick you could tell him where you felt pain. If your soul feels its disease indeed, you can surely find something to tell Christ.

Doubt not his willingness to save you, because you are a sinner. It is Christ’s office to save sinners. He says himself, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

Wait not because you feel unworthy. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Waiting comes from the devil. just as you are, go to Christ. The worse you are, the more need you have to apply to him. You will never mend yourself by staying away.

Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you. Just as a mother understands the first lispings of her infant, so does the blessed Saviour understand sinners. He can read a sigh, and see a meaning in a groan.

Despair not because you do not get an answer immediately. While you are speaking, Jesus is listening. If he delays an answer, it is only for wise reasons, and to try if you are in earnest. The answer will surely come. Though it tarry, wait for it. It will surely come.

Oh, reader, if you have any desire to, be saved, remember the advice I have given you this day. Act upon it honestly and heartily, and you shall be saved.

Let me speak, lastly, to those who do pray. I trust that some who read this tract know well what prayer is, and have the Spirit of adoption. To all such, I offer a few words of brotherly counsel and exhortation. The incense offered in the tabernacle was ordered to be made in a particular way. Not every kind of incense would do. Let us remember this, and be careful about the matter and manner of our prayers.

Brethren who pray, if I know anything of a Christian’s heart, you are often sick of your own prayers. You never enter into the apostle’s words, “When I would do good, evil is present with me,” so thoroughly as you sometimes do upon your knees. You can understand David’s words, I hate vain thoughts.” You can sympathize with that poor converted Hottentot who was overheard praying, “Lord, deliver me from all my enemies, and above all, from that bad man myself.” There are few children of God who do not often find the season of prayer a season of conflict. The devil has special wrath against us when he sees us on our knees. Yet, I believe that prayers which cost us no trouble should be regarded with great suspicion. I believe we are very poor judges of the goodness of our prayers, and that the prayer which pleases us least, often pleases God most. Suffer me then, as a companion in the Christian warfare, to offer you a few words of exhortation. One thing, at least, we all feel: we must pray. We cannot give it up. We must go on.

I commend then to your attention, the importance of reverence and humility in prayer. Let us never forget what we are, and what a solemn thing it is to speak with God. Let us beware of rushing into his presence with carelessness and levity. Let us say to ourselves: “I am on holy ground. This is no other than the gate of heaven. If I do not mean what I say, I am trifling with God. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Let us keep in mind the words of Solomon, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou on earth” (Eccl. 5:2). When Abraham spoke to God, he said, “I am dust and ashes.” When Job spoke to God, he said, I am vile.” Let us do likewise.

I commend to you the importance of praying spiritually. I mean by that, that we should labor always to have the direct help of the Spirit in our prayers, and beware above all things of formality. There is nothing so spiritual but that it may become a form, and this is specially true of private prayer. We may insensibly get into the habit of using the fittest possible words, and offering the most scriptural petitions, and yet do it all by rote without feeling it, and walk daily round an old beaten path. I desire to touch this point with caution and delicacy. I know that there are certain great things we daily want, and that there is nothing necessarily formal in asking for these things in the same words. The world, the devil, and our hearts, are daily the same. Of necessity we must daily go over old ground. But this I say, we must be very careful on this point. If the skeleton and outline of our prayers be by habit almost a form, let us strive that the clothing and filling up of our prayers be as far as possible of the Spirit, As to praying out of a book in our private devotions, it is a habit I cannot praise. If we can tell our doctors the state of our bodies without a book, we ought to be able to tell the state of our souls to God. I have no objection to a man using crutches when he is first recovering from a broken limb. It is better to use crutches, than not to walk at all. But if I saw him all his life on crutches, I should not think it matter for congratulation. I should like to see him strong enough to throw his crutches away.

I commend to you the importance of making prayer a regular business of life. I might say something of the value of regular times in the day for prayer. God is a God of order. The hours for morning and evening sacrifice in the Jewish temple were not fixed as they were without a meaning. Disorder is eminently one of the fruits of sin. But I would not bring any under bondage. This only I say, that it is essential to your soul’s health to make praying a part of the business of every twenty four hours in your life. just as you allot time to eating, sleeping, and business, so also allot time to prayer. Choose your own hours and seasons. At the very least, speak with God in the morning, before you speak with the world: and speak with God at night, after you have done with the world. But settle it in your minds, that prayer is one of the great things of every day. Do not drive it into a corner. Do not give it the scraps and parings of your duty. Whatever else you make a business of, make a business of prayer.

I commend to you the importance of perseverance in prayer. Once having begun the habit, never give it up. Your heart will sometimes say, “You have had family prayers: what mighty harm if you leave private prayer undone?” Your body will sometimes say, “You are unwell, or sleepy, or weary; you need not pray.” Your mind will sometimes say, “You have important business to attend to today; cut short your prayers.” Look on all such suggestions as coming direct from Satan. They are all as good’ as saying, “Neglect your soul.” I do not maintain that prayers should always be of the same length; but I do say, let no excuse make you give up prayer. Paul said, “Continue in prayer, and, “Pray without ceasing.” He did not mean that men should be always on their knees, but he did mean that our prayers should be, like the continual burnt offering, steadily persevered in every day; that it should be like seed time and harvest, and summer and winter, unceasingly coming round at regular seasons; that it should be like the fire on the altar, not always consuming sacrifices, but never completely going out. Never forget that you may tie together morning and evening devotions, by an endless chain of short ejaculatory prayers throughout the day. Even in company, or business, or in the very streets, you may be silently sending up little winged messengers to God, as Nehemiah did in the very presence of Artaxerxes. And never think that time is wasted which is given to God. A nation does not become poorer because it loses one year of working days in seven, by keeping the Sabbath. A Christian never finds he is a loser, in the long run, by persevering in prayer.

I commend to you the importance of earnestness in prayer. It is not necessary that a man should shout, or scream, or be very loud, in order to prove that he is in earnest. But it is desirable that we should be hearty and fervent and warm, and ask as if we were really interested in what we were doing. It is the “effectual fervent” prayer that “availeth much.” This is the lesson that is taught us by the expressions used in Scripture about prayer. It is called, “crying, knocking, wrestling, laboring, striving.” This is the lesson taught us by scripture examples. Jacob is one. He said to the angel at Penuel, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me” (Gen. 32:26). Daniel is another. Hear how he pleaded with God: “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, 0 my God” (Dan. 9:19). Our Lord Jesus Christ is another. It is written of him, “In the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears” (Heb. 5:7). Alas, how unlike is this to many of our supplications! How tame and lukewarm they seem by comparison. How truly might God say to many of us, “You do not really want what you pray for.” Let us try to amend this fault. Let us knock loudly at the door of grace, like Mercy in Pilgrim’s Progress, as if we must perish unless heard. Let us settle it in our minds, that cold prayers are a sacrifice without fire. Let us remember the story of Demosthenes the great orator, when one came to him, and wanted him to plead his cause. He heard him without attention, while he told his story without earnestness. The man saw this, and cried out with anxiety that it was all true. “Ah,” said Demosthenes, “I believe you now.”

I commend to you the importance of praying with faith. We should endeavor to believe that our prayers are heard, and that if we ask things according to God’s will, we shall be answered. This is the plain command of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Faith is to prayer what the feather is to the arrow: without it prayer will not hit the mark. We should cultivate the habit of pleading promises in our prayers.

We should take with us some promise, and say, “Lord, here is thine own word pledged. Do for us as thou hast said.” This was the habit of Jacob and Moses and David. The 119th Psalm is full of things asked, “according to thy word.” Above all, we should cultivate the habit of expecting answers to our prayers. We should do like the merchant who sends his ships to sea. We should not be satisfied, unless we see some return. Alas, there are few points on which Christians come short so much as this. The church at Jerusalem made prayer without ceasing for Peter in prison; but when the prayer was answered, they would hardly believe it (Acts 12:15). It is a solemn saying of Traill, “There is no surer mark of trifling in prayer, than when men are careless what they get by prayer.”

I commend to you the importance of boldness in prayer. There is an unseemly familiarity in some men’s prayers which I cannot praise. But there is such a thing as a holy boldness, which is exceedingly to be desired. I mean such boldness as that of Moses, when he pleads with God not to destroy Israel “Wherefore,” says he, “should the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains? Turn from thy fierce anger” (Exod. 32:12). I mean such boldness as that of Joshua, when the children of Israel were defeated before men of Ai: “What,” says he, “wilt thou do unto thy great name?” (Josh. 7:9). This is the boldness for which Luther was remarkable. One who heard him praying said, “What a spirit, what a confidence was in his very expressions. With such a reverence he sued, as one begging of God, and yet with such hope and assurance, as if he spoke with a loving father or friend.” This is the boldness which distinguished Bruce, a great Scotch divine of the seventeenth century. His prayers were said to be “like bolts shot up into heaven.” Here also I fear we sadly come short. We do not sufficiently realize the believer’s privileges. We do not plead as often as we might, “Lord, are we not thine own people? Is it not for thy glory that we should be sanctified? Is it not for thy honor that thy gospel should increase?”

I commend to you the importance of fullness in prayer. I do not forget that our Lord warns us against the example of the Pharisees, who, for pretense, made long prayers; and commands us when we pray not to use vain repetitions. But I cannot forget, on the other hand, that he has given his own sanction to large and long devotions by continuing all night in prayer to God. At all events, we are not likely in this day to err on the side of praying too much. Might it not rather be feared that many believers in this generation pray too little? Is not the actual amount of time that many Christians give to prayer, in the aggregate, very small? I am afraid these questions cannot be answered satisfactorily. I am afraid the private devotions of many are most painfully scanty and limited; just enough to prove they are alive and no more. They really seem to want little from God. They seem to have little to confess, little to ask for, and little to thank him for. Alas, this is altogether wrong. Nothing is more common than to hear believers complaining that they do not get on. They tell us that they do not grow in grace as they could desire. Is it not rather to be suspected that many have quite as much grace as they ask for? Is it not the true account of many, that they have little, because they ask little? The cause of their weakness is to be found in their own stunted, dwarfish, clipped, contracted, hurried, narrow, diminutive prayers. They have not, because they ask not. Oh, we are not straitened in Christ, but in ourselves. The Lord says, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” But we are like the King of Israel who smote on the ground thrice and stayed, when he ought to have smitten five or six times.

I commend to you the importance of particularity in prayer. We ought not to be content with great general petitions. We ought to specify our wants before the throne of grace. It should not be enough to confess we are sinners: we should name the sins of which our conscience tells us we are most guilty. It should not be enough to ask for holiness; we should name the graces in which we feel most deficient. It should not be enough to tell the Lord we are in trouble; we should describe our trouble and all its peculiarities. This is what Jacob did when he feared his brother Esau. He tells God exactly what it is that he fears (Gen. 32:11). This is what Eliezer did, when he sought a wife for his master’s son. He spreads before God precisely what he wants (Gen. 24:12). This is what Paul did when he had a thorn in the flesh. He besought the Lord (II Cor. 12:8). This is true faith and confidence. We should believe that nothing is too small to be named before God. What should we think of the patient who told his doctor he was ill, but never went into particulars? What should we think of the wife who told her husband she was unhappy, but did not specify the cause? What should we think of the child who told his father he was in trouble, but nothing more? Christ is the true bridegroom of the soul, the true physician of the heart, the real father of all his people. Let us show that we feel this by being unreserved in our communications with him. Let us hide no secrets from him. Let us tell him all our hearts.

I commend to you the importance of intercession in our prayers. We are all selfish by nature, and our selfishness is very apt to stick to us, even when we are converted. There is a tendency in us to think only of our own Souls, our own spiritual conflicts, our own progress in religion, and to forget others. Against this tendency we all have need to watch and strive, and not least in our prayers. We should study to be of a public spirit. We should stir ourselves up to name other names besides our own before the throne of grace. We should try to bear in our hearts the whole world, the heathen, the Jews, the Roman Catholics, the body of true believers, the professing Protestant churches, the country in which we live, the congregation to which we belong, the household in which we sojourn, the friends and relations we are connected with. For each and all of these we should plead. This is the highest charity. He loves me best who loves me in his prayers. This is for our soul’s health. It enlarges our sympathies and expands our hearts. This is for the benefit of the church. The wheels of all machinery for extending the gospel are moved by prayer. They do as much for the Lord’s cause who intercede like Moses on the mount, as they do who fight like Joshua in the thick of the battle. This is to be like Christ. He bears the names of his people, as their High Priest, before the Father. Oh, the privilege of being like Jesus! This is to , be a true helper to ministers. If I must choose a congregation, give me a people that pray.

I commend to you the importance of thankfulness in prayer. I know well that asking God is one thing and praising God is another. But I see so close a connection between prayer and praise in the Bible, that I dare not call that true prayer in which thankfulness has no part. It is not for nothing that Paul says, “By prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). It is of mercy that we are not in hell. It is of mercy that we have the hope of heaven. It is of mercy that we live in a land of spiritual light. It is of mercy that we have been called by the Spirit, and not left to reap the fruit of our own ways. It is of mercy that we still live and have opportunities of glorifying God actively or passively. Surely these thoughts should crowd on our minds whenever we speak with God. Surely we should never open our lips in prayer without blessing God for that free grace by which we live, and for that loving kindness which endureth for ever. Never was there an eminent saint who was not full of thankfulness. St. Paul hardly ever writes an epistle without beginning with thankfulness. Men like Whitefield in the last century, and Bickersteth in our time, abounded in thankfulness. Oh, reader, if we would be bright and shining lights in our day, we must cherish a spirit of praise. Let our prayers be thankful prayers.

I commend to you the importance of watchfulness over your prayers. Prayer is that point in religion at which you must be most of all on your guard. Here it is that true religion begins; here it flourishes, and here it decays. Tell me what a man’s prayers are, and I will soon tell you the state of his soul. Prayer is the spiritual pulse. By this the spiritual health may be tested. Prayer is the spiritual weatherglass. By this we may know whether it is fair or foul with our hearts. Oh, let us keep an eye continually upon our private devotions. Here is the pith and marrow of our practical Christianity. Sermons and books and tracts, and committee meetings and the company of good men, are all good in their way, but they will never make up for the neglect of private prayer. Mark well the places and society and companions that unhinge your hearts for communion with God and make your prayers drive heavily. There be on your guard. Observe narrowly what friends and what employments leave your soul in the most spiritual frame, and most ready to speak with God. To these cleave and stick fast. If you will take care of your prayers, nothing shall go very wrong with your soul.

I offer these points for your private consideration. I do it in all humility. I know no one who needs to be reminded of them more than I do myself. But I believe them to be God’s own truth, and I desire myself and all I love to feel them more.

I want the times we live in to be praying times. I want the Christians of our day to be praying Christians. I want the church to be a praying church. My heart’s desire and prayer in sending forth this tract is to promote a spirit of prayerfulness. I want those who never prayed yet, to arise and call upon God, and I want those who do pray, to see that they are not praying amiss.

Revival Hymn Powerful Video Comp.

April 23, 2009

Prayer and Revival

April 22, 2009

by Dr. J. Edwin Orr

Dr A. T. Pierson once said, ‘There has never been a spiritual awakening in any country or locality that did not begin in united prayer.’ Let me recount what God has done through concerted, united, sustained prayer.

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution (following 1776-1781) there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards; Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennos, Massachusetts, in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Provost, quit functioning; he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment. The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church ‘was too far gone ever to be redeemed.’ Voltaire averred and Tom Paine echoed, ‘Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place, where they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College, and they put on antiChristian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and they burnt it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790′s that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer.

There was a Scottish Presbyterian minister in Edinburgh named John Erskine, who published a Memorial (as he called it) pleading with the people of Scotland and elsewhere to unite in prayer for the revival of religion. He sent one copy of this little book to Jonathan Edwards in New England. The great theologian was so moved he wrote a response which grew longer than a letter, so that finally he published it is a book entitled ‘A Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of all God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer for the Revival of Religion and the Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, pursuant to Scripture Promises and Prophecies…’ Is not this what is missing so much from all our evangelistic efforts: explicit agreement, visible unity, unusual prayer?

1792-1800

This movement had started in Britain through William Carey, Andrew Fuller and John Sutcliffe and other leaders who began what the British called the Union of Prayer. Hence, the year after John Wesley died (1791), the second great awakening began and swept Great Britain.

In New England, there was a man of prayer named Isaac Backus, a Baptist pastor, who in 1794, when conditions were at their worst, addressed an urgent plea for prayer for revival to pastors of every Christian denomination in the United States. Churches knew that their backs were to the wall. All the churches adopted the plan until America, like Britain was interlaced with a network of prayer meetings, which set aside the first Monday of each month to pray. It was not long before revival came.

When the revival reached the frontier in Kentucky, it encountered a people really wild and irreligious. Congress had discovered that in Kentucky there had not been more than one court of justice held in five years. Peter Cartwright, Methodist evangelist, wrote that when his father had settled in Logan County, it was known as Rogue’s Harbour. The decent people in Kentucky formed regiments of vigilantes to fight for law and order, then fought a pitched battle with outlaws and lost.

There was a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister named James McGready whose chief claim to fame was that he was so ugly that he attracted attention. McGready settled in Logan County, pastor of three little churches. He wrote in his diary that the winter of 1799 for the most part was ‘weeping and mourning with the people of God.’ Lawlessness prevailed everywhere.

McGready was such a man of prayer that not only did he promote the concert of prayer every first Monday of the month, but he got his people to pray for him at sunset on Saturday evening and sunrise Sunday morning. Then in the summer of 1800 come the great Kentucky revival. Eleven thousand people came to a communion service. McGready hollered for help, regardless of denomination.

Out of that second great awakening, came the whole modern missionary movement and it’s societies. Out of it came the abolition of slavery, popular education, Bible Societies, Sunday Schools, and many social benefits accompanying the evangelistic drive.

1858-1860

Following the second great awakening, which began in 1792 just after the death of John Wesley and continued into the turn of the century, conditions again deteriorated. This is illustrated from the United States. The country was seriously divided over the issue of slavery, and second, people were making money lavishly.

In September 1857, a man of prayer, Jeremiah Lanphier, started a businessmen’s prayer meeting in the upper room of the Dutch Reformed Church Consistory Building in Manhattan. In response to his advertisement, only six people out of a population of a million showed up. But the following week there were fourteen, and then twenty-three when it was decided to meet everyday for prayer. By late winter they were filling the Dutch Reformed Church, then the Methodist Church on John Street, then Trinity Episcopal Church on Broadway at Wall Street. In February and March of 1858, every church and public hall in down town New York was filled.

Horace Greeley, the famous editor, sent a reporter with horse and buggy racing round the prayer meetings to see how many men were praying. In one hour he could get to only twelve meetings, but he counted 6,100 men attending. Then a landslide of prayer began, which overflowed to the churches in the evenings. People began to be converted, ten thousand a week in New York City alone. The movement spread throughout New England, the church bells bringing people to prayer at eight in the morning, twelve noon, and six in the evening. The revival raced up the Hudson and down the Mohawk, where the Baptists, for example, had so many people to baptize that they went down to the river, cut a big hole in the ice, and baptized them in the cold water. When Baptists do that they are really on fire!

When the revival reached Chicago, a young shoe salesman went to the superintendent of the Plymouth Congregational Church, and asked if he might teach Sunday School. The superintendent said, ‘I am sorry, young fellow. I have sixteen teachers too many, but I will put you on the waiting list.’

The young man insisted, ‘I want to do something just now.’ ‘Well, start a class.’ ‘How do I start a class?’ ‘Get some boys off the street but don’t bring them here. Take them out into the country and after a month you will have control of them, so bring them in. They will be your class.’ He took them to a beach on Lake Michigan and he taught them Bible verses and Bible games. Then he took them to the Plymouth Congregational Church. The name of that young man was Dwight Lyman Moody, and that was the beginning of a ministry that lasted forty years.

Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago had a hundred and twenty-one members in 1857; fourteen hundred in 1860. That was typical of the churches. More than a million people were converted to God in one year out of a population of thirty million. Then that same revival jumped the Atlantic, appeared in Ulster, Scotland and Wales, then England, parts of Europe, South Africa and South India anywhere there was an evangelical cause. It sent mission pioneers to many countries. Effects were felt for forty years. Having begun in a movement of prayer, it was sustained by a movement of prayer.

1904-1905

That movement lasted for a generation, but at the turn of the century there was need of awakening again. A general movement of prayer began, with special prayer meetings at Moody Bible Institute, at Keswick Conventions in England, and places as far apart as Melbourne, Wonsan in Korea, and the Nilgiri Hills of India. So all around the world believers were praying that there might be another great awakening in the twentieth century.

In the revival of 1905, I read of a young man who became a famous professor, Kenneth Scott Latourette. He reported that, at Yale in 1905, 25% of the student body were enrolled in prayer meetings and in Bible study. As far as churches were concerned, the ministers of Atlantic City reported that of a population of fifty thousand there were only fifty adults left unconverted. Take Portland in Oregon: two hundred and forty major stores closed from 11 to 2 each day to enable people to attend prayer meetings, signing an agreement so that no one would cheat and stay open. Take First Baptist Church of Paducah in Kentucky: the pastor, an old man, Dr J. J. Cheek, took a thousand members in two months and died of overwork, the Southern Baptists saying, ‘a glorious ending to a devoted ministry.’ That is what was happening in the United States in 1905. But how did it begin?

Most people have heard of the Welsh Revival which started in 1904. It began as a movement of prayer. Seth Joshua, the Presbyterian evangelist, came to Newcastle Emlyn College where a former coal miner, Evan Roberts aged 26, was studying for the ministry. The students were so moved that they asked if they could attend Joshua’s next campaign nearby. So they cancelled classes to go to Blaenanerch where Seth Joshua prayed publicly, ‘O God, bend us.’ Roberts went forward where he prayed with great agony, ‘O God, bend me.’ Upon his return he could not concentrate on his studies. He went to the principal of his college and explained, ‘I keep hearing a voice that tells me I must go home and speak to our young people in my home church. Principal Phillips, is that the voice of the devil or the voice of the Spirit?’

Principal Phillips answered wisely, ‘The devil never gives orders like that. You can have a week off.’ So he went back home to Loughor and announced to the pastor, ‘I’ve come to preach.’ The pastor was not at all convinced, but asked, ‘How about speaking at the prayer meeting on Monday?’ He did not even let him speak to the prayer meeting, but told the praying people, ‘Our young brother, Evan Roberts, feels he has a message for you if you care to wait.’ Seventeen people waited behind, and were impressed with the directness of the young man’s words. Evan Roberts told his fellow members, ‘I have a message for you from God.

You must confess any known sin to God and put any wrong done to others right.
Second, you must put away any doubtful habit.
Third, you must obey the Spirit promptly.
Finally, you must confess your faith in Christ publicly.’
By ten o’clock all seventeen had responded. The pastor was so pleased that he asked, ‘How about your speaking at the mission service tomorrow night? Midweek service Wednesday night?’ He preached all week, and was asked to stay another week. Then the break came. Suddenly the dull ecclesiastical columns in the Welsh papers changed:

‘Great crowds of people drawn to Loughor.’ The main road between Llanelly and Swansea on which the church was situated was packed with people trying to get into the church. Shopkeepers closed early to find a place in the big church. Now the news was out. A reporter was sent down and he described vividly what he saw: a strange meeting which closed at 4.25 in the morning, and even then people did not seem willing to go home. There was a very British summary: ‘I felt that this was no ordinary gathering.’ Next day, every grocery shop in that industrial valley was emptied of groceries by people attending the meetings, and on Sunday every church was filled.

The movement went like a tidal wave over Wales, in five months there being a hundred thousand people converted throughout the country. Five years later, Dr J. V. Morgan wrote a book to debunk the revival, his main criticism being that, of a hundred thousand joining the churches in five months of excitement, after five years only seventy-five thousand still stood in the membership of those churches!

The social impact was astounding. For example, judges were presented with white gloves, not a case to try; no robberies, no burglaries, no rapes, no murders, and no embezzlements, nothing. District councils held emergency meetings to discuss what to do with the police now that they were unemployed. In one place the sergeant of police was sent for and asked, ‘What do you do with your time?’ He replied, ‘Before the revival, we had two main jobs, to prevent crime and to control crowds, as at football games. Since the revival started there is practically no crime. So we just go with the crowds.’

A councilor asked, ‘What does that mean?’ The sergeant replied, ‘You know where the crowds are. They are packing out the churches.’ ‘But how does that affect the police?’ He was told, ‘We have seventeen police in our station, but we have three quartets, and if any church wants a quartet to sing, they simply call the police station.’

As the revival swept Wales, drunkenness was cut in half. There was a wave of bankruptcies, but nearly all taverns. There was even a slowdown in the mines, for so many Welsh coal miners were converted and stopped using bad language that the horses that dragged the coal trucks in the mines could not understand what was being said to them. That revival also affected sexual moral standards. I had discovered through the figures given by British government experts that in Radnorshire and Merionethshire the illegitimate birth rate had dropped 44% within a year of the beginning of the revival.

The revival swept Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, North America, Australasia, Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Chile. As always, it began through a movement of prayer.

A Call to Extraordinary Prayer for Revival

April 22, 2009

by Erroll Hulse

Concerning fervent, persevering prayer, the prophet Isaiah writes, ‘I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest, until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her a praise of the earth.’ (Isa. 62:6-7) Revival is a reality about which we must give ourselves no rest, and the LoRn no rest, until He comes and makes His church the praise of all the earth.

The Desperate Need.

Throughout history, the church has been revived and enlarged through outpourings of the Spirit. Jonathan Edwards, a leader in the First Great Awakening, writes: ‘It may be observed that, from the fall of man to our day, the work of redemption in its effect has mainly been carried on by remarkable pourings out of the Spirit of God . . . at special seasons of mercy.’ Without periodic, extraordinary visitations of God, the church inevitably degenerates.

Nearly a century has passed since the church has experienced widespread revival. Although the gospel has advanced into more places and nations than ever before, the church faces defeat in many ways. Glowing statistics can never measure the spiritual climate of the church.

In our generation we have increasingly suffered from spiritual lethargy and powerlessness. There is a high percentage of weak and lukewarm Christians in western churches who evidence little interest in growing in grace and knowledge. The church may be bustling with activity and at the same time be infiltrated and permeated with the world’s thinking and doing. It is sometimes the case that our bright forms of worship camouflage a dead spiritual condition.

Today the church world-wide is struggling. The impact of our churches upon the spiritual state of the world has, with all too few exceptions, been minimal. The missionary effort among us is feeble. The enemies of the gospel are winning the day in almost every area of the world.

Our paramount need is for heaven-sent revivals of the kind that have adorned the history of the church. Nothing less than the powerful work of the Holy Spirit on a massive scale will meet the desperate spiritual poverty of our age, and remove the gross darkness that covers the nations. Only the manifestation of God in the midst of His people can give the church victory, making her the ‘praise of the earth.’

The Divine Means.

What should we emphasize in such spiritually degenerated circumstances? Prayer! This is the principal means of grace to be employed by the Lord’s people. Prayer occupies a primary place in the advance of all the Lord’s work, and especially in the quest for revival.

Jonathan Edwards comments that when God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people, quoting from Ezekiel 36:37 ­ ‘I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do this for them.’ In Zechariah 12:10 it is revealed that, when God is about to accomplish great things for His church, He will begin by a remarkable pouring out of ‘the Spirit of grace and supplication.’ It is the invariable constitution of the kingdom of heaven that blessings of great magnitude are not imparted except to prayers of the deepest urgency.

History demonstrates this principal. The common precursor to revivals has been prevailing prayer. Pentecost, which was the first Christian revival, followed ten days of intense prayer characterized by whole-hearted unity (Acts 1:14, 2:1-4).

Before the Second Great Awakening (late 1850s), Jeremiah Lamphier called a prayer meeting in downtown New York. Within six months 10,000 businessmen were praying for revival, and within two years about 2,000,000 people were added to the churches.

The same pattern is found before the 1859 revival in Ulster, Ireland. James McQuilkin and three others began to meet in a school house every week for prayer and Bible study. They kept themselves warm with armfuls of peat gathered on the way to the school house every Friday evening. While peat warmed their bodies, the Spirit kindled the fire in their hearts. By the end of 1858, the participants at the prayer meeting had grown to fifty. Intercession without distraction to other subjects was made for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on themselves and the country. Their prayers and possibly many more were wonderfully answered in 1859 when an estimated 100,000 were added to the churches in Ulster.

These accounts and many others illustrate prayer as the genesis of revival. The beginning of a time of revival invariably has been marked by quickening of the ordinary prayer meetings, resulting in new vitality, more participation, more sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and more unction in intercession.

Therefore, in times of special need and of the church’s weakness, there is a biblical and historical warrant to resort to extraordinary prayer for revival. Isn’t spiritual apathy and powerlessness in the church today a crisis which calls for urgent prayer?

We must recognize, however, that prayer is a spiritual gift, something that cannot be created artificially or regimented. We are not to think that we can organize prayer as if we are in control. The very ability to pray with unction and faith is given by the Holy Spirit, and although that activity largely precedes revival, prayer also is an integral part of revival.

Faithful Servants. While there are times when our prayers may be general or even unutterable groans, it is also important to be specific. Praying for spiritual awakening must be informed, by using resources such as Operation World, by Patrick Johnstone. Prayer meetings for revival should be fueled with relevant up-to-date information for intelligent petitions. We should not confine our intercessions to our own church or denomination or nation, but should intercede for world-wide spiritual awakening.

Our prayers are real only if we live them. As we earnestly seek God for revival, we must not forsake the essential tasks of the church: preaching the truth, evangelism and a vital interest in and support for missions. We must pray for revival in the context of faithful work. (I Cor. 15:58) It is those who labor hard in evangelism who are able to pray most fervently for spiritual awakening.

The absence of revival is no excuse to discontinue our active evangelistic and missionary endeavors. The notion that nothing worthwhile can be done until revival comes can lead to the worst kind of lethargy. Jesus promises to be with us in our efforts until the end of the world, revival or no revival! All prayer for revival must be accompanied by faithfulness in fulfilling the commission, which is binding upon us all, to reach everyone as effectively as we can with the gospel.

Do Not Keep Silent. Let the desperate need for revival ­ the impoverished spiritual condition of the church, the darkness in the world ­ permeate our souls. May we profoundly realize the prevailing power of prayer. Let our fervent desires and longings for the manifestation of Christ’s kingdom overflow in extraordinary intercession, with cries for special mercy. Jonathan Edwards wrote, ‘there is no way that Christians in a private capacity can do so much to promote the work of God and advance the kingdom of Christ, as by prayer.’

We must not expect revival to come easily and quickly. Do not be discouraged if the results are not immediate; revival is God’s prerogative. As God has been pleased to specially manifest His glory in the past and in the present in some countries, may we be inspired to persevere in crying, ‘O LORD, will you revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you.’ (Ps. 85 6)

When the vision of Christ’s- glory, demonstrated in the salvation of souls, becomes an intense desire in our hearts, that is especially the time when we must pray with fervour for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival. ‘For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning.’ (Isa. 62:1) I implore you to be one who, in our desperate day, urgently and persistently seeks the Lord in extraordinary prayer for widespread spiritual awakening, that God’s glory would be magnified in His church and in all the earth.

Author

Erroll Hulse is editor of Reformation Today and lives in Leeds, England. He is author of numerous books, including a book on revival entitled Give Him No Rest (EP, 1991). He travels internationally speaking in churches and conferences, encouraging doctrinal recovery and prayer for awakenings

© 1998 International Awakening Ministries. All rights reserved.


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