Daniel Whittle shares many great answers to prayer in his book, but he also shared a prayer not answered:
Many years ago, a man then recently married, settled in my native town. It was then quite new, destitute of religious privileges, and given to all manner of wickedness. There was no Sabbath, and no sanctuary. The man was pious. The thought of bringing up a family in such a place distressed him. He wished to remove; and he used to retire daily to a little grove, and pray that God would send someone to buy his farm. This prayer was not answered. Better things were in store.
A neighbor was taken sick. He visited and conversed with him. In the midst of the conversation, one sitting by interrupted him and said, ‘Sir, if what you say is true, I am lost.’ This gave new interest to the occasion. Prayer was offered, the Spirit was found out, and many were converted. A prayer-meeting was started; other revivals followed; in due time a church was organized, a house of worship built, and a pastor settled, mainly through the instrumentality of that one man; and he trained up his family there, and lived to see most of them members of the church of Christ. Do not despair, God will either answer your exact prayer, or do something better for you; He knows what is for your best good.
Daniel Whittle lived just before Prohibition took effect. Prohibition was a movement led my many Christian leaders to fight back against the negative effect of alcohol on the home and the community. Several societies (such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union) urged people to sign a pledge to abstain from alcohol (similar to churches that have “purity rings” today). But did those pledges work?
In a rural district, in the North of England, lived a shoemaker who had signed the temperance pledge often, but never had strength to keep it. After a while, he was able to keep it, and reformed entirely. A friend was curious to learn how he had been able, at last, to win the victory, and went to see him.
“Well, William, how are you?”
“Oh, pretty well. I had only eighteen pence and an old hen when I signed, and a few old scores; but now I have about ten pounds in the bank, and my wife and I have lived through the summer without getting into debt. But as I am only thirty weeks old yet (so he styled himself), I cannot be so strong yet, my friend.”
“How is it you never signed before?”
“I did sign; but I keep it different now to what I did before, friend.”
“How is this?”
“Why, I gae doon on my knees and pray.”
Here was the real strength of prayer. His own resolves were of no value; but when he called on God to help, then came new strength, and he was kept by restraining grace. The bitter experience of those who pledge and pledge over and over again, and never gain the victory, at last must come to either of two ends – their utter destruction, or else to call on God in prayer, to help them keep the pledge manfully, and make them stedfast in their resolutions.
Daniel Whittle shares another answer to prayer – for even a mere nickel!
A lady of superior culture and refinement, fell from opulence to extreme poverty, within four years. No less ready when at the bottom of fortune’s ladder, than at the top, to do good as she had opportunity, she paid another poor woman’s way to a neighboring State, where employment awaited her, and did it literally with her last dollar-and-a-half!
Supposing herself the possessor of a ten cent note, over and above the twelve shillings, she went with her somewhat feeble protege over Jersey city ferry, and saw her safely in the cars. Starting back, she was dismayed to find no ten cents in her pocket-book, and, all too late, remembered having paid it for a quart of milk that morning; the sole breakfast of herself and daughter.
Night was approaching – what to do she did not know. She had a plain, worn, old gold ring on her finger; she took it off, offered it to the ferry-master, who would not take it, though she told him she found her money gone and would redeem it next day. She went back in the ladies’ room and told it to the Lord, beseeching his assistance. Just then, a girl passing, jostled against her and knocked down her parasol. She picked it up, happened to turn it upside down, and out rolled a five-cent nickel! The Lord, then hears prayers for even five cents to provide for the comfort and need of those whom He loves.
Yesterday we sang at church the song, The Banner of the Cross. The chorus reminds us:
Marching on, marching on, For Christ count ev’rything but loss! And to crown Him King, toil and sing ‘Neath the banner of the cross!
The Banner of the Cross
The military allusions and cadence of the song is no accident, it was written by Major Daniel Whittle, of Civil War fame.Here’s another testimony of answered prayer from his book:
A man who had led a very wicked life, was converted and hopefully saved. Previous to this time, a debt of $18.75 had not given him the slightest thought. After receiving a new heart, he distinctly heard God’s command, “Pay what thou owest;” so called on his creditor, and urged him to send to his house and get a bureau, table and looking-glass (mirror) which he desired him to sell and pay himself the sum due him; but, not wishing to deprive his debtor of such necessary articles, refused, saying he would wait till he could pay. The 18th of November was set, and, as the day approached, the prospect was no brighter; and when the night of the 17th came around, he spent it in prayer that God would deliver him, and rose from his knees at daybreak, with the full assurance that “He knoweth how to deliver.”
On passing down a street the next morning, on his way to business, a man who kept a large store was standing in the door-way, and called to him to stop a minute. Wondering what could be the nature of the call, he retraced his steps, to hear this astonishing news:
“For three days I have been impressed with the idea that I must give you $18.75, and for three days have been trying to ascertain why I must give you this amount, for I do not owe any man a penny. I cannot get rid of the thought, and if you value my peace of mind, I beg you take the money!”
Seeing, instantly, the hand of God in it, he told the story to the astonished storekeeper, then left to pay his debt with the money so strangely given. His creditor, surprised to see him so promptly on time, questioned him as to the manner of obtaining it, thinking, perhaps, he had made a great sacrifice to do so. On being told just how it was given him, said,
“I won’t take it; keep it. If God is as near to people as that, I don’t want it; it seems as if it had come directly from his Almighty hand.”
The result was the conversion of both the storekeeper and creditor, to whom the incident came as the undoubted evidence of God’s presence among them.
We’ve been sharing answers to prayer from The Wonders of Prayer: A Record of Well Authenticated and Wonderful Answers by Daniel Whittle (author of the gospel song, Showers of Blessings).
A clergyman writes us these incidents:
“I knew a poor family whose son George, four or five years old, was accustomed to pray. They lived five or six miles from neighbors, and at times, were quite destitute. One day, as little George observed his mother weeping over their destitution, he said, “Why, mother, don’t cry any; we shall not starve; God will send us something to eat, I know He will. I’ve just been praying, and asked Him to.” The little fellow just as much believed God would send them food, as if he had asked a reliable neighbor and obtained his promise to supply their wants. In a day or two after this, some friends living at a distance and knowing they were poor, took them the welcome surprise of a wagon-load of substantial material for food and other comforts. The little boy grew up to be a Christian minister, and about a year ago, on inquiry, his uncle told me he had been at the head of an institution of learning in the South-west.”
Give us this day our daily bread
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
We continue reading about answers to prayer as recorded by Daniel Whittle in his book, The Wonders of Prayer: A Record of Well Authenticated and Wonderful Answers.
A clergyman of distinction gives this instance of the worthlessness of all attempts to flee from the Power of the Spirit.
“I looked out of my window one morning, while it was yet dark, and saw a lady standing at my gate, leaning against a post, and evidently weeping bitterly. I knew her. She was a member of the church, and was an earnest, consistent Christian. She was married to one of the most bitter Universalists [a person who believed everyone was going to heaven regardless of faith] I ever knew. I stepped down the steps to her, and asked, ‘What is the matter?’ She replied, ‘Oh, my poor husband! I had so hoped and prayed that he might be converted in this revival! and now he has rode away, and says that he will not come back till this religious flurry is over. What shall I do to bear up under this?’
“I said, ‘It is near the time for prayer. We will go and lay his case before the Lord, and make special request that God will bring him back again under the power of the Spirit. The Lord can bring him home, and I believe He will do it. We must pray for him.’
“She dried her tears in a moment, and seemed to seize hold of this ‘strong hope,’ as we walked to the place of prayer. We found the room crowded. It fell to my lot to lead the meeting.
“At the opening, I stated the case of this Universalist husband, who had undertaken to run away from the influence of the Spirit, by fleeing into the country. I said that we must all pray that the Holy Spirit may follow him, overtake him, and bring him back again, show him his sins, and lead him to Jesus.
“The meeting took up the case with great earnestness, and I could not but feel that prayer would in some way be answered.
“But can you imagine our surprise when, at our evening prayer meeting, this same Universalist came in?
“After standing a few minutes, till the opportunity offered, he said:
“I went away on horseback this morning, and told my wife I was going into the country to stay til this flurry was over. I rode right over the hills, back from the river, into the country, till I had got eighteen miles away. There, on the top of a hill, I was stopped as Paul was, and just as suddenly, and made to feel what a horrible sinner I am. I am one of the worst sinners that ever lived. I have lost my Universalism, and I know that I must be born again, or I can never see the kingdom of Heaven. Oh, pray for me that I may be converted; nothing else will do for me.’
“He took his seat amid the tears and sobs of the whole assembly. The hour was full of prayer for that man’s conversion.
“This strong and intelligent man, once one of the bitterest Universalits I ever knew, is now an elder in a Presbyterian church, and one of the most joyous, happy, energetic men of God you will meet in many a day. He believes he was ‘converted on the spot in that prayer meeting.'”
A trustful Christian, whose heart had been deeply touched with thoughts of religion, was one day thinking and pondering and wishing that he might be more truly convinced of the actual existence of the Holy Spirit. “If,” thought he, “there is a Holy Spirit, a Superior Mind and Will, I reverently and sincerely wish that I may be convinced of it beyond all doubt; that I may indeed know God is a living reality and daily guide and mighty among the plans and ways of men.” Though having all the needed mental, historic and heart belief and trust in God – still there was desired that special satisfaction which can only come by personal evidence.
With reverent feeling one morning, he asked the Lord humbly, in Prayer, “What can thy servant do for thee this day? Teach him, that he may gladly minister to any one in thy name.” In the course of the day there came to him the thought of the revival services then proceeding in Brooklyn, and feeling a cordial sympathy, he sat down and wrote a letter to Mr. Moody, with these words: “I know not how you are supported, or anything of your needs; but I feel like helping you in your good work. Enclosed find check for $25; take it and use it if you need it for yourself; if not, then do some good with it.” The circumstance was almost forgotten, when the day after there came this wonderful reply from Mr. Moody:
“Your letter came to hand in the SAME MAIL, at the SAME INSTANT of TIME, with a letter from a brother in distress WANTING THE SAME AMOUNT. And now you have made him happy, and my heart glad, and the Lord will bless you for it.”
There is a danger to be carefully guarded against in the reading of this book and in the consideration of the precious truth. The incidents it relates bring before the mind, of the unlimited resources and the unquenchable love of God, that are made available to beliving prayer. That danger has been suggested by what has been said, that the highest use of prayer is to bring the soul nearer to God, and not the making of it a mere matter of convenience to escape physical ills or supply physical necessities.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh” and continues flesh until the end. “Have no confidence in the flesh” is always a much needed exhortation. Now, unquestionably, the desires of the natural heart may and do deceive us, and often lead us to believe that our fervent earnest prayer for temporal blessing is led of the Spirit, when the mind of the Spirit is, that we will be made more humble, more Christ-like and more useful by being denied than be being granted. Again, we are in danger of disobeying the plain commands of God’s word in allowing prayer ever to take the place of anything in our power to do, and that we are commanded to do as a means to secure needed good. He who has said “pray always,” has also said, “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
Daniel W. Whittle wrote about 200 hymns, among the better known are “I Know Whom I have Believed,” as well as “Showers of Blessings.” We’ve been sharing highlights from Daniel Whittle’s book, The Wonders of Prayer.However, some may see answered prayer as its own end.Daniel Whittle addresses this concern.
A widow once told the writer of the turning point in her Christian life, when God’s love was so shed abroad in her heart that she had been enabled to go on through all her trials rejoicingly conscious of God’s presence, and casting all her burdens upon Him. She was driven to seek God by great need. Her husband’s death left her destitute, with little children to provide for, and few friends from whom to look for continuous aid. Winter drew on, and one day, her little boy came in shivering with cold and asked if he could not have a fur cap, as his straw hat was very cold and none of the boys at school wore straw hats.
She was without a cent in the world. She gave a hopeful answer to the boy and sent him out to play, and then went to her bedroom and knelt and wept in utter desolation of heart before God, praying most earnestly that God would give her a token that He was her God for her by sending a cap for her boy. While she prayed the peace of God filled her soul. She was made to feel the presence of her Saviour in such a way that all doubts as to his love for her and his fulfillment of all his promises to care for her vanished away, and she went out of her room, rejoicing in the Lord and singing his praise.
She had no burden about the cap, and was quite content for God to send it or not as it pleased Him; and, in the afternoon, when a neighbor called, occupied with the Lord and his wonderful love, the thought of the cap had gone from her mind. When the neighbor rose to depart, she said, “You know my little boy died last fall. Just before he died I bought him a fur cap: he only wore it two or three times. After his death I put away all his things and thought I could never part with any of them. But, this morning, as I went to the drawer to look them over, I felt that I should give you this cap for your little boy. Will you take it of me?
As she took the cap and told her neighbor of the morning trial, prayer and blessing, two souls were filled with the sense of the reality of prayer and the love of God for his children. “My little boy,” said the widow, “wore that cap for three winters. And often, when sorely tried by my circumstances, has God lifted the burden from my heart, by my just looking at it, and remembering the blessing that came with it.”
Experiences like this God gives to all his children, not for the purpose of leading them to look to Him for supplying their physical necessities, as an end, but to make Himself known to them, and to secure their confidence and love, for “this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent,” (John 17:8)
We met Daniel Whittle yesterday – and will be looking at some of the answers to prayer that he has collected in his book. Daniel Whittle was talking about the importance of taking everything – large or small – to God in prayer. He continues with a meeting he happened to have with George Müller.
It was my happiness to cross the Atlantic in the company of this dear brother [George Müller] on the steamship Sardinian, from Quebec to Liverpool, in June, 1880.
I met Mr. Müller in the express office the morning of sailing, about half an hour before the tender was to take the passengers to the ship. He asked of the agent if a deck chair had arrived for him from New York. He was answered, No, and told that it could not possibly come in time for the steamer. I had with me a chair I had just purchased and told Mr. Müller of the place near by, where I had obtained it, and suggested that as but a few moments remained he had better buy one at once.
His reply was, “No, my brother, Our Heavenly Father will send the chair from New York. It is one used by Mrs. Miller, as we came over, and left in New York when we landed. I wrote ten days ago to a brother who promised to see it forwarded here last week.He has not been prompt as I would have desired, but I am sure Our Heavenly Father will send the chair. Mrs. Müller is very sick upon the sea, and has particularly desired to have this same chair, and not finding it here yesterday when we arrived, as we expected, we have made special prayer that Our Heavenly Father would be pleased to provide it for us, and we will trust Him to do so.” As this dear man of God went peacefully on board the tender, running the risk of Mrs. Müller making the voyage without a chair, when for a couple of dollars she could have been provided for, I confess I feared Mr. Müller was carrying his faith principles too far and not acting wisely.
I was kept at the express office ten minutes after Mr. Müller left. Just as I started to hurry to the wharf a team drove up the street, and on top of a load just arrived from New York, was Mr. Müller’s chair! It was sent at once to the tender and placed in my hands to take to Mr. Müller (the Lord having a lesson for me) just as the boat was leaving the dock. I found Mr. and Mrs. Müller in a retired spot on one side of the tender and handed him the chair. He took it with the happy, pleased expression of a child who has just received a kindness deeply appreciated, and reverently removing his hat and folding his hands over it, he thanked his Heavenly Father for sending the chair. “In everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God.” “Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.”