March 8: Moody – Prevailing Prayer

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

The two first and essential means of grace are the Word of God and Prayer. By these comes conversion; for we are born again by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever; and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

By these also we grow; for we are exhorted to desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby, and we cannot grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ except we also speak to Him in Prayer.

It is by the Word that the Father sanctifies us; but we are also bidden to watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation.

These two means of grace must be used in their right proportion. If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine….

Prayer was appointed to convey 
The blessings God designs to give; 
Long as they live should Christians pray, 
For only while they pray they live. 

And shall we in dead silence lie,
When Christ stands waiting for our prayer?
My soul, thou hast a Friend on high;
Arise and try thy interest there.

If pain afflict, or wrongs oppress;
If cares distract, or fears dismay;
If guilt deject, if sin distress;
The remedy’s before thee—Pray!

Depend on Christ, thou canst not fail;
Make all thy wants and wishes known.
Fear not; His merits must prevail;
Ask what thou wilt; it shall be done!

Joseph Hart

March 7: Prayer Warriors – George Muller

How do you know if God has answered your prayers? Well, obviously, if what I prayed for happened. So, how many of your prayers has God answered last year? If you’re like me – we pray for things as we think of them, and not in a planned serious way. It seems as if we put more planning into our grocery list than into our prayer list. But if you start writing down your prayer requests, you can record your answers to prayer!

George Muller kept detailed prayer journals, and recorded 50,000 answers to prayer in his journals!

Once, while crossing the Atlantic on the SS Sardinian in August 1877, his ship ran into thick fog. He explained to the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by the following afternoon, but Captain Joseph E. Dutton (later known as “Holy Joe”) said that he was slowing the ship down for safety and Müller’s appointment would have to be missed. Müller asked to use the chartroom to pray for the lifting of the fog. The captain followed him down, claiming it would be a waste of time. After Müller prayed a very simple prayer, the captain started to pray, but Müller stopped him; partly because of the captain’s unbelief, but mainly because he believed the prayer had already been answered. Müller said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for more than fifty years and there is not one instance that I have failed to have an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, for you will find that the fog has gone.” When the two men went back to the bridge, they found the fog had lifted, and Müller was able to keep his appointment. The captain became a Christian shortly afterwards.[43]

Steer, Roger (1997). George Müller: Delighted in God. Tain, Rosshire: Christian Focus. ISBN 978-1-85792-340-7.

What was the secret to his prayer life?

It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost, for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.

March 6: Prayer Warriors – John Wesley

Have you heard of “The Powerhouse of Methodism”? It was a small little “closet.” John Wesley went to bed at 9:00 PM, and started his day in his “closet” at 4:00 AM, in Bible Study and prayer. Do you have a place that you spend a daily time with God?

John Wesley’s Prayer Room, Photo by Graham Portlock

God’s command to “pray without ceasing” is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air.

John Wesley

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:6

March 5: Prayer Warriors – Hudson Taylor

Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.

Hudson Taylor

Who was Hudson Taylor?

James Hudson Taylor (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905) was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM, now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China. The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools[1] and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in all eighteen provinces.[2]

Hudson Taylor believed in prayer.

In the year 1854 a sailing vessel was becalmed in the vicinity of New Guinea. Seeing the distressed look on the captain’s face as he peered intently into the sea, a young Englishman inquired as to the cause of his anxiety. This was the reply: “A four-knot current is carrying us swiftly toward some sunken reefs over there. Our fate seems to be sealed.” On the shores of the island, cannibals were rushing about and lighting fires in great glee. Presently the captain spoke again: “We have done everything that can be done.” “No,” responded the young man, “there is one thing we haven’t done. Four of us on board are Christians. Let each of us retire to his cabin and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us a breeze immediately.” This was agreed upon and done. After a few minutes of earnest intercession, the young man came up on deck confident that the petition had been granted.

Finding the first officer, a godless man, in charge, he requested him to let down the corners of the mainsail. “What would be the good of that?” he asked. The young man told him that he and three others had been asking God to send a wind, that it was coming immediately and that there was not a minute to lose, since they were so near the reefs. With a look of contempt, the officer replied with an oath: “Nonsense! You can’t pray up a wind.” Noticing a few moments later that the topmost sail was beginning to tremble, he said: “That is only a cat’s-paw — a mere puff of wind.” “Never mind what you think,” cried the young man. “Let down the mainsail quickly.”

This he was not slow to do. Hearing the heavy tread of the men on deck, the captain came up from his cabin and saw that the breeze had indeed come. In a few minutes they were sailing away from the dangerous reefs, much to the disappointment of the native cannibals on the beach.

Hudson Taylor knew that God could be depended upon!

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

1 John 5:14

March 4: Prayer Warriors – “Praying” Hyde

“Praying” Hyde was a fascinating missionary. Here’s some excerpts from different sources:

John Nelson Hyde (November 9, 1865 – February 17, 1912) was an American missionary who preached in the Punjab.

John was eventually sent to India as a missionary.

After a short time there he began to wonder if he was qualified for the work he was doing. He began to earnestly study the Bible and began praying for long stretches for guidance from God. After being satisfied that he was truly in God’s will, he went about his missionary work with such zeal that many began worrying about him.

John’s desire to know and do God’s will drove him to all night prayer vigils face down on the floor. By 1908, Hyde’s unquenchable desire to see souls saved led him to ask God for one soul a day for a year. Many thought this was impossible in a land not friendly to Christianity, but by the end of the year more than 400 people were faithfully serving Christ. The next year he asked God for two a day and more than 800 people became Christians.

In a letter back to his college he wrote,

Have felt led to pray for others this winter as never before. I never before knew what it was to work all day and then pray all night before God for another… In college or at parties at home, I used to keep such hours for myself, or pleasure, and can I not do as much for God and souls?”

While we may not be called to spend all night in prayer, let’s seek for a deeper time in prayer!

Pray without ceasing!

1 Thessalonians 5:17

March 3: Prayer Warriors – William Borden

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:16

In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world.

Even though young Borden was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden’s classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn’t that he had lots of money. One of them wrote: “He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration.”…

Surveying the Yale faculty and much of the student body, Borden lamented what he saw as the end result of an empty, humanistic philosophy: moral weakness and sin-ruined lives.

During his first semester at Yale, Borden started something that would transform campus life. One of his friends described how it began: “It was well on in the first term when Bill and I began to pray together in the morning before breakfast. I cannot say positively whose suggestion it was, but I feel sure it must have originated with Bill. We had been meeting only a short time when a third student joined us and soon after a fourth. The time was spent in prayer after a brief reading of Scripture. Bill’s handling of Scripture was helpful. . . . He would read to us from the Bible, show us something that God had promised and then proceed to claim the promise with assurance.”

Borden’s small morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshman were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in such groups.

This was taken from the Southern Nazarene University by permission.
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March 2: Prayer Warriors – Robert Sheffey

Robert Sheffey

Not all prayer warriors are the civil, “genteel” type. Robert Sheffey was unique.

Many stories about Sheffey related to his power in prayer.[26] Some of his prayers concerned critical needs of agricultural communities, such as the need for rain in time of drought or the prevention of rain during harvest.[27] Because Sheffey hated the liquor traffic,[28] his most remembered prayers were directed against stills and the people who ran them. According to an expert in the folklore of itinerant Methodist preachers, there are “at least twenty-five accounts of how Sheffey’s prayers led to the immediate destruction of whiskey stills and distilleries,” many apparently versions of the same episode.[29] (The owners were not moonshiners; at the time, distilling was perfectly legal.) According to one minister, Sheffey prayed for the destruction of three distilleries on a creek near where they had been preaching. The minister claimed the proprietor of one still, in robust health, died suddenly; at a second, Sheffey prayed that a tree would fall on the still house though there were no trees nearby, and a “great storm came and actually landed a tree on the still”; and a third still was destroyed by fire after Sheffey had spent a night in prayer against it.[30] Men were said to have left the area rather than become the object of Sheffey’s prayers.[31]

But his prayers for souls were fervent and were heard.

It was common for Preacher Sheffey to come to the camp meetings and go off into the woods to pray on his sheepskin until he felt the meeting was going to break open.  My uncle, J. W. Perry was preaching one night at Wabash and Preacher Sheffey returned to the camp shed about the time he wound it up.  Uncle John went to his tent to rest while the “mourners” prayed at the shed.  Preacher Sheffey joined them praying and exhorting others to come forward.  It is reported that on that very night many in the crowd report they heard the angels singing above them, although some doubted.  But many came to faith that night because of the praying parson.

There’s a great film available from Unusual Films on Robert Sheffey:

My wife and I were able to visit the grave of this fascinating servant of the LORD. On his tombstone it says:

Fully consecrated to God’s service, he preached the Gospel without money and without price and has entered upon his reward. The poor were sorry when he died.

Robert Sheffey Epitaph

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

Colossians 4:2

March 1: Prayer Warriors throughout History – George Whitfield

George Whitfield

George Whitfield was born in England, and became cross-eyed as the result of a measles outbreak.

He met the Wesleys in Oxford, and was a member of the “Holy Club.” He spent much time preaching in America, where he befriended a printer by the name of Benjamin Franklin.

His preaching focused on the need to be regenerated – born again – and led to the First Great Awakening.

Each day he would ask himself these questions:

Have I…

(1) Been fervent in private prayer?
(2) Used stated hours of prayer?
(3) Used (short communicative prayers) every hour?
(4) After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God’s glory?
(5) After any pleasure, immediately given thanks?
(6) Planned business for the day?
(7) Been simple and recollected in everything?
(8) Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?
(9) Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?
(10) Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others?
(11) Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate in sleep?
(12) Taken time for giving thanks according to [William] Law’s rules?
(13) Been diligent in studies?
(14) Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?
(15) Confessed all sins?

George Whitfield’s Daily Questions

Prayer was the foundation of George Whitfield’s life. Let’s make it a priority in our life!

Pray without Ceasing

1 Thessalonians 5:17

February 28: Luther on Praying the Ten Commandments

Dr. Martin Luther

Dr. Martin Luther has shared with us some of his insights on prayer, especially praying thru the Lord’s prayer. There’s more in his book
A Simple Way to Pray by Martin Luther, but first – you can also pray thru the Ten Commandments!

If I have more time than the Lord’s Prayer requires, I do the same thing with the Ten Commandments. By taking each one piece by piece, I can more readily concentrate upon it prayerfully. I divide each commandment into four parts, thinking of it in terms of a wreath made of four strands. For example, I approach every commandment as a lesson in itself, as it is meant to be. I ask myself, what does the Lord God expect of me? Second, I find in it a source of thanksgiving, then an opportunity for confession, and finally an occasion for prayer.

A Simple Way to Pray, Martin Luther

As David exclaimed:

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day

Psalm 119:97

February 27: Luther on the Lord’s Prayer

Dr. Martin Luther

Dr. Martin Luther was one who spoke his mind. What did he think about people who “pray” the Lord’s Prayer?

This, in brief, is how I go about praying the Lord’s Prayer. Like a child, I still suckle at it, and, like an old person, who cannot be satisfied, drink from it and eat of it. It is the best prayer, even better than the Psalms (which I dearly love). So it is because the Master himself composed and taught it. How shameful it is, then, to say the least, that a prayer from such a Master be treated so carelessly by so many who thoughtlessly rattle it off. Many undoubtedly pray the Lord’s Prayer a thousand times a year. And though they might pray it their way a thousand years, they haven’t benefited one little bit from it! To conclude: Together with the name and Word of God, the Lord’s Prayer is the greatest martyr on earth. For everyone tortures and abuses it; few joyfully use it correctly for comfort.

A Simple Way to Pray, Martin Luther