Prayer wins several people a day for years

One of the most remarkable stories of prayer’s power happened during the life of John Hyde, an unlikely missionary to India in the late 1800’s.

He wasn’t considered the most talented missionary ever sent out. Partially deaf and tending to keep to himself, he found learning the complicated languages of India a stiff challenge.

But Hyde carried a heavy burden for the lost, which drove him to seek out better ways to win them, leading to his amazing emphasis on prayer.RevivalHyde

Richard Klein describes it this way: “In 1904, Indian Christians and western missionaries gathered for the first of an annual series of conventions at Sialkot in what is today Pakistan. To support this time of spiritual renewal, John Hyde and his friends formed the Punjab Prayer Union, setting aside half an hour each day to pray for revival…

“By 1908, John Hyde dared to pray what was to many at the convention an impossible request: that during the coming year in India one soul would be saved every day. Three hundred sixty five people converted, baptized, and publicly confessing Jesus as their Savior. Impossible — yet it happened. Before the next convention John Hyde had prayed more than 400 people into God’s kingdom, and when the prayer union gathered again, he doubled his goal to two souls a day. Eight hundred conversions were recorded that year, and still Hyde showed an unquenchable passion for lost souls.”

J. Pengwern Jones recalls, “He was always on his knees when I went to bed, and on his knees long before I was up in the morning, though I was up with the dawn. He would also light the lamp several times in the night, and feast on some passages of the Word, and then have a little talk with the Master. He sometimes remained on his knees the whole day.”

Near the end of his life, “Praying” John Hyde wrote about the powerfully effective praying the Lord had allowed to come into his life:

“On the day of prayer, God gave me a new experience. I seemed to be away above our conflict here in the Punjab and I saw God’s great battle in all India, and then away out beyond in China, Japan, and Africa. I saw how we had been thinking in narrow circles of our own countries and in our own denominations, and how God was now rapidly joining force to force and line to line, and all was beginning to be one great struggle. That, to me, means the great triumph of Christ. We must exercise the greatest care to be utterly obedient to Him who sees all the battlefield all the time. It is only He who can put each man in the place where his life can count for the most.”

The apostle Paul would agree: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.” (Colossians 4:2 NIV).

(See this link for more.)

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Understanding how Scripture impacts prayer

I used to worry when people quoted Scripture, seemingly out of context, to build a fire under their devotionals.

It seemed to me they were using Scripture the way positive thinkers use affirmations, to stoke their psychological state with a triumphalist attitude.

“No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper” seemed to have more to do with Isaiah’s prediction of Israel’s renaissance after her time of captivity than a personal promise to a televangelist about avoiding bankruptcy.

But then I rediscovered Hebrews 13:5 – “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” (NIV).

Think about it. The writer of Hebrews counsels his readers to take this ancient Scripture from its original context and encourage themselves with it, producing contentment. Without hesitation, he uses verses spoken not to his readers, but to Joshua as he was taking the reigns of leadership from Moses during the exodus.

Joshua will face trials, which could disrupt his own contentment, so the Lord tells him, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” (See Deuteronomy 31:6, 8 & Joshua 1:5).

And then the writer of Hebrews does it again in 13:6 – “So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'” (NIV).

He takes another Old Testament verse, pulls it partly from its context, and then applies it to his readers (see Psalm 118:6-7). And this context, taken from a song about victory in war, seems even further from daily life for the readers of Hebrews, who are struggling to hold on to faith in Christ amid persecution from fellow Jews.

When I realized this precedent – that I could take Scriptures written to people I don’t even know, in situations I’ll never experience, and apply them to daily struggle – I knew there was more power in prayer than I’d ever realized.

That’s why you find so many prayers in Scripture that are reused later by other people in other situations.

Example: when attacked by three armies, King Jehoshaphat prayed parts of King Solomon’s temple dedication prayer. Jehoshaphat used the prayer to “remind” God of His promises of protection to His covenant people (See 2 Chronicles 20:6-12 & 2 Chronicles 6:14:42).

You’ll find several other examples like this, where people used Scriptures written before their time to empower their own prayers.

Go to this link to find a 40 day plan to use Scripture to enhance your prayers.