“The Holy Spirit HELPS us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.” (Romans 8:26)
If we wish to save men, it’s just as necessary to PRAY for them as it is to PREACH to them. Both are simply methods of cooperating with the Holy Spirit, and we need His HELP in our praying as much as we do in our preaching. In fact, we must have His HELP in everything if we are to be the greatest possible use.
There seems to be as much DIFFERENCE in men’s gifts for prayer as there is in their preaching. Occasionally, you find someone who seems especially anointed by the Holy Spirit to make intercession for his fellow man. Such a man was Father Nash, with whom Mr. Finney came in contact while holding revival meetings in various towns in New York. Father Nash was a feeble, sickly man, but he had such power at the throne of grace as the world has seldom known. He had lists of places and of people for which he made almost constant supplication, and the results were astonishing. After his death it was found that he had recorded in his journal that he had prayed the prayer of faith for a particular place, and expected God to pour out His Spirit there. On investigation it was found that these faith-claimed revivals invariably occurred. “I have known that man,” says Mr. Finney, “to go to bed absolutely sick for weakness under the burden. And I have known him to pray as if he would do violence to heaven, and have then seen the blessing come as plainly in answer to his prayer as if it had been revealed from heaven.” Father Nash was the reproach of the ungodly and unbelieving, but he was the favorite of heaven and a prevailing prince in prayer.
On William Bramwell the Spirit of prayer also rested in a most remarkable manner. Nothing seemed impossible to Bramwell’s faith. He dared to ask great things of God, and dared to believe they would be granted. Bramwell once found a friend in distress on account of a great depression in his trade (business). Bramwell said, “Thomas let us pray.” The merchant said, “we knelt down and (Bramwell) prayed with such holy fervency, and with such expressions of confidence in God, as I shall not soon forget. He spoke in faith, as if it had been actually revealed to him that help was at hand. Help was at hand. Within fifteen minutes a man who had never traded with our company before came in and bought all the goods we had on hand.”
Of the Rev. William Clowes, one of the founders of the Primitive Methodist Church, George Lamb writes as follows, “Mr. Clowes was very remarkable for his power in prayer. He abounded largely in the grace of supplications. It has never fallen to my lot to experience such (spiritual) baptisms as I felt while kneeling with him before the mercy seat. Perhaps it will be seen in the light of eternity that much of the success that has crowned the labors of the (Primitive Methodist) connection was secured in answer to his fervent and effectual prayers. The results of those midnight devotions, and his wrestlings till the breaking of the day, when he had power with God and prevailed, are yet to be revealed. Streaming eyes, broken hearts, cries for mercy, and joyful deliverances were the ordinary effects produced when he drew nigh to God in public prayer… Wherever he ministered, God broke out in power, sinners were converted, believers were sanctified, and meetings were organized.”
The Rev. John Oxtoby, who lived in England in the early part of the nineteenth century, was remarkable for his power in prayer. The Holy Spirit has made some men to be mighty preachers; he made John Oxtoby a mighty man of prayer. His colleague on Halifax Circuit said that Oxtoby generally spent six hours each day on his knees. On special occasions he was known to devote whole days and nights to prayer. In the public services of the sanctuary his power to prevail with God was very remarkable. Whole assemblies were moved as the trees of a forest are swayed by a strong wind, and multitudes were brought under conviction through the public prayers of this Spirit-baptized man. When assisting in the work at Burlington Quay, he made his home with a Mr. Stephenson, who had a ship at sea from which he had not heard tidings for a long time, and he was all the more anxious for the safety of the ship as he had a son on board.
John Oxtoby took the case to God, and soon had the assurance given him that both ship and son would return safely. Mr. Stephenson and his family were incredulous, but “Praying Johnny,” as he was called, remained confident, and assured them that the Lord had shown him the ship while at prayer. After many days the ship came to port. Oxtoby was sent for and asked if he would recognize the ship if he should see her. “I should”, he replied. “God so clearly revealed her to me in prayer that I could distinguish her among a hundred.” They went down to the wharf and looked at the bay full of vessels of every sort. At once Oxtoby exclaimed, pointing to a vessel, “That’s the ship which God showed me while at prayer. I knew she would come home safely and that I should see her.” It was, indeed, the long lost ship.
“The Holy Spirit Our Helper” by John D. Folsom, Published 1907, Edited and Abridged by David Smithers
-John D. Folsom