Reflections on the National Day of Prayer (Part One)
Part One of Three
Thursday is the National Day of Prayer.
This year’s theme is meaningful to me. Based on part of the verse from James 5:16: “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” this was the first promise God gave to me when I was a new Christian.
So, what happens when those who know the God of heaven really pray?
Consider these excerpts from my newly-published book, How to Pastor and Live to Tell About It: Lessons from Nehemiah.
Through the ages, God has answered prayers in unique ways. Fast forward from the fifth century before Christ to eighteenth century England. Author Eric Metaxas’ book Amazing Grace gives an eye-opening description of that country and culture. Let’s observe what happened when people prayed in the day of John and Charles Wesley, founders of the Methodist movement.
Entirely surprising to most of us, life in eighteenth-century Britain was particularly brutal, decadent, violent, and vulgar. Slavery was only the worst of a host of societal evils that included epidemic alcoholism, child prostitution, child labor, frequent public executions for petty crimes, public dissections and burnings of executed criminals, and unspeakable public cruelty to animals[i]
No less than 25 percent of all unmarried women in London were prostitutes. There were brothels that exclusively offered the services of girls under fourteen, and the average age of a prostitute in London during those years was sixteen.[ii]
The early Methodists began fasting two meals a day, accompanied by prayer, twice a week. Their praying yielded results. Sinners were delivered from addictions and lives were changed. The praying Methodists turned Great Britain upside down at a time of her lowest moral ebb. They added good works to their prayers and established soup kitchens, orphanages, and asylums for destitute people. Shortly after John Wesley died, William Wilberforce succeeded in getting slavery abolished in Great Britain and her colonies.
Watch for tomorrow’s blog post, detailing the Great Awakening in Kentucky during the 19th century.
[i] Metaxas, Eric, Amazing Grace, Harper One, 2007, p. 69 [ii] Metaxas, Ibid, p. 76
Did you know about the prayer and fasting custom of the early Methodists? Use the comment box below and tell us your thoughts.