[anzac] THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER - Finney

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From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2004 11:21:52 -0600
MODERATOR:  I am now in the final stages of the
'modernization' of Charles Finney's writings about
his most powerful Revivals. In the previous Finney 
articles you probably noticed that there were still old-
fashioned phrases and so-on. But hopefully now it is
starting to feel more like modern English. It has been
a huge job, but I believe this book is going to have
a very powerful impact. I am often affected by it 
myself because it seems to me that the book is full 
of the 'spirit of Revival' - the anointing that was on 
Finney's life. That is how it feels to me. And I don't 
know many books like that. There is something 
special about this one.   
-God bless you all.  -Andrew Strom.
*******************************************
"The Spirit of Prayer"
-by Charles Finney.

In the early days, the Lord taught me many important 
truths regarding the spirit of prayer. Not long after I was 
converted, a woman whom I had boarded with became 
very sick. She was not a Christian, but her husband 
was. He came into our office one evening and said to 
me, "My wife cannot live through the night." This 
seemed to pierce my heart like an arrow. It came upon 
me like a crushing weight, which I could not understand 
at all. And with it came an intense desire to pray for 
that woman. The burden was so great that I left the 
office almost immediately, and went up to the meeting 
house to pray for her. There I struggled, but could not 
say much. I could only groan with groanings loud and deep. 

I stayed there for quite some time in this state of mind, 
but got no relief. I returned to the office, but could not 
sit still. I could only walk the room and agonize. I 
returned to the meeting house again, and went through 
the same process of struggling. For a long time I tried 
to get my prayer before the Lord, but somehow words 
could not express it. I could only groan and weep, 
without being able to express what I wanted in words. 
I returned to the office again, and still found I was 
unable to rest, so I returned to the meeting house for 
the third time. Suddenly God gave me power to prevail. 
I was able to roll the burden upon Him, and I felt an 
assurance that the woman would not die - in fact that 
she would never die in her sins. 

I returned to the office. My mind was perfectly quiet 
and I soon went home to bed. Early the next morning 
the husband of the woman came into the office. I 
asked how his wife was. He said, smiling, "She's 
alive, and seems a lot better this morning." I replied, 
"Brother, she will not die with this sickness - you 
can be sure of it. And she will never die in her sins." 
I don't know how I knew this, but it was made clear 
to me somehow. I had no doubt that she would 
recover. She did, and soon became a Christian. 

At first I did not understand what it was that I had 
gone through. But shortly afterwards, as I was 
discussing it with a Christian brother he said to me, 
"That was the travail of your soul." He pointed me to 
certain scriptures to help me understand. 

Another experience which I had soon after this, 
illustrates the same truth. There was a young woman 
in our town who remained unconverted. Many of the 
Christians were concerned about her. She was a 
charming girl, and knew a lot about Christianity, but 
she remained in her sins. 

One of the elders of the church and myself agreed to 
pray for her daily - morning, noon and night - until 
she was either converted or we were unable to keep 
it up. I found myself greatly distressed for her, more 
and more as I continued to pray. I soon found, 
however, that the elder was losing the spirit of prayer 
for her. But this did not discourage me. I continued 
to hold on to God with increasing intensity. I also took 
every opportunity to speak plainly and searchingly 
with her about her salvation. 

After things had continued this way for some time, 
one evening I called to see her just as the sun was 
setting. As I came up to the door I heard a shriek 
from a female voice, and a scuffling and confusion 
inside the door. I stood and waited. The lady of the 
house came to the door holding part of a book which 
had obviously been torn in two. She was pale and very 
upset. She held out the book and said, "Mr. Finney, 
do you think my sister has become a Universalist?" 
The book was a defense of Universalism. Her sister 
had found her reading it, and tried to get it away from 
her. It was this struggle over the book that I had heard. 

I declined to go inside. The whole thing struck me in 
almost the same way as the announcement that the 
sick woman was about to die. It loaded me down with 
great agony. As I returned to my room I felt as though 
I would almost stagger under the weight that was on 
my mind. I struggled and groaned and agonized, but 
could not present the situation before God in words, 
but only in groans and tears. 

It seemed as if the discovery that that young woman, 
instead of being converted, was becoming a Universalist, 
horrified me to such a degree that I could not break 
through with my faith and get hold of God on her behalf. 
There seemed to be a darkness hanging over the 
question, as if a cloud had risen up between me and 
God regarding her salvation. But still the Spirit struggled 
inside me with 'groanings that could not be uttered'. 

However, I was forced to go to bed that night without 
having prevailed. But as soon as it was light I awoke, 
and the first thought I had was to cry out to God again 
for that young woman. No sooner was I on my knees 
than the darkness gave way and He said to me, "Yes! 
Yes!" If He had spoken with an audible voice, it could 
not have been more clear. It instantly relieved my 
burden. My mind became filled with the greatest 
peace and joy, and I felt completely certain that her 
salvation was secure. 

I assumed wrongly, however, in regard to the timing, 
which was not something that I had really heard from 
God about. I expected her to be converted immediately, 
but she wasn't. She remained in her sins for several 
months. I felt disappointed at the time that she was 
not converted straight away, and wondered whether I 
had really prevailed with God on her behalf. 

Soon after I was converted, the man I was boarding 
with who was a magistrate, was deeply convicted of 
sin. He had been elected a member of the state 
legislature. I was praying daily for him, and urging 
him to give his heart to God. His conviction became 
very deep. But still he delayed. My burden for him increased. 

One afternoon several of his political friends had a long 
meeting with him. That evening I again tried to bring his 
case before God. The urgency I felt for his conversion 
had become almost overwhelming. In my prayer I had 
drawn very near to God. I do not remember ever being 
in more intimate communion with the Lord Jesus Christ 
than I was at that time. His presence was so real that 
I was bathed in tears of joy and gratitude and love. It 
was in this state of mind that I attempted to pray for 
my friend. But the moment I did so, my mouth was 
shut. I found it impossible to pray a word for him. The 
Lord seemed to say to me, "No, I will not hear." 
Anguish seized hold of me. I thought at first it was a 
temptation. But the door was shut in my face. I didn't 
know what to make of it. 

The next morning I saw him, and as soon as I brought 
up the question of submission to God he said to me, 
"Mr. Finney, I'll have nothing more to do with it until I 
return from the legislature. I am committed to carry 
out certain measures in the legislature that are 
incompatible with Christianity, and I have promised 
that I will leave it alone until after I have returned from Albany." 

From that moment the evening before, I had had no 
spirit of prayer for him at all. As soon as he told me 
what he had done, I understood it. I could see that his 
convictions were all gone, and that the Spirit of God 
had left him. From then on he grew more hardened than ever. 

When the time came he went to the legislature, and in 
the Spring he returned an almost insane Universalist. I 
say almost insane, because instead of having formed 
his opinions from any evidence or argument, he told 
me this: "I have come to this conclusion, not because I 
have found it taught in the Bible, but because such a 
doctrine is so opposed to the carnal mind. It is a doctrine 
that is rejected and spoken against, which proves that 
it is distasteful to the carnal or unconverted mind." 
This was staggering to me. But everything else that I 
could get out of him was as wild and absurd as this. 
He remained in his sins, finally fell into decay, and 
died a dilapidated old man, in the full faith of his Universalism.
***************
[-From the book "Charles Finney - Revivalist... The 
essential Revivals in his own words."]