I think of the many ways I have personally been challenged even in the past few months about both the importance and priority of this dynamic need for my own life and for that of Christ’s church.
This challenge came from two different sources: a command of Jesus; and the personal example of Daniel Nash, a person of prayer.
Prayer: The Command of Jesus
In the class I am teaching in our congregation, entitled, “The Prayer Experiment”, I was led to present Jesus’ command from Luke 18:1, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”
Jesus then goes on to tell the parable of “The Widow and the Unjust Judge”, which concludes with this challenge in verses 7-8, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
One of the men in my class asked, “What did Jesus mean by ‘quickly’?”
As I reflected on the context of the times, what came to my mind were several things:
- Had they not STILL been under the oppression of the Romans for several decades, and were they not STILL going to be under the Roman oppression for at least another 30-40 years?
- Did Jesus imply that they had NOT already been praying for God’s justice all those years?
What came to my mind in answer to his question was: “Quickly is sooner than never. And never may be the result if we do not have the faith to prevail in prayer.
As John Calvin wrote in The Institutes:
“Nothing is promised to be expected from the Lord, which we are not also bidden to ask of him in prayers.” John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion 3:20:2
The personal challenge of this passage was followed by …
The Example of Daniel Nash
Daniel Nash was called, “The Prevailing Prince of Prayer,” in a booklet written on his life by J. Paul Reno.
One of the things I noted about Nash’s life from this booklet was that he partnered with Charles Finney in revival ministry through his work of prayer.
And, as Reno noted about Nash:
“In many ways he was to the U.S. what Praying Hyde was to India. He is known almost exclusively for his powerful prayer ministry… The great evangelist, Charles Finney, left his itinerant ministry for the pastorate within three or four months after this man’s death. Finney never counted on his theology, messages, preaching style, logic, or methods to save souls. He looked rather to mighty prayer and the resulting powerful work of the Holy Spirit to sweep in with great conviction on his audience, that his conversions might be thorough. This may well explain why 80 per cent of those converted in his meetings stood the test of time. Years later Moody followed a similar pattern but without such a prayer warrior. He saw perhaps 50 per cent of his converts last. Today, a well-known evangelist (well-financed and highly organized) recently stated that he would be delighted if 20 per cent of his converts were genuinely converted.”
(J. Paul Reno, Daniel Nash: Prevailing Prince of Prayer, pages 4-5)
By “converted”, Reno seems to imply “those who stayed the course of faith to be disciples.”
Regardless of how you may view the meaning of conversion, there is no doubting the impact and influence Daniel Nash had as a person of prayer.
Nash would go to an area at least one week prior to where Charles Finney would hold his revivals and simply lock himself up in a room to pray, in whatever manner and for whomever he sensed the Spirit leading him.
Between these two current challenges, I found myself questioning what I truly believe about prevailing and persevering prayer and my commitment to cooperate with the Holy Spirit through it.
What about you?