|“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49|
Some years ago, a church in England began to experience a mighty work of God. Ministers of other denominations inquired as to how it started, and were told the following story:
“Ours was a church that did not have a summer slump, for ours was a year-round slump. How we worked for that church! But despite all our efforts the services continued to dwindle and lose ground Sunday after Sunday, until it seemed we would have to close.
“We blamed the minister. He was a godly man and would have given his life for the Gospel. He blamed the young people. Some almost blamed God Himself!
“About this time a quiet, middle-aged woman moved into town. Her faith was boundless. She knew the Bible from cover to cover. Her quiet but trusting faith put us to shame. The sight of our unfilled pews, almost empty Sunday School left her undismayed. ‘God wants His house filled,’ she said. ‘He wants the young people saved and the older ones reclaimed. He wants men and women delivered from Satan’s power. We must take ourselves to prayer for them.'”
“Encouraged by her insistent, unfaltering faith, we set ourselves to praying. We began, a little band of eight earnest souls. Every day at eleven and again at four, we gave ourselves to prayer for the minister, for the ingathering of souls in the community, for our loved ones, for those in authority in our nation, for all saints, for all men, and for the mission fields. As God laid it on our hearts, so we prayed.
“Every evening for one hour before services we prayed unitedly, earnestly. All talking was forbidden. We tiptoed to our place of prayer and stayed there as long as our hearts were burdened. Prayer became our business. We gave ourselves to it with all that was in us. And how God did help us! We did not proclaim what we were doing abroad, but others attracted by our earnestness began to join us in prayer.
“Soon the attendance in church and Sunday School began to increase. By God’s help, we built an altar of prayer in our church and built all other things around it. We held with an iron grasp the hours we had pledged to prayer. The leadership of the Holy Spirit was acknowledged. Human leadership and self-assertion were not encouraged in our midst. All self was humbled. Our spirits were contrite and broken under the burden of prayer for lost souls.
“Our minister caught the fire. Our church became holy ground. Before the town realized it, the church services were crowded. The theaters and dance halls were almost deserted, and the spirit of a heaven-sent revival pervaded the whole town and countryside.”