Summary: MY316 is a 5 week Small group study put out by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma that we did at our church. It's a study that focuses on evangelism. I preached 5 sermons that went along with each weeks study.
“Principles of praying for the lost”
Charles Finney is a name known to everyone who has studied the mighty movements of God in country. A former lawyer turned preacher by the call of God, Charles Finney was one of the key figures during the Second Great Awakening in 19th Century America, which touched virtually every aspect of life in this country. Finney is sometimes called "America's foremost revivalist," and there's no doubt that God had His hand on him. In the seven years in which Finney was an evangelist, there were an estimated 500,000 conversions. His ministry in Rochester, NY from 1830-1831 has been called the greatest year of spiritual awakening in American history. Someone did a follow-up study of those reportedly converted under Finney's preaching, and found that, years later, 80% of those who made professions of faith gave evidence of true life change.
What is more, there were immediate effects felt in the social structures of entire cities and townships. By every standard we know, that is extraordinary. How do you account for the effectiveness that visited this man and his ministry? To what can we attribute the amazing harvest God accomplished from his preaching? If you ask Charles Finney, he will point to one man who partnered with him in his crusades: Daniel Nash. Daniel Nash joined himself to Finney for the purpose of prayer. When Finney was invited to speak in a city, Nash would arrive 3 or 4 weeks early, rent a room, find a small group of like-minded Christians to join him, and start a prayer meeting to plead with God for souls. Once the public meetings began, Nash usually did not attend. He and his group would stay hidden away, agonizing in prayer for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to melt the crowd.
On one occasion, Finney himself noted in his journal that when he arrived in a particular town for a revival, he was met by a lady who ran a boarding house. "Brother Finney," she asked, "do you know Mr. Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven't eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn't know what to do. Would you please come and see about them?" And Charles Finney replied, "No, it isn't necessary. They just have a spirit of travail in prayer."
Finney and Nash traveled thousands of miles together, in prayer and proclamation of the Gospel. Then in the winter of 1831, Nash took ill. On December 20 of that year, while he was on his knees in prayer, he died at age 56. Charles Finney said this of his dear friend and partner in ministry: "Said a good man to me: 'Oh, I am dying for the want of strength to pray! My body is crushed, the world is on me, and how can I forbear praying?' I have known that man to go to bed absolutely sick, for weakness and faintness, under the pressure. And I have known him to pray as if he would do violence to Heaven, and then have seen the blessing come as plainly in answer to his prayer as if it were revealed, so that no person could doubt it any more than if God had spoken from heaven.
"Shall I tell you how he died? He prayed more and more; he used to take the map of the world before him, and pray, and look over the different countries and pray for them, till he expired in his room, praying. Blessed man! He was the reproach of the ungodly, and of carnal, unbelieving professors; but he was the favorite of Heaven, and a prevailing prince of prayer." Today, there is a marker on a neglected grave in a cemetery near the Canadian border that reads, "Daniel Nash, Pastor, Laborer with Finney, Mighty in Prayer." He never had the limelight, the stage, or the accolades. But he shook heaven and hell because he believed in the power of praying together.
Let’s be honest this morning, we need prayer meetings like that—that do battle for souls; that overcome obstacles and move God's hand. As I peer through the window of God's Word, specifically in the church in Acts, I see those kinds of prayer meetings. Prayer is a beautiful gift that God has given to His children. It is mysterious and yet intimate. It is the breath of our relationship. And yet many times we use prayer as a personal shopping list from which God can fill our cart. Prayer is about finding and doing God’s will and one of His great desires is that the lost are saved. Read 1 John 5:13-15. This morning I want to show you the Principles of Powerful Prayer. Take a walk with me into the Prayer Meetings that turned the world of their day upside-down. This morning, I want to focus on three principles of powerful praying.