The Revival Labors Of Charles G. Finney (Part 3)
Arranged from his book, The Memoirs of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875)
From village to village and city to city Charles G. Finney went as the Lord directed, in revival labors that covered a period of forty years. He emphasized that the revivals were the work of the Holy Spirit, without whom nothing could have been accomplished. One manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power was a spirit of prayer.
Finney wrote, "The spirit of prayer that prevailed in those revivals was a very marked feature of them. It was common for young converts to be greatly exercised in prayer; and in some instances, so much so, that they were constrained to pray whole nights and until their bodily strength was quite exhausted – for the conversion of souls around them.
"There was a great pressure of the Holy Spirit upon the minds of Christians; and they seemed to bear about with them the burden of immortal souls. They manifested the greatest solemnity of mind, and the greatest watchfulness in all their words and actions. It was very common to find Christians, whenever they met in any place, instead of engaging in conversation, to fall on their knees in prayer.
"Not only were prayer meetings greatly multiplied and fully attended, not only was there great solemnity in those meetings, but there was a mighty spirit of secret prayer. Christians prayed a great deal, many of them spending many hours in private prayer. It was also the case that two or more would take the promise: ‘If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven’ (Matt. 18:19), and make some particular person a subject of prayer; and it was wonderful to what an extent they prevailed.
"Answers to prayer were so manifestly multiplied on every side, that no one could escape the conviction that God was daily and hourly answering prayer. If anything occurred that threatened to mar the work, if there was any appearance of any root of bitterness springing up or any tendency to fanaticism or disorder, Christians would take the alarm and give themselves to prayer that God would direct and control all things; and it was surprising to see to what extent and by what means God would remove obstacles out of the way in answer to prayer."
Finney’s Spirit of Prayer
Of his personal experience in prayer, Finney wrote: "In regard to my own experience, I will say that unless I had the spirit of prayer I could do nothing. If even for a day or an hour I lost the spirit of grace and supplication, I found myself unable to preach with power and efficiency, or to win souls by personal conversation. In this respect my experience was what it has always been.
"At one time for several weeks…I was very strongly exercised in prayer and had an experience that was somewhat new to me. I found myself so much exercised and so borne down with the weight of immortal souls that I was constrained to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). Some of my experiences, indeed, alarmed me. A spirit of importunity sometimes came upon me so that I would say to God that He had made a promise to answer prayer, and I could not and would not be denied. I felt certain that He would hear me and that faithfulness to His promises and to Himself rendered it impossible that He should not hear and answer. Frequently I found myself saying to Him, ‘I hope Thou dost not think that I can be denied. I come with Thy faithful promises in my hand, and I cannot be denied.’
"I cannot tell how absurd unbelief looked to me at that time, and how certain it was in my mind that God would answer prayer – those prayers that from day to day and from hour to hour I found myself offering in such agony and faith. I had no idea of the shape the answer would take, the locality in which the prayers would be answered, or the exact time of the answer. My impression was that the answer was near, even at the door; and I felt myself strengthened in the divine life. I put on the harness for a mighty conflict with the powers of darkness, and expected soon to see a far more powerful outpouring of the Spirit of God in that new area where I was laboring at that time."
(To be continued)