The Holy Spirit Gives A Spirit Of Prayer
Charles G. Finney writes about a man who had a remarkable God-given spirit of prayer. Of the man, Mr. Abel Clary, Finney writes: “He had been licensed to preach, but his spirit of prayer was such, he was so burdened with the souls of men, that he was not able to preach much, his whole time and strength being given to prayer. The burden of his soul would frequently be so great that he was unable to stand, and he would writhe and groan in agony. I was well acquainted with him, and knew something of the wonderful spirit of prayer that was upon him. He was a very silent man, as almost all are who have that powerful spirit of prayer.
“The first I knew of his being at Rochester (where Finney was having meetings), a gentleman who lived about a mile west of the city, called on me one day and asked me if I knew a Mr. Abel Clary, a minister. I told him that I knew him well.
“‘Well,’ said he, ‘he is at my house, and has been there for some time, and I don’t know what to think of him.’
“I said, ‘I have not seen him at any of our meetings.’
“‘No,’ he replied, ‘he cannot go to meetings, he says. He prays nearly all the time, day and night, and in such agony of mind that I do not know what to make of it. Sometimes he cannot even stand on his knees, but will lie prostrate on the floor, and groan and pray in a manner that quite astonishes me.’
“I said to the brother, ‘I understand it; please keep still. It will all come out right; he will surely prevail.’”
Of the revival that followed in Rochester; Mr. Finney records: “Years after that, in conversing with Dr. Beecher about this powerful revival and its results, he remarked: ‘That was the greatest work of God, and the greatest revival of religion, that the world has ever seen, in so short a time. One hundred thousand,’ he remarked, ‘were reported as having connected themselves with churches, as the results of that great revival. This,’ he said, ‘is unparalleled in the history of the church, and of the progress of religion.’ He spoke of this having been done in one year; and said that in no year during the Christian era, had we any account of so great a revival of religion . …”
After the remarkable revival in Rochester, Mr. Finney was called to minister in Auburn. Mr. Finney writes:
“I have spoken of Mr. Clary as the praying man, who was at Rochester. He had a brother, a physician, living in Auburn. I think it was the second Sabbath that I was at Auburn at this time, I observed in the congregation the solemn face of this Mr. Clary. He looked as if he was borne down with an agony of prayer. Being well acquainted with him, and knowing the great gift of God that was upon him, the spirit of prayer, I was very glad to see him there. He sat in the pew with his brother, the doctor, who was also a professor of religion, but who knew nothing by experience, I should think, of his brother Abel’s great power with God.
“At intermission, as soon as I came down from the pulpit, Mr. Clary, with his brother, met me at the pulpit stairs, and the doctor invited me to go home with him and spend the intermission and get some refreshments. I did so.
“After arriving at his house we were soon summoned to the dinner table. We gathered about the table, and Dr. Clary turned to his brother and said, ‘Brother Abel, will you ask a blessing?’ Brother Abel bowed his head and began, audibly, to ask a blessing. He had uttered but a sentence or two when he broke instantly down, moved suddenly back from the table, and fled to his chamber. The doctor supposed he had been taken suddenly ill, and rose up and followed him.
“In a few moments he came down and said, ‘Mr. Finney, brother Abel wants to see you. … He appears to be in great distress. …’
“I understood it in a moment, and went to his room. He lay groaning upon the bed, the Spirit making intercession for him, and in him, with groanings that could not be uttered. I had barely entered the room when he made out to say, ‘Pray, Brother Finney.’ I knelt down and helped him in prayer, by leading his soul out for the conversion of sinners. I continued to pray until his distress passed away, and then I returned to the dinner table.
“I understood that this was the voice of God. I saw the Spirit of prayer was upon him, and I felt his influence upon myself, and took it for granted that the work would move on powerfully. It did so. … The pastor told me afterward, that he found that in the six weeks that I was there, five hundred souls had been converted. …”
Might God again give this nation those who possess such a spirit of prayer as will break through to revival and affect the whole land!