But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:6

I once heard a preacher say that our most recent answered prayers are a testimony of God’s near presence, and that faith empowers us to continue praying even when God seems far away. With this thought in mind, let me share about “Praying Hyde.”

John Hyde, also known as “Praying Hyde,” was a missionary to India in the early 1900s and had such an all-consuming burden for the salvation of souls that he would not stop praying until God brought another soul, and then another, to the truth. At one time, he was convicted that he needed to pray for at least one soul a day for the following year. It was an extraordinary prayer challenge, and some even mocked his goal, saying it was unreasonable and presumptuous. However, he had peace from God and so he pressed forward in prayer — and God answered.

It certainly wasn’t easy praying through those many long nights and fasting in agony through those long days, but he persisted, and God gave him the victory. At the end of that year, more than four hundred souls had come to know Christ directly through his efforts.

Reflecting on this first year, his friend E. G. Carré wrote, “Was he satisfied [after seeing one soul a day come to Christ]? Far from it. How could he possibly be so long as his Lord was not? How could our Lord be satisfied, so long as one single sheep was yet outside His fold?”

The next year, Hyde pleaded with the Lord for greater blessings. This time he asked for two souls a day! God answered again, and over eight hundred souls were converted! Still not satisfied, his burden and cry for souls growing heavier and heavier, and knowing that Christ deserves the lives of those He died to save, the following year he again laid hold on God with a holy desperation, pleading for four souls a day. It took weeks of praying, weeks of weeping, weeks of wrestling with the Lord before he once again had the confident assurance that God had heard and would answer. And God did!

“John Hyde seemed to always be hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice saying, ‘Other sheep I have — other sheep I have.’ No matter if he won the one a day or two a day or four a day, he had an unsatisfied longing, an undying passion for lost souls.”

The supernatural success that followed John Hyde’s prayers did not come without a price. And it’s a price probably few of us would be willing to pay. Because of the intense prayer burden and agony for souls that he carried, and because of the great taxation exerted upon his body spending days and nights and sometimes weeks in prayer, his heart literally moved from one side of his chest to the other. After a few years of intense wrestling in prayer, while he was still young, he died of a heart condition — a broken heart for the lost.

How often our own fervency pales in comparison with disciples like this. And yet, how his testimony can inspire us to dare to ask God for more.

One of my favorite quotes says, “It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:12, margin).¹” Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel. Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come to gather the precious grain.”

I share the story of “Praying Hyde” because his testimony has challenged me in my own prayer life as no other. I may not be winning my thousands to Christ, as many evangelists and other leaders are. And I certainly don’t feel I’m at the point where I could confidently ask God for one soul a day. However, awhile back God did impress me that I could ask for at least one answered prayer a day. And since I started journaling and keeping accurate records almost two years ago now, there has not been one day when I haven’t received at least one answer to prayer. Some days I receive four or five answers, and one day this past week I received seven!

From watching God restore broken relationships on the brink of divorce, to seeing Him bring specific lost souls into the truth, to experiencing spiritual and physical healing, to seeing impossible obstacles before me vanish, to having specific needs met when the only One who knew my need was God, to having free gravel dumped on my driveway (yes, God even cares about gravel!), to receiving wisdom and amazingly opening doors in ministry — the answers just go on and on and on. Obviously, I don’t have space to share about all the miracles here and now. But as I’ve seen God answering my prayers every day, sometimes in big ways, and sometimes in small ways, but always in a significant way, my faith has been growing and growing.

I believe with all my heart that God is longing for us to expect more, pray for more, and ask for more in faith. And it all starts with personal consecration in our private prayer closet. We can’t dream too big if we are living and working according to His will. It’s not about our talents or capabilities anyway. It’s about His! It is for the accomplishment of His purposes that we pray!

Inspiration reminds us, “You need not go to the ends of the earth for wisdom, for God is near. It is not the capabilities you now possess or ever will have that will give you success. It is that which the Lord can do for you. We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him.²”

Call to Action

Praying alone in our secret prayer closet is paramount to our spiritual success, both personally and corporately. It is a special privilege that can never be replaced by praying with others. Know Christ personally. Learn how to wrestle with Him alone. Secret prayer will prove to be a powerful blessing,

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1. E. G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Battle Creek, Mich.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1900), 67.

2. Ibid, 146.

All scripture taken from the King James Version.

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