Getting Hold of God
Getting Hold of God
By Evangelist Paul Mershon
March 1, 2010
“And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he
prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of
Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh.
And he said, I WILL NOT LET THEE GO, except thou bless me. And he said unto
him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a
prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And
Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore
is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob
called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:24-30).
After the death of D. L. Moody, a Presbyterian by the name of J.
Wilbur Chapman became the best known American evangelist before the rise
of Billy Sunday. In 1911, Chapman was on an evangelistic preaching tour in
Shrewsbury, Wales. A large hall was rented for the planned ten day
crusade. For three days the crowds were sparse and there was no response to Chapman’s
invitations for salvation. In desperation, he asked to meet with the
local pastors and leaders for prayer and counsel to find out if anything could
be done to stir the hearts of the people. His appeal to these ministry
leaders was met with a tepid response. Chapman left the meeting deeply discouraged.
Unknown to Chapman, an American Presbyterian missionary from India
by the name of John Hyde was in that meeting of ministers. He was on
furlough and visiting a fellow missionary friend in Shrewsbury. Hyde had been
working in India for 20 years and gained the nick-name “Praying Hyde” because of
his remarkable commitment to intercessory prayer. When he received a burden
of prayer, all else was forgotten. He would go days without food or sleep,
devoted to intense prayer. His prayers radically changed the climate of northern
India. Everywhere he went, revival fires burned.
Although John Hyde had only intended to hear Chapman preach one
night, after that pastor’s meeting and feeling the chilly spiritual
climate, he changed his plans. He immediately went to work in prayer, interceding on
Chapman’s behalf saying, “I cannot leave a brother minister to bear this
burden alone.” Day and night, unseen by anyone, Hyde prayed for God’s touch
upon Chapman, that God’s power would crush the spiritual indifference, and
that souls would be birthed into God’s kingdom. At the next meeting, Chapman
“Almost instantly the tide changed– the hall was packed, and my first
invitation meant 50 men for Jesus Christ.”
The crusade ended being very fruitful. Chapman had learned of John
Hyde’s intercessions on his behalf and asked to pray with him before he
left. Chapman says that Hyde entered the room, closed the door, dropped to his knees
and for five minutes did not utter a word. Hyde turned his face up to God, then turned the fountains of his great heart
open. Chapman adds, “I felt the hot tears running down my face. I knew that we had entered into
the presence of God.” With upturned face, down which the tears were streaming, John Hyde said two words: “Oh
There was silence again for another five minutes. Then Hyde put his arm around
Chapman’s shoulders and Chapman writes,
“There came up from the depths of his heart such petitions for men as I
have never heard before, and I rose from my knees to know what real
prayer was.” (Copied)
“John Hyde, the Apostle of Prayer,” says Francis A. McGaw,
“was reared in a home where Jesus was an abiding guest and where the
family in that home breathed an atmosphere of prayer.” John’s father,
Dr. Smith Harris Hyde, was himself a man of prayer . . . John Hyde surpassed
his distinguished father in the holy exercise of prayer and left India an
indenture in the praying records. He was in India only nineteen years, but what
glorious years! What inspiration others got from this wrestling Jacob! Some knew
the more intimate seasons that Hyde had with God. God knew John Hyde;
John Hyde knew God. Again I say, there is all the difference in the world between knowing the Word of God and knowing the
God of the Word. John Hyde’s “homing instinct of the soul” led him to the
prayer closet. That was his habitat. There he soared; there he listened;
there he heard; there he grew; there he wept; there he developed spiritual
muscle . .
. John Hyde had a prayer harbor where his soul delighted in the Lord and
where the Lord delighted in him . . . Listening by John’s door, men heard him
weeping, even as Jesus wept over Jerusalem and even as the Apostle Paul wept for
the stubborn sinners of his day.
No Bible school can teach us this art of tears. Hyde knew those “groanings
which cannot be uttered.” . . . He would stay on his face before God
until the answer came clear. Even if he had to stay alone for as long as forty hours, yet he would not let God go until
he knew the yea or nay of the Spirit in the matter for which he sought God .
.(From, “Revival Praying,” by Leonard Ravenhill)
When asked in what area of my Christian life I am most dissatisfied, the answer comes very
easily. I don’t even have to give the question a second thought, and I am able to answer instantly. It would be in the area of prayer that I findmyself most lacking. It is certainly not
that I do not pray, for I do, and I delight in entering into the presence of the Lord with my supplications and intercessions. But
I have sensed for some time that my prayer-life does not have the depth that it should. Recently God allowed
me to enter into a period of severe trial and testing all designed to teach me
how to have a deeper and more plaintive prayer life.
There have been more than a few nights when I found myself awake
and meeting with the Lord into the early hours of the morning, and through
all of this I have found that God is teaching me what it is to get hold of Him
in a new and much more meaningful way.
Indeed, I have found new joy and power in long hours at the
Throne of Grace. With the tears that come with a
pleading heart, I have found a fresh measure of peace and assurance as I
have sought the face of the Lord.
I am just finishing up a month of filling the pulpit in the absence of my pastor while he
has been in the Philippines. As I prayed for
God’s leading as to that which He would have me preach yesterday
morning, it was the subject of prayer that kept coming to heart. I
was reminded of having read of the powerful prayer-life of John Hyde many years ago.
I can remember how moved I was when I read his biography, and
even more moved by the testimonies of men who knew him during his missionary years
in India. I have never forgotten the words of J. Wilbur Chapman and his account of those precious moments when he
and John Hyde bowed in prayer together in that little room. Even now I weep when I think of how powerful
an experience it must have been for Wilbur Chapman as Brother Hyde uttered the
words, “Oh, God!” I am reminded of David’s prayer recorded
in Psalm 63. “O God, thou art my God; early will
I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth
for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power
and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness
is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee
while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My
soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise
thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee
in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow
of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth
hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth
me” (Psalms 63:1-8).
Through the crucible of trials and tears, God has used it all to teach me one very important
lesson about prayer. It seems to me that there
is a monumental difference between praying and truly getting hold of
God. John Hyde really knew how to get hold of
God. I genuinely believe that many, if not most
Christians pray with little real power or effect. I
am not sure that all of God’s people know
how to get hold of God and really enter into His presence.
Since I was saved 36 years ago I have
certainly made prayer a part of my life and walk with the Lord. Certainly there have been those seasons of
fervency and great blessing as I have sought the Lord in prayer, but it has
only been recently that I have come to realize that my prayer-life has
not had the depth of a John Hyde. I have been
praying, but have I really been getting hold of God?
Luke 11:1 wa brought
to memory as I contemplated all of this.
“And it came to pass, that, as he was
praying in a certain place, when
he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray,
as John also taught his disciples” As
the disciples must have observed the Lord Jesus in prayer many times,
they surely saw a difference in the way he prayed as opposed to the way they
prayed. They must have been observing Him on this occasion as well. When he ceased His praying, one the
disciples asked that he teach them to pray. They did not ask Him to teach them how to
preach, but how to pray – how to really get hold of God in prayer. Again, there is a monumental difference
between praying and truly getting hold of God.
I have watched men over the years and noticed that there is a marked holiness about those
who really get hold of God in prayer. As Jacob prevailed as he wrestled with whom I believe to be a
pre-incarnate, Theophanous manifestation of Christ, he prevailed in his rudimentary
form of prayer. Men who get hold of God in prayer are always
men of marked holiness, and men who prevail with God in prayer. John Hyde was just such a man. But
if we are to pray and get hold of God as did Hyde, and others of like surrender, we need to be certain that there
is nothing that would hinder our prayers, no besetting weight or sin.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalms 66:18).
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy
hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8).
Today I retrieved from my library Leonard Ravenhill’s book
entitled, “Revival Praying.” In closing, I want to quote the following
for your prayerful thought and edification. May I also say that I covet and welcome your thoughts and
feedback on this particular Revival Thought. I would
be interested in your thoughts.
protracted prayer, groaning prayer, fasting prayer, weeping prayer,
prayer – belongs to those initiated in a spirit of prayer, that is, into
“praying in the Holy Ghost.” To the uninstructed, terms like these mean
“works.” But praying friend, faint not;
such critics may yet learn. In the language of Horatius
Bonar it may be said of protracted, groaning, speechless prayer, “It is
the Master went. Should not the servant tread it still?”. . .
. . . I believe
most of us will need the tears wiped from our eyes when the books are
the judgment bar of God, and our personal prayer record is read. By a
paradox those who pray most, feel they pray little. This much is sure:
who prays, struts! . . . .
Has the blessed
Spirit toned down His operations? With reverence we ask, “Did God close
His production lines after the Spirit had come upon Wesley, upon Finney,
such men? Were those leaders spiritual
they oddities of grace, eccentrics who were a little off in their
operations?’ These days we are spiritually so subnormal
that to be just normal
the New Testament pattern) seems to make us abnormal .
. . . In prayer we
need holy men, for the holy
men are bold, reaching out in the Spirit and feeling the tug of divine
yearnings. Like their Master, holy men also know strong crying and
to God our Bible schools would give a special period each year to
Satan fears prayer
and offsets it at every angle. At every opportunity he stalls the
take part in it, for he has felt the smart of men who pray in the Holy
. . In the book of Acts we read that demons cried, “Jesus I know and Paul I
know.” Because Paul
how to pray in the Holy Ghost, hell rocked in fury. Bloody Mary is said
feared the prayers of John Knox more than the tramping feet of armies.
devil less intelligence than that queen? Ah brethren, in this kind of
most of us feel like worms (Isaiah 41:14) – a blessed experience if it
mock humility . . .
The early church
prayed; every revival church has prayed; every participant in revival
has known travail. Though there are some tearful intercessors behind the
scenes, I grant you that to our modern Christianity, praying is foreign.