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 writes, “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 God!” 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 find myself 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 was 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.
Prayer – protracted prayer, groaning prayer, fasting prayer, weeping prayer, speechless 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 way 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 opened at the judgment bar of God, and our personal prayer record is read. By a strange paradox those who pray most, feel they pray little. This much is sure: No man who prays, struts! . . . .
Has the blessed Spirit toned down His operations? With reverence we ask, “Did God close down His production lines after the Spirit had come upon Wesley, upon Finney, and such men? Were those leaders spiritual freaks? Were they oddities of grace, eccentrics who were a little off in their spiritual operations?’ These days we are spiritually so subnormal that to be just normal (according to 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 tears. Would to God our Bible schools would give a special period each year to training men in prayer.
Satan fears prayer and offsets it at every angle. At every opportunity he stalls the impulse to take part in it, for he has felt the smart of men who pray in the Holy Ghost . . . In the book of Acts we read that demons cried, “Jesus I know and Paul I know.” Because Paul knew how to pray in the Holy Ghost, hell rocked in fury. Bloody Mary is said to have feared the prayers of John Knox more than the tramping feet of armies. Has the devil less intelligence than that queen? Ah brethren, in this kind of praying most of us feel like worms (Isaiah 41:14) – a blessed experience if it is not mock humility . . .
The early church prayed; every revival church has prayed; every participant in revival prayer has known travail. Though there are some tearful intercessors behind the scenes, I grant you that to our modern Christianity, praying is foreign.