Daunting as they are, I occasionally enjoy reading the stories of saints of old, especially intercessors. Though these folks are bigger than life, don't you have to admit that their prayer practices are inspiring? Consider for example
Martin Luther (1483-1546) who is quoted as saying, "I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done.”
Susanna Wesley (1669-1742 ) who, despite being a busy mom (mother to 19 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood including John and Charles) found time to pray for two hours every day. If she couldn't find a quiet place, she was said to have flipped her apron over her head as a makeshift sanctuary.
Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) who is credited with starting a 100-year 24/7 prayer meeting among the Moravians in 1727.
David Brainerd (1718-1747) who is said to have prayed in the snow until it melted around him and was stained by his blood as he coughed away his life with tuberculosis, prevailing in prayer for revival among the American Indians.
George Müller (1805-1898) who prayed for a friend's salvation for more than 50 years--until he died--and only realized the answer to that prayer until after he went to be with the Lord.
Rees Howells (1879-1950) who, for a season of prayer for the widows of India, ate only rice and water to more readily sympathize with and "become one" with them.
Frank Laubach (1884-1970) who made it his goal to "check in" with God at least one time every minute, every hour of the day, every day of the week.
Another legendary person of prayer, one whom I was privileged to write about recently, is John Hyde, also known as "Praying Hyde." Hyde often spent long vigils in prayer, from 36 hours on his knees, to 30 consecutive days and nights, depending on whose account you read. In 1896, after visiting many of the villages in the state of Punjab in India, he became known for his urgent prayer, "Oh God, give me souls or I die." And God did! In 1908 Hyde dared to ask God for a soul to be saved every day that year--and by the same time the following year, 400 salvations had been reported.
I give a brief account of Hyde's story in the fresh-off-the-presses Dictionary of Christian Spirituality.
It's a great resource on all kinds of topics of interest to spirtually minded Christians--especially those of us who are interested in prayer. This reference work provides readers with a global, biographical, historical, topical, and biblical understanding of the origins, development, and contemporary expressions of Christian spirituality. If you decide to get a copy of it, check out my entries on "Intercession," "Memorization, Bible," and, of course, "Hyde, John."
Whose prayer life has inspired you? I'd love to hear from you.