One night when I was at my office, an older man rushed in and said, “My wife cannot live through the night.” I recognized him as the husband of a woman I’d met months earlier; he was a Christian, but his wife was not.
Suddenly the burden of prayer gripped me. As a young Christian, I didn’t understand what was happening. But the desire to pray for the woman was intense. So, I immediately left the office and went to the church to pray for her. There I struggled, unable to say many words at all. I could only groan with groanings, loud and deep.
I spent a long time at the church, but found no relief. Not sure what to do, I went back to the office, but couldn’t sit still. Walking back and forth in the room, I agonized. Returning to the church, I tried praying to the Lord, but words couldn’t express what I felt. I could only groan and weep. Once again I returned to the office, but was unable to rest. Desperate, I returned a third time to the church and wrestled. Finally the Lord gave me power to breakthrough. I was able to roll the burden upon Him, and received assurance that this woman wouldn’t die and in fact would be saved!
With peace of mind I went home to bed and slept. Early the next morning the man returned to my office. “How’s your wife?” I asked. Smiling, he said, “She’s alive and much better this morning.” I then shared that I believed his wife would completely recover and also be saved. Comforted by my words, the man left my office. Shortly after this, his wife did recover and became a Christian too.
At first I didn’t understand what I’d experienced that night. But several days later, while sharing it with a Christian brother, he said to me, “Finney, that was the travail of your soul.” As he pointed out specific scriptures to help me understand, I thanked the Lord for teaching me about the spirit of prayer.
Story adapted from The Autobiography of Charles Finney 1977
Charles Finney, 1782-1875, was a man of intense prayer, purity and passion. Once converted, he left his law practice and became known as a fiery soul winner and prayer warrior. His ministry made an enduring impact, releasing an awakening for Christ throughout America.
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