Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26: A Way to Pray: Pray for Souls to be Saved

“…We will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.” (2 Chronicles 20:9 - NKJV)

“O God, give me souls or I die.” - John Hyde

John Hyde was an American missionary who ministered in what is today northern India and Pakistan in the early 1900’s. Today, he is known as “Praying Hyde.”

In 1896 Hyde traveled around to many villages in Pubjab. He wrote, “This year there were no conversions in the villages. There were last year. What is the reason?” His solution was to fall to his knees in prayer. He began to cry out to God for lost souls. He often prayed all day long and through the night, forgoing food and sleep. He was often seen crying as he prayed, “O God, give me souls or I die.”

Hyde’s passion for prayer led to the formation of the Punjab Prayer Union. Their goal was to dedicate themselves to praying for revival.

Hyde saw a need to encourage and train pastors so he invited a group of local pastors to the city of Sialkot for a convention in 1904. Before the first meeting, Hyde spent thirty days on his face before God in prayer. Because of the prayer saturated environment, there was a great outpouring of God’s Spirit. Many confessed their sins and pledged themselves to seek God.

At the Sialkot Convention in following years, there was great “brokenheartedness for sin” and a burden for lost souls. One brother who attended the convention describes what he saw, “Oh, what an awful vision I have had! Thousands of souls in this land…being carried away by the dark river of sin! They are in hell now. Oh, to snatch them from the fire before it is too late.”

In 1908, John Hyde announced at the Sialkot Convention that he was believing for at least one soul to be saved everyday. He asked God, not just for a seeker, but “a soul saved, ready to confess Christ in public and be baptized in his name.” In a nation where some churches went years without any conversions, many thought his goal was impossible. But, John Hyde began to pray and travel and preach. He encouraged those who worked with him to find lost sheep.

One of his friends reported that Hyde “would engage a man in a talk about his salvation. By and by he would have his hands on the man’s shoulder’s, be looking him very earnestly in the eye. Soon he would get the man on his knees, confessing his sins and seeking salvation. Such a one he would baptize in the village, by the roadside, or anywhere.”

By the end of that year, over four hundred new believers had been baptized! In 1909, John Hyde asked God for an even more audacious request. He wanted two souls to be saved every day. If the daily quota was not filled, his response was to stay up all night in prayer crying out for God to give him souls. As he focused on soul winning, he found himself drawing closer to the heart of God. He preached, “When we keep near to Jesus it is He who draws souls to Himself through us.”

Over eight hundred people were saved that year and at the Sialkot Convention in 1910 the vision was enlarged once again. That year, Hyde set a goal of leading at least four people to Jesus every day. His example challenged other pastors and missionaries. Some ministries that had experienced years of little or no fruit suddenly saw hundreds coming into the kingdom of God.

Much of what God has done in Pakistan and northern India in the past one hundred years can be traced back to the original Sialkot Convention and the prayers of John Hyde.