John Hyde – Missionary To India, An Apostle Of Prayer (Part 2)
By Francis McGaw
John Hyde (1865 – 1912) as a missionary in India was burdened for revival in the Punjab region in which he was serving God. From the beginning of the Punjab Prayer-Union which developed in the area he was involved and was one of the leaders in the annual conference of the Prayer-Union known as the Sialkot Conference. Before one of the first conferences, he and another brother sought the Lord in day and night prayers for one month, seeking for a spiritual awakening in the area. A third brother joined them after nine days.
As you look at those long-continued vigils, those days of fasting and prayer, those nights of wakeful watching and intercessions, do you say: "What a price to pay!" I point you to scores and hundreds of workers quickened and fitted for the service of Christ; I point you to literally thousands prayed into the kingdom and I say unto you, "Behold, the purchase of such a price!"
One of his dearest friends in India writes about the great change that came in John Hyde’s spiritual life at this convention. While he was speaking to his brother missionaries on the work of the Holy Spirit, God spoke to his own soul and opened up to him the divine plan of sanctification by faith. Such a touch of God, such a light from heaven came to him that he said at the close of the convention: "I must not lose this vision." And he never did lose it, but rather obtained grace for grace, and the vision brightened as he went obediently forward.
During those days of the convention, he spoke on the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of God. That mighty love seemed to reach out through him and grip the hearts of men and women and draw them close to God. One missionary wrote:
"One night he came into my study about half-past nine and began to talk to me about the value of public testimony. We had an earnest discussion until long after midnight.
"We had asked him on the next evening to lead a meeting for men which was being held in the tabernacle out on the compound, while the women of the convention were holding a meeting of their own in the missionary bungalow. When the time for the meeting arrived, the men of us were seated there on the mats in the tent, but Mr. Hyde, the leader, had not arrived. We began to sing, and sang several numbers before he did come in, quite late.
"I remember how he sat down on the mat in front of us, and sat silently for a considerable time after the singing stopped. Then he arose and said to us very quietly, ‘Brothers, I did not sleep any last night and I have not eaten anything today. I have been having a great controversy with God. I feel that He has wanted me to come here and testify to you concerning some things that He has done for me, and I have been arguing with Him that I should not do this. Only this evening a little while ago have I got peace concerning the matter and have I agreed to obey Him, and now I have come to tell you just some things He has done for me.’
"After making this brief statement, he told us very quietly and simply some of the desperate conflicts that he had had with sin, and how God had given him victory. I think he did not talk more than fifteen or twenty minutes, then sat down, bowed his head for a few minutes, and said, ‘Let us have a season of prayer.’
"I remember how the little company prostrated themselves upon the mats in the oriental manner, and then how for a long time, man after man rose to his feet to pray, how there was such confession of sin as most of us had never heard before and such crying out to God for mercy and help. It was very late that night when the little gathering broke up and some of us know definitely of lives that were wholly transformed through the influence of that meeting."
"Brokenheartedness for Sin"
In the spring of each year the Punjab Prayer-Union held its annual meeting. But as preparation for this meeting the leaders spent much time in prayers and fastings and all night watching. Then when the Union came together we looked to God for guidance during the coming year.
The next year at that annual meeting God laid on our hearts the burden of a world plunged in sin. We were permitted to share to some extent in the sufferings of Christ. It was a glorious preparation for the convention in the fall.
At this convention John Hyde was constantly in the prayer room day and night; he lived there as on the Mount of Transfiguration. The words were burned into his mind as a command from God: "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that are the Lord’s remembrancers, take ye no rest, and give Him no rest till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth" (Isa. 62:6-7).
There can be no doubt that he was sustained by divine strength, for are we not told to endure hardness according to the power of God, not in our own weakness but in His strength? It was not the quantity but the quality of sweet childlike sleep that our Father gave His servant which enabled him to continue so long watching unto prayer. One could see from his face that it was the presence of Christ Himself that strengthened his weak body. John Hyde was the principal speaker, but it was from communion with God that he derived his power.
He was leader of the morning Bible readings, his subject being John 15:26-27: "He shall bear witness of Me, and ye also bear witness...." John developed the theme: "Is the Holy Spirit first in your pulpits, pastors? Do you consciously put Him in front, and keep yourselves behind Him, when preaching? Teachers, when you are asked hard questions do you ask His aid as a witness of all Christ’s life? He alone was a witness of the incarnation, the miracles, the death and the resurrection of Christ. So He is the only witness!" It was a heart-searching message, and many were bowed down under the convicting power.
The next morning Mr. Hyde was not allowed to give any further teaching. As chairman he came down from his seat and declared the meeting to be in the hands of God’s Spirit. How wonderfully He witnessed of Christ and His power to cleanse all who repent! The next morning once again His servant said that he had no fresh message from God. It was pointed out that God would not be mocked. Until we had all learned this lesson as to putting the Holy Spirit first at all times, God would not give any fresh message. Who can forget that day? How wonderfully those prayers were answered! "…We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37).
(To be continued)
– Taken from the book Praying Hyde by Francis McGaw.