John Hyde – Missionary To India, An Apostle Of Prayer (Part 4)
By Francis McGaw
John Hyde (1865-1912) was being led by the Lord more and more into a life of prayer as he served as a missionary in the Punjab region of India. He was an active participant with the Punjab Prayer-Union and was dedicated with other members to seeking God for revival of the church in their region, with the understanding that revival comes from God in answer to earnest prayer. John Hyde became a leader of the Prayer-Union and of the annual Sialkot Conference which drew Christian workers together to earnestly seek God. Countless were the day and night hours he spent in the prayer tent at the conference on his knees or on his face in prayer.
One summer John went to a friend’s house for a holiday. It was in the hills. The friend writes about it thus:
"Hyde and I have been having glorious times together. There were seasons of great conflict and at times I thought Hyde would break down completely. But after nights of prayer and praise he would appear fresh and smiling in the morning.
"God has been teaching us wonderful lessons when He calls us to seasons of such wrestling. It is that command in Second Timothy 1:8, ‘Suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God.’ So we have the power of God to draw upon for all our need. Ever since Mr. Hyde realized this he says he has scarcely ever felt tired, though he has had at times little sleep for weeks. No man need ever break down through overstrain in this ministry of intercession."
Watching, Praying, Fasting
The next summer John Hyde again went up to the hills to be with his friends. They later wrote:
"His room was a separate one upon the hill, and to one side of our house. Here he came, but came for a very real intercession with his Master. This intercession was fraught with mighty issues for the kingdom of God amongst us.
"It was evident to all that he was bowed down with sore travail of soul. He missed many meals, and when I went to his room I would find him lying as in great agony, or walking up and down as if an inward fire were burning in his bones.
"And so there was, that fire of which our Lord spoke when He said: ‘I came to cast fire upon the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am straitened till it be accomplished!’ (Luke 12:49-50). John did not fast in the ordinary sense of the word, yet often at that time when I begged him to come for a meal he would look at me and smile and say, ‘I am not hungry.’
"No! There was a far greater hunger eating up his very soul, and prayer alone could satisfy that. Before the spiritual hunger the physical disappeared. He had heard our Lord’s voice saying to him: ‘Abide ye here and watch with Me’ (Matt. 26:38). So he abode there with his Lord, who gave him the privilege of entering Gethsemane with Himself.
"One thought was constantly uppermost in his mind, that our Lord still agonizes for souls. Many times he used to quote from the Old and New Testaments, especially as to the privilege of filling up that which was lacking of the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24). ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?’ (Acts 9:4) was one of the verses used of God to open his eyes to the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
"These were days when the clouds were often pierced and the glorified life that our Lord now leads shone through, revealing many mysteries of travail and pain. It was truly a following of Him who is the Lamb, suffering still with us as He once did for us on earth, though now Himself on the throne. John Hyde found that He still carries our crosses – the heavy end of our crosses. ‘For He ever liveth to make intercession for us’ (Heb. 7:25). It was into the life of prayer and watching and agonizing for others that he was being led step by step. All this time, though he ate little and slept less, he was bright and cheerful. Our children had ever been a great joy to him. Uncle John, who had so often played with them, was always welcomed with smiles of love.
"There was nothing of the hermit about him – in fact people were more than ever attracted to him, and freely asked for his prayers. He always had leisure to speak to them of spiritual things, and entered even more patiently than ever into their trials and disappointments.
"We will not speak in detail of those days of watching and praying and fasting when he appeared to enter into our Lord’s great yearning for His sheep. We feared his poor weak body would sink under the strain; but how marvelously he was sustained all the time! At times that agony was silent, at times it was a crying out for the millions perishing before our eyes; yet it was always lit with hope. Hope in the love of God – hope in the God of love."
With all that depth of love which Hyde seemed to be sounding with his Lord, there were glimpses of its heights – moments of heaven upon earth, when his soul was flooded with songs of praise, and he would enter into the joy of his Lord. Then he would break into song but they were always songs in the night.
In those days he never seemed to lose sight of those thousands in his own district without God and without hope in the world. How he pleaded for them with sobs – dry, choking sobs that showed how the depths of his soul were being stirred. "Father, give me these souls or I die!" was the burden of his prayers. His own prayer that he might rather burn out than rust out was already being answered.
One Soul a Day
About this time John Hyde laid hold of God in a very definite covenant. This was for one soul a day, not less, not inquirers simply, but a soul saved, ready to confess Christ in public and be baptized in His name. Then the stress and strain was relieved. His heart was filled with the peace of full assurance. All who spoke to him perceived a new life and new life work which this life can never end.
He returned to his district with this confidence, nor was he disappointed. It meant long journeys, nights of watching unto prayer, and fasting, pain and conflict, yet victory always crowned this. What though the dews chilled him by night and the drought exhausted him by day? His sheep were being gathered into the fold and the Good Shepherd was seeing of the travail of His soul and being satisfied. By the end of that year more than four hundred were gathered in!
Was he satisfied? Far from it. How could he possibly be so long as his Lord was not? How could our Lord be satisfied so long as one single sheep was yet outside His fold? But John Hyde was learning the secret of divine strength: the joy of the Lord. For, after all, the greater our capacity for joy, the greater our capacity for sorrow. Thus it was with the Man of Sorrows, He who could say: "These words have I spoken unto you that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).
(To be continued)
– Taken from the book Praying Hyde by Francis McGaw.