The Revival Labors Of Charles G. Finney (Part 6)
Arranged from his book, The Memoirs of Charles G. Finney (1792-1875)
Striking characteristics of the revivals which God sent through the ministry of Charles Finney were said to be "a mighty spirit of prevailing prayer; overwhelming conviction of sin; sudden and powerful conversions to Christ; great love and abounding joy of the converts; and their great earnestness, activity, and usefulness in their prayers and labors for others."
At a certain city where revival was in progress, they had prayer meetings from house to house daily at eleven o’clock. "At one of those meetings," wrote Mr. Finney, "a Mr. S____, cashier of a bank in that city, was so pressed by the spirit of prayer that when the meeting was dismissed he was unable to rise from his knees, as we had all just been kneeling in prayer. He remained upon his knees, and writhed and groaned in agony.
"He said, ‘Pray for Mr. ____,’ president of the bank of which he was cashier. This president was a wealthy, unconverted man. When it was seen that Mr. S____’s soul was in travail for that man, the praying people knelt down, and wrestled in prayer for the man’s conversion. As soon as the mind of Mr. S____ was so relieved that he could go home, we all retired.
"Soon after, the president of the bank for whom we had prayed expressed hope in Christ. He had not before this attended any of the meetings, and it was not known that he was concerned about his salvation. But prayer prevailed and God soon took his case in hand."
A friend of Mr. Finney, called Father Nash, was a man given up largely to prayer. Of him Mr. Finney said: "When he came to Evans’ Mills, he was full of the power of prayer…I found that he had ‘a praying list’ as he called it, of the names of persons whom he made subjects of prayer every day, and sometimes many times a day. And praying with him, and hearing him pray in meetings, I found that his gift of prayer was wonderful, and his faith almost miraculous.
"There was a man by the name of D____ who kept a low tavern in a corner of the village, whose house was the resort of all the opposers of the revival. The barroom was a place of blasphemy, and he himself a most profane, ungodly, abusive man. He went railing about the streets respecting the revival, and would take particular pains to swear and blaspheme whenever he saw a Christian....
"Father Nash heard us speak of Mr. D____ as ‘a hard case’; and immediately put his name upon his praying list. Nash remained in town a day or two, and went on his way, having in view another field of labor.
"Not many days afterward, as we were holding an evening meeting with a very crowded house, who should come in but this notorious D____! His entrance created a considerable movement in the congregation. People feared that he had come in to make a disturbance…I very soon became satisfied that he had not come in to oppose, and that he was in great anguish of mind. He sat and writhed upon his seat, and was very uneasy. He soon arose and tremblingly asked if he might say a few words. I told him that he might.
"He then proceeded to make one of the most heartbroken confessions that I almost ever heard. His confession seemed to cover the whole ground of his treatment of Christians, and of the revival and of everything good.
"This thoroughly broke up the fallow ground in many hearts. It was the most powerful means that could have been used just then to give an impetus to the work. D____ soon came out and professed a hope, abolished all the revelry and profanity of his barroom; and from that time, as long as I stayed there and I know not how much longer, a prayer meeting was held there nearly every night."
The deep conviction on sin, the sound conversions and the transformed lives and communities evidenced in the revivals of Charles G. Finney are possible today. The means of obtaining them is the same as then – outpourings of the Holy Spirit given in response to earnest, travailing prayers of the people of God.
"If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chr. 7:14).