True Stories of God's Servants: A Strange Prayer Meeting

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 8
IN the days of Wesley and Whitfield the life of an itinerant preacher was very different from what it is now.
Rogers, in his “Lives of the Early Preachers,” tells a characteristic story. He says there were crowds of them: they travelled to and fro, with hard fare, throughout the land. Their excursions were not recreations or amusements. Attempt to think what England was at that time. It is a fact that they often had to swim through streams and wade through snows to keep their appointments: often to sleep in summer in the open air, beneath the trees of a forest. Sometimes a preacher was seen with a spade strapped to his back, to cut a way for man and horse through the heavy snowdrifts. Highwaymen were abroad, and there are many odd stories about their encounters with these men: but, then, usually, they had nothing to lose.
One of these, lay preachers, as usual on horseback, was waylaid by three robbers: one of them seized the bridle of his horse, the second put a pistol to his head, the third began to pull him from the saddle—all, of course, declaring that they would have his money or his life.
The preacher looked solemnly at them, and asked them, “if they had prayed that morning.” This confounded them a little, still they continued their work of plunder. One pulled out a knife to rip the saddle-bag open; the preacher said, “There are only some books and tracts there; as to money, I have only two-pence-halfpenny in my pocket:” he took it out and gave it them. “All that I have of value about me,” he said, “is my coat. I am a servant of God; I am going on His errand to preach: but let me kneel down and pray with you: that will do you more good than anything I can give you.”
One of them said, “I will have nothing to do with anything we can get from this man!” They restored what they had taken, and took up the bags and fastened them again on the horse. The preacher thanked them for their great civility to him: “But now,” said he, “I will pray!” and he fell upon his knees, and prayed with great power. Two of them, utterly frightened at this treatment, started off as fast as their legs could carry them: the third—he who had first refused to have anything to do with the job—continued on his knees with the preacher: and when they parted company, he promised to lead a different life, and professed to be a changed man.