After preaching on prayer as 'Fighting Talk' yesterday, I've been impacted again by the stories of David Brainerd, who died whilst a missionary to the Sasquehanna Native Americans in October 1747.
E.M Bounds comments that Brainerd 'did his greatest work by prayer', often alone in the depths of the forests, unable to speak the language of the Native Americans and so spending literally days in fighting prayer.
Brainerd knew that if he wanted to reach the Sasquehanna, he must find someone who could at least vaguely interpret his thoughts. Understanding this, he spent whole days praying, asking the Holy Spirit to come upon him so powerfully that these people would be moved by his message.
Dr A J Gordon in his biography of Brainerd wrote the following:
'Once he preached through a drunken interpreter, a man so intoxicated that he could hardly stand up. Yet scores were converted through that sermon. We can account for it only that it was the tremendous power of God behind him.'
Brainerd would not have seen himself as a superhero of prayer. He was simply a called man who prayed alone in the forest and agonised over those whom God had put on his heart.
His obedience to the compassionate heart of God was so stimulating to others, that when William Carey read about Brainerd's life story, he went to serve God in India. Later, Jonathan Edwards was so struck by the now sick and dying Brainerd, that he wrote: 'I praise God that it was in His providence that he (Brainerd) should die in my house, that I might hear his prayers, that I might witness his consecration, that I might be inspired by his example.'
Praise God for a man dying in my house? Oh that we might all be infected with a little of Brainerd's sickness and weakness before God in fighting, prevailing prayer!