IN God’s eternal plan, he does not only use men, but he also uses women. In the Bible, we can see how God used women of different social statuses, including Gentile women. God does not play favorites. In his eyes, every man and woman is equally treasured, equally precious. In fact, women are not only as precious as pearls, they are also God’s secret weapons!
“God’s Secret Weapon” was the theme of the first women’s prayer conference held by 24-7 Prayer Malaysia in conjunction with Prayer United Sarawak Central. Now is the time to raise up Christian women, to affirm their role in the prayer movement as God’s secret weapons.
Chrisanne Chin, founder of 24-7 Prayer Malaysia, led the conference participants through the Bible and revival movements to see how women have played important roles.
In the Old Testament, a Gentile prostitute Rahab put her faith in God and saved the Israelite spies, leading to the Israelites’ conquest of Jericho. She also saved her own family – a remnant of the Canaanites. In another example, the two Hebrew midwives Shiprah and Puah feared God and not man (king of Egypt), so they saved the lives of baby boys, including Moses. Moses would go on to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
In the New Testament, there were women who followed and ministered to Jesus, both named and unnamed. They supported Jesus and his disciples out of their own means.
Chin then led the conference participants into discovering how some of the great men in history had great praying mothers behind them. On praying mothers, the best example is Monica, mother of St Augustine of Hippo (354-430). If not for this mother’s persistent prayers for her prodigal son, church history would not have had this great church father, who was one of the early Christian theologians and philosophers.
Another example is Eliza Spurgeon, mother of the famous Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892). Eliza had 17 children, 9 of whom died at infancy. She taught her children the scriptures. Not only was she a praying mother, she was also an evangelising mother. Spurgeon began preaching when he was 17, he is known as the Boy Preacher and the Prince of Preachers.
During the 18th century revivals, women continued to exert great spiritual influence. The father of missions and founder of 24-7 prayer, Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), was influenced spiritually by his grandmother Henriette Catharina von Gersdorff. Zinzendorf lost his father when he was only 6 weeks old. At 4 years of age, his mother remarried, so the burden of raising him fell on his grandmother, who was well educated. She shaped his character and knowledge of the Bible through prayer and scripture. The grandmother herself was also an avid supporter of missionaries and preachers, including a movement called Pietism. She even founded a school for girls and offered refuge to religious refugees escaping Bohemia (Czech Republic today). These acts of her spiritual life influenced Zinzendorf, so that years later he opened his estate for refugees and created a new religious order – The Lord’s Watch (Herrnhut), which would become the Moravian church. These Moravians would later influence John Wesley.
On the other side of the ocean, 18th century Father of the “First Great Awakening”, Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), was spiritually influenced by 2 women. One was his mother, Esther Stoddard, the second was his wife Sarah Pierrepont. His mother was a pastor’s daughter with unusual mental gifts. His wife was a college graduate and a praying woman, she is called the “Mother of the First Great Awakening”. Edwards praised his wife, saying: “she hardly cares for anything except to meditate on [God]… She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct…She is of a wonderful calmness and universal benevolence of mind…”
Speaking of John Wesley (1703-1791), we know his mother Susanna Wesley, who is also called the mother of Methodism. She was disciplined from a young age and vowed not to spend more time in leisure and entertainment than she did in prayer and Bible study. Even in the hectic pace of raising 10 children (19 were born, only 10 lived), she spent two hours every day with God, reading his word. In a house overflowing with 10 children, how did she find a place of privacy? This creative mother would sit in her favorite chair, and throw her apron over her head, creating a sort of “tent of meeting”. When the children saw this, they would know that their mother was spending time with God.
During the Third Great Awakening of the 19th century, key figure Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899) exceeded all expectations (no higher education or theological training, no TV and radio but over a hundred million people heard him preach the gospel), because of 3 Christian women – Sarah Anne Cooke, Widow Hawhurst, and the young Marianne Adlard – who prayed for him faithfully. The latter was in the hospital, but when she learned that Moody was coming to her church to preach, she used her lunch hour to fast and pray for Moody’s evening sermon. God listened to the prayers of this young, sick lady, using Moody to reach hundreds of thousands of people, adding many to the church. This experience greatly increased Moody’s faith in God and ministry.
In the early 20th century (1904-1905), there was a Welsh Revival in Wales, England. Evan Roberts was 12 years old when he began a life of prayer. When he was 26, after 2 months in the seminary, he saw a vision of a 100,000 people coming to Christ. He heard a voice telling him to return to his home church to preach to the young people. The young people of the church at the time were on fire, the beginnings of the Welsh Revival.
One young woman, Florrie Evans, was 19 when she first became a Christian. When challenged with the question “What does Jesus mean to you?”, she answered: “I love Jesus.” She was one of the members of Evan’s evangelism team that preached to the Welsh. Not only that, all of the team members were women.
The Welsh Revival made a powerful social impact. For example: no criminals to judge, taverns went bankrupt, police with no work, drunkenness cut in half, illegitimate births down by 44%, bad language wiped out. This revival swept across Europe, even to India, China, Korea, USA.
The praying power behind the Hebrides Revival (1948-1952) in Scotland was from two old women. One was 84-year-old Peggy who was blind, the other 82-year-old Christine, bent over with arthritis. These two old women kept praying for revival because they saw that few young people were going to Sunday service. They prayed every Tuesday and Friday in their own homes from 10 pm until 3 am. One day, they were moved by the Holy Spirit to ask an evangelist, Duncan Campbell, to preach on the Island of Lewis. Duncan Campbell was at first reluctant, but he obeyed. In the end, the residents on the island were renewed with thirst for God.
In the modern age, the famous American evangelist Billy Graham took the Great Commission literally and preached to more than 100 million people around the world. He attributed the success of his crusades over the past 56 years to prayer. He mentioned a woman from Pasadena called Pearl Goode. Pearl, who lived to be 90, had spent many years praying in secret for Graham’s work. When Graham heard about her, he invited her to his crusades so that she could pray on-site.
We have such a rich heritage of women prayer warriors. They accomplished their mission in their age, leaving a long lasting impact. What about you and I today? What is your calling? What does Jesus mean to you?
Chin invited the participants to confess their known sins before God, to put away any bad habits, to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and to confess Christ openly.
Reported by Lee Sing
Translated by Joy Tie