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John Greenfield
Power From On High

2. When the Spirit Came
(Abridged Text)

 
"That astonishing prayer meeting beginning in 1727 went on for one hundred years...."

Prayer precedes Pentecost. The disgruntled community at Herrnhut early in 1727 was deeply divided and critical of one another. Heated controversies threatened to disrupt the community. The majority was from the ancient Moravian Church of the Brethren. Other believers attracted to Herrnhut included Lutherans, Reformed, and Baptists. They argued about predestination, holiness, and baptism.

The young German nobleman, Count Zinzendorf, pleaded for unity, love and repentance.

Converted in early childhood, at four years of age he composed and signed a covenant: 'Dear Saviour, do Thou be mine, and I will be Thine.' His life motto was, 'I have one passion: it is Jesus, Jesus only.'

Count Zinzendorf learned the secret of prevailing prayer. He actively established prayer groups as a teenager, and on leaving college at Halle at sixteen he gave the famous Professor Francke a list of seven praying societies he had established. After he finished university his education was furthered by travel to foreign countries.

Everywhere he went, his passion for Jesus controlled him. In the Dusseldorf Gallery of paintings he was deeply moved by a painting of the crucifixion over which were the words:

Hoc feci pro te;

Quid facis pro me?

This have I done for thee;

What hast thou done for me?

At Herrnhut, Zinzendorf visited all the adult members of the deeply divided community. He drew up a covenant calling upon them 'to seek out and emphasize the points in which they agreed' rather than stressing their differences. On 12 May 1727, they all signed an agreement to dedicate their lives, as he dedicated his, to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Moravian revival of 1727 was thus preceded and then sustained by extraordinary praying. A spirit of grace, unity and supplications grew among them.

On 16 July, many of the community covenanted together on their own accord to meet often to pour out their hearts in prayer and hymns.

On 5 August, the Count spent the whole night in prayer with about twelve or fourteen others following a large meeting for prayer at midnight where great emotion prevailed.

On Sunday, 10 August, Pastor Rothe, while leading the service at Herrnhut, was overwhelmed by the power of the Lord about noon. He sank down into the dust before God. So did the whole congregation. They continued till midnight in prayer and singing, weeping and praying.

On Wednesday, 13 August, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them all. Their prayers were answered in ways far beyond anyone's expectations. Many of them decided to set aside certain times for continued earnest prayer.

On 26 August, twentyfour men and twentyfour women covenanted together to continue praying in intervals of one hour each, day and night, each hour allocated by lots to different people.

On 27 August, this new regulation began. Others joined the intercessors and the number involved increased to seventyseven. They all carefully observed the hour which had been appointed for them. The intercessors had a weekly meeting where prayer needs were given to them.

The children, also touched powerfully by God, began a similar plan among themselves. Those who heard their infant supplications were deeply moved. The children's prayers and supplications had a powerful effect on the whole community

That astonishing prayer meeting beginning in 1727 went on for one hundred years. It was unique. Known as the Hourly Intercession, it involved relays of men and women in prayer without ceasing made to God. That prayer also led to action, especially evangelism. More than one hundred missionaries left that village community in the next twentyfive years, all constantly supported in prayer.

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