David Brainerd (1718-1747) found salvation at the age of 20, began preaching at the age of 24, and spent the next three years preaching to the native Americans in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the United States. As a result of David Brainerd's passion for prayer and the time he devoted to prayer, God was able to bring about wonderful results in his labors. Though Brainerd could only speak through a drunken interpreter, many of his listeners were touched. His diary is well worth reading!
David Brainerd was consumed with two desires: holiness and saving the lost, as indicated by the following quotes.
Rom. 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."
Php 1:20 "...according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
"I know I long for God and conformity to His will, in inward purity and holiness, ten thousand times more than for anything here below."
"On, that my soul were holy as He is holy! Oh, that i were pure even as Christ is pure."
"I began to find it sweet to pray; and could think of undergoing the greatest sufferings in the cause of Christ, with pleasure; and found myself willing, if God should so order it, to suffer banishment from my native land, among the heathen, that I might do something for their salvation, in distresses and deaths of any kind. Then God gave me to wrestle earnestly for others, for the kingdom of Christ in the world, and for dear Christian friends. I felt weaned from the world, and from my own reputation amongst men, willing to be despised, and to be a gazing stock for the world to behold."
He speaks of being enabled to pray:
Rom. 12:12 "...rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer."
"I retired early this morning into the woods for prayer; had the assistance of God's Spirit, and faith in exercise; and was enabled to plead with fervency for the world, and to intercede for dear, absent friends. At noon God enabled me to wrestle with Him, and to feel, as I trust, the power of divine love, in prayer."
"In the forenoon, I felt the power of intercession for precious... souls; for the advancement of the kingdom of my dear Lord and Savior in the world; and, withal, a most sweet resignation, and even consolation and joy, in the thought of suffering hardships, distresses, and even death itself, in the promotion of it; and had peculiar enlargement in pleading for the enlightening and conversion of the poor heathen."
"In the afternoon, God was with me of a truth. Oh, it was blessed company indeed! God enabled me so to agonize in prayer, that I was quite wet with perspiration, though in the shade, and cool wind.... I think I had more enlargement for sinners than for the children of God, though I felt as if I could spend my life in cries for both."
"This morning I spent about two hours in secret duties, and was enabled, more than ordinarily, to agonize for souls."
David Brainerd often set apart days for fasting:
2 Cor. 11:27,28 "...in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness--besides the other things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches."
"I set apart this day for fasting and prayer to God for His grace; especially to prepare me for the work of the ministry; to give me divine aid and direction, in my preparations for that great work; and in His own time to send me into His harvest...."
Brainerd also recognized the need to live in right relationship with the people around him:
Eph. 4:32 "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you."
"Oh, it is a sweet disposition, heartily to forgive all injuries done to us; to wish our greatest enemies as well as we do our own souls."
"My soul, wait thou on the Lord"; for "from Him comes thy salvation."
David Brainerd looked to God as the mighty power in his life:
"Early in the morning... read the story of Elijah the prophet--1Kings, 17,18,19.... My soul then cried with Elisha: 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?' Oh, I longed for more faith! My soul breathed after God, and pleaded with Him, that a double portion of that Spirit which was given to Elijah might rest on me. And that which was divinely refreshing and strengthening to my soul, was, that I saw God to be the same that He was in the days of Elijah. Was enabled to wrestle wth God by prayer, in a more affectionate, fervent, humble, intense, and importunate manner, than I have for many months past. Nothing seemed too hard for God to perform; nothing too great for me to hope for from Him."
"Spent the day in fasting and prayer alone. In the morning, was very dull and lifeless, melancholy and discouraged. But after some time, while reading 2Kings 19, my soul was moved and affected, especially reading verse 14 and onwards. I saw there was no other way for the afflicted children of God to take, but to go to God with all their sorrows. Hezekiah, in his great distress, went and spread his complaint before the Lord. I was then enabled to see the mighty power of God, and my extreme need of that power; and to cry to Him affectionately and ardently for His power and grace to be exercised towards me."
Brainerd makes frequent mention of the joy of praying for his enemies:
"God was pleased to grant me divine sweetness in prayer; especially in the duty of intercession. I think, I never felt so much kindness and love to those who, I have reason to think, are my enemies,--though at that time I found such a disposition to think the best of all, that I scarce knew how to think that any such thing as enmity and hatred lodged in any soul; it seemed as if all the world must needs be friends. I never prayed wth more freedom and delight for myself, or dearest friend, than I did now for my enemies."
"Oh it is an emblem of heaven itself, to love all the world with a love of kindness, forgiveness, and benevolence; to feel our souls sedate, mild and meek; to be void of all evil surmisings and suspicions, and scarce able to thnk evil of any man upon any occasion; to find our hearts simple, open, and free, to those that look upon us with a different eye!"
To be dead to the world was a continuing theme:
"I think I never felt more resigned to God, nor so dead to the world, in every respect, as now; am dead to all desire of reputation and greatness, either in life, or after death; all I long for, is to be holy, humble, and crucified to the world."
Prayer continued to be his delight:
"I love to live alone in my own little cottage, where I can spend much time in prayer."
"Spent this day alone in fasting and prayer, and reading in God's Word the exercises and deliverances of His children.... It is better to wait upon God with patience, than to put confidence in anything in this lower world."
David Brainerd increasing realized that his life was in God's hands and that the great purpose of his life was saving the Indians that God had put on His heart.
"I longed to be perpetually and entirely crucified to all things here below, by the cross of Christ. My soul was sweetly resigned to God's disposal of me, in every regard; and I saw that nothing had happened but what was best for me."
"Towards noon, rode up to the Indians, in order to preach to them... while going... my heart went up to God in prayer for them. Could freely tell God, He knew that the cause in which I was engaged was not mine; but that it was His own cause, and that it would be for His own glory to convert the poor Indians."
He also realized that his own life had to be "holy" for God to be able to bless Him.
"When I long for holiness now, it is not so much for myself as formerly; but rather that thereby I may become an 'able minister of the New Covenant,' especially to the heathen."