Intensity & Early Morning Prayer

H. W. Hodge

OH, WHO will rise up with me?

Who will come nearer to God in intercession and long-sustained flight toward heaven?

Art thou one? By the grace of God wilt thou give me thine hand for the fight?

Shall I find one fully determined, though family, friends, flesh and devils oppose; one who will wrestle, supplicate, praise, and confess before the throne for men?

Is this the purpose of thine heart?

Give me your name. The angel accountants will keep the records and the Lamb’s Book of Life will be opened at the judgment for your coronation.

No self-pleasing religion in this appeal—no easy-going religion in this request. It is steadfastly against the easy-going, pampered profession of this twentieth century. O brother, if you are settled in your ways, if you have passed the point of learning and persuasion, and you are satisfied with little praying, we have no appeal for you, or to you. We must hasten—this is for intense men; we have no argument for others.

Call to Self-Denial

“Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat, nor gloom of night shall stay me from the completion of this appointed privilege.” God help you and me. Amen.

I call you to early prayer. My soul is aflame with the necessity. I call you to a duty that will prove the most available habit of your soul. I call thee, O my brother, to the “Heights” where God through the blessed Holy Spirit will make your soul a theater of action, a shrine, and your eyes a fountain of tears. The soul He will act in, and the eyes He will weep through for a lost world. God clothed Himself with Gideon and He must clothe Himself with flesh and blood. He will use you and me as He used Gideon (help me to praise Him), not to fight the visible armies but the invisible demons and devils that “darken the air and rule the lower world.”

God First—Not Last

“The men who have done most for God in this world have been early upon their knees,” declares E. M. Bounds.

“If God is not first in our thoughts, in our efforts, in the early morning, He will be last in the remainder of the day. The heart that is behindhand in seeking God in the early morning has lost its relish for God. A desire for God which cannot break the chains of sleep is a weak thing, and will do but little good for God after it has indulged itself fully. It is not simply getting up early that puts men to the front and makes them Captains-General of God’s host, but it is the ardent desire which stirs-and breaks all self-indulgent chains. We might go through the list of men that have impressed the world for God, and we find them, early upon their knees. The halo of their sainthood has come down to us, and we have entered upon the enjoyment of their conquests. We take our fill in enjoyment and not in productions. We build their tombs and write their epitaphs, but are careful not to follow their examples.”

E. M. Bounds, An Apostle of Prayer

I have been among many ministers and slept in the same room with them for several years. No smoking among them, no secret orders, no jokes, they were beautiful, clean, and good. They prayed, but I was never impressed with any special praying among them until one day a small man with gray hair and an eye like an eagle came along. His stature and little handbag were against him . . .

We had a ten day convention. We had some fine preachers around the home, and he and one of them were assigned to my room. I was surprised early the next morning to see a man bathing and rubbing himself before day and then see him get down and begin to pray. I said to myself, “He will not disturb us, but will soon finish.” He kept on softly for hours, interceding and weeping softly, for the ministers of God. He spoke the next day on “Prayer.” I became interested, for I was young in the ministry, and had often desired to meet with a man of God that prayed like the saints of the apostolic age. Next morning he was up, praying again, and for ten days he was up early praying for hours.

I became intensely interested, and thanked God for sending him. “At last,” I said. “I have found a man that really prays. I shall never let him go.” He drew me to him with hooks of steel; I entertained him, rose up with him, prayed with him, brought him to New York City at quite a cost of money to have him pray for my people and for me.

He was a great admirer of David Brainerd, the missionary to the Delaware and Susquehanna Indians in 1745. He would read his diary for hours and try to impress his life on others.

Long Interviews, Begin Early

When this man first came to New York he changed our hour from 4 a.m. to 3 a.m., but I remonstrated with him and refused to change the hour. His reason was that time was short with him and he desired to be with God as long as possible and as early as convenient.

He remained two months with me in sweet fellowship and mighty prevailing prayer. On the 24th day of October, 1912, I took that dear, sweet, wrinkled faced in my hands, and kissed him for the last time. That face lit up with the divinity of thought, those eyes gazing and peering into immensity - an eagle man, an intense man - yes one of God’s eagles. I shall never see him again in this world; nor the like of him, I fear.

If anyone is interested in his life read his book, “Preacher and Prayer.” It is the greatest thing ever written on prayer.

What a vast difference in this man of God and the easy-going ministers of today. They know no battles with the powers of darkness; they know no wrestling with the mighty forces of the air; no hours of travail when the crush of battle looks as though Satan would win.

Many a minister has buried his spirituality in the grave of his activities.

Eight years ago I commenced to pray early. This early rising is no longer an experiment. It is with me a success. In the beginning the physical man revolts against it; the body, pampered and nurtured for years, refuses to answer to the demand of the soul; the devil will not allow it; man will not tolerate it; all things in earth and hell protest against it. Ninety ministers out of a hundred will tell you it is self-imposed tyranny. O man of God, heed them not! Self-indulgence is the law of death, self-denial is the law of life.

“And he shall say — the King —

Come let us live the Gospel that we sing;

And these his burning words, shall break the bann.

Words that shall come to be on continent and sea,

The rallying cry of man;

Come, let us live the Gospel that we preach.”

The family will demur against three or four hours in prayer in the early morning. The prince of the power of the air will try to free you nearly to death. When you rise early your fire will many times refuse to burn. It is the power of darkness arrayed against you. But be not dismayed, God is near. If you miss one morning, your family will know it, and tell the neighbors; perhaps the very man you have tried to get at early rising will call for you the one morning you failed to rise at four, and find you in-bed at six, and call you a hypocrite and liar. Keep patient. God is behind the shadows, and is keeping watch over His own. God is good and He knows your motives. He forgives when all others condemn.

Inconceivable Delight

My soul for your soul! If you will trust God and really do it, you will reap intense delight. The joy of being with God for hours before the world is awake will fully compensate you for all the trials and sufferings, and then the glory you will bring to His name will be inconceivable. I do not believe in fads. A man must have a certain number of hours sleep for his body in a night, and on testing my body. I find I must have seven hours and no less, and if I do not get seven hours at night I get it during the day.

John Wesley said his body demanded six and one-halt hours sleep. He got six hours at night and thirty minutes after lunch during the day. But we are trying to follow Christ in praying and have no man in view at all in this matter.

Whole-Souled Intensity

E. M. Bounds waited fifty years for two men—only two adopted his early praying, one minister and one layman. If you are easy-going; if you like your ease and will listen to the song of the siren, do not ever commence. I pass you by. I am after intense men, and God, whose eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose hearts are perfect toward Him,” is after sincere men.

Praying Through

It is necessary to pray much, often and long, in secret. You must select time when the world and family will not disturb.

God wills that all men should pray everywhere lifting up holy hands. Preachers should pray more than anyone else.

It is the business of pastors especially to make intercession for their flock, their families, and the lost world.

A little word of prayer and a little talk with Jesus will not “make it right, all right,” unless necessity of time will not admit of more praying.

We should follow Jesus Christ our Saviour, who taught us by day and night to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven,” etc.

Mark 1:35, “And in the morning rising up a. great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”

Again, Mark 6:46, “And when He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray.”

In the day time He prayed, for we read, “When it was day He departed into a desert place” (Luke 4:42).

Again at night He prayed, for we read, Luke 6:12, “And it came to pass in those days that He went out into a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God.”