One of my top ten life-changing books is Andrew Murray’s classic With Christ in the School of Prayer. First published in 1885, it has been continuously in print for the past 136 years. Murray was a Dutch Reformed pastor in South Africa whose preaching and writing was a catalyst for revival in his own country in the 1860s and the great revival that began in Wales in 1904 and reverberated throughout England and the United States.
This is one of the most beloved books on prayer, written by a man who devoted his life to prayer and enjoyed a rich, vital relationship with God. It is a must-read for every Christian who cries out as did the first disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Through the years I have become a collector of the early editions of some of the older Christian books that have been most helpful to my own spiritual growth. Several years ago I acquired an early edition of Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer that had been published in London in 1902. When the book arrived in the mail, I was pleased to find it in excellent condition for being 112 years old, but the best surprise was discovering this inscription in the front of the book:
Mrs. W. Dann
By the members of the
Cottage prayer meeting
As a token of love
Feb 21. 05
Heaton is a village near Newcastle-on-Tyne on the northeast coast of England. This book on prayer was given to a lady who led a cottage prayer meeting in her home in 1905 during the last great spiritual awakening to sweep across the English-speaking world. As one who yearns for revival and spiritual awakening in our own generation, I welcome this little book as a treasured volume in my own library. It is a tangible connection to fellow believers who met in someone’s home to pray and learn more about prayer at a time when God was pouring out His Holy Spirit in extraordinary ways.
I wonder who Mrs. Dann was. I wonder who made up this cottage prayer meeting in her home. I wonder what it was like to pray with other believers when revival was sweeping across England and Wales in the last great spiritual awakening.
But my mind quickly fast-forwards to our world in January 2021, desperately in need of the same kind of spiritual awakening that the world needed in 1905 and in every generation.
Who will be Mrs. Dann among us? Who will be the Mrs. Dann to lead a group of praying women in a cottage prayer meeting? Who will be Mrs. Dann for a breakfast meeting of our praying men? Who will be Mrs. Dann for our youth groups, for our young adults, for our senior adults? Who among us will make time to be with Christ in the school of prayer and lead other people around us to cry out to God for our church, our city, our nation, our world?
I keep this 119-year-old book close by, on the table in my study next to the chair where I do my morning Bible reading and prayers. I keep it there to challenge me to do what I can do in my own generation.
How about you?
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Barry McCarty is professor of rhetoric and communication at Truett McConnell University in Cleveland, Ga.)