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This is the Truth Network. Encouraging prayer. God offers an open invitation for His people to talk with Him at any time about anything. On encouraging prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the best-selling Prayers for Prodigals and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray. And now, here's James. So, we're taking a bit of a detour today on encouraging prayer.
We usually talk about different ways to pray, but today we're going to talk about the difference prayer makes in our lives, and we're going to use an example from history, someone we need to know about. His name is David Brainerd. You could tell how much I know about him. I'm not sure about his name. James, tell us about him. Well, David Brainerd was a missionary to Native Americans in our early colonial days, and that in itself is important to recognize, because there were those like Brainerd and Edwards and other evangelicals who recognized that all human beings are made in the image of God.
They risked their lives to share the good news of Jesus with them. Yeah. Wow.
That's awesome. And he took some real personal risks too, didn't he? He absolutely did. More on that in a bit, but the law at the time required that all ministers graduate from Yale in Connecticut. So instead, he became a missionary to Native Americans, and imagine what that must have been like. He was alone on horseback, following these close trails, sometimes riding in the rain, riding at night with no lights around, often in hostile territory. Well, after his experience at Yale, I'd say he understood hostile territory. Tell me more about that. Well, one story that's really something Brainerd was trying to reach the Mohican people, and he had actually been secretly tracked by warriors, and just at the point when they were going to kill him, they noticed a timber rattler was coiled near him and was ready to strike, but then it didn't, and it uncoiled and went on its way. And those warriors saw that as a sign that the Great Spirit was with him, so they left him alone. And of course, he finds out about this later. Darrell Bock Wow.
I mean, that's amazing. I mean, so let's talk about the role prayer played in his life. Richard Averbeck I was hoping you'd ask that. Here's a great quote from his diary about it. This quote was from July 3, 1744.
And by the way, I have some of this information from Ben Patterson's writing about him and others from my own studies, but this will give you an idea. Of course, the language is archaic, but it's clear enough. So here's the quote, was still very weak this morning, was able to pray under a feeling of my need of help from God, and I trust had some faith, blessed be God, was able to plead with him for a considerable time. Truly God is good to me, but my soul mourned and was grieved at my sinfulness and barrenness and long to be more engaged for God near nine, I drew near again for prayer and through divine goodness have the blessed spirit of prayer. My soul loved the duty and long for God and that Oh, it is sweet to be the Lord's to be sensibly devoted to him. What a blessed portion is God.
How glorious, how lovely in himself, Oh, my soul long to improve time, holy for God spent most of the day in translating prayers into the Indian language in the evening was enabled to I was enabled to wrestle with God in prayer with fervency. Oh, my goodness, I see what you mean, I mean, he really was a man who prayed faithfully. Yeah, he was, and he struggled with depression, sometimes, and, you know, was just wanted to break through that and be with God.
And by the way, the only reason that we know all of this is because of Jonathan Edwards. See, Brainerd lived at Edwards' home for a season when he was deathly ill with tuberculosis, when Edwards' daughter, Jerusa, Jerusa fell in love with him, cared for him in his sickness, and they were actually engaged. And then she later acquired tuberculosis as well, and they both died from it. She a little later, so they were never married, but they're buried side by side in Northampton, Massachusetts.
I visited their gravesite. But after Brainerd died at age 29, Edwards had been so deeply moved by his love for God that he published his diary. And that's the only reason we know how much prayer mattered to him. But that diary became one of the best-selling books in the colonies. And it inspired pastors like Edwards and John Wesley, you know, across the pond, and missionaries like Abnerum Jotson and William Carey, and even Jim Elliot centuries later.
Wow, that's amazing. And Brainerd, in spite of his illness, you know, had real success as a missionary. Yeah, he did. He did. He started the Native American church.
They grew to 130 members, and they later established a Christian community in Cranberry, New Jersey, these Native American peoples. And there were offers for him to leave the mission field, but he wouldn't do it, even though the continual exposure to the elements was hard on his lungs and his health, and of course, eventually cost him his life. But Brainerd traveled over 3,000 miles on horseback and, of course, would preach in the open air without any amplification. And he did it all because, right, he loved God and he loved others.
Exactly. Brainerd was sold out for God in an amazing way. He wanted nothing more than to see Native peoples come to Jesus and were at once God does not suffer me to please or comfort myself with hopes of seeing friends, returning to my dear acquaintance, that may have been Jerusha, I don't know, and enjoying worldly comforts. So he only lived aged 29, but what an impact his life had, and prayer was such a part of that, right? Yeah, I guess you could say that's the moral to this story. When we give ourselves to God, not trying to be someone we're not, just being real with him like Brainerd was, God can use our lives in ways we never imagined.
Not that that was ever Brainerd's goal, he just loved God and wanted to serve him and serve others. And a life like that is never wasted, even if he only lived to be 29. Wow, that's such an amazing story. Thanks for sharing that today, James.
I mean, it's great to have a little history with Thanksgiving, you know, with that just less than a month away now, right? So would you close up shop today with a prayer? Yeah, let's do it, Lord, help us, help us to just seek you out, to love you and to love others and use us, Father, we pray today to point others to you, in Jesus' name, amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website, jamesbanks.org, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray. Peace is the truth network.
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