Words of David Brainerd concerning Prayer and Fasting


Months ago I had sent by email the following words concerning prayer and fasting written by influential 18th century missionary David Brainerd to some Christian friends:

“Nov. 3. I spent this day in secret fasting and prayer, from morning till night. Early in the morning, I had some assistance in prayer. Afterwards I read the story of Elijah the prophet. My soul was much moved, observing the faith, zeal, and power of that Holy man; and how he wrestled with God in prayer. I then cried with Elisha, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah!” 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 I saw God is the same that he was in the days of Elijah. I was enabled to wrestle with God by prayer, in a more affectionate, humble, 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. I had for many months lost all hopes of doing any special service for God in the world; it appeared impossible, that one so vile should be thus employed for God. But at this time God was pleased to revive this hope. Afterwards I read the third chapter of Exodus, and on to the twentieth, and saw more of the glory and majesty of God discovered in those chapters, than ever I had seen before; frequently, in the mean time, falling on my knees, and crying to God for the faith of Moses, and for a manifestation of the Divine glory. My soul was ardent in prayer, and I was enabled to wrestle for myself, for my friends, and for the church. I felt more desire to see the power of God in the conversion of souls, than I have done for a long season. *** Blessed be God for this season of fasting and prayer ***. May his goodness always abide with me, and draw my soul to him.”

The following are words spoken by a dying man… a man who greatly served God… a man who greatly influenced other great men of God:

“On the evening of Sept. 9, as he lay on his bed he seemed to be in an extraordinary frame; his mind greatly engaged concerning the prosperity of Zion: there being present at that time two candidates for the ministry, he desired us all to unite in singing a psalm on that subject, even Zion s prosperity. And by his desire, we sung a part of the l0d Psalm. This seemed much to refresh him, and give him new strength; so that, though before he could scarce speak at all, now he proceeded with some freedom of speech, to give his dying counsels to those two young gentlemen, relating to that great work of the ministry they were designed for; and in particular, *** earnestly recommended to them FREQUENT SECRET FASTING AND PRAYER ***; and enforced his counsel with regard to this, from his own experience of the great comfort and benefit of it, which, said he, I should not mention, were it not that I am a dying person. And after he had finished his counsel, he made a prayer, in the audience of us all; wherein, besides praying for his family, for his brethren, and those candidates for the ministry, and for his own congregation, he earnestly prayed for the reviving and flourishing of religion in the world.”


Jonathan Edwards, Memoirs of Rev. David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians of North America


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