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Title: Health, Healing, and Faith
Author: Conwell, Russell H.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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        Healing, _and_ Faith

         Effect of Environment
   How a Church Was Built by Prayer
           Healing the Sick
         Prayer for the Home
         Prayer and the Bible


             VOLUME 8


     597 Fifth Avenue, New York

  Copyright, 1921, by Harper & Brothers
  Printed in the United States of America


That prayers are answered nearly all the human race believe. But the
subject has been beclouded and often made ridiculous by inconsistent

This book is a modest attempt to clear up some of the errors. Its record
is as accurate as impartial observation can make it. God is not bribed.
Laziness cannot bargain with him. But the prayers of the righteous and
of repentant sinners availeth much.

Desired ends are gained by prayer which cannot be gained by any other
method. The daily experiences of devout persons establish that fact
conclusively. The reasons and the methods which produce the results seem
hidden, and they often bewilder the investigator. God's thoughts are far
above our thoughts. But we can trust our daily experience far enough to
retain our confidence in the potency of prayer. It is, therefore, a
profitable and comforting study.



Chapter I

Effect of Environment

The fascinating history of events connected with the Baptist Temple,
Philadelphia, through thirty-nine years must be recorded carefully to
obtain the credence of those readers who live out of the locality. It
may or may not be that the unusual demonstrations of power, seemingly
divine, were not incited or influenced by the special environment. Yet
the critical reader may reasonably inquire where these things occurred
in order to determine the power of association on the form and effect of

The Baptist Temple is a somewhat imposing building on the corner of
North Broad and Berks streets in Philadelphia. It is located almost at
the geographical center of Philadelphia, and eighteen squares north of
the City Hall. The Temple is architecturally very plain, and the
beautiful stained-glass windows are about the only ornaments in the
great hall save, of course, the pipes of the great organ. The church is
one hundred and seven feet front, and is one hundred and fifty feet in
length. There is a deep gallery occupying three sides, with a chorus
gallery, back of the pulpit, seating one hundred and fifty singers.
There are three thousand and thirty-four opera chairs arranged in a
semicircle, and every person in the congregation can see clearly the
platform and chorus, and each normal worshiper can be heard from the

The building itself is a testimonial to the effectiveness of sincere
prayer. The Temple and the halls in the lower story, as it now stands,
are far beyond the dreams of that little company of earnest worshipers
who, in 1880, hesitatingly and embarrassed, began to build the small
church at the corner of Berks and Mervine streets. They had no wealthy
or influential friends. They had but little money or property; they
could pray, and that they did do unceasingly. Any man who tries to
describe or explain fully how it came about that the Temple was built
becomes bewildered in the complications, unless he covers the whole
question by saying, "The Lord did it." In six years after the small
church was completed the Temple was begun on Broad Street.

For seven or eight years after its construction the Temple was a
Christian Mecca to which pilgrims seemed to come from all parts of the
earth to kneel there in prayer. One Good Friday night, which was
observed quite generally as a season of fasting and prayer, the writer
entered by the side door the Temple at two o'clock in the morning, and
in the dim light of two small gas jets, always left burning, he saw
scores of people scattered through the church. Why that church had such
a fascination for or preference with earnest seekers for the
prayer-answering God none may explain. All were kneeling separately in
silent prayer. As they passed in and out there were in the line, going
and coming, Chinamen, Europeans, Orientals, and Americans from distant
states. Different denominations, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, colored and
white, were often represented among the individual worshipers. They also
came any night in the week at any hour and prayed silently for a while
and then went silently out. The church was not locked, night or day, for
fifteen years. People sought the place when they sought to find a
locality which was especially near to the Lord. It may be that any place
is as near to God as any other; and many think it only a sentiment,
superstitious and foolish, to esteem one place above another in matters
of effective prayer. But there does stand out the fact that, for some
good reason, our Saviour did choose to pray in special localities, and
his devout followers do now feel more deeply the soul's communion with
God in certain favorable places. Why the Baptist Temple had such
worship as a sentimental matter brings forward the facts that the graves
of the loved, the home of childhood, the trysting places, the old
fireplace, or the churches where sainted parents worshiped are
influential because of the suggestions which come with sacred memories.
That fact is a strong agency in the awakening of tender and sacred
emotions. But the Baptist Temple was new and could lay claim to none of
those associations. Men and women with no religious habits, and some
seemingly without devout inclinations, testified decidedly that whenever
they visited the building they felt that they had entered into an
atmosphere of special spiritual and sacred power. One soldier of the
English army wrote an interesting letter in 1897, saying: "I do not
recall any such impression before. I went into the church alone out of
curiosity to look at its architectural design. But the moment I entered
the side aisle I felt an indescribable pressure which made me desire to
pray. I hurried out to the street to escape the solemn impression. But
twice since then I have been in the auditorium and each time some power
seemed pressing me down to my knees." Whether that influence was the act
of the Holy Ghost or not cannot be proven by any known formula of human
reasoning, and hence it remains, as most of such questions do, a matter
of faith. Some believe it was a divine presence which made itself felt
there, and other good men do not believe the conditions were in any way
unusual or unnatural. So many persons with uncontrolled imaginations,
and others with their mental faculties weakened or distorted, often
reported the most improbable visions and absurd revelations. Such
characters, half insane or wholly deranged, testified in favor of Jesus
to his face, and such have ever been present since in every genuinely
spiritual movement. They would do less harm, of course, if they should
declaim against him. So it was, and is, at the Baptist Temple. Those
inconsistent, deranged advocates of religion did often drive away
permanently into the ranks of unbelievers the most sincere
investigators. But a calm review of the testimonies concerning the
occurrences which followed so clearly the petitions they offered in the
Temple seems overwhelmingly to establish the claim, now held by so many
thousand people, that the results of the prayers were but a cause and
natural effect, as the prayers and results were infallibly related.

It is not claimed here, however, that the place had more influence with
man or Christ than other places have had, or that any church or
cathedral may be as sacred as Gethsemane or as the Mount of
Transfiguration. The plain facts are recorded here with great caution
and with a determination to keep conservatively within the truth and
draw no unreasonable conclusions. It is a true statement, known to all
the community, that many thousands of people have sought to pray in the
Temple, believing that the boon their hearts desired would be more sure
to be sent if they asked for it within the Temple walls. Many persons
have attended the church services on the Sabbath who have been so deep
in prayer that they were unconscious of the music or the preaching. We
must reassert that this fact is not recorded here to sustain any idea
that the Temple is a sacred place above many other churches, cathedrals,
and holy places, but to sustain the opinion that there are places more
sacred than others to certain people, and that burdened hearts and minds
would act wisely if they sought some such place when the answer to their
prayer seems especially vital.

Chapter II

How a Church Was Built by Prayer

In 1886 the small church at Mervine and Berks streets in the northern
section of Philadelphia was crowded at every service. Children were
turned away from every session of the Bible school, and tickets were
issued a week in advance for the preaching services. The idea of moving
to some larger place was discussed, as it was impossible to enlarge the
building where it stood, because of the streets on three sides. Under
those circumstances the people began to pray. A voluntary committee
canvassed the small band of church members, asking each to pray for an
opening to a larger work. It is often thought to be an easy thing to
promise to pray for a person or for a cause. The promise to pray is too
often made carelessly, and disinterested auditors often feel relieved of
all responsibility when, instead of a collection, they are let off with
a request to pray for the advocated cause. But a sincere promise to pray
for a cause carries with it the sincere purpose to work and to give
self-sacrificingly. To say, "We do not ask for your money, but only that
you pray for us," is a half-hypocritical request, because a real prayer
can ascend only from a soul intent on doing. To agree to pray is a
hearty promise also to do all in one's power to work with the Lord. Only
the hearty worker can really pray. "The people had a mind to work," said
Nehemiah, and God, seeing their zeal, responded to their appeal. The
Lord answered in a way absolutely unforeseen. The salvation of the world
cost a great sacrifice, and everywhere we see the results of a
mysterious law that some must die that others may live, and that real
happiness is ever gained at the cost of suffering.

A little child in Philadelphia opened the gates of the Temple by going
down through death. She had been unable to get into the overcrowded
Bible school one Sunday, and she began to save her pennies to help
secure some larger place. Little Hattie May Wyatt, living in a home near
the church, was chosen of God to convey his answer to the pleadings of
that church. How little could the afflicted parents realize what a great
work their sweet, prattling Hattie was to do in her short life. When the
sweet, pale face lay in the coffin amid the flowers and tears, her
pocketbook, containing fifty-seven cents which she had saved, was handed
to the minister. She was the messenger of Christ on earth before she
became one in heaven! That fifty-seven cents was a sacred treasure, and
at the next church meeting prayers went up to God, asking direction how
to invest the first gift toward the larger accommodations.
Providentially, the subject of the Scripture text was the narrative of
the little child with his five barley loaves and two little fishes (John
vi). What can Christ do with the gift of a little child? What can the
spirit of God do with the seed of an oak? One patriarch led in prayer
and earnestly asked the Lord to "take these few pennies and build for
us a temple." There were some in the assembly who, like the disciples at
Galilee, said, "What can this little supply do among so many?" But the
most part seemed inspired by the Holy Spirit with a faith that was
immovable. The Lord then put a thought into the mind of Mr. John Baer,
who owned a lot of land on the corner of Broad and Berks streets, to
suggest to a member of the church that, as the people needed larger
quarters, they ought to buy his lot and erect there a larger church. Mr.
Baer did not know then that the church had only fifty-seven cents and
that the church building they then occupied was still heavily mortgaged.
Another church member heard of Mr. Baer's remark and, with the assurance
of a faith unshakable, told Mr. Baer that if he would take fifty-seven
cents as the first payment he felt sure the church would purchase it.
Mr. Baer (a devout man) said that he would cheerfully accept the terms
and that he would also not only give back the fifty-seven cents, but
would contribute one thousand dollars toward the first payment on the

The church then purchased the lot and held another prayer meeting to
determine the second time what to do with the Wyatt fifty-seven cents.
It was unanimously decided to organize a "Wyatt Mite Society" to invest
the money. There were to be fifty-seven children in the society, and
each was to invest one of the pennies so as to secure the largest
possible amount for the new church. It seems almost miraculous that
wherever a child tried to sell the penny not one would buy it after
hearing the story, but nearly all did give a liberal donation. One lady
gave fifteen hundred dollars. Finally, the pennies all came back, were
put in a coin frame, and kept as a sacred souvenir. Then joyful
enthusiasm seized upon the people and hurried them along in many
different enterprises for raising money. One Sabbath the pastor was
overpersuaded to exchange with Doctor Pierce of Mount Holly, and the
joyful people presented the pastor, on his return, with a subscription
list of ten thousand dollars. But to that account the practical and
critical business man can answer that in any enterprise enthusiasm, hard
work, and economy secure success almost invariably. So that even the
matter of raising one hundred and nine thousand dollars by a people, all
poor, industrious persons, may not be absolutely convincing to the
skeptic who questions the personal interference of God in answer to the
call of his children. But there was another phase of the history of that
campaign which seems to be absolutely unaccountable on any other
hypothesis but the direct and special interference of superhuman

The number seven! It is called "a sacred number"; but why it has been
credited with its peculiar significance is, perhaps, the effect of its
mention so often in the Bible. The various theories, reasonable and
fanciful, for the sacredness of the number seven need not be rehearsed
in a record of simple facts like these which this account preserves. But
the daily appearance of the number seven in the evangelistic history of
the Grace Church through the five years and two months before the large
Temple was completed has never been explained by any solution other than
by accrediting it to some power or law above the normal. The "five
years' meetings" were only the usual meetings of the small church and no
evangelistic or unusual endeavors were used, nor were any special
methods tried. Evangelists of noted power sometimes addressed the church
or gave sermons at the church in connection with some convention or
association, but none of those instrumentalities seemed to affect the
answers to the prayers of the people. The church sessions were simple,
practical, social, and fully democratic. But the prayers were full of
faith and feeling and were brief and direct. One evening, in a meeting
held in a small basement room, there were seven young people, strangers
to one another, who stood up at the invitation to confess Christ. Each
one stated that he had come under a strange and irresistible impulse
unaccountable to him. Each asked the people to pray for his soul. That
was the opening of the continuous stream of seven new converts each week
for five years. That repetition of the number seven was not especially
noticed until it had been repeated through several weeks. Then the
people began to expect it, and during the active enterprises connected
with the building of the new Temple it had a powerful effect on the
courage and faith of that small company. As the years came and went with
no change in that weekly number of fresh seekers after God, a feeling of
awe held the worshipers to such an extent that when the seventh man or
woman arose to come forward a deep sigh passed through the congregation.
Sometimes the leader of the meeting paused or asked for "the hesitating
one" if the full number did not at first appear. But there was no
prearrangement and no attempt or purpose to cease giving the invitation
to confess Christ after the number seven had been reached. The church
was too deeply impressed with the seeming miracle to undertake any
experiments with it. Continual prayer was all that was attempted. People
ceased to ask their acquaintances to come to the meetings, and the usual
revival methods were omitted. Real prayer, sincere singing, and a short
comment on some verse of Scripture made up the usual order of services,
aside from the regular preaching on Sunday.

Various explanations of this mysterious and systematic manifestation of
some hidden spiritual force have been advanced by students of the
unusual occurrence. Some undevout friends have rested satisfied with the
belief that it was only a coincidence or an accidental repetition of a
natural phenomenon. The skeptic said that there was no mystery about it,
as it merely "happened so." Others, more devout, declared that the
people must have habitually "let go of their faith" when seven appeared,
and that according to their faith "was the limitation of the numbers."
Others believed that it must have been, consciously or unconsciously,
arranged by persons managing the meeting, and not a few outsiders
regarded the statement of the facts as a clear falsehood. They said it
could not have been possible, and that there was surely some deception
in the arrangements or reports. But the hundreds of intelligent and
conscientious people who were present week after week became fully
satisfied that it was the work of the Divine Spirit sent in answer to
their prayers. Some of the circumstances connected with that large
accession to the church will be of interest to the student.

During the years when the building was being constructed many simple
schemes were devised by the people to raise money for the work. But
prayer was a part of every endeavor. Fairs, suppers, and concerts were
often used to raise funds, and, although a worldly spirit often creeps
into church entertainments, there came there a devotional spirit which
seemed to transfigure every work. The devotional meetings held in a side
hall when the church fairs were going on at the Academy of Music in
Philadelphia ever had the same startling result--the unchangeable
number, seven, came out for Christ. One evening a specially large number
of citizens were at a dinner given to arrange plans for securing the
money for the first payment to the contractor who was laying the
foundation for the Temple. A visitor, in his speech, said that he had
been more interested in the "steady revival," of which he had heard,
than in the feast, and that he was quite disappointed to learn that for
the first time in three years the church had omitted its weekly prayer
meeting to give place to a dinner. Thereupon, Deacon Stoddard, a devout
man and full of the Holy Ghost, arose and suggested that before the
guests left the table the presiding officer should give the usual
invitation for anyone to arise and declare his decision to follow
Christ. After several eloquent and entertaining speeches on general
topics the invitation was given for the religious confession, and, to
the amazement of many, just seven young men arose. A deep, spiritual
emotion filled the hearts of all present. In two or three instances the
number was less than seven who responded before the benediction was
pronounced, and some said, "The spell is broken." But in all cases
another seeker after God appeared before the people left the room. Men,
in those cases, rushed to the platform and called for the attention of
the company to say that they dared not go home without openly confessing
before the people their need of the Saviour. In several instances
persons were too much overcome or too timid to stand out before a public
meeting, and they persuaded some one sitting near them to get up and ask
prayers for them. But there was no prolongation of any service and no
outlay of money for exhorters or singers. Naturally that remarkable
condition attracted a throng of people, and before the Temple was opened
the church and Sunday-school rooms at Mervine and Berks streets were
crowded beyond endurance.

At the first great prayer meeting held in the Temple when the call was
made for converts the number who came forward was seventy-seven. From
that time (1892) there has been no resumption of a regular number of
seekers. Often the number seven, seventy-seven, forty-nine, and seventy
appear in the number of those who arose for prayer or in the list of
those who were received at the same time into the church. At one Easter
service two hundred and seventy-seven were baptized. But those "five
years' revivals" stand out as five most beautiful years in the memory of
the thousands still living who recall them. All of that company of
believers prayed, and on those stormy days when the curious crowd were
kept away the people drew together in sincere devotion, and the most
dreary days without were the most happy within. God seemed more
reachable and the domestic sweetness of the church home was much more
fully appreciated when the snow shadowed the panes, when the wild storms
beat on the doors, and when only earnest worshipers ventured out to
church. For more than fifteen years three thousand tickets of admission
to the regular church services were taken up several days in advance,
and when a very stormy day kept many ticket holders away special and
repeated prayer was made especially for them. The effect of those stormy
days of special prayer was one of the most remarkable experiences of the
church life. Letters came in great numbers from different parts of the
world, saying that they missed the services, but felt decidedly
impressed to send for some needed information or for special religious

Many cathedrals, churches, homes, and charity halls have been built on
prayer and faith, so that the construction of the Baptist Temple, on a
prominent corner of Philadelphia's widest street, in the heart of the
city, by a few poor people, may not seem strange. Yet the fact that God
has prospered other enterprises is only a confirmation of the theory
that God answered the prayers of Grace Church in giving providential
assistance in the construction of the Temple. When the church voted to
go on and pay for the lot and build a church to seat over three thousand
in the upper auditorium and two thousand in the lower hall, there was no
money in hand or pledged. Yet there was no recklessness, no tempting God
in their faith. When the contracts were entered into with the builder,
or the furniture manufacturer, provision was made carefully for any
contingency. If for any unforeseen reason the great building had been
unfinished at any stage of construction all bills would have been paid.
But each advance in the work was made after special prayer over each
division of the building enterprise. The foundation was constructed
after special prayer, then came the walls, the roof, the carpenter's
inside work, the painting, the furniture, and the organ--each being the
object of prayerful consideration. There were a few instances, however,
which are worthy of special mention. There was a point when the contract
for the stone for the walls was held up by the quarry proprietors, as
they feared to venture on so large a job with no guaranty but a
mechanic's right of lien. At that time a new savings bank was opened at
Columbia Avenue, two squares from the Temple, and President Cummings,
head of the bank, offered to assist the church in any safe way. How he
came to know of the proposed work, or what special reason he had for
helping a people with whom he was not personally acquainted, was never
explained. But he was a noble citizen. His influence was itself a
powerful aid in all the business of the church. One day a stranger
(General Wagner, president of the Third National Bank) was driving by
the half-constructed church when an "impulse" seized him to go into the
building under construction. He was a Presbyterian elder and a stranger
to all the members of Grace Church. He was a great man of business, a
person of unflinching integrity whose coolness in emergencies and whose
conservative management of financial institutions made him a trusted
authority for private, for city, or for national finances. In a few
words of conversation with the contractor in the building General Wagner
was told that the church was being built "by faith in prayer." He told
General Wagner that thus far "every payment had been made promptly, with
nothing left over." From that hour the general was a strong, unmovable
friend and backer of the Temple enterprise. The Tenth National Bank and
its offspring, the Columbia Trust Company, and the Third National Bank,
of which General Wagner was president, were ever safely used as a
reference, and often tens of thousands of dollars were loaned by them
to the church for short periods. The trustees and the deacons of the
church were prayerful men of stable common sense and successful in their
own labor or business. There was no foolish overpiousness, no loud
professions of religious fervor, but a determined trust in God's promise
to heed the call of those who loved him.

Mr. John Little, a Quaker by inheritance and training, was a leading
mind in the affairs of the church and was for many years the treasurer
of the Temple University. He was a quiet, keenly modest man, but living
a transparent truthfulness and honesty which commanded the confidence of
all who knew him and secured for him a love that can never die. He said
that he had two special places for prayer, one being in the Temple and
the other on the street. Mr. Charles F. Stone (whose wife, Mrs. Maria L.
Stone, continued his work after he died) was the treasurer of the church
at the critical period and was a man endowed with excellent business
ability and a devout man full of good works. He, too, had a "good name"
which was rather to be chosen as a financial recommendation than great
riches. These men are not mentioned because of their special claim to
attention above the others associated with them, but simply as two
specimens of the prayer-making company who moved on unhesitatingly, yet
carefully, in doing the thing which many declared could not be done. The
weekly reports from the committees and individuals showing how God had
raised up, unexpectedly or strangely, friends of the undertaking, often
caused a deep feeling of awe and sent the people out with fresh
determination to work cheerfully on.

A single instance of the many hundreds reported will probably answer the
inquiries of others now engaged in some like work. Looking back upon the
incident after thirty years the plan or the purpose of the divine
leadership, so hidden then, becomes reasonable and clear. Why the Lord
wished to use only three hundred men out of Gideon's great army was not
understood at the time, but all can see now that the purpose was to
bring the Lord's hand into vision and win for him the recognition which
would have gone to the human army.

Only once did the people of the Temple falter and their prayers seem
ineffective. Only once did those Philadelphia worshipers limit their
faith. But that one period of doubt came when the question was suddenly
thrust before the church whether they would try to put in a suitable
church organ. Many claimed that they had reached the utmost limit of
sacrifice. Some said that the church ought to be fully satisfied if they
could buy seats for the first services. Others strongly declared that
after all the asking of God and man for aid to build the Temple they
could not expect either God or man to help them to buy an unnecessary
organ. Through thirty-eight years the church has never had any quarrel
to settle in all its history, and that division of opinion did not
assume an angry or excited phase. It was simply a feeling in some of the
people that the Lord had done wonders and that, now that the church was
out of the wilderness, it was full time to let the people and God's
providence rest. When the question arose whether the church should
venture to purchase a suitable church organ it was decided by a large
majority that it could not be undertaken. The small minority were
Gideon's three hundred. One member of that small body asked the church
for the privilege of putting in the organ, "if he could raise all of the
ten thousand dollars needed without asking a contribution from anyone
who had already given or subscribed toward the building." Even that
conservative offer was accepted by a reluctant and small majority.

Then that member began a downright, heart-stretching wrestle with the
Angel of God. He spent two successive nights in the Temple in hard and
tearful prayer. He had nothing to give. He must secure the whole from
others. He pleaded with God to let him work with Him in awakening the
hearts of possible givers. But the Lord was not willing to give to man
the major part of the glory of success. The murmuring people must be
made ashamed of their lack of faith in the Lord who had safely led them
thus far. The contract for the organ was made with a company whose agent
said they usually sold their organs on faith, but that churches always
paid the cost and often paid in advance of the date when the notes
matured. The purchaser of the Temple organ did not feel authorized to
put in the organ with no money in hand, at least for the first
installment on the price to be paid. But all the men he approached
refused to give because it was "overdoing it," and was "too improbable"
for credence or assistance. But the purchaser did not waver. The time
set for the payment of the first fifteen hundred dollars came. The note
the purchaser gave was due on Monday. The debtor had asked the
Sunday-morning prayer meeting to remember him especially "on the
morrow." He had until three o'clock Monday to raise the money to save
his note from protest. He had written to a relative to ask for a loan of
fifteen hundred dollars, but the letter had not been sent to the mail
box. When he entered his room just before church services a working girl
who was a member of the church came quietly to his door and handed him a
letter in which, when he opened it, he found a check for fifteen hundred
dollars. The letter and check were signed by a laboring man in Massilon,
Ohio, who wrote that he had not been asked to give anything, but he had
heard that the church "hoped soon to get an organ." He felt impressed to
send this check and to ask the church to accept it on the condition
that, should he ever be reduced to actual need, the church should
endeavor to aid him in some way. The second payment due came as an
unexpected draft from Boston for five hundred dollars, which must be
honored or refused within three days. But in the same mail with the
notice of the draft came two money orders from the executor of an estate
in California, saying that the deceased testator had left the
distribution of certain sums to the discretion of the executor and he
had decided to send five hundred dollars toward "the music in the new

The third payment was met by funds raised by solicitation, about which
there seemed to be nothing remarkable. Other payments were made by gifts
clearly sent in connection with the appeal of the believer, but the last
payment was the most unaccountable of all. Three one-hundred-dollar
bills were pushed under the door of the church study by some one never
discovered, and a certificate of mining stock worth seven hundred
dollars was sent from Butte, Montana, without other signature except
that on the face of the certificate. The blank for the purchaser of the
stock was blank. Public efforts were made to find the givers, but
without success. Well might the people feel that the voice of the organ
was the voice of the Saviour.

When the organ was dedicated and Dr. D. D. Wood led the devotion with
inspired fingers and sightless eyes the church's congregation was a
beautiful sight--like a sea sparkling with tears. When the great chorus
was singing the hymn, "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to
perform," a large number of the singers were so choked with emotion that
they ceased to sing and Doctor Wood said the event was one of the most
thrilling in all his experiences with choirs.

These are "the simple annals of the poor," but they illustrate and
inculcate great principles which are applicable to any work for the

Chapter III

Healing the Sick

The health and happiness of mankind depend in a great degree on faith.
Every emotion of the body and every action of the mind is an exhibition
of faith. Persons who believe they are well, even if they are ill, will
soon recover, and persons who believe that they will not be sick are
seldom ill. There is no department of human life so dependent on belief
as that connected with health. Millions would arise, take up their
couches and walk, if they could be made to believe that they could do
so. To believe a falsehood has cured many people, and consciences waver
between the duty to tell a patient the clear truth when he is very ill
and to make him believe a lie in order that he may get well.

It must also be stated, in fidelity to the truth, that the subject of
healing by faith has called out a host of the half-insane classes who
proclaim with trumpet tones some cases of divine healing which are
unworthy of a moment's consideration. Hence, out of a collection of
possibly sincere letters, many have been rejected altogether as foolish
or misleading. Eleven hundred written testimonies to cases of healing in
direct answer to prayer at the Baptist Temple have been carefully
examined and the trustworthy testimonies tabulated. Those "years of
healing" to which reference is so often made were years of prayer and
years of faith. After deducting all the questionable cases, and after a
wide allowance for the naturally health-giving and health-preserving
power, the normal human belief is that there remains an overwhelmingly
convincing amount of evidence that healing is directly brought about by
sincere prayer.

Through several years cases were reported to the church or pastors which
convinced all who knew the people and the circumstances that some
intelligent power, higher than human knowledge, had interfered to heal
the sick. But when the knowledge of those trustworthy cases came to be
known, and especially when they had awakened much excited comment, then
the "cranks" and monomaniacs crowded to the front and vociferously
proclaimed the most absurd miracles, to the disgust of reasonable men
and women and greatly to the damage of the beneficent work.

Sometimes all references to healing were omitted in the pulpit and shut
out from the meetings for prayer until the wild advocates of divine
healing settled down and dispassionate views could be taken. Many
intelligent devout men repudiated the whole experiment, believing that
the excitement over it was doing much more harm than good. But the
larger part who saw the people who had been cured by the unexplainable
means were steadfast and went on sincerely thanking God for his
wonderful works among the children of men.

A digest of the written testimonies showed that cataracts had unrolled
without the touch of a surgeon's knife, although the greatest number of
the restoration of sight to the blind were with the aid of apparent
means. The methods by which the Lord restored their sight did not make
their gratitude to him for restoration any the less commendable.
Mysterious and evidently dangerous internal tumors disappeared slowly or
suddenly in a manner unexplainable by the most learned physicians.

By far the greatest number of the eleven hundred cases selected for
consideration out of the multitude of testimonies were cases in some way
directly connected with the nervous system. Patients long confined in an
insane asylum were brought home and cured of what had been considered
hopeless insanity. There were many cases of various forms of brain
diseases, while in all these cases a specially conservative examiner
could declare that they might have been cured by the special or wise

Yet, even if such were the case, the devout man who prayed may claim
that the treatment was only a part of God's healing plan. It was often
declared publicly and without any contradiction that for long seasons
there was not one person ill in bed in the more than one thousand homes
represented in the membership of the church worshiping in the Temple.
Usually health reigned in the entire church, and it was reasonably
claimed that in five years more than six hundred cases of lung and
throat trouble were permanently healed. Epidemics afflicted the city,
and, quoting Doctor Haehnlen, it was declared that "the Angel of Death
had passed over the congregation, taking none." Of course the people
believed that if they went to the Temple to pray for the recovery of
their friends they would surely be favorably answered. Many have,
however, written that if that condition of faith could be secured in the
doctor, nurse, and family, that spirit of hope would be naturally
aroused in the patient and aid greatly in the recovery. But the men who
pray can say with greater confidence that in every case it was, at
least, God working with man. At all events, the general health of the
congregation must be far better than would have been the case with the
same people if they had not gone to church and prayed.

Hundreds of men and women live on in health and vigor who were in that
congregation at middle age thirty-five years ago. Their strength "is not
abated," although some of them were invalids thirty years ago. The
healing force of a cheerful faith is everywhere acknowledged to be a
health-preserving agency of vital importance in the establishment of
public health. It is a vital necessity in thousands of individual cases.
Such a condition is probably often a gift of God--through the influence
of his suggesting and soothing spirit. Jesus healed many without
resorting to miracles and seems to have resorted to the miraculous only
to convince his hearers of his authority in divine matters. In some
cases, as the woman who touched his garment, he claimed nothing for
himself, but told her that her own faith had served her.

Even the most ultra-conservative critic at the Temple who tried hard to
see in these many cases of restoration only the "working out of some
natural law" confessed that if his child was sick he "would not dare to
omit praying" for its recovery. The conclusion of the whole matter is in
the settled conviction in the minds of nearly all the worshipers at the
Temple that God does answer prayer for the sick.

Chapter IV

Prayer for the Home

One Sunday evening at the usual services the invitation was given, as is
customary, for such persons who especially desired to be mentioned in
the daily prayers of the people to rise for a moment before the singing
of the last hymn. The sermon had not mentioned the need of prayer and
contained no special evangelistic appeal. The invitation was the
customary proceeding throughout the year. The three thousand seats were
all filled. The audience was composed, as usual, largely of men, and
they were men of middle age. There were young people, representing both
sexes, scattered through the audience, and lines of them along the back
rows of seats in the distant gallery. No attempt was made to emphasize
the ordinary invitation in any special manner. But when the solemn
moment came for the prayer-seekers to rise the response was so general
that the preacher asked those who had risen to remain standing until the
pastors could see them and count them. There were over five hundred, and
for a few weeks that was about the usual number of those who arose.

But the preacher was especially startled by the fact which he had not
especially noted on previous occasions, that the majority of those who
asked for prayer were young people. The scene, when those youthful faces
appeared on every side and in so large a congregation, filled the soul
of the beholder with almost painful awe. It led the preacher to meditate
a moment to ask Christ and himself why so many young people took such a
solemn, sincere interest in prayer at that time. The thought led him,
before the benediction, to request all who had stood forth for prayer to
write to him a personal and confidential letter explaining why they
desired to be mentioned in the prayers of the Christian people. The
letters came the next week by the hundred. It was an astonishing
revelation. The letters from unmarried people were culled out of the
collection and reread at leisure. Some of them were in need of higher
wages; some were seeking for a personal religious awakening; some asked
prayers for friends, for business, for safe journey, for health, or for
other protection and relief. But out of two hundred and eighty-seven
letters from those young people over two hundred mentioned, directly or
indirectly, their strong desire for a husband, a wife, or a home. The
details of lovers' quarrels were opened up, the anguish of broken
engagements expressed on tear-stained sheets of note paper, and many
doubtful lovers wished the Lord would reveal to them whether their
choice had been a wise one or whether their love was deep enough for
such an extremely important matter as marriage. The letters revealed
such a general longing for a home that one seldom realizes is really
existent. There were a few letters from young college women and
university men. But the greater portion were from working girls. They
were the most touchingly sacred records of the everyday thoughts of
young women, all sincerely and modestly expressed. When those young
women saw some handsomely gowned wife pass her desk, her counter, her
bench, or loom, leading a bright-faced little son, the working girl's
soul uttered an unvoiced shriek for a home, for a noble husband's
protection, and for children of her own. Women waiters who daily fed the
wives of wealthy merchants or of prosperous manufacturers wrote how
terrible was the thought that they were going to be homeless and
penniless in their old age--one great prayer going up to high heaven for
holy domestic love and a place they could call "home."

After that evening's call upon the seekers after God to rise the request
for letters was repeated. The answers which came even into thousands
revealed the general request for the leadership of the Spirit of the
all-wise God in directing the all-important affairs of the heart. Some
letters detailed the horrors of broken hearts; some revealed dark sins;
and some told of betrayal or of base and traitorous ingratitude. But the
majority were letters from lonely but upright women of high ideals and
of noble, Christian life. Some of the communications were from
conscientious young men asking God's help in deciding their choice or
for the influence of God in their favor when their chosen one should
make up her hesitating mind. Some were calls for Christ's forgiveness
and for human advice in most complicated cases where the writer had been
misunderstood or where he had thoughtlessly made a promise he must
recall. All wanted a home. The honest souls standing out in the open
before God, where the restraints of human custom and the reluctance of a
pure modesty were, for the moment, overcome, wrote out the sincerest
prayer of all. Their soul's need was a home.

Of all the holy ambitions of a normal man or woman the purpose to have a
home is the highest. A home on earth and a home in heaven constitute the
soul's chiefest need. Around that transfigured word gather all that is
highest and purest in human thinking and all that is most sacred and
heavenly in human feeling. In the beginning the Almighty created
man--"Male and female created he them." The first home was in Paradise.
The last home will be there. He who has an income to maintain a house,
who has an intelligent, unselfish wife, who can look about his table and
see children with clear intellects and loving hearts, is conspicuously
foolish if he does not see that he already has the best the world can
give. She who can cast off all anxiety for maintenance and can devote
herself to the care and training of her own little ones, and who can
respect and deeply love her chosen mate, has God's best gifts already in
her possession. Gratitude to the heavenly Father will lead such
recipients of his richest bounty to forget not to aid those who have
less. Nothing on earth of wealth, applause, or mundane wisdom can equal,
in the least measure, the temporal and eternal values of a real home.
Therefore it is wise and the mark of a godly character to pray heartily
for a husband, or for a wife, or for children.

A reasonable valuation of such domestic treasures makes a hideous crime
of every violation of the laws and customs which make a loving home
possible. Profanity of speech, theft of money, or traitorous breaking of
any other contract is a light sin compared with the brutal sins of the
libertine or the unchastity of the woman who sells herself, or who, with
evil intent, entices a man to home-breaking crime. So important is this
matter that it is the fit subject for constant prayer for those who have
not chosen to be a martyr or decided to give up all on earth for a home
in heaven. And, even in the latter case, the call to take up any work
inconsistent with the maintenance of a home should be overwhelmingly
emphatic to command obedience.

Hence, those appeals to Heaven for domestic rest of soul were all normal
and all of supreme importance. When that great collection of letters
were each answered the reply contained a counter-request for a report in
due season which should state when and how the prayer for a home had
been answered. Those reports have also been carefully tabulated. But
here again the critical adherent to the theory concerning the
unchangeable laws of nature tries to escape any committal to religious
dogmas by claiming that the mating instinct is an inborn sentiment
common to fishes, beasts, and birds, and that mankind mates by
accidental acquaintanceship or by the pressure of necessity or
ungoverned passion. Such arguments convince many people who deride the
claim that "marriages are made in heaven." But after every such theory
is suggested and analyzed, after every allowance for the outworking of
"natural selection," there is left an important place for the intrusion
or domination of a superhuman power. To that fact, the simple,
unvarnished tale of the experience of the years at the Temple bear
eloquent testimony. A book of this character requires that out of the
many reports only the most representative cases should be selected, and
that the mention should be as brief as is consistent with clearness. The
number of marriages which every church, small or great, brings about is
ever the astonishment of any preacher who goes back over the history of
forty years of church life. The church in any community is a center of
more or less of social life and furnishes an opportunity for the best
young people to meet on a plane of safe association. The married
Christian people, and especially the owners of homes, are the very best
people in any town or city. As a rule, all people possessed of Christian
character marry. The unmarried masses of the people, or those who are
most often unhappily mated, are often the unstable classes who are not
closely bound to moral principles. Religious life and home life are twin
sisters. They belong to the same family and have the same likes,
dislikes, and motives. They are congenial and necessary companions
almost everywhere.

Let us examine the leading events wherein we seem to recognize the
divine hand and which led directly to the setting up of Christian homes.
One lady clerk in a department store, in her first letter asking for
prayer, said that she was forty-one years of age and that she had been
twenty years in the store. She said that she had hoped for a home all
her adult life, but had abandoned the hope and wished only to die soon.
She asked if suicide would be wrong under such sad circumstances. The
following Sabbath morning, after the service, the pastor of her church
incidentally introduced her to a widower of her age who had a
comfortable house, but who had rented it because he had no children. The
widower asked the pastor a few days later to pray for him as he had a
"very important matter" on his mind. Several days later he came to the
minister and said that he had dreamed three times and in each dream he
had precisely the same experience. He dreamed that he was climbing a
steep hill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and he had called for help to a
lady standing above him near the path, and when he took her hand he
recognized her as the lady to whom the minister had introduced him. He
declared that he really wished to set up a home again, but his first
impression of that lady was decidedly unfavorable. The minister
unreservedly advised the widower never to let a mere dream influence him
to overcome his calm judgment. The minister said that dreams were often
contrary to fair reasoning and should not be consulted in such important
matters. A few days later the lady called on the minister to ask him if
there was "any truth in dreams." Then she greatly surprised the minister
by saying that she dreamed several times that she was on a steep bank
near a cousin's home in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and as the earth began
dangerously to break beneath her feet a man caught her and supported her
to the safe path. The mysterious thing in her story was that she
recognized the man as the gentleman to whom she had been introduced that
Sunday morning, but whose name she had forgotten. She said that the
repetition of the dream "set her to thinking," and she had called to
inquire who the gentleman was and what trust could be placed in dreams.
The minister was too surprised to declare again that no faith could be
put in any dreams. The minister said nothing to her about his previous
interview with the widower and let her depart with the remark that if
the Lord intended she should marry that man the Lord would also speak to
the man about it in some clear manner. The Lord never advises one party
to enter into such a contract when he knows the other party is
unwilling. In every holy marriage both parties are equally inspired
with the spirit of God and are both absolutely convinced that the Lord
had brought them together. The minister soon wrote to the widower,
advising him to call on the lady and tell her frankly that he desired to
make her acquaintance with a view to a marriage, if both should be
satisfied that it would be right. Every reader of this incident
recognizes or feels the impression of the universal law of nature and
can prophesy safely that they would marry. The minister was not present
at the wedding, but he was informed by those who did attend the ceremony
that the bridegroom told the guests the history of their dreams and
claimed that they were "obeying the voice of God" when they arranged for
that marriage.

The doubting persons who claim that the repetition of the dreams and the
accidental meetings were singular coincidences that were in no way
influenced by angel spirits, do have enough support to make the angel
theory one of faith and remove the claim from the class of "scientific
demonstrations." The facts related cannot be questioned. But the
conclusions from those facts may differ widely and still be more or less

The mysterious attraction which leads the bird and the beast to choose
their mates is of the same nature as that mating instinct which prevails
universally among mankind. But man's reasoning power and his
self-control make his choice of a wife a far more complicated matter.
The healthiest, strongest, and most intellectual races are ever those
whose laws and customs allow the greatest opportunity for unprejudiced
choice in the selection of life mates. Intermarriage of family
relations, or the marriages within a narrow circle of the same race,
ever produce weaklings and often idiots. In the lands where the parents
arrange all the marriages there is but little progress and but few real
homes. Wherever the parties refuse to be guided by the higher law of
affinity, or by a recognition of Divine Providence, there will seldom be
found a real home. "Affinity" is an abused word, and is often used to
bolster up a bad cause or to excuse a cruel crime. But the close student
of anthropology ever finds that the known natural laws do not account
for every case, nor can a satisfactory solution of sex attraction in
human affairs be found without admitting the mysterious and potent force
that is only spiritual.

Looking back over the marriage records of the Baptist Temple for thirty
years, there appear some significant facts concerning home-making by
prayer. Through those thirty years of the record-keeping there was an
average of sixteen marriages a month, or five thousand and one hundred
in thirty years. The same pastor who officiated at the marriage of the
parents also, in many cases, officiated at the weddings of the children.
Not one case of divorce can be discovered and only two cases of
estrangement. The records of many praying churches probably show the
same conditions.

But it is a sublime, soul-satisfying thing to meditate on such a great
list of happy Christian homes. The searcher, when he notes the
birthplaces of bride and groom, finds that they often come from the most
distant places and represent nearly all the races of the world. Calcutta
united with New York, Iceland with New Orleans, Philadelphia with
Chicago, Quebec with Quakertown, Worcester (Massachusetts) with Camden
(New Jersey), Japan with Chester (Pennsylvania), Alaska with Columbia
(South Carolina), country villages with cities, obscure daughters of
prairie farmers with sailors on the Atlantic, millionaires' sons with
working girls, and thousands of members of the church of all adult ages
uniting with other members of whom they knew nothing in childhood.

From the atheist's point of view he can see nothing in that history but
a jumble of accidents or a snarl of events which cannot be untangled.
But to the devout believer in the theory that God sends his angels to
arrange the home-making as he did in the case of Rebecca and Isaac, that
list of homes presents a sublime view of a system for the kind
distribution of Heaven's chiefest blessings. Out of the seventy-two
hundred who united with Grace Church and its missions in the thirty
years mentioned above all but twenty-nine have been married. As a
home-making agency in the history of our nation the churches must hold
the leading place.

When the remarkable series of reported dreams became known and was being
discussed by the people, there arose many men and women with unbalanced
minds who testified to the most inconsistent miracles in connection with
their dreams. Among the letters which they sent in when testimonials
were called for there were nearly one hundred which related foolish and
impossible experiences and which made the whole debate ridiculous. But
that uprising of those who were "possessed of evil spirits" did not
prove that the one case so well established was not the work of an angel
of God.

There may be ten thousand dreams which are of no special value and which
are caused by natural law. But God seems to use only one here and there
for his special purposes. Thousands of seeds fall on the earth, but only
one may be selected to grow. There were cases related where dreams were
specially potent to the dreamers because of the suggestions made by the
dreams to the waking minds. A dream is often very potent as a reminder,
or as a caution, and is often a providential event used in God's plan,
although the dreams in themselves may have nothing unusual about them.
There could be no clearly remembered dream which did not have some
effect on the thought and later actions of the dreamer. With that view
many dreams need not have their origin in a special visit of an angel of
God. But again we must believe that there are dreams in which the angel
of God appears to man directly, and that such dreams are possible in any
age of the human world. Each claim, therefore, to a revelation of God in
a dream should stand alone and be accepted or rejected after a careful
study of all the causes and effects.

The experiences with the Holy Spirit during those years of constant
prayer should find a special place in this record. For there were devout
souls who seemed to be constantly filled with the divine afflatus, and
they surely enjoyed the peace of God which passeth all understanding.
Here, again, we walk near a line that cannot exactly be located and
enjoy emotions or inspirations which cannot be described. An
all-pervading joy illumined every part of the human soul. "Where are you
going so early this Sunday morning?" was often asked of the hastening
pedestrian, and it was a common experience to hear him reply, "I am
going to the morning prayer meeting in the Temple to meet the Holy
Spirit." The Holy Spirit was there awaiting him. There were Pentecostal
days--supreme hours of strange elation, seasons of heavenly bliss which
cannot be accounted for on any psychological basis. A holy brooding of a
sin-expelling spiritual atmosphere permeated by a power like a perfume.
It was an indwelling of the Spirit which carried a purifying fumigation
wherein the worshiper simply let go of himself and rested in the arms of
his heavenly Father. Many felt that sacred presence and could only
express themselves in tears. Such Pentecostal visitations of the Spirit
have doubtless come to thousands of churches and to millions of
worshipers in other places, and this experience at the Temple is not
mentioned as if it were an unusual thing where prayer is the habit of
all the people. But it confirms the history of the visits of the Holy
Spirit related in the Bible, and must be accepted as a proof of the fact
that there is communication between the spirit world and the world in
which we live in the flesh. But these spiritual conditions are so
subtle, so elusive, so delicate, that it is easy to imagine that one is
in that condition when perhaps he is not. It was so disappointing and
perplexing to the sincere and reasonable Christian to have his
communication with the Holy Spirit disturbed by a wild-eyed and
loud-mouthed "Holy Roller" or an advocate of "The Holy Ghost and Us
Society" proclaim his wild theories and tell of the silly revelations
which he claimed the Spirit had made to him. Some of those disturbers
are now in the insane asylum, where they should have been before.

    Wherever God erects a house of prayer
    The devil builds a chapel there.
    And 'twill be found on examination
    The latter has the largest congregation.

It is a marvel that the gospel of Christ has outlived its own advocates.
The "cranks" who testified for Christ in his day were more harmful than
were the same number of his open enemies. Because of them the people
believed that Christ himself was a wild fanatic. The believer in Christ
must try prayerfully and carefully to distinguish between the devils and
the angels of light, and determine by their fruits which claimant is
possessed by the Spirit of God and which is controlled by the spirit of

Chapter V

Prayer and the Bible

There are three methods used distinctively in the study of the Bible and
upon each of them prayer has a clear effect. This fact comes out fully
in the written testimonials received from the members of the church
worshiping in the Baptist Temple. One individual may read the Bible as
he would read any other book, and, consequently, finds it dull reading.
Another studies the historical references as an archæologist or as the
scientific specialists examine a rare specimen. To them it is a curious
and strange collection of ancient manuscripts, and such a student finds
amusement in the research. Another regards the Book as a miraculous
revelation from God, and he handles the volume with reverent care and
reads the statements it contains as he would a letter sent from heaven
direct to him. Those three classes are found in almost every religious
gathering, and it is an intensely interesting thing to observe at close
range the various effects of prayer on such a congregation. When the
leader of the prayer service approaches the Bible with the manner of a
delighted seeker after truth, and, before opening the Book, leads the
people in a direct appeal to the Divine Spirit for instruction and
inspiration, the interest of the worshipers in the Book is especially
awakened. When the leader prays fervently and with frank sincerity that
the passages of the Bible to be read shall be illumined or be made alive
with special meaning and new emphasis, then the Book will be an
interesting volume to nearly all of the gathering. And when the leader
is himself expecting a special revelation from that Book at that time
his personal magnetism combines with his manner to help the worshiper
into a receptive, expectant state of mind. The people then expect to
hear "an important message from a most important person." The
helpfulness of those conditions anyone would understand, as they are in
accord with human experience in other gatherings. But the effect of the
prayer in bringing to each person present a different message from the
same verse puts the matter over into the realm of the supernatural.

At one prayer meeting at the Temple, when a severe storm had cut down
the attendance to a number under twenty, the prayerful attitude of all
present made the session one of special spiritual illumination. The
Scriptures were read with accuracy and natural emphasis, and then each
listener was requested to state informally what was the chief lesson
which the reading brought to him. Each person present received a
distinct and helpful suggestion differing from the suggestions made to
any of the others. It is that well-established fact, so often
experienced, that makes the Bible a book unlike any other. In this, too,
is shown the importance of persuading everyone to read the Bible for
and by himself. It seems, however, to be universally true that when the
Bible is prayerfully, intelligently read aloud each praying listener
receives some message of special importance to himself. While all that
evening heard the same words from the same mouth, yet the circumstances
of each life were different from every other; the experiences had been
unlike, the inherited dispositions were different, the meaning of the
words was shaded by the variation in their home use, and a full
allowance was freely made for those differing effects. But those
considerations cannot, to the calm, critical student of the inspiration
of the Bible, account for the special and mysterious messages which come
to each participant in the meeting. The suggestions are often beyond the
application of the law of "the association of ideas." They cannot be
explained by any of the known psychological laws which seem generally to
govern the human mind. This experience with the Bible is the best
evidence of its divine inspiration. Archæological, psychological,
etymological, or historical analysis cannot establish the accuracy of
the Bible so surely as that actual experience. The best proof is
subjective. The secular argument that the Bible carries on its face the
evidence that the writers were all inspired by a "good motive" is surely
an excellent reason for believing the Bible to be "inspired." A holy
motive, apparent in its wise communications, is clearly shown in the
Bible. The etymologist who rests his case on the conclusion that the
words "inspired by God" were formerly written "inspired by the Good,"
and that the "All Good" being is the ideal God, is not far from the safe
definition. That does not in any way conflict with the theory that "all
Scripture, inspired by the 'All Good,' is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." The
complications into which the narrow theologian or technical philosopher
falls when attempting to reason about the Almighty often makes the
study bewildering and unprofitable. The testimony of the good and great
through all the ages that every line of the Book is written with the
unselfish purpose to do good is sufficient warrant for the common reader
in concluding that it has some unusual inspiration.

The question was often discussed at the Temple whether it was safe after
prayer to open the Bible at random and be guided by the first verse on
which the eye rested. Some claimed that it was always safe to trust it.
Others said that it was only occasionally that they found it to be
reasonably instructive. Still others believed that the ascribing of such
magic, or miraculous, power to the Book was clearly a form of forbidden
idolatry. But the majority of the praying Bible readers felt convinced
that the selection of texts at random could not be trusted. Yet here
again we find strong evidence that sometimes the worshiper is directed
to a particular record which seems to be selected by a divine mind.
Again, it is wholly a matter of faith. The boy who asked his father for
a silver dollar and found one in the road which some traveler had
accidentally dropped, concluded that there was no design on the part of
his father to give him the dollar. But when he found a dollar there the
third time his conclusion that his father had placed all three of the
dollars there for him was not unreasonable, but, nevertheless,
erroneous. So while the Lord surely has established certain laws or
customs which seem permanent, yet he has the power and may change the
laws or allow exceptions, and one cannot believe in prayer without
believing that such changes are sometimes made. It is a far greater
strain upon human credulity not to believe it than it is to believe it.
The careful use of common sense in the interpretation of Biblical or
unusual events, examples, and records of wisdom is ever the safe and
sane proceeding. If one should pray for divine direction and opened the
Bible at random to find the Lord's advice he should always examine the
verse to see if its teaching or direction accorded with his petition. In
a "call" to the ministry there must be a conviction of duty in the soul
and also a road providentially opened to the would-be laborer. So in all
the thousands of answers to prayer at the Temple there was found a
conjunction of circumstances which showed that the worker was called by
the same Lord who had a work to be done.

The will of man is a strong force and is in itself an effectual, fervent
prayer. The Lord prospers the person whose righteous will is decided,
persistent, and uncompromising. The too-frequent consultation of Bible
texts for hints or for direction shows a habit of doubt which is often a
clear evidence of weakness. But in this, as in almost every other
experiment, it is the consensus of opinion that the Lord does often
inspire the Bible, especially for certain devout seekers, and that he
inspires the soul with a keen, sensitive apprehension and appreciation
of the special revelation. The spiritually minded man or woman is the
only one who can interpret a spiritual book. The chief value of the
Bible is as a spiritual guide. It is the only book which explains the
Creator's revelation to this world, and is the only one which gives a
trustworthy description of the spiritual world. What a shadow would pass
over the earth, and what destruction, devastation, and misery would be
experienced, if, in one moment, all knowledge of the Bible were crossed
out! Sane men who reverently pray for the inspiration when they read the
Scriptures are the only safe guides to its sacred meaning. All who came
to the Temple to pray seem to have been lead to the Bible at once, and
thousands have learned to love it. To those who have prayed long over it
it has become a continual feast.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Health, Healing, and Faith" ***

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