Acts America

Biographies of Great Christians


'Praying' Hyde

John HydeJohn Hyde was the son of a minister. From the year of his birth in 1865 until 1882, the family lived in Carrolton, Illinois, USA. The home of Dr. Smith Hyde was one of culture and refinement to which was added influence of relgion in its reality. The fervency of his parents at the family altar greatly contributed to John's ultimate power in intercessory prayer.

When his father accepted the pastorate of a Presbyterian Church in Carthage, Illinois, John enrolled as a student in that town. His scholastic ability was so outstanding that after graduation he was asked to become a teacher in his alma mater. That profession had no attraction for the young man and, in obedience to what he felt was the call of God, he decided to attend a seminary in the city of Chicago.

At a missionary meeting, where the need of workers for foreign service was powerfully presented, John's soul was stirred. Later, he sought a fellow-student who had assisted in the program. John demanded of his friend, “Give me all the arguments you have for the foreign field.” “You need no arguments,” restored his friend. “What you want is to get down on your knees and stay there until the matter is settled one way or another.”

And Hyde did just that. As he waited upon God, he was convinced that the divine plan for him could be fulfilled only somewhere beyond the sea. From that time, foreign service was his chief topic of conversation. His prayers were to the end that his classmates, too, should see the fields white to harvest in lands where Christ was not know. His fervent petitions were abundantly answered, for from his class of forty-six graduates, twenty-six offered themselves for foreign missionary effort.

map of IndiaJohn set sail for India after graduation in October, 1892, with mixed ambitions. To be sure, he wished to rescue the perishing among India's millions, but he also hoped to make a name for himself, to so master the languages necessary that eventually he would become a missionary of fame. When he went to his cabin, he found a letter addressed to him in a familiar handwriting. It was that of a ministerial friend of his father, one whom the young man greatly admired for the depth of his spiritual life. As he read, he was startled. “I shall not cease praying for you, dear John, until you are filled with the Holy Spirit.” Clearly the implication was that he was not so filled. He confessed later:

My pride was touched, and I felt exceedingly angry, crushed the letter, threw it into a corner of the cabin, and went up on deck. I loved the writer; I knew the holy life he lived. And down in my heart was the conviction that he was right, and I was not fitted to be a missionary . . . .

In despair, I asked the Lord to fill me with the Holy Spirit, and the moment I did this the whole atmosphere was cleared up. I began to see myself and what a selfish ambition I had. It was a struggle almost to the end of the voyage, but I was determined long before the port was reached that, whatever the cost, I would be really filled with the Holy Spirit.”

When he arrived in India, John attended a meeting where, in no uncertain way, the fact was emphasized that Jesus Christ is able to save from all sin. When one of the listeners, at the close of the service, approached the speaker with the pointed question, “Is that your personal experience, that Jesus can save from all sin?” John was extremely thankful that he had not been asked the question. He acknowledged to himself that, although he had been preaching such a Gospel, experimentally he was a stranger to its power.

Plainly there was no side-stepping the spiritual issue now confronting him. Without the baptism with the Holy Spirit experienced by the 120 at Pentecost in the upper room in Jerusalem, he was a complete failure. He retired to his room, saying to God, “Either Thou must give me victory over all my sin, and especially over the sin that so easily besets me, or I shall return to America to seek there for some other work. I am unable to preach the Gospel until I can testify to it's power in my own life.”

John was now where God wanted him. In simple faith, he looked to Christ for the deliverance from sin for which his heart was craving. He said later, “He did deliver me, and I have not had a doubt of this since. I can now stand up without hesitation to testify that he has given me victory.”

He found the language somewhat difficult for several reasons. One was that he was slightly deaf. Another was the fact that he believed a thorough knowledge of God's Word to be more important to his success as a missionary than anything else. When the examining committee showed dissatisfaction at John's lack of progress in the vernacular of the people among whom he had come to labor, his answer was, “I must put first things first.” In time, however, he did acquire such a command of several languages of India that he spoke with almost native fluency.

God wisely trains the instrument which He intends greatly to use by bringing most unexpected and often most undesirable providences into his life. In 1898, John was laid aside for seven months. He took typhoid fever which was followed by two abscesses in his back. This produced a nervous depression which necessitated absolute rest. Writing of this period, he says:

For a long time after my illness of last May, nervous weakness kept me in the hills, though I wished much to go back to work . . . All during the year, the prayer of Jabez recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10 kept flooding the soul with its melody. “Enlarge my borders,” it sang, day by day, for weeks on end. . . .The answer was an illness straitening and limiting strength and efforts – taking me, keeping me from working for months, pressing home lessons of waiting, impressing the great lesson, “Not my will, but Thine, be done.” But with the waiting and straining came spiritual enlarging. How often God withholds the temporal, or delays it, that we may long for and seek the spiritual.

For twenty years, with an interlude of one furlough because of ill health, Hyde labored in the villages of India. With a tent and a few native workers, he traveled from place to place, proclaiming the good news of salvation. He prayed constantly for a work of the Holy Spirit among the India's darkened populace. He believed his petitions would be answered for, said he, “If the heart be right, blessings cannot be withheld; it can only be delayed.

At the beginning of 1899, out of the depths of disappointment over few conversions among the heathen, he was led into a depth of prayer life not known by many then or since. With the world excluded, he often wrestled with God until midnight. Or, before the rising sun of a new day, he was on his knees, pleading for an outpouring of divine grace upon the villages of India.

In 1902, John returned to America to regain health. There he emphasized again and again the necessity of the Spirit's infilling in hearts everywhere, if the cause of missions was to advance. Citing Pentecost as proof, he declared that united prayer on the part of Christians would produce a tremendous enlargement of the Church at home and aboard.

children of indiaOn his return to India, revival came to the school of girls at Sialkot, in the Punjab, the headquarters of the United Presbyterian Mission under which John labored. It was marked by open and public confession of sin and clear-cut conversions.

The Spirit of God also moved upon the nearby seminary. Some of the theological students, aflame with divine love, visited the school for boys where, strange to tell, they were not permitted to witness to the boys about what God had done for them. The young men returned to the seminary, where they and others united in prayer for a visitation of the Holy Spirit upon the leaders of the boys' school. “Oh, Lord,” they pleaded, “please grant that the place where we were forbidden to speak tonight may become the center from which great blessings shall flow to all parts of India.”

No time later, the management of the boys' school was replaced, and a convention at Sialkot was announced in April, 1904. The purpose was to unite in prayer for a movement of the Spirit of God throughout India. Only a few truly praying Christians responded to the invitation, among them was John Hyde. Another prayer session was decided upon in August. As a prelude, John and a friend spent thirty days and nights in earnest supplication for a revival (this was to prepare for the prayer session in August).

Canon Haslam was present at that gathering and, twenty-eight years later, in a lecture on Hyde, Canon gave his personal impression of the services and of the remarkable change which took place in John Hyde.

Shortly after the commencement of the convention, Mr. Hyde passed through an experience that made him what he became – a man who had power with God and a truly great missionary. I have always thought of this change as vicarious repentance and confession in behalf of the whole Church . . .

During the growth of the Church, many from the outcast population had been baptized and, doubtless, were Christians, but the life of the Church as a whole, was at a low ebb spiritually. Something drastic was needed. . . To Hyde it was revealed that the Church had no power because of sin which had not been cleansed from her life, and that sin is washed away only when there is true repentance and confession.

He was a part of that Church. Burdened with this thought, after an all-night vigil and a day of fasting and prayer, he came into the presence of a large group of Indian Christian men and spoke openly, though reservedly and in much anguish of spirit, of how God had led him through to victory. The effect of this open confession was electric . . . That experience marked the beginning of a life of great spiritual power in the case of John Hyde and the beginning of a deep revival in the Punjab Church.

John himself caught a fresh vision of the doctrine of holiness. His Bible readings were marked, not only by a deeper personal understanding of divine truths, but also by the ability to convey them to others.

The Sialkot Convention of 1905 was preceded by much prayer. The glorious result was that, at the close of the first service, the entire congregation went to their knees, continuing in prayer and confession of spiritual deflection until the dawn of day. From that time, the United Presbyterian Mission at Sialkot was lifted onto a higher spiritual plane than it had ever been reached previously. “Good” missionaries become known as “powerful” ones. The effect was felt throughout all India, and the breath of Heaven sweeping over the land could be traced to the kneeling figure of “praying Hyde”.

Only seven more years of labor remained for God's servant. During that time, John entered deeply into the spirit of intercession. Prayer literally became his meat and drink, so much so that the physical side of his nature seemed to be lifted above its normal needs.

Some time during 1908, he began to pray for the conversion of one soul a day. In the village treks or in tent services, he lost no opportunity to press the claims of God upon many or few. At the end of the year, to his knowledge, there had been four hundred conversions and baptisms. To God he gave the glory, but the goal set for the next twelve months was two conversions a day. Again Hyde's faith and intercessory prayers were rewarded and, at the year's end, through his contacts, eight hundred persons were known to have come to the Savior.

The last convention he attended was in 1910, for his health was failing. Pleading with God for the conversion of four souls each day, divine assurance was given him that such would be the case. Often more than that number would be given in answer to his prayers, and this lifted Hyde's heart to God in songs of praise and thanksgiving “There was nothing superficial about the life of those converts. They all nearly became active Christians,” was the comment of one who was on the field and thus able to appraise the results.

“Praying Hyde” had learned a most valuable secret of maintaining the spiritual life. On of his closet fellow-laborers, Pengwern Jones, remembered a convention sermon given by John which left it's impression upon his life. Jones said:

Jesus on the crossI think that the Spirit used him to give us all an entirely new vision of the Cross. That was one of the most inspiring messages I ever heard. He began the sermon by saying that from whatever side or direction we look at Christ on the cross, we see wounds, we see signs of suffering. From above, we see the marks of the crown of scourging, etc. He dwelt on the Cross with such illumination that we forgot me and everyone else. The “dying, yet living Christ” was before us. Then, step by step, we were led to see the crucified Christ's sufficiency for every need of ours and, as he dwelt on the fitness of Christ for every emergency, I felt that I had sufficiency for time and eternity.

But the climax of all to me was the way he emphasized the truth that Christ on the cross cried out triumphantly, “It is finished,” when all around thought that His life had ended. It seemed to His disciples that He had failed to carry out His purposes; it appeared to His enemies that at last their dangerous “enemy” had been overcome. To all appearances, the struggle was over, and His life had come to a tragic end. Then the triumphant cry of victory was sounded out, “It is finished.” A cry of triumph in the darkest hour!

Then Hyde showed us that, if united to Christ, we too can shout triumphantly, even when everything points to despair. Though our work may appear to have failed and the enemy to have gained the ascendancy, and we are blamed by all our friends and pitied by all our fellow-workers, even then we can take our stand with Christ on the cross and shout out, “Victory, victory, victory shall be mine!”

From that day, I have never been in despair about my work. Whenever I feel despondent, I think I can hear John Hyde's voice shouting, “Victory!” And that immediately takes my thoughts to Calvary, and I hear my Savior in His dying hour crying out with joy, “It is finished.” Christ was not saying “my life is finished”, He was proclaiming that the victory had been won, the dept had been paid and sin had been defeated. As Hyde said, “This is real victory, to shout triumphantly though all around is darkness.

Another close friend of Hyde's, R. McChyene Paterson, discloses what he feels to be the secret of John's extraordinary success:

praying handsThis dependence upon Christ and His Spirit was the secret of John Hyde's success in everything. This is the open secret of every saint of God! “My strength blossoms out of perfection in weakness.” So “when I am weak, I am strong” - strong with divine strength. The more we grow in grace, the more dependent we become! Never let us forget this glorious fact, and then we shall be able to thank God for our bad memories, for our weak bodies, for everything, and in that sacrifice of praise shall be His delight and also our own. So this fruit shall fill the whole earth!

The sands of time were running out for this man of God, and a serious heart condition developed, one that required an undetermined period of rest. Early in 1911, John sailed for America, where it was learned he was also suffering from a brain tumor. An operation brought only temporary relief and, in less than a year after leaving his beloved India, John Hyde said farewell to this world, with the words in Hindi upon his lips, “Shout the victory of Jesus Christ.”

Certain it is, that high on the honor roll of God, both in earth and in Heaven, is inscribed ineffably the name of Prayer Hyde, intercessor for the lost.

Take From :

"They Knew Their God" Vol. 1

By: Edwin & Lillian Harvey