classic by Spirit-filled revivalist preacher: power and prayer

Charles Finney

Charles Finney (1792 – 1875)

“Read freely text sermons and articles by the speaker Charles Finney in text and pdf format. Known as one of the leaders in the Second Great Awakening revival in America. He was a revivalist who called for deep introspection of sin and preaching of the law to bring about sin. He was known to preach 30+ nights on sin and than the last night on Christ to have people flee to Him for mercy. Used greatly in the book: “Revivals of Religion” which is a classic on the subject of revival.He preached on the true Baptism of the Holy Spirit and its necessity. In his revivalistic campaigns he was used of the Lord to bring some estimate over 50,000 souls to the Lord which many were sound converts. There has been questions raised surrounding his theology in the later years of his ministry but this does not discredit that God used him powerfully in revival and for God’s kingdom.” (Quoted)

Lecture IV: Prevailing prayers (excerpts) 

TEXT. –The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.–JAMES V. 16.

I proceed to show what is prevailing prayer…2. Prevailing, or effectual prayer, is that prayer which obtains the blessing that it seeks. It is that prayer which effectually moves God. The very idea of effectual prayer is, that it effects its object.

1. He must pray for a definite object.

2. Prayer, to be effectual, must be in accordance with the revealed will of God.

There are three ways in which God’s will is revealed to men for their guidance in prayer.

(1.) By express promises or predictions in the Bible, that he will give or do certain things. Either by express promises in regard to particular things, or promises in general terms, so that we may apply them to particular things. For instance, there is this promise: “Whatsoever things ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

(2.) Sometimes God reveals his will by his providence. When he makes it clear that such and such events are about to take place, it is as much a revelation as if he had written it in his word. It would be impossible to reveal every thing in the Bible. But God often makes it clear to those who have spiritual discernment, that it is his will to grant such and such blessings.

(3.) By his Spirit. When God’s people are at a loss what to pray for, agreeable to his will, his Spirit often instructs them. Where there is no particular revelation, and providence leaves it dark, and we know not what to pray for as we ought, we are expressly told, that “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities,” and “the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.”

3. To pray effectually, you must pray with submission to the will of God. Do not confound submission with indifference.

What I mean by submission in prayer, is, acquiescence in the revealed will of God. To submit to any command of God is to obey it.

4. Effectual prayer for an object implies a desire for that object commensurate with its importance.

….Elijah the prophet mourned over the declensions of the house of Israel, and when he saw that no other means were likely to be effectual, to prevent a perpetual going away into idolatry, he prayed that the judgments of God might come upon the guilty nation. He prayed that it might not rain, and God shut up the heavens for three years and six months, till the people were driven to the last extremity. And when he saw that it was time to relent, what does he do? See him go up to the mountain and bow down in prayer. He wished to be alone; and he told his servant to go seven times, while he was agonizing in prayer. The last time, the servant told him there was a little cloud appeared, like a man’s hand, and he instantly arose from his knees–the blessing was obtained. The time had come for the calamity to be turned back. “Ah, but,” you say, “Elijah was a prophet.” Now do not make this objection. They made it in the apostle’s days, and what does the apostle say? Why he brought forward this very instance, and the fact that Elijah was a man of like passions with ourselves, as a case of prevailing prayer, and insisted that they should pray so too.

1. A great deal of prayer is lost, and many people never prevail in prayer, because, when they have desires for particular blessings, they do not follow them up. They may have had desires, benevolent and pure, which were excited by the Spirit of God; and when they have them, they should persevere in prayer, for if they turn off their attention to other objects, they will quench the Spirit. We tell sinners not to turn off their minds from the one object, but to keep their attention fixed there, till they are saved. When you find these holy desires in your minds, take care of two things:

(1.) Do not quench the Spirit.

(2.) Do not be diverted to other objects.

Follow the leadings of the Spirit, till you have offered that effectual fervent prayer that availeth much.

2. Without the spirit of prayer, ministers will do but little good. A minister need not expect much success, unless he prays for it. Sometimes others may have the spirit of prayer, and obtain a blessing on his labors. Generally, however, those preachers are the most successful who have the most of a spirit of prayer themselves.

3. Not only must ministers have the spirit of prayer, but it is necessary that the church should unite in offering that effectual fervent prayer which can prevail with God. You need not expect a blessing, unless you ask for it. “For all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it.”

Now, my brethren, I have only to ask you, in regard to what I have preached to-night, “Will you do it?” Have you done what I preached to you last Friday evening? Have you gone over with your sins, and confessed them, and got them all out of the way? Can you pray now? And will you join and offer prevailing prayer, that the Spirit of God may come down here?

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Recommend that you read this book -a collection of four books: Power from on high; The secret of faith; How to experience revival; Living for God


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