Edmund Sim has a Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from the University of Queensland and is a Professor at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
Su-Hie, Edmund’s girlfriend (now his wife, both Ph.D. students then), invited Edmund to a Renewal meeting at Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane which I was leading with Hilary Mackerras and some of their band providing the music. During the worship, many would go to the front to receive prayer from the prayer team. We had an open baptistry available there for anyone desiring to obey Jesus in baptism. Edmund was baptized that night. This is part of his testimony, from Chapter 1, ‘I saw Jesus Christ’, in his book The Faithful and the Faithless, by Edmund Sim, Methodist Church in Malaysia, 2013, pp 5-8.
Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane
On the evening of October 26 of 1997, Su-Hie and her home group brought me to a revival meeting and worship night at the Gateway Baptist Church. It was located at Mount Gravatt on the outskirt of Brisbane city. Ordinarily I would not have agreed to go for such a thing, but on that night, strangely, I did not protest. However, I went with an intention of doubt. I wanted Christ to prove tangibly that He is real to me. Silently, I cried out to Him for proof. I needed to see and feel that He can save me from misery.
The session started in a typical fashion with prayers, a few readings from the Gospel, and songs of praise. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Then as the evening progressed, the crowd grew more upbeat. …
I doubted whether any of the attendees were genuine in their faith, and thought that they may have faked a good show. I thought I would wait and see if there were more events to critique. Silently in my mind, I was still asking God for a sign – just one simple and obvious sign.
Then, all of a sudden, I saw a vision in front of me – a persistent and clear image amidst the echoes of the music and singing. The vision was the image of a tall thin man in a white shining robe. He had a long face, a beard, but I could not make out the facial details because of the bright glare. His arms were opened, reaching out to each side. There was so much light around him. In an instance, I knew who I saw. There was no doubt in my heart and mind that I saw JESUS CHRIST.
As I was still awestruck by the whole experience, the Lord who stood in front of me gently bowed down. I was calm and unafraid, but I was not happy. Tears filled my eyes, and I started to cry. I felt so ashamed of myself. It was my arrogance and pride that blocked me from Christ all this while. Yet as a terrible sinner I dared to ask God for a sign. But He came.
He came for this sinner, and He showed me the greatest humility I have ever seen. He is a God, and King above all kings, yet He bowed down before me. It was such perfect humility that I began to see the reality of my sinfulness. I cried thinking of the many sins and wickedness of my past. I felt unworthy thinking of how I allow pride to lead me instead of Him. Finally I saw His magnificent power – not in physical brawn, but in the strength to bow down to a lowly sinful creature like me.
There was no question what I should do next. I knew I had to repent, and accept Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Not only had He given me a sign, He had revealed the truth of my nature before me, and through the most magnificent of ways compelled me to willingly acknowledge my sins, to repent and believe in Him. It was all clear to me. I know that I could never be separated from Him. …
What is clear to me now is that I saw Jesus Christ, and now it is my turn to help others see Him too.
Long-playing worship music is ideal as background music while you work or pray.
You can listen to background worship music as you worship, work and pray – in your chair or even in bed, with CDs and YouTube and Spotify on your phone. YouTube video “Mix” gives you a run of similar recordings – often a surprise.
You could set aside an hour a week – or a day – to worship and pray. I use these YouTube songs as background worship for that, even in bed!
Here are some inspiring recordings you could play while you worship, work and pray. Scroll down to see more.
Whispering Hope – includes the 3rd verse:
Hope, as an anchor so steadfast, Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered, Robbing the grave of its goal.
Come then, O come, glad fruition, Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory, Never, O never depart.
‘How Great Thou Art’ is a Christian hymn based on a Swedish traditional melody and a poem written by Carl Gustav Boberg (1859–1940) in Mönsterås, Sweden in 1885. It was translated into German and then into Russian and became a hymn.
It was translated into English from the Russian by English missionary Stuart K. Hine, who added two original verses of his own. The composition was set to a Russian melody. It was popularised by George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows during the Billy Graham crusades.
Messiah, George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) Words compiled from the Holy Scriptures by Charles Jennens (1700-1773)
Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Friedrich Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible (1611), and from the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. The music for Messiah was completed in 24 days of swift composition. His servants would often find him in tears as he composed. When he completed “Hallelujah,” he reportedly told his servant, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels.” At the end of his manuscript, Handel wrote the letters “SDG”—Soli Deo Gloria, “To God alone the glory”.
In Part I the text begins with prophecies by Isaiah and others, and moves to the annunciation to the shepherds, the only “scene” taken from the Gospels. In Part II, Handel concentrates on the Passion and ends with the “Hallelujah” chorus. In Part III he covers the resurrection of the dead and Christ’s glorification in heaven.
When King George II attended a royal performance of Messiah he stood up for the Hallelujah Chorus in honour of the King of kings. When the king stood everyone in his presence had to stand. So it became the tradition for the audience to stand up when the Hallelujah Chorus is sung, as millions of us have done in honour of the King of kings.
Chorus — Revelation 19:6, 11:15, 19:16 Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. King of kings, and Lord of lords
and He shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah!
While writing the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus Handel’s servant discovered him with tears in his eyes, and he exclaimed, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels.”
1. Sinfonia (Overture)
2. Tenor Recitative. — Isaiah 40:1-3
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
3. Tenor Air — Isaiah 40:4
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.
4. Chorus — Isaiah 40:5
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
5. Bass Recitative — Haggai 2:6,7; Malachi 3:1
Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; Yet once, a little while and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come.
The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.
6. Bass Air — Malachi 3:2
But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire.
7. Chorus — Malachi 3:3
And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
8. Alto Recitative — Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel, God with us.
9. Alto Air and Chorus — Isaiah 40:9; Isaiah 60:1
O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, and be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
10. Bass Recitative — Isaiah 60:2,3
For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
11. Bass Air — Isaiah 9:2
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
12. Chorus — Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
13. Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)
14. Soprano Recitative — Luke 2:8,9
There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
15. Soprano Recitative — Luke 2:10,11
And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
16. Soprano Recitative — Luke 2:13
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
17. Chorus — Luke 2:14
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men.
18. Soprano Air — Zechariah 9:9,10
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee. He is the righteous Savior. And he shall speak peace unto the heathen.
19. Alto Recitative — Isaiah 35:5,6
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.
20. Alto Air — Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 11:28, 29
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; and he shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Come unto Him, all ye that labour, that are heavy laden, and He shall give you rest. Take his yoke upon you, and learn of Him; for he is meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
21. Chorus — Matthew 11:30
His yoke is easy, and His burthen is light.
22. Chorus — John 1:29
Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.
23. Alto Air — Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 50:6
He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: He hid not His face from shame and spitting.
24. Chorus — Isaiah 53:4,5
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.
25. Chorus — Isaiah 53:5
And with His stripes we are healed.
26. Chorus — Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
27. Tenor Recitative — Psalm 22:7
All they that see Him laugh him to scorn: they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying:
28. Chorus — Psalm 22:8
He trusted in God that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, if he delight in Him.
29. Soprano Recitative — Psalm 69:20
Thy rebuke hath broken His heart; He is full of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him but there was no man; neither found He any to comfort Him.
30. Soprano Air — Lamentations 1:12
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow!
31. Tenor Recitative — Isaiah 53:8
He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of Thy people was He stricken.
32. Tenor Air — Psalm 16:10
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell; nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.
33. Chorus — Psalm 24:7-10
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.
34. Tenor Recitative — Hebrews 1:5
For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten hee?
35. Chorus — Hebrews 1:6
Let all the angels of God worship Him.
36. Bass Air — Psalm 68:18
Thou art gone up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even for Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
37. Chorus — Psalm 68:11
The Lord gave the word: great was the company of the preachers.
38. Duetto for 2 Alto Solos and Chorus — Romans 10:15
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
[39. Chorus — Romans 10:18
Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world. Not sung in the original performance.]
40. Bass Air — Psalm 2:1,2
Why do the nations so furiously rage together: why do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsels together against the Lord and His anointed.
41. Chorus — Psalm 2:3
Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us.
42. Tenor Recitative — Psalm 2:4
He that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision.
43. Tenor Air — Psalm 2:9
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 44. Chorus — Revelation 19:6, 11:15, 19:16 Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever. King of kings, Lord of lords.
45. Soprano Air — Job 19:25, 26; 1 Corinthians 15:20
I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
For now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep.
46. Chorus — 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22
Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
47. Bass Recitative — 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
48. Bass Air — 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53
The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
49. Alto Air — 1 Corinthians 15:54b
Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
50. Duetto for Alto and Tenor — 1 Corinthians 15:55, 56
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.
51. Chorus — 1 Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
52. Alto Air — Romans 8:31, 33, 34
If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us.
53. Chorus — Revelation 5:12, 13
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and power to be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen.
Part I 0:00:06 Sinfony. Grave; Allegro moderato 0:02:58 Comfort ye (Accompagnato, Tenoro). Larghetto e piano 0:05:43 Ev`ry valley shall be exalted (Aria, Tenoro). Andante 0:08:49 And the glory of the Lord (Chorus). Allegro; Adagio 0:11:10 Thus saith the Lord (Accompagnato, Basso). Recitativo 0:12:18 But who may abide (Aria, Alto). Larghetto; Prestissimo; Adagio 0:16:03 And He shall purify (Chorus). Allegro 0:18:12 Behold, a virgin shall conceive (Recitativo, Alto). 0:18:36 O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Aria, Alto). Andante 0:21:51 O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion (Chorus). 0:23:31 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth (Accompagnato, Basso). Andante larghetto 0:25:39 The people that walked in darkness (Aria, Basso). Larghetto 0:29:25 For unto us a child is born (Chorus). Andante allegro 0:33:26 Pifa. Larghetto e mezzo piano 0:35:36 There where shepherds (Recitativo, Accompagnato; Soprano). Andante; Allegro 0:36:58 Glory to god in the highest (Chorus). Allegro 0:39:00 Rejoice greatly (Aria, Soprano). Allegro 0:43:00 Then shall the eyes of the blind (Recitativo, Alto). [latter version] 0:43:24 He shall feed his flock (Aria, Alto). Larghetto e piano [latter version] 0:47:26 His yoke is easy (Chorus). Allegro
Part II 0:49:35 Behold the Lamb of God (Chorus). Largo 0:52:04 He was despised (Aria, Alto). Largo 1:00:40 Surely (Chorus). Largo e staccato 1:02:18 And with his stripes we are healed (Chorus). Alla breve, Moderato 1:03:48 All we like sheep have gone astray (Chorus). Allegro moderato; Adagio 1:07:37 All they that see Him (Accompagnato, Tenore). Larghetto 1:08:17 He trusted in God (Chorus). Allegro; Adagio 1:10:25 Thy rebuke hath broken His Heart (Accompagnato, Tenore). Largo 1:12:15 Behold, and see (Arioso, Tenore). Largo e piano 1:13:26 He was cut off (Accompagnato, Tenore). Recitativo 1:13:44 But Thou didst not leave His soul in Hell (Aria, Tenore). Andante larghetto 1:15:47 Lift up your heads (Chorus). A tempo ordinario 1:19:10 Unto which of the angels (Recitativo, Tenore). 1:19:28 Let all the angels of God worship Him (Chorus). Allegro 1:20:48 Thou art gone up high (Aria, Alto). Allegro larghetto 1:23:45 The Lord gave the word (Chorus). Andante allegro 1:24:50 How beautiful are the feet of them (Aria, Soprano). Larghetto :__:_ Their sound is gone out (Chorus). A tempo ordinario [missing] 1:29:20 Why do the nations rage (Aria, Basso). Allegro 1:31:57 Let us break their bonds (Chorus). Allegro e staccato 1:33:34 He that dwelleth in heaven (Recitativo, Tenore). 1:33:46 Thou shall break them (Aria, Tenore). Andante 1:35:57 Hallelujah (Chorus). Allegro
Part III 1:39:46 I know that my redeemer liveth (Aria, Soprano). Larghetto 1:45:10 Since by man came death (Chorus). Grave; Allegro 1:47:13 Behold, I tell you (Accompagnato, Basso). 1:47:12 The trumpet shall sound (Aria, Basso). Pomposo, ma non allegro; Adagio 1:55:30 Then shall be brought to pass (Recitativo, Alto). 1:44:45 O death, where is thy sting (Duetto; Alto, Tenore). Andante 1:57:17 But thanks be to God (Chorus). Andante; Adagio 1:59:13 If God is for us (Aria, Soprano). Larghetto; Adagio 2:03:25 Worthy is the Lamb (Chorus). Largo; Andante 2:04:43 Blessing and honour (Chorus). Larghetto; Adagio 2:06:38 Amen (Chorus). Allegro moderato; Adagio
1. You are invited to join us in your home praying each Saturday night and Sunday morning for your church services, its leaders, and for God to move powerfully among us all.
2. This is my invitation for you to be included among our informal groups of people committed to worship and prayer for at least an hour a week, in addition to church services. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to be included anonymously. Some people give at least one hour a day to worship and prayer. You may be doing that anyway so you may like to be included in this praying friends group. I love to play worship CDs or YouTube Mix worship as listed below.
Prayer and worship constantly rise to God globally, and we just add ours to encourage one another. I like to write a brief quote from Scripture daily in my diary in red biro, mostly truth impressed on me by God’s Spirit. It became inspiring journal entries for over 50 years. It’s easy to read through different translations of the New Testament in less than a year, one chapter a day. Or you could read each Gospel in a month, one chapter a day.
There are 260 chapters in the New Testament, so it’s easy to cover that in a year. Each Gospel has less than 30 chapters so it’s easy to read a Gospel in a month, a chapter a day.
There are 929 chapters in the Old Testament. This gives a total of 1189 chapters in the Bible. Psalm 117, the shortest chapter, is also the middle chapter of the Bible, being the 595th Chapter.
You could listen to background worship music for an hour or more as you worship and pray – in your chair or even in bed, with CDs and YouTube. YouTube video “Mix” gives you similar recordings – often a surprise.
Here are beautiful worship recordings you could play while you work and pray:
The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26 – Aaronic Blessing)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known themind of theLord? Orwho has become His counselor?” Orwho has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
A few Bible prayers you can pray as you read.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Yourname. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earthas it is in heaven. Give us this day ourdaily bread. Andforgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, Butdeliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:11-13)
Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just [a]when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51:1-17)
Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against theLordand against His Christ.’ …
Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. (Acts 4:24-30; Psalm 2:1-2)
At Herrnhut, Zinzendorf visited all the adult members of the deeply divided community. He drew up a covenant calling upon them ‘to seek out and emphasize the points in which they agreed’ rather than stressing their differences. On 12 May 1727 they all signed an agreement to dedicate their lives, as he dedicated his, to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Moravian revival of 1727 was thus preceded and then sustained by extraordinary praying. A spirit of grace, unity and supplications grew among them.
On 16 July the Count poured out his soul in a prayer accompanied with a flood of tears. This prayer produced an extraordinary effect. The whole community began praying as never before.
On 22 July many of the community covenanted together on their own accord to meet often to pour out their hearts in prayer and hymns.
On 5 August the Count spent the whole night in prayer with about twelve or fourteen others following a large meeting for prayer at midnight where great emotion prevailed.
On Sunday, 10 August, Pastor Rothe, while leading the service at Herrnhut, was overwhelmed by the power of the Lord about noon. He sank down into the dust before God. So did the whole congregation. They continued till midnight in prayer and singing, weeping and praying.
On Wednesday, 13 August, the Holy Spirit was poured out on them all. Their prayers were answered in ways far beyond anyone’s expectations. Many of them decided to set aside certain times for continued earnest prayer.
On 26 August, twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted together to continue praying in intervals of one hour each, day and night, each hour allocated by lots to different people.
On 27 August, this new regulation began. Others joined the intercessors and the number involved increased to seventy-seven. They all carefully observed the hour which had been appointed for them. The intercessors had a weekly meeting where prayer needs were given to them.
The children, also touched powerfully by God, began a similar plan among themselves. Those who heard their infant supplications were deeply moved. The children’s prayers and supplications had a powerful effect on the whole community.
That astonishing prayer meeting beginning in 1727 went on for one hundred years. It was unique. Known as the Hourly Intercession, it involved relays of men and women in prayer without ceasing made to God. That prayer also led to action, especially evangelism. More than one hundred missionaries left that village community in the next twenty-five years, all constantly supported in prayer.
Every morning, lean thine arms awhile Upon the windowsill of heaven, And gaze upon thy Lord. Then, with the vision in thy heart, Turn strong to meet thy day.
Poem by Thomas Blake
In the early days of his ministry, Dr. Theodore F. Adams vacationed in Wisconsin where he attended an outdoor vesper service led by an Episcopal rector who recited the verse above. Dr Adams never forgot those words. He committed them to memory.
From 1936-1968 Dr. Adams served as senior pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. During that time he referred to this verse countless times as one of his favourites. He even had desktop placards made and sent to every member of the church.
Many readers are aware that the beautiful stained glass windows surrounding the FBC Sanctuary were part of a renovation project initiated by Dr. Adams in the late 1940s, but they may be unaware of the message he left in one of the windows by which we remember him today.
In the commission of the windows’ refurbishment, Dr. Adams’ goal was twofold. The larger windows that surround the balcony were to portray the significant events in the life of Jesus, while those below were to demonstrate how followers could live out Jesus’ lessons in modern times. Each upper window correlates to the one below it and is interpreted there for modern understanding. Each window is also accompanied by a scripture passage – except one.
There are two windows in the church picturing Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, one in the Chapel and one in the Sanctuary. The Chapel window’s focus is on prayer, but the story in the Sanctuary’s window shows Jesus, having been strengthened by prayer, telling Peter, James, and John, “Behold, the hour is at hand—Rise, let us be going.” The light shining on Jesus comes from heaven and affirms Jesus’ declaration that, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”
The Garden of Gethsemane
Bathed in sunlight in the corollary window below kneels a lone figure, praying the very poem that begins, “Every morning, lean thine arms upon the windowsill of heaven.” These verses are not found in the Bible, but send the message that made such a marked impression on Dr. Adams’ life that he was determined it be memorialized in this window.
The Windowsill of Heaven
Could he have guessed that with each reading, those who remembered him would also see him reciting it before a congregation of First Baptist Church members, even today?
In writing about Dr. Adams, Dr. W. Randall Lolley, former pastor of FBC Greensboro, NC, says that Dr. Adams was a man, “who truly perceived the earth as the ‘windowsill of heaven.’ Every person he met, every event he enjoyed, every experience he knew worked ‘inside/out’ rather than ‘outside/in.’”
May we put into practice these words so dear to Dr. Adams.
The phone rang as I sat to type this page. A man from Norfolk Island who had attended a ‘Catch the Fire’ renewal service held at Tingalpa Uniting Church in Brisbane phoned me to say how he was delighted with the meeting. He said “The worship at that meeting rode the wind like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31).
I had the privilege of speaking there, and found (as seems common now) that stories today of God’s current acts continually illustrate comments from Acts 3:19-21 where Peter called for repentance so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. They still do.
The church was full at that meeting, so after extended times of worship and teaching we stacked the chairs at the sides, leaving room for our prayer team from the Renewal Fellowship to pray for all who desired it. Many did. I prayed for minsters and their wives. The Lord seemed to touch many deeply, as he is doing all over the world. The host minister said later that he could not rise from the floor. While there the Lord spoke clearly into his heart, telling him he was loved just as he was, not for what he did, for he is a child of God.
We continued to worship late into the night with songs of love and compassion, including some spontaneous love songs. The pianist played harmonies as I read from Daniel 7 and Revelation 7 about the majesty and glory of the Lord. That prophetic music not only magnified the reading and exalted the Lord, but ministered powerfully into people’s lives.
The man from Norfolk Island attends the Uniting Church there, where this kind of worship and ministry has been happening recently this year. They had not seen that since the days the island was founded by the Pitcairn people. The church on Norfolk Island began in such revival. People were regularly overwhelmed by the Spirit then as they cried out to God in their need.
Increasing numbers of people now report on these fresh touches of God and the deep refreshing from the Spirit of the Lord.
Is it revival? Most say, not yet. But it may be the beginnings of revival. Church leaders in Argentina now see revival with thousands upon thousands being saved and filled with the Spirit. They say that many churches had these times of renewal and refreshing for five years with increasing intensity until revival broke upon them.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Baptist prince of preachers who lived through revival in London in the late 1850s, called it a time of ‘glorious disorder’. Revival is unpredictable. Often disturbing. Like Isaiah in the temple (Isaiah 6) we find ourselves overwhelmed, convicted, aware we are unclean, undone, and needing to be made right with God. Just a small touch of the glory of God is unnerving, and obviously beyond anything we can comprehend or control.
However, we can respond. With repentance. With humility. With unity. With prayer. With love for God and one another. With worship.
New dimensions of worship
Many of us are living through further dimensions of worship now. Some of us began experiencing corporate worship in a structured one hour church service. Sometimes the Spirit seemed to move upon us and the singing would take off, the preaching was inspired, and people responded at the altar call for prayer and counselling. That still happens.
Then we began experiencing more of the Lord’s grace (charisma) and power. We longed for fuller, freer worship. People began composing new songs of worship, praise and response, including Scripture in song. Those songs quickly spread worldwide. As with hymns of earlier revivals, the best remain in widespread use. Others fade away. Only a few of Charles Wesley’s 6,000 hymns still remain, but they are great!
Now in further touches of the Spirit we find some of the new songs and old hymns helpful, but limiting. Increasingly we worship with spontaneity. Harmonies and melodies and spontaneous songs blend with the best of the new songs and old hymns in creative expressions of worship.
This year I was able to worship in many places including the Philippines, Ghana, Toronto, Anaheim, and in meetings in Australia from Perth to Brisbane. Often powerful spontaneity found expression in extended worship. Many times we worship in harmonies and Spirit songs for extended periods.
All the revivals I’ve read about experienced this. We will see much more yet.
This issue of the Renewal Journal explores many dimensions of worship. John & Carol Wimber describe intimacy with God. Geoff Bullock reminds us of our mission. Dorothy Mathieson gives prophetic challenge. Robert Tann and Robert Colman explore healing in worship. Lucinda Coleman surveys the history of dance in worship. Stephen Bryar and Stan Everitt comment on the significance of renewal. I reflect on worship in revival.
Worship God (Revelation 22:9). That command in the last chapter of the Bible points the way ahead for us now, and forever.
Blacker, John. 1995.Healing in the Now. Melbourne: Australian Renewal Ministries.
John Blacker has authored this book bringing together his observations and experience from 25 years of ministering in renewal and healing across the body of Christ in Australia. John has served the church as a Methodist and Uniting Church minister and with his wife Val and son Paul has been active in the work of the Australian Renewal Ministries.
The privately published book gives a solid biblical and practical basis for the healing ministry in the church, and is the kind of manual many church groups find useful for training their people in prayer and counselling ministries.
In addition to John’s valuable insights, the Appendix offers useful articles by others. Paul Blacker writes on ‘Healing Pain and Grief’. Dan Armstrong writes on ‘Healing and Evangelism’. Owen Salter’s positive reflections on ‘The Toronto Blessing’ style of ministries is reproduced from On Being. The articles on worship and healing by Robert Tann and Robert Colman, reproduced in this issue of the Renewal Journal are from that Appendix.
This is a significant Australian book on the practical application of the healing ministry in the life of the church. It is available from Australian Renewal ministries, 1 Maxwell Court, Blackburn South, Victoria 3130. Ph. (03) 9877 0103; Fax: (03) 9877 0106 (G.W.)
Kaldor, Peter, et.al. eds. 1994. Winds of Change: the experience of church in a changing Australia. Sydney: Lancer.
Reporting on the National Church Life Survey of Protestant churches in Australia, this book provides a wealth of valuable insights on the significant trends changing the church in our lifetime.
They survey was completed by over 300,000 church attenders in around 8,000 congregations in August 1991.
Some of its quotable quotes:
‘Around 20% of all attenders at church have spoken in tongues, including 30% of 20 to 30 year olds. Nearly half of those speaking in tongues attend nonPentecostal churches. …
‘One in every eight attenders has switched denominations in the past five years. Around 23% of all switching has been from nonPentecostal to Pentecostal denominations, with 9% switching in the opposite direction. …
‘Australia is a nation of small congregations. More than half have fewer than 50 people. At the same time, most growth is occurring in larger congregations. These are particularly attractive to the post World War II generations’ (pp. viiix).
Chapter 6 ‘A Wind Shift Rocking the Churches: The charismatic movement in Australia’ has special interest for those involved in renewal. Some quotes from that chapter:
‘The charismatic movement knows no bounds. It has had an impact in all denominations, all socioeconomic and ethnic groups, and all age groups especially the young.
‘The charismatic movement has been the impetus for some of the most significant and profound changes in church life in recent times. It has gained increasing importance in a range of churches across Australia.
‘One of its key characteristics is that it is in flux: small meetings grow to mega churches, others flourish for a period and then disappear. Change is rapid, even unpredictable; the movement shows no respect for institutional boundaries. Denominations of all shapes and sizes, and waving a wide variety of theological banners, are having to respond in some way. … ‘NonPentecostal tongues speakers are not just concentrated in a few charismatic congregations but spread widely. …
‘There is a relationship between attitudes to speaking in tongues and involvement in congregational life. Those who speak in tongues are more involved, tend to feel a greater sense of belonging or have roles in the congregation. They are also much more likely to feel they are growing in their faith. … ‘Likewise those who speak in tongues are more likely to be involved in evangelistic activities, feel they exert a Christian influence, be happy to talk about their faith or invite others to church. In contrast, they are less likely to be involved in community groups. …
‘It is important to recognise the scale of its impact beyond the Pentecostal churches. Even allowing for Pentecostal groups not involved in the survey, nonPentecostal tongues speakers account for a third of all attenders. Nearly all denominations contain a significant procharismatic sector’ (pp. 7489).
The book, of course, ranges much wider than these issues. It is highly recommended for leaders in churches to become aware of the sweeping changes we are now living through and contributing to. [G.W.]
Kaldor, Peter, et. al. eds. 1995. Views from the Pews. Adelaide: Openbook.
Some general comments covered in this further book by the National Church Life Survey team:
Most church attenders are satisfied with the leadership in their churches, but about a quarter of them think their leaders are out of touch with people in the pew. Pentecostals generally see their minister as the one who provides the vision for the church, but this is not so in some denominational churches.
Pentecostals generally reject liturgical frameworks in worship, such as vestments, prayer books and set liturgies, and a majority of worshippers in mainline churches do not find them helpful.
Generally tongues speakers in all churches have a more literal interpretation of the Bible and hold to more traditional moral values and beliefs. Charismatics in denominational churches and Pentecostals rate highest in having an experience of God which involves healing, believing in evil spirits, and in Bible reading. Answers to prayer seem to be evenly distributed across all groups!
Again, this is a useful book for church leaders to increase awareness of the attitudes and trends in the congregations of all Protestant churches. [G.W.]
Norling, Alan. 1994. Jesus the Baptiser with the Holy Spirit. Sydney: Alken Press.
‘At last a book on the Holy Spirit that is Christ centred!’ comments Brian Willersdorf. ‘Allan Norling has made a most valuable contribution to the subject of “Being baptised in, of, by or with the Holy Spirit” … Allan talks of a “new approach” to the subject, but all he is doing is cutting through the accumulation of church cultures and attitudes to present a well written approach to what the Bible has to say about being filled with the Holy Spirit.’
Described by one writer as a multiwave approach to the subject, this book describes being baptised in or with the Spirit as on going encounters of Jesus with and in the believer.
Allan Norton, summarising his approach, says ‘The “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is shown to be a repeated experience in the life of a Christian believer. Jesus will be seen to be more personally, actively and intimately involved with us in every detailed piece of authentic ministry. We will become aware of Jesus working with us, baptising us afresh with the Holy Spirit, each time He uses us in ministry.’
The book provides an evangelical approach to the mystery and majesty of Jesus’ impact in our lives through his Spirit.
Available from the author, PO Box 219, Beecroft, NSW 2119, Australia (G.W.).