Saturday, April 5, 2008

America Must Pray - Dwight Lyman Moody

Moody was a veteran of the Civil War. He realized the spiritual damage that the war had done to American society. After the war he began to reach out to the orphans and street kids in Chicago. He set up Sunday school classes for their Bible training and for evangelism. He established lay training Bible Institutes that at one time had over 1200 men and woman in formal classes. He moved his school to Chicago; it was named later Moody Bible Institute.

Moody published in 1884 one of the most popular and most read books of his generation, Prevailing Prayer. In it he talked about prayers for thanksgiving and for petitions before God. He wrote, "Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. You will find that prayer has been a mighty power that has moved not only God, but man."

In his huge evangelistic services, Moody had song leader Ira Sankey lead in the singing. Sankey popularized such songs as "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Moody, a former shoe salesman, could relate to the common man and to pastors as well. Moody and Sankey became the most successful team in American religious history.

Following in the footsteps of Moody was a spiritual giant, a writer and speaker, Phillips Brooks. He was known as the "Prince of the Pulpit." After spending Christmas Eve in the Holy Land, he wrote one of the most famous Christmas carols, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." Brooks was famous for one-liners such as "Pray not for crutches but for wings." His statement "I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back." This was quoted by Theodore Roosevelt and John Kennedy. Brooks influenced Helen Keller who credited him for inspiring her to make more accessible prayer books in Braille, in larger print, and in audio format.