They say that during D. L. Moody’s evangelistic campaign in England a man was making a long public prayer and Moody interrupted him and said, “While this brother finishes his prayer, let’s have a song.” I’ve heard and read the story many times.
A few weeks ago I was in the Moody library doing some research about missionary adventurers. I stumbled across the story of the long prayer incident again. The incident did happen and Moody’s boldness had a far-reaching effect.
In the audience that night was a young medical intern who had heard of Moody’s visit attended out of curiosity. Being a young man full of energy he was a bit bored with the proceedings. He was preparing to leave during an interminable prayer when the young, brash evangelist rose and interrupted. The young man thought to himself, “Any man that would do that must have something interesting to say. I think I’ll stay and listen to him.”
The young man stayed for the service and eventually became a follower of Christ. He was Wilfred Grenfell who eventually followed Christ to Labrador and spent his life there in heroic missionary service. He became a national hero in Canada and was knighted in his native England.
It’s better to keep your prayers short and sincere than to drag out a long speech aimed at impressing others and call it a prayer. Prayers calculated to impress people do not impress God. But prayers that move the heart of God move men for God. That’s that kind of praying I want to do.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
February 10, 2004