“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses …” (Acts 1:8 ESV).
ON THIS DAY, April 21, in the year 1855, Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) was converted to Jesus Christ due to the influence of his Sunday school teacher.
Moody eventually gave up his shoe and boot business to enter the field of evangelism, through which he became famous, preaching to many thousands in America, England, and Continental Europe. In this, he was powerfully assisted by song evangelist Ira Sankey, and together they became a vast influence for Evangelical Christianity. “Faith makes all things possible,” Moody declared; “love makes all things easy.” Though many thought this converted shoe salesman was quite successful as a pastor in the early years of his ministry, there were two saintly ladies who discerned a noticeable lack in his ministry. His biographers tell the story.
Occasionally, after some of his meetings in Chicago, two Free Methodist women would say to him, “Mr. Moody, we are praying that you may receive the enduement of the Holy Spirit.” This irritated Moody, who believed they should rather pray for the people. But they persistently prayed that he would “get the power.” Moody did not know exactly what they meant. Finally won over by their godly concern, he asked them to show him in the Scriptures the truth they insisted upon, and he even prayed with them for this power. Over months, as Moody gave himself to prayer, he realized the state his heart was in. “I found I was ambitious; I was not preaching Christ; I was preaching for ambition. I found everything in my heart that ought not to be there. For four months, a wrestling went on within me, and I was a miserable man.”*
The cleansing and anointing for which he prayed finally came when Moody was on a trip to New York to raise funds to rebuild his church following the Great Chicago Fire. One day while he walked along Wall Street, Moody was so overcome with God’s power that he had to find a friend’s home to get alone to pray. That experience, Moody later said, marked a turning point in his life. From then on, he did not preach different sermons, but he preached differently.
Prayer: Lord, raise up faithful men and women who will declare the saving truths of your holy gospel to this hurting and sinful world. Amen.
*George Sweeting and Donald Sweeting, Lessons from the Life of Moody, rev. (Chicago: Moody Press, 2001), 96-97.
This article is taken from a forthcoming book to be released in the summer of 2021 by . . .
Larry D. Smith & Ralph I. Tilley, On This Day in Church History: 365 Daily Vignettes (Sellersburg, IN: LITS Books, 2021), April 21.