Sialkot Prayer Initiative
In 1892 an American Presbyterian missionary sailed for India, received a new infilling of the Holy Spirit, and soon formed a prayer fellowship for Gods work and revival across north India. This was John Hyde, who in time became as Praying Hyde.
A man of prayer
From the time that John Hyde was filled with the Spirit shortly after arriving in India in 1892, he began to put special emphasis upon prayer in his life. The Punjab state where Hyde was stationed was practically barren of conversions. Hyde immediately began praying for revival. But it was twelve years before he saw an answer to his prayer. Hyde kept on depositing prayer in the bank of heaven. In 1896, he felt God granted his request to be a real Israel, a wrestler with God, a prince prevailing.
The Presbyterian mission united in prayer every Sunday for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. By 1899 Hyde was beginning to spend whole nights in prayer. He felt strongly that prayer was the only hope for results in India. Wherever he spoke, his deepest concern was to communicate the need for all those involved in missionary work to be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In April 1904, Hyde and several other missionaries laid the foundation for the Punjab Prayer Union. Its purpose was to pray for revival and harvest in the Punjab and India. Each member of the Prayer Union was asked to answer these questions:
Are you praying for quickening in your own life, in the life of your fellow-workers, and in the church? Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power? Will you pray that you may not be ashamed of Jesus? Do you believe that prayer is the great means for securing this spiritual awakening? Will you set apart one-half hour each day as soon after noon as possible to pray for this awakening, and are you willing to pray until the awakening comes?
The Sialkot Convention
A general call went out through India for all Christian workers to gather in late August 1904 at Sialkot in the Punjab at the United Presbyterian Mission center. For one month, before the convention began, John Hyde, R.M.Paterson and George Turner spent days and nights in prayer. At the convention itself, there were two prayer rooms, one for women and another for men, and once the convention began, the prayer rooms were never vacant. Hyde was there almost constantly. Many Indians also joined in the prayer rooms, some of them spending whole nights in prayer.
Each time Hyde attended a Sialkot convention; he virtually never slept, spending most of his time in the prayer room. In that very first convention the spirit of revival began, and there was humble confession of sin, making things right with God and man, and new liberty in Christ Jesus. In the 1905 convention, Hyde was in the prayer room day and night. It was his mount of transfiguration.
Revival had begun. Missionaries who up to that time had been good missionaries now became powerful missionaries. Often Hyde fasted until his bodily strength gave out. God laid upon the hearts of the people the burden of a world battered and bound in sin.
O Heavenly Father
Often during this and later conventions, Hyde and Paterson, after praying all night, would spend the day in fasting. In one service, Praying Hyde stood before the people and spoke three words in Urdu and in English: O Heavenly Father. A great tide of blessing swept over the service. Hearts were melted, open confession of defeats and sin broke forth, and many people received new victories.
God sent revival to a Presbyterian girls school where Mary Campbell ministered. The Holy Spirit brought confession of sins and real repentance. Then the revival spirit touched the theological seminary. Visitors from the Sialkot Convention came to Ludhiana, and God brought revival to the boys school there.
By 1906, there were 1300 people present at the Sialkot Convention, including 70 missionaries. Day and night intercession was made. God began to send revival to other districts of the American Presbyterian Mission. The Fatehpur and Fatehgarh areas, between November 1905 and November 1906, reported many professions of faith and many receiving the Holy Spirit.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon