"Have you ever heard how Dwight L. Moody became a worldwide evangelist? After the great fire in Chicago, Mr. Moody stayed in Chicago long enough to get money together to feed the poor and to provide a new building for his own work, and then he went to England for a rest. He did not intend to preach at all, but to hear some of the great preachers on the other side of the water -- Charles Spurgeon, George Muller, and others.
"He was invited to preach one Sunday in a Congregational church in the north of London, of which a Mr. Lessey was the pastor. He accepted the invitation. Sunday morning as he preached he had great difficulty. As he told the story to me many years afterward, he said, I had no power, no liberty; it seemed like pulling a heavy train up a steep grade, and as I preached I said to myself, What a fool I was to consent to preach. I came here to hear others, and here I am preaching.
"As I drew to the close of my sermon I had a sense of relief that I was so near through, and then the thought came to me, Well, I've got to do it again tonight. I tried to get Mr. Lessey to release me from preaching that night, but he would not consent. I went to the evening service with a heavy heart. But I had not been preaching long when it seemed as if the powers of an unseen world had fallen upon that audience. As I drew to the close of my sermon I got courage to draw the net. I asked all that would then and there accept Christ to rise, and about five hundred people arose to their feet. I thought there must be some mistake; so I asked them to sit down, and then I said, 'There will be an after-meeting in the vestry, and if any of you will really accept Christ meet the pastor and me in the vestry.'
"There was a door at each side of the pulpit into the vestry and people began to stream through these doors into the vestry, and I turned to Mr. Lessey and said, 'Mr. Lessey, who are these people?' He replied, 'I do not know.'
"'Are they your people?' I asked. 'Some of them are,' he replied. 'Are they Christians?' I asked. 'Not as far as I know,' he answered.
"We went into the vestry and I repeated the invitation in a stronger form, and they all rose again. I still thought that there must be some mistake and asked them to be seated, and repeated the invitation in a still stronger form, and again they all arose.
"I still thought there must be some mistake and I said to the people, 'I am going to Ireland tomorrow, but your pastor will be here tomorrow night. If you really mean what you have said here tonight meet him here.' After I reached Ireland, I received a telegram from Mr. Lessey saying, 'Mr. Moody, there were more people out on Monday night than on Sunday night. A revival has broken out in our church and you must come back and help me.'
"Mr. Moody hurried back from Dublin to London and held a series of meetings in Mr. Lessey's church that added hundreds of people to the churches of North London, and that was what led to the invitation that took him over to England later for the great work that stirred the whole world.
"After Mr. Moody had told me that story I said, 'Mr. Moody, someone must have been praying.' 'Oh,' he said, 'did I not tell you that? That is the point of the whole story. There were two sisters in that church, one of whom was bedridden; the other one heard me that Sunday morning. She went home and said to her sister, 'Who do you suppose preached for us this morning?' The sister replied, 'I do not know.'
"Then she said, 'Guess,' and the sister guessed all the men that Mr. Lessey was in the habit of exchanging pulpits with, but her sister said 'No.'
"Then her sister asked, 'Who did preach for us this morning?' And she replied, 'Mr. Moody of Chicago.' No sooner had she said it than her sister turned pale as death and said, 'What! Mr. Moody of Chicago! I have read of him in an American newspaper and I have been praying God to send him to London, and to send him to our church. If I had known he was to preach this morning I would have eaten no breakfast, I would have spent the whole morning in fasting and prayer. Now, sister, go out, lock the door, do not let any one come to see me, do not let them send me any dinner; I am going to spend the whole afternoon and evening in fasting and prayer.'
"And pray she did, and God heard and answered.
[b]The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power[/b]
[i]by R.A. Torrey[/i]