John Nelson Hyde was born in 1865. His father, Smith Harris Hyde, was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Carthage, Illinois.
John Hyde graduated from M’Cormick Seminary in 1892. He was not an impressive student until the death of his eldest brother who had volunteered for the foreign mission field. It was then that Hyde prayed: “I’ll go wherever you want me to go, dear Lord.”
In a short while, Hyde discovered a newfound passion for prayer. His soul seemed to be set aflame. Prayer ended up being his pathway to greater things and the foundation of his life and ministry.
In 1892, at the age of twenty-seven, John Hyde departed by ship for India to preach in the Punjab region. After being at sea for a few days, Hyde remembered a letter from a family friend. He opened it and read: “I shall not cease praying for you, dear John, until you are filled with the Holy Spirit.”
The letter angered Hyde because he felt he had everything he needed. He crumpled it up and tossed it on the deck. A few minutes later, he humbled himself and asked the Lord to fill him with the Holy Spirit, no matter what it might cost him.
At that moment, John Hyde became Praying John Hyde.
Hyde was not a good missionary at first. He was slow of speech, somewhat deaf and struggled at learning the language. To the dismay of his missionary mentors, he instead spent most of his time studying the Bible, rather than language. Hyde felt he needed to learn the “language of heaven” first before he learned how to speak to the people. (He eventually became an easy and correct speaker in Urdu and Punjabi.)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
God used discouragement and fruitlessness to drive John Hyde to spend days and nights fasting and praying for India and its people. His co-workers called him a fanatic and the “man who never sleeps.” Hyde ignored their words because he felt sustained by the Spirit, even though he had little sleep for weeks and hardly any food.
At the end of seven years, he had one solid convert. His missionary friends considered him unsuccessful, but once again, Hyde paid no attention to them. He continued to fast and pray, “Father, give me these souls or I die.”
Praying John Hyde persevered through his early years until he witnessed thousands of converts and revival break out in the second half of his twenty-year ministry as a missionary to India.
Hyde died in 1912 at the age of 47. Interesting enough, Hyde’s style of praying – intense travail – took its toll on his body. His heart moved out of its natural position on the left side of his chest to a place over on the right side.
Today, Praying John Hyde is known as the Apostle of Prayer.
I believe in the days ahead, we will see God raise up hundreds of prayer fanatics like John Hyde.
(Continued in Part 4)