‘To me it was a very grave matter,’ he [Hudson Taylor] wrote that winter, ‘to contemplate going out to China, far from all human aid, there to depend upon the living God alone for protection, supplies and help of every kind. I felt that one’s spiritual muscles required strengthening for such an undertaking. There was no doubt that if faith did not fail, God would not fail. But what if one’s faith should prove insufficient? I had not at that time learned that even “if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself”. It was consequently a very serious question to my mind, not whether He was faithful, but whether I had strong enough faith to warrant my embarking in the enterprise set before me.
“When I get out to China,” I thought to myself, I shall have no claim on anyone for anything. My only claim will be on God. How important to learn, before leaving England, to move man through God by prayer alone.” (p. 48)
Hudson Taylor’s prayer life was characterised by a dependence on God. He knew that it was all about God and nothing about him and that his job was to pray and that it was God’s job to move men. He had many practical lessons in this area of faith, well before he went to China.
When he was living at Drainside, the twelve foot square room, that he had taken so as to prepare himself for having “less” in China, he had an opportunity to really see this “motto” put into practice. It’s a well known story but too long to reiterate for the purpose of this blog, so if it interests any readers, it can be found on pages 49-56 of Biography of James Hudson Taylor (Dr and Mrs Howard Taylor, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, 1965)
He was undoubtedly a man of prayer. The author speaks of a time Hudson Taylor went back to his parents’ home for a short time,
That was a previous summer. Time seemed all too short for the many duties crowded into it, but he was learning how much more can be accomplished in a day from which an hour is deliberately taken for prayer, than in the same time wholly given to one’s ordinary occupations.” (p. 58)
Shortly after, he was able to move to London to further his medical study and had to make decisions about a home, employment and study. He had two offers of money to cover his expenses while studying and both groups of people knew that the other had offered. This is how he approached his predicament.
Subsequently, while waiting upon God in prayer for guidance, it became clear to my mind that I could without difficulty decline both offers. The secretaries of the Society would not know that I had cast myself wholly on God for supplies, and my father would conclude that I had accepted the other offer. I therefore wrote declining both and felt that without anyone having either care or anxiety on my account I was simply in the hands of God, and that He who knew my heart, if He wished to encourage me to go to China, would bless my effort to depend upon Him alone at home. (p. 64)
Hudson Taylor became seriously ill with malignant fever while studying at the hospital and after much affliction (along with much trusting and praying), he needed to get back home for his convalescence.
Still determined to prove to himself that God would send help in response to his prayer, he told no one of his need for money for the fare. ‘What am I to do?’ he prayed and waited for the answer. To his surprise, he found his mind directed to the shipping office, to inquire about the wages he had preciously been unable to draw. (p. 72)
He was able to (even though still pale, weak and sick) reach the shipping office and after the necessary discussion and even an unexpected free lunch, obtain the sum of money that was owed to him. Hudson Taylor says “I felt it was the Lord indeed who was providing for me, and accepted his offer (of lunch) with thankfulness.” (p. 73)
The political situation in China at the time meant a change in circumstances again for him.
In view of all these happenings [the situation in China], though he was studying medicine, Hudson Taylor felt no inclination to tie himself down to distinctively medical work. His desire was to use his knowledge rather as an aid to evangelisation in districts that had never yet been reached. This was the work to which the Lord had called him; deep down in his own soul he knew it beyond a doubt. (p. 76)
So again we see him put his well known “motto” into place.
Very earnestly had he been praying for guidance, longing with all his heart to know and do the will of God. And now the light shone suddenly, and in the way he had least expected; because the time had come, and there is behind events, as the old prophet tells us, ‘a God… which worketh for him that waiteth for him’ (Isaiah 64:4 R.V.). (p. 79)
So after some unforeseen but God ordained events, Hudson Taylor finds himself with a letter in his hand on 4 June, 1853 being encouraged by the Chinese Evangelisation Society to lay his application before the Board. Within three months, he was commended by the Society to the protection and blessing of God and by the end of that month, he left on a vessel for China.
How about it? Could you live like that?
I challenge you to put it into practise with just something little to begin with. See if it changes your outlook, your prayer life, and perhaps even you.
“Move man through God by prayer alone.”