George Whitefield and Prayer

In books on January 26, 2008 at 3:50 pm

WhitefieldI am reading through one of the many great Christmas presents I received this year (does my family know me or what?) and I was really struck with how much George Whitefield prayed through Scripture early on in his walk. I’m sure he continued to do it later on in his walk to some extent but Dallimore’s biography does not say.

The thing that really struck me was the sheer amount of time men like G.W. used to spend studying through the Scriptures. He would read/pray/study for hours at a time, multiple times per day in his youth. As he grew older and began preaching, he may have had less time to devote to this practice but again we don’t know. Whitefield would sometimes preach to three different crowds three times a day. There is no way to prepare that many sermons so the author concludes that G.W. wrote down some sermons but was able to “wing” a lot of his preaching because of the tremendous amount of time he spent studying the word. The author says Whitefield slept very little; between his time spent in quietness, his time spent preaching and in ministry, and his time devoted to various projects there was just no time for sleep.

It makes me stop and think. Do I devote my time to God and to others in this way? What takes up my time that may not be edifying to myself or others? Where exactly does my time go? What does God tell us to do with our time? I thought these passages might help out:

  • Ephesians 5:15-16 – Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
  • Ephesians 6:18 – With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing;
  • 1 Peter 4:1-2 – Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
  • 1 Peter 1:17 – If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
  • Isaiah 55:1-3 – “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. “Incline your ear and come to Me Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.

I think that passage in Isaiah is particularly helpful. We should not spend our money/time/resources on what is not necessary and satisfying. It’s interesting that both necessary (bread) and satisfying is used there. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to get rid of everything in my life that is not necessary that I forget to look to what is satisfying. I forget that God desires us to be a joyful people, fully satisfied in Him, not wanting of anything but Him.

The picture above is a rendering of George Whitefield at an early age. You’ll notice an interesting feature in his eyes if you look close enough. Apparently, George contracted the measles at an early age and was left with an eye disorder that made him appear to squint all the time. God used this squint effectually though, it was said that when he preached this squinting made you feel like he was starring right at you and speaking directly to your hearing.

  1. When my schedule seems to get unbalanced the words of one of my past Pastors comes back to ‘haunt’ me: “Tom, you always find time for what is important! So much meaning in so few words”

  2. I think he hit the nail on the head with that one….that seems to be the human condition right? We selfishly seek to fill our time with what we find important. Thanks for the comment!

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