A Story of Hudson Taylor’s Answer to Prayer

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Thus God encouraged me, upon landing on China’s shores, to bring every variety of need to Him in prayer, and to expect that He would honor the name of the Lord Jesus and give the help which each emergency required. – Hudson Taylor

Here’s Hudson Taylor, he is on his way to China the first time. And it says this, “One definite answer to prayer under such circumstances was a great encouragement to Taylor’s faith. They had just come through the Dampier Strait.” This is the Indonesia area. “But were not yet out of sight of the Islands. Usually a breeze would spring up after sunset and last until about dawn. The utmost use was made of it, but during the day they lay still with flapping sails.”

You know that is pretty common around the equator. They call it the doldrums because often the wind falls off and ships in those days that depended on the wind, they didn’t move, they were basically stuck in the currents. And so, what would happen is, at night, they would blow forward. In the day, the wind would stop and the current would pull them back. Can you imagine that? You sail so far, then the wind stops, and it pulls you back. And then the next night you sail forward, the next day you drop back. And you just make a little headway, you go a little further. But what happened is this.

“This happened notably on one occasion. When we were in dangerous proximity to the North of New Guinea. Saturday night had brought us to a point some 30 miles off the land. And during the Sunday morning service, which was held on deck, I could not fail to see that the captain looked troubled. He frequently went over to the side of the ship. When the service was ended, I learnt from him the cause. A forenaught current was carrying us towards some sunken reefs and we were already so near that it seemed improbable that we should get through the afternoon in safety. After dinner the longboat was put out and all hands endeavored without success to turn the ships head from the shore. After standing together on the deck for some time in silence, the captain said to me, ‘Well, we’ve done everything that can be done. We can only await the result.’

A thought occurred to me, said Taylor, and I replied, ‘No, there is one thing we have not done yet.’ ‘What’s that?’ He queried. ‘Four of us on board are Christians. Let us each retire to his own cabin and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze. He can as easily send it now as at sunset!’ The captain complied, because he was one of the Christians, with this proposal. I went and spoke to the other two men and after prayer with the carpenter, we all four retired to wait upon God. I had a good, but very brief season in prayer, and then felt so satisfied that our request was granted, that I could not continue asking, and very soon went up again on deck.

The first officer, a godless man, was in charge. I went over and asked him to let down the clues, or corners of the main sail, which had been drawn up in order to lesson the useless flapping of the sail against the rigging. ‘What would be the good of that?’ He answered roughly. I told him we had been asking a wind from God, that it was coming immediately and we were so near the reef by this time that there was not a minute to lose. With an oath, and a look of contempt, he said he would rather see a wind than hear of it. But while he was speaking, I watched his eye, following it up to the royal, and there, sure enough, the corner of the topmost sail was beginning to tremble in the breeze. ‘Don’t you see the wind is coming? Look at the royal!’ I exclaimed. ‘No, it’s only a cat’s-paw.’ He rejoined. ‘A mere puff of wind.’ ‘Cat’s-paw, or not,’ I cried, ‘Pray, let down the main sail and give us the benefit.’

This, he was not slow to do. In other minute the heavy tread of the men on deck brought up the captain from his cabin to see what was the matter. The breeze had indeed come. In a few minutes, we were plowing our way at 6 or 7 knots an hour through the water. And though the wind was sometimes unsteady, we did not altogether lose it until after passing the Palau Islands. Thus, God encouraged me ere landing on China’s shores to bring every variety of need to Him in prayer and expect that He would honor the name of the Lord Jesus and give the help each emergency required.”

And I only read that because it is like I was saying before. Something in us knows there is benefit to having a number of Christians [praying].  I mean isn’t it true, sometimes things happen and people send out prayer requests all over the place. I mean here he was, he has this sense. He didn’t just go and pray himself. He wanted every Christian there. And didn’t you notice, he specifically emphasized, “in one accord”. That they would pray in one accord. I mean, I only bring that up because I know we feel that, we sense that; that there is an advantage there.