August 1. A few days ago a brother was staying with me. He was on his way to visit his father whom he had not seen for more than two years. His father was greatly opposed to the decided steps his son had taken to serve the Lord. Before this brother left, that precious promise of our Lord was brought to my mind: "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 18:19). Accordingly, I went to the brother's room, and we prayed together for a kind reception from his father and the conversion of both parents.
Today this brother returned. The Lord has already answered one part of the prayer-he was kindly received, contrary to all natural expectation. May the Lord now help us both to look for an answer to the other part of our prayer! Nothing is too hard for the Lord!
[The father of this brother lived ten more years after August 1, 1840, until he was about eighty-six years of age. He continued in a life of much sin and opposition to the truth, and the prospect of his conversion became darker and darker. But at last the Lord answered prayer. This aged sinner was entirely changed, trusted in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of his soul, and became as much attached to his believing son as before he had been opposed to him. He wanted his son near him as much as possible to read the Holy Scriptures to him and pray with him.]
June 23. This has been a week of great blessing. All the orphans with their teachers and overseers have been moved into the new Orphan House.
About one hundred and forty people now live under one roof. The Lord has greatly helped us. For more than three years, I have sought the help of God concerning everything connected with the new Orphan House. I expected His help, but He has done beyond my expectations. Although the last children were moved in only the day before yesterday, great order has already been established in the house, and everything is running smoothly. Praise the Lord for this! My soul magnifies Him for His goodness! Also, the Lord has met all the extraordinary expenses connected with moving the orphans from Wilson Street into the new Orphan House. I have more than five hundred pounds available to begin housekeeping in, the new Orphan House. How true that those who trust in the Lord will not be disappointed! After many great trials of faith during the thirteen years and two months the orphans were at Wilson Street, the Lord brought us from out from there in comparative abundance. May His holy name be praised!
June 8. I obtained no text for my sermon this morning despite repeated prayer and reading of the Word. When I awoke, these words were on my mind: "My grace is sufficient for thee." As soon as I dressed, I turned to 2 Cor. 12 to consider this passage. But after prayer, I decided that I had not been directed to this portion for the sake of speaking on it, as I at first thought.
Therefore, I followed my usual practice in such cases-I continued reading the Scriptures where I left off last evening. When I came to Heb. 11:13-16, I felt that this was the text. 'Having prayed, I was confirmed in it, and the Lord opened this passage to me. I preached on it with great enjoyment. God greatly blessed what I said, and at least one soul was brought to the Lord.
May 18, 1836. The Lord has crowned the prayers of His servant concerning the establishment of an Orphan House with great success. My prayer was that He would graciously provide a house, either as a loan or as a gift, or that someone might be led to pay the rent for one. Furthermore, I asked that He would give me one thousand pounds for the work and suitable individuals to take care of the children. A day or two later, I asked that He would put it into the hearts of His people to send me articles of furniture and some clothes for the children.
In answer to these petitions, many articles of furniture, clothing, and food were sent. A conditional offer of a house, as a gift, was made, and several individuals offered to take care of the children. Various sums of money were also given, varying from one hundred pounds to a halfpenny. The above results have come in answer to prayer, without me asking anyone for one single thing. I did not keep silent about our needs on account of lack of confidence in the brethren or because I doubted their love for the Lord, but I wanted to see the hand of God much more clearly.
I brought even the most minute circumstances concerning the Orphan House before the Lord, being conscious of my own weakness and ignorance. One point I had never prayed about, however, was for the Lord to send more children. I took it for granted that there would be plenty of applications.
The appointed time came, and no applications were being made. This circumstance led me to bow low before my God in prayer and to examine the motives of my heart once more. I could still say that His glory was my chief aim-that others might see it is not a vain thing to trust in the living God.
Continuing in prayer, I was at last able to say from my heart that I would rejoice in God being glorified in this matter, even if it meant bringing the whole plan to nothing. But it still seemed more glorifying to God to establish and prosper the Orphan House. I then asked Him heartily to send applications.
I now enjoyed a peaceful state of heart concerning the subject and was also more assured than ever that God would establish the work. The very next day the first application was made, and within a short time forty-three more were received. I rented a house, which because of its cheapness and size, was very suitable.
We intended to take in children from seven to twelve years of age. But after six applications had been made for children between four and six years, it became a subject of solemn and prayerful consideration whether to accept these children as long as there were vacancies. I came at last to the conclusion to take in the little girls under seven years of age.
An Orphan House was needed for male children under seven years old also. Clothing was even sent for little boys. Since the Lord has done far above what I could have expected, I. decided to establish an Infant Orphan House.
February 16, 1842. We had enough for breakfast, but nothing more came in during the morning. In the afternoon I again asked the Lord to send us help. I then sat down to meditate over the Word. I did not know whether there was a morsel of bread or tea in any of the houses, but I felt assured that the Lord would provide.
Through grace, my mind is fully assured of the faithfulness of the Lord. In the midst of the greatest need, I am enabled to go about my other work in peace. Indeed, if the Lord did not give me this trust in Him, I would scarcely be able to work at all.
Soon after I sat down to meditate, a note was sent to me from the master of the orphan boys. He wrote, "When I visited the sisters in the Infant and Girls' Orphan Houses, I found them in the greatest need. There was no bread in one of the houses or tea this evening, and the six shillings sixpence was scarcely enough to supply what was needed for the dinner. I opened the offering box in the Boys' Orphan House and unexpectedly found one pound. Thus, through the kindness of the Lord, we were again abundantly supplied."
In the evening the Lord, in His love and faithfulness, blessed us again. I had preached at the meeting from the gospel of John. The last words on which I spoke were, "Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40). When the meeting was over, as a fresh proof of the truth of this Word, a note was given to me with five pounds for the orphans.
January 25, 1847. The season is approaching when the building may begin. I have prayed with increased earnestness that the Lord would speedily send the remainder of the required amount. I believe the time is drawing near when the Lord will give me all I need to begin to build. I rose from my knees this morning in full confidence not only that God could but also would send the money soon.
About an hour after I had prayed, the sum of two thousand pounds was given to me for the building fund. I cannot describe the joy I had in God when I received this donation. I have waited four hundred and forty-seven days upon God for the amount we needed. How great is the blessing the soul obtains by trusting in God and by waiting patiently. From December 10, 1845 to January 25, 1847, I have received, solely in answer to prayer, nine thousand two hundred and eighty-five pounds. The Lord is willing to give what will be needed once the new Orphan House is built, although the expenses will be about two thousand five hundred pounds a year more than they were before.
From the opening of this institution it had been my desire to use part of the funds to aid missionaries who are not supported by regular salary. During the last two years, the Lord has allowed me to do so in a far greater degree than before. I know that many who preach the Word do not have any salary to live on and are in need.
Some may say that these people should trust in God. If they preach Jesus as the only hope for the salvation of sinners, they should set a good example by trusting God for the supply of their temporal necessities. This would encourage unconverted people to trust in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of their souls. But I also felt that I, as their brother, should try to help them as much as I could. My own money would go only a little way, so I began to pray more earnestly than ever for missionaries. The Lord answered my daily supplications, and I was honored to send nearly three times my usual amount of support to them.
I have asked God to direct me especially to send support to those who might be in particular need. I also tried to share with them an encouraging word to strengthen their hearts in God. These dear brethren have been helped not only by the money in a temporal way but also in the help that has refreshed and strengthened their hearts to trust in God even more.
January 20. "Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good" (Mark 14:7). The Lord spoke these words to His disciples, who were themselves very poor, implying that the children of God have power with God to bring temporal blessings upon poor saints or poor unbelievers through prayer. Accordingly, I have been led to ask the Lord for means to assist poor saints, and He has stirred His children to trust me with money for that purpose.
Therefore, I had been praying again for means to more extensively assist the poor saints in communion with us. Many of them are not merely tried by the usual temporal difficulties arising from winter, but especially from the high price of bread. This evening the Lord has given me the answer to my prayer. When I came home from the meeting, found a brother at my house who offered to give me ten pounds a week for twelve weeks to provide the poor saints with coal, clothing, and bread.
January 17, 1849. Further steps are to be taken to furnish the new Orphan House. More than two-thirds of the rooms are almost ready. I have prayed earnestly every day that the Lord would give me the money we still need. This evening I received six hundred pounds which will take care of the heavy expenses connected with furnishing the new Orphan House.
January 16. How very good is the Lord! Fervency of spirit, through His grace, is continued to me, although this morning, if not for the help of God, I would have lost it again. The weather has been very cold for several days, but today I felt it more, due to the weakness of my body.
I arose from my knees and stirred the fire, but I still felt very cold. I moved to another part of the room but felt even colder. At last, having prayed for some time, I decided to walk to help my circulation.
I entreated the Lord that this circumstance might not rob me of the precious communion I have had with Him the last three days-for this was the object at which Satan aimed. I also confessed my sin of irritability on account of the cold and sought to have my conscience cleansed through the blood of Jesus. He had mercy on me, and my peace was restored. When I returned, I sought the Lord again in prayer and had uninterrupted communion with Him.
January 15. My headache has become less severe since yesterday afternoon. But I am still far from being well. God is purifying me for His blessed service, and I will soon be restored to the work. Also, He has restored a fervency of spirit which I have now enjoyed for the past three days. He has drawn my soul into real communion with Himself and into a holy desire to be more conformed to His dear Son.
When God gives a spirit of prayer, it is easy to pray! I spent about three hours in prayer over Psalms 64 and 65. In reference to that precious word, "O thou that hearest prayer" (Psa. 65:2), I asked the Lord the following petitions and entreated Him to record them in heaven and to answer them: That He would give me grace to glorify Him by a submissive and patient spirit under my affliction.
That the work of conversion through Brother Craik and myself might not cease but go on as much now as when we first came to Bristol, and even more abundantly than then.
That He would give more spiritual prosperity to the church under our care than we have as yet enjoyed.
That His rich blessing would rest on this little work so that many may be converted through it and many benefited by it.
That He would bring salvation to all the children under our care.
That He would supply the means to carry on these institutions and to enlarge them.
I believe God has heard my prayers. He will make it manifest in His own good time that He has heard me. I have recorded my petitions that when God has answered them, His name will be glorified.