Edward Payson, A Man Who Prayed Without Ceasing

Updated: Oct 8, 2018


This well-known man of God was for many years pastor of the Congregational Church at Portland, Me. His remarkable success was, to a very great extent, the result of his prevailing prayers. Oh, that many might follow his example! We clip the following from a sketch of his life in “Shining Lights”:


Edward Payson 1783-1827

He prayed without ceasing. Aware of the aberrations to which the human mind is liable, he most earnestly sought the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. He felt safe nowhere but at the throne of grace. He may be said to have studied theology on his knees; much of his time he spent literally prostrated, with the Bible open before him, pleading the promises: “I will send the Comforter — and when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.”


To his ardent and persevering prayers must, no doubt, be ascribed, in a great pleasure, his distinguished and almost uninterrupted success; and, next to these, the undoubted sincerity of his belief in the truths which he inculated. His language, his conversation and whole deportment, were such as brought home and fastened on the minds of his hearers the conviction that he believed, and therefore spoke. The revivals of religion which took place under his labors were numerous, and were characterized by a depth and power seldom seen. Nor was his eminent usefulness confined within the narrow sphere of his own congregation. In. distant parts of the country, at various special gatherings, his ministry was made a blessing to many thousands, both in the conversion of souls and in raising the tone of piety among believers.


When his body, full of pain, was gradually sinking into the grave, he wrote to his sister: “Were I to adopt the figurative language of Bunyan, I might date this letter from the land of Beulah, of which I have been for some weeks a happy inhabitant.


The celestial city is full in my view. Its glories beam upon me; its breezes fan me; its odors are wafted to me; its sounds strike upon my ears, and its spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing separates me from it but the river of death, which now appears as an insignificant rill, that may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give permission."

"The Sun of Righteousness has been gradually drawing nearer and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as He approached, and now He fills the whole hemisphere; pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem to float like an insect in the beams of the sun; exulting, yet almost trembling, while I gaze on this excessive brightness, and wondering, with unutterable wonder, why God should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm. A single heart and a single tongue seem altogether too inadequate to my wants; I want a whole heart for every separate emotion, and a whole tongue to express that emotion."


He was asked: “Do you feel to express that emotion reconciled?” “O, that is too cold. rejoice! I triumph! And this happiness will endure as long as God himself, for it consists in admiring and adoring Him. I can find no words to express my happiness. I seem to be swimming in a river of pleasure, which is carrying me on to the great fountain. It seems as if all the fountains of heaven were opened, and all its fullness and happiness, and, I trust, no small portion of its benevolence, is come down into my heart.”


To his wife he said, while dying: “ Hitherto I have viewed God as a fixed star, bright, indeed, but often intercepted by clouds; but now he is coming nearer and nearer; and spreads into a sun so vast and glorious, that the sight is too dazzling for flesh and blood to sustain.” This was not a blind adoration of an imaginary Deity; for, added he,


“I see clearly that all these same glorious and dazzling perfections, which now only serve to kindle my affections into a flame, and to melt down my soul into the same blessed image, would burn and scorch me like a consuming fire, if I were an impenitent sinner."

Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893

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