Robert Murray McCheyne - Prayer Makes History

"It is not how long you live, but how you live that counts." Robert Murray McCheyne was a living example of this often neglected truth. At twenty-three years old he was ordained and inducted into the church of St. Peters at Dundee. At thirty years old he finished his course, dying in the spring of 1843. Like John the Baptist and the Saviour Himself, McCheyne ushered in Christ's kingdom in just a few short years. It was during his brief public ministry that Scotland experienced one of its greatest revivals. From 1839-1842 much of Scotland was turned upside down through the Spirit-filled labors of W. C. Burns and Robert Murray McCheyne.

For every time McCheyne directed men to look at their sins he pointed them ten times to look on Jesus. This was the key to his tender and passionate preaching. To him Christ was not just one of many theological concepts in a message, Christ Jesus was the message! McCheyne's power in the pulpit was the result of his intimate knowledge of Jesus. He could boldly say, "I am better acquainted with Jesus Christ than I am with any man in the world." Often as he preached the entire congregation was brought to tears. McCheyne's diary and letters describe for us some of these precious meetings. He wrote, "It was like a pent-up flood breaking forth; tears were streaming from the eyes of many, and some fell on the ground groaning and weeping and crying for mercy." At other times men and women were so overcome with grief and conviction that they literally had to be carried out of the church - "In some areas whole congregations were frequently moved as one man, and the voice of the minister was drowned out by the cries of anxious souls." McCheyne's voice, eyes and gestures spoke of the tenderness of Christ. It was not Robert Murray McCheyne the people saw, it was Jesus. McCheyne declared, "A man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake - until he gives up striving to attract people to himself and seeks only to attract them to Christ."

Perhaps more powerful than McCheyne's preaching was his praying. To him the prayer closet was a refuge of fellowship, holiness and intercession. McCheyne's diary and letters are replete with examples of his prayerful life. He wrote, "I rose early to seek God, and found Him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company?" "King Jesus is a Good Master. I have had some sweet seasons of communion with the unseen God which I would not give up for thousands worth of gold and silver." Only a few months before his death McCheyne drew up some considerations concerning "Reformation in Secret Prayer". "I ought", said McCheyne, "to spend the best hours of the day in prayer."