A Divine Alliance
Charles Finney (1792-1875) is considered by many people to have been one of the greatest revivalists in American history. When Finney preached in a city, the entire region was powerfully impacted by The Holy Presence Of God, which seemed to descend like a cloud. The tangible Presence Of God would be felt for miles around and multitudes of people would come to Jesus as if being drawn by a mysterious, magnetic force. Churches would be overwhelmed with new converts. Crime rates would plummet, and jails would empty because of the numbers of people who had come to Jesus. The moral nature of cities and regions would be impacted for decades to come because of The Supernatural Work that was done by The Holy Spirit through this Man Of God. Interestingly, over 85 percent of those people who came to Jesus in Finney’s meetings were still actively serving The Lord twenty-five years after their initial salvation experience, which is an extraordinary statistic.
The amazing revivals that followed God’s Ministry through Charles Finney were much more than just the result of the eloquent preaching of this Evangelist. There was an atmosphere that followed Charles Finney that reflected The Holiness Of God. When people encountered that atmosphere, their testimony was much the same as the prophet Isaiah who, encountering The Holiness Of God, cried out in despair, “Woe is me! for I am undone…” (Isaiah 6:5). People were stricken by the horrors of their sins and the deep offense that sin caused in The Heart Of God. A reverential fear of The Lord was experienced by many that caused them to turn to The Lord with true, heartfelt repentance, and they were never the same again.
On one occasion when Finney was preaching in a school house, "suddenly an awful solemnity fell upon the assembly and the congregation fell from their seats, crying for mercy." Finney said, "If I had had a sword in each hand I could not have cut them off as fast as they fell. I think the whole congregation was on their knees or prostrated in two minutes." The crying and weeping of the people was so loud that Finney's exhortation of Christ's mercy could not even be heard.
Finney seemed so anointed with The Holy Spirit that people were often brought under conviction of sin just by looking at him. “When holding meetings at Utica, New York, he visited a large factory. At the sight of him one of the workers, and then another, and then another broke down and wept under a sense of their sins, and finally so many were sobbing and weeping that the machinery had to be stopped while Finney pointed them to Christ."
Much has been written about God’s Amazing Ministry through Charles Finney, but very little is known about two other men; a man named Abel Clary and another named Daniel (Father) Nash who were both associates of Finney. Very few people even knew that they existed. Finney was supported by the prayers of these men. These were two of God's hidden treasures. It was the hidden, yet powerful intercessions of "Father Nash" and Abel Clary that laid the ground work for these mighty moves of God. "Abel Clary was converted about the same time as Finney, and was licensed to preach also, but he had such a burden of prayer that he could not preach much. His whole time and strength was given to prayer. He would writhe and groan in agony, unable to stand under the weight." "After Clary's death Finney discovered Clary's prayer journal. Finney found in the exact order of the burden laid upon Clary's heart was the order of blessing poured upon his ministry." These two men rarely, if ever, attended any of the revival meetings where Finney preached. Though Nash had been a Pastor early in his life, he had been wounded by some church leaders who had fired him from his church thinking he was too old. He was forty-six at the time. This breaking of Nash’s heart was only a part of the preparation for a much greater work that God had prepared for him to do. Nash’s Call From God and The Ministry where The Lord used Nash Mightily was a Ministry of Prayer and Intercession. Because of his hurt, he withdrew from public Ministry but became a man of mighty prevailing Prayer! Father Nash lived a life of almost continual intercession. "He joined himself with Finney, kept a prayer list and was no doubt the secret of much of Finney's marvelous success. He did not preach and often did not go to the meetings, but remained in his room, or in the woods, wrestling with God in mighty prayer. Often before daybreak people could hear Father Nash for half a mile or more in the woods, or in a church praying, and the sense of God's presence was overwhelming."
God brought Abel Clary, Daniel Nash and Charles Finney together to form a team that was to be used by God in a most phenomenal way. Clary & Nash would precede Charles Finney’s arrival in a city for revival meetings. They would go to the city and check into a boarding house and begin Praying for the meetings that were coming. Sometimes they wouldn’t come out of their room for days at a time as they were devoted totally to intercession. Sometimes people reported hearing weeping and groaning coming from their room as they prayed for The Holy Spirit’s Power to be released and a mighty harvest to be reaped when Charles Finney came to Preach The Gospel.
Daniel Nash and Abel Clary would pray for days before they felt that the work had been done in The Spirit for the meetings to convene. Other times they would pray for three to four weeks in advance of Finney’s arrival, but they would not quit until they felt in their spirit that The Preparation through intercession was complete. Nash & Clary prayed until they felt that the spiritual atmosphere had been prepared, and once they felt a release, they would send word to Charles Finney that the town was ready for him to come. Finney would follow, Preach The Gospel, and the tidal floods of God’s Holy, Convicting, and Saving Glory would overwhelm the town and people would come to Jesus to be saved as a result.
The greatest moves of God in American history occurred during this season of time. Entire regions were changed as a result of God’s Ministry through Finney. Historians point to those meetings as having such a profound impact upon people and societies that the effects could still be seen a century or more later! The powerful preaching of Charles Finney that saw hundreds of thousands of people saved would have never had the impact it did had it not been for the spiritual partnership with The Intercessory Ministry of Abel Clary and Daniel Nash. It is interesting to note that only four months after Daniel Nash’s death, Charles Finney left the itinerate revival ministry to pastor a church. The powerful revivals that characterized his ministry and changed a nation began to wane.
Daniel Nash is buried in a simple grave in an obscure cemetery behind a farmer’s barn in upstate New York. It was lost in history for many decades. On his small, well-worn tombstone are these words: “Daniel Nash --- Prayer minister for Charles Finney.” Though he was virtually unknown to the masses, God used Nash in a most profound way to birth the revivals of Charles Finney which touched multitudes. Surely, Daniel Nash and Abel Clary enjoy the same fruit of reward as Charles Finney in Heaven today because of the role they played in Intercession and Prayer! I believe that there are many Daniel Nash’s and Abel Clary’s in the earth today. They are known only to God (and maybe a few family members or friends). They may never write a book. They may never have a television program. They may never have a large public ministry that draws money, popularity, and acclaim of the masses, but their unseen labors in the spirit through intercessory prayer are resulting in the work of God moving forward in the earth. They may be strangers while here, but one day they will be known to be champions in Heaven.
It is said of Finney that "his evangelistic party consisted of prayer partners, who went before him and sought the Lord in some secluded spot. And when Finney was preaching Father Nash and Mr. Clary were hidden away somewhere praying for him. No wonder cities were stirred and a vast harvest of souls reaped." This concept of an evangelistic party made up of praying men has nearly been lost in these days of organizers, promoters, big names, etc. Such praying men not only sustained Finney's ministry, but explain the power in preaching and long-lasting results.
Perhaps God will see fit to raise up others to have a similar ministry in these exceptionally needy days. My Dear Friend, will you consider the cost, the need, and the opportunity? Will you give yourself to a Ministry Of Prayer as God leads you and enables?
Keep Looking To Jesus,