Do you have a nickname?
If you have, it probably tells something about you. An elderly woman had the nickname
TIGER Bennett when she was a little girl. But she was not like a tiger when she grew up.
She was dear and sweet and everyone loved her. She told thousands of children about the
Lord Jesus who died for them.
Surely when the Lord said, “Frances, I want you to come home to Heaven now,” there were
many boys and girls already there to welcome her. More will follow her there because she
led them to receive the Lord Jesus Who is the only way to Heaven.
No, as a woman, Frances Bennett was not like a tiger. Yet because that was her nickname
when she was little, we know she must have been a fighter. Her nickname tells us this.
We are going to learn about John Hyde–a man who had a wonderful nickname: Praying
Hyde. Would you like that for a nickname? Can you guess what kind of man he was to
have earned such a nickname?
Did John Hyde offer beautiful prayers in public places where many people heard him? Did
they talk about his beautiful prayers and so call him Praying Hyde? These questions will be
answered in our story. Listen carefully!
John Hyde was born in Illinois in 1865. His father, a minister, was good and kind to
everyone. John’s mother, a lovely Christian woman, was said to be “Christ like.” John Hyde
knew what it was to hear his mother and father pray. He learned to pray when he was
John had two brothers and three sisters. John’s father often prayed, “Dear God, please
send missionaries to far-off places [distant lands] where the people do not know about the
Lord Jesus.” So John’s father was not surprised when two of his sons wanted to become
One of John’s older brothers was named Edmund. When he grew up, Edmund went away
to school where he studied to be a missionary.
One summer Edmund was on vacation from school. Instead of going home, he went to the
state of Montana. There he worked hard to get Sunday schools started.
One day Edmund became ill. The doctor said, “You have mountain fever. You must get
home as quickly as you can.”
So John’s brother Edmund started for home. At that time the quickest way to travel was by
train. And even that was not fast! To get from Montana to Illinois would take at least two
Friends knew that Edmund’s fever might get so high that he would become delirious. So
they pinned his railroad ticket to his coat. They wrote notes to the conductors who would
be on the trains. The notes told where he was going and exactly what trains he had to
What a hard trip that must have been for a sick man to take alone! Back home, John and
the rest of the family were praying for Edmund, though they did not know he was ill.
Edmund finally arrived home safely. How glad his family was to see him!
How sad they were only a few days later when Edmund died. They didn’t understand
God’s way. But they all knew how to pray, and so they did. God gave them peace in their
hearts, even in their trouble.
Has He ever done this for you, too?
John had been planning to be a preacher in the United States. But after Edmund died, John
felt the Lord wanted him to take his brother’s place. At first John was not quite willing.– 2 –
It was during his last year in seminary (a school which trains ministers) that John stayed
awake one night, all night long, praying. The next day his face was bright and shining. “It
is settled,” he told a classmate. John Hyde knew that God wanted him to go to some
foreign land to preach the Gospel.
One of the nicest things about praying alone in our Quiet Time, is that we can be still and
listen to God speak to us. We talk to Him, pray for others, and then we are quiet. God
speaks in a still, small voice. We cannot hear Him with our human ears. But in our hearts
we understand what He is saying to us.
Sometimes God causes us to remember some Scripture verses we have learned. We know
His will through that verse. We must say, as the boy Samuel did so many years ago,
“Speak, for Your servant hears.”
John Hyde learned to talk to God for long hours. He learned to listen to God’s voice. In
time, God told John to which country he should go.
There was nothing to see but water and sky as the ship carried John Hyde across the
ocean. Day after day for many weeks, John Hyde traveled. The waves were often high.
Sometimes there were storms. But John Hyde prayed, and God protected the ship. Finally
John stepped ashore in the land of India. For John Hyde had heard God’s voice telling him
he was to go to India to preach the Gospel. It was a difficult place for him to begin his
missionary work. At first he did not do well.
Though John studied diligently, he had a hard time learning the language. (This was
probably partly due to his having defective hearing.) He felt he was a failure and became
discouraged–so discouraged that he thought he should return home. But he never
neglected his Bible study and prayer. God helped him to know he was to stay in India. So
John worked on the language, praying earnestly for the Lord to help him.
Right from the beginning people realized that John Hyde knew how to talk to God. And
they, discovered that God answered John’s prayers. Before long they called him Praying
The people learned that Praying Hyde often stayed awake all night talking to God and
listening to His voice. They did not hear him pray long prayers in public.
Praying Hyde did not pray only at night. Often during the day he talked with God in a little
room. Many times he didn’t take time to eat. “I’m not hungry,” he would say and kept on
God answered John’s prayer about learning the difficult language. Soon the people of India
said, “He speaks our language correctly and easily.” Better than that, they exclaimed, “He
speaks the language of Heaven, also!”
Praying Hyde did not pray for himself alone. It was for the souls of the people of India for
whom he prayed most.
He had seen the people bathing in the River Ganges hoping to wash away their sins. He
had seen their funeral pyres (on which they burned the bodies of the dead). He had seen
their idols and their temples. And he knew that though the people of India did the best
they knew, they were lost because they had never received the Lord Jesus as Savior. He
could not bear the thought of their being separated eternally from God.
God heard John’s prayers. Many began to listen gladly when he preached. Numbers placed
their trust in the Savior–the Lord Jesus. This made John Hyde happy. Yet he longed to see
more coming to Christ. So he kept on praying long hours, all alone.
God spoke each day to John. He wants to speak to us as He did to Praying Hyde. Perhaps
God has some special work for you to do. Maybe He cannot tell you about it because you
do not get quiet before Him.
Remember: Praying Hyde lived and died many years ago. God could use many more
praying people today in this world of ours. Perhaps He will use you, even now, while you
are young. And perhaps God wants to tell you now His plan for your life.
It was not easy for the people of India to leave the only religion they had ever known.
Theirs was a religion of torturing themselves; of praying as often as five times a day–
praying to an idol which had ears but could not hear; a religion of begging for a living.
To turn from idols to the true and living God, and to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was not
easy for the people in India. They needed to hear God’s Word from those who belonged to
Him. They needed the prayers of John Hyde. They need your prayers. Oh, who will pray?
Oh, will you pray?
Long before the people of India met Praying Hyde, they knew what it was to pray. But their
praying was different. Instead of praying to the only true and living God, the people of
India prayed to many gods.
When men, women, boys and girls listened to Praying Hyde preach the Gospel and were
converted, they had to turn away from the false gods. It was not easy to stop praying to
idols, for they had been doing so all their lives.
One of the make-believe gods before which Indians bow is the idol called Ganesh. Ganesh
has a man’s body, the head of an elephant, and two extra arms and hands. The Indians
believe that because it has four hands and arms it can be more helpful to them. And so
they bow and pray to their false god, Ganesh.
Ganesh is supposed to like candy and sweet things. It is called “the god of wisdom” and
“the god of good luck.” When the Indians come to pray to it, they bring sweet things for it
to eat. Of course we know it cannot eat them. But if your grandfather, your father, and
your mother all told you this was true, you would probably believe it.
John Hyde found the people believing that Ganesh could help them make a journey safely.
They said Ganesh could help them to kill a tiger.
The people believed their gods and goddesses liked to ride on the back of a rat. So they
said rats were holy and should not be killed. Can you guess what it would be like to live in
such a place? The government tried to kill the rats. But many of the people (Hindus) fed
and protected the rats. They were afraid Ganesh would be angry if the rats were killed.
And they did not want Ganesh to be angry for he might harm them.
Little children take sweets and flowers and bow in prayer before the awful god, Ganesh,
because they, do not know any better. “We will do our best to please Ganesh,” they say.
And there sits Ganesh–an apron covering its elephant trunk. When the children leave, it
cannot reach for the sweets and eat them. It cannot smell the flowers. But the children
believe it has life and that it can do all these things. They believe this because they have
never heard of the one true loving God who wants to give them eternal life.
Praying Hyde prayed many long hours for the boys and girls, men and women of India–
often going without food.
John Hyde saw the people of India worshiping another strange idol. This was a goddess
called Annpurna. The name Annpurna means “goddess of plenty” or “the one who fills with
Annpurna stands in a lovely lotus flower. It holds a bowl of rice in one hand and a spoon in
the other. The Hindus believe Annpurna can keep them supplied with rice which is what
they eat most of the time.
A boy or girl might have a small image of Annpurna in his home. He bows before it, prays
to it, and places some of his food in front of it. But Annpurna does not supply him with
food, for many starve to death every year.
It was really difficult for Praying Hyde to get these people to turn from their idols and to
pray, to the God who sent His Son to die on the cross for them.
Even after they accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour from sin, it was hard for them to
learn how to pray to the God whom they could not see.
Though many truly turned to God from idols, Praying Hyde was concerned for the
thousands who still did not know that God loved them and that the Lord Jesus died for
them. So John Hyde preached. But mostly he prayed. Then a very wonderful thing
Do you know what Christians mean when they talk about a revival?
Usually a revival takes place where a large group of people have come together to listen to
a preacher. If the speaker is controlled by the Holy Spirit, God uses him to win many to
Christ. And during a revival, Christians confess the sins in their lives. The Holy Spirit uses
them also to win souls for the Lord Jesus. Whole towns and cities know something has
happened when a revival breaks out, because many, many turn to the Lord Jesus for
forgiveness of sins and salvation. Do you suppose a preacher can be controlled by the Holy
Spirit and used to win souls if he does not spend time with God alone in prayer? Of course
One time a famous evangelist was going to Europe to preach. He and his workers held a
prayer meeting. Someone who attended the meeting said, “When I opened my eyes and
looked around, I saw the evangelist lying flat on his face on the floor. He was praying and
begging God to remove all sin from his heart so souls could be saved.”
This is the way Praying Hyde often prayed–stretched out on the ground. He prayed so hard
and long and went without so many meals that he became seriously ill. But Praying Hyde
was willing to give his life in order that souls in India might be saved. And his prayers
brought about a wonderful revival in that part of India where he preached–and prayed.
Many turned to the Lord. It was a wonderful revival for India.
Then Praying Hyde asked God to let him lead one soul to the Lord every day for a year. He
asked for one soul who would be converted and who would–after his conversion–confess
Christ in public before other Hindus.
This meant that Praying Hyde often had to take long journeys to places where God led
him. It meant he spent nights in prayer and days without eating. But by the end of that
year Praying Hyde had led over 400 Indian people to the Lord. I think John Hyde would
have been happy and satisfied and would stop praying so hard. What do you think?
Instead of being satisfied, Praying Hyde asked God to let him lead two souls a day to Christ
the next year. At the end of that year 800 more Hindus had placed their trust in the Lord
Jesus. Was this because John Hyde was a great preacher? Indeed not! It came about
because John Hyde was Praying Hyde.
One day John Hyde asked two evangelists to go with him to a distant village. Before
leaving, Praying Hyde asked God for ten souls to be saved that day.
They reached the village. They preached and sang. But not one person turned to the Lord.
It was late in the day and the evangelists wanted to leave for home to get rest and food.
But John Hyde would not go. They stopped at a little cottage and asked .a man for water to
drink. The man invited them inside and gave them not only water but milk also.
John Hyde spoke to the man and his family about the true and living God and His Son, the
Lord Jesus Christ. All nine in the family listened to the Gospel. And every one of them
received the Lord Jesus as Saviour that very day! “Now,” the two evangelists said, “we
must go home. It is getting dark and the road is dangerous.”
When the oxcart was ready to take them home, John Hyde did not get in. He was longing
for the tenth person for whom he had prayed. The others were getting angry with him.
Just then a nephew of the man who had given them milk arrived in the village. Mr. Hyde
went back to the house. And in a short while he led this young man to the Lord! His prayer
for the salvation of ten souls was answered.
John Hyde’s prayers wore out his body. But he was happy. He did not mind being sick when
he saw Hindus being born into the family of God.
John Hyde prayed so long and so hard that his heart became sick. The doctors said John
Hyde would not live. So they sent him home to die. On his way, home from India, Praying
Hyde stopped in England. There he learned that men from America were holding
evangelistic meetings. He went to the meetings.
Praying Hyde could not simply sit and listen in a meeting where sinners needed to be
saved. And so John Hyde prayed long and hard for souls to be saved in England.
After Praying Hyde and the evangelists prayed together, many were saved. But this
weakened Praying Hyde’s body even more.
Finally Praying Hyde got to America and went to stay with a sister. To another he wrote,
“Am still in bed or in a wheelchair. Getting a fine rest and doing a lot of the ministry of
intercession [praying for others] and having not a few opportunities of personal work
Soon God called him home to Heaven. John Hyde had given his life in praying for others.
Do you suppose he dreaded going to Heaven? How happy he must have been to see the
Lord Jesus, face-to-face! How delighted he must have been to be in the presence of the
One to whom he had so often prayed!
In the Bible we read of Stephen who was stoned to death for preaching. Stephen was the
first Christian martyr. A martyr is a person who dies for something he believes in. Stephen
chose to die rather than to stop preaching the Word of God.
We know Stephen pleased God because the Bible tells us that when Stephen looked up to
Heaven he saw a wonderful sight: Jesus was waiting for him.
Praying Hyde was a martyr also. He gave his life to preach in the land of India. What
caused his death was his pleading with God for the souls of the Hindu people.
I am sure that many Hindus in Heaven will gather around Praying Hyde to say, “Thank you
for coming to India to tell us that God loves us and the Lord Jesus died for us. If you had
not prayed for us, perhaps we might not have been here.”
Will there be souls in Heaven because you have prayed for them? God needs boys and
girls, as well as men and women, who will spend time alone with Him in prayer. Will you be