In the past few weeks, I have been reading proto-pentecostal books about the Holy Spirit. These works about the Holy Spirit are remarkable. Their passion for the Holy Spirit is unequaled even among modern Pentecostals. During the mid-1800’s, pastors from many traditions were awakened to the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
This is an excerpt from a chapter called “A Proposal” in the book The Early and Latter Rain by the Rev. James Smith in 1856. Smith pleads with his readers to join him in praying that God would awaken in the church their awareness of the Holy Spirit and that pastors and laypeople would seek the outpouring of the Spirit. At the end of the chapter, challenges those who are willing to “snatch a few minutes from this greedy world and plead with God to pour out his Spirit” upon the church to take this pledge:
Will you take your pen and sign the following:
“I, __________ being deeply convinced that the church in general, and myself in particular stand in need of the putting forth of the power of the Holy Ghost, do hereby solemnly engage, in the sight and presence of God, who searches the hear, once at least, in each day, to go directly to the throne of grace, on purpose to plead with my God and Father, that He will pour out His Spirit in all the fulness of His gifts and graces upon the church in general, and upon my own soul particularly.” Witness my hand this _____ day of _______1856
The sincere call to prayer for the outpouring of the Spirit in books like this one may have been the very catalyst that would eventually result in the what we know as the Pentecostal movement. They prayed for us. As we approach the season of Pentecost, I am challenged by this proposal by the Rev. James Smith and am inspired to join him in this prayer that God will indeed pour out His Spirit in all his fullness of His gifts and graces on the church for a future generation. Will you join me in this proposal?