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[John Nelson Hyde Jr. from Francis A. McGaw's Praying Hyde: Glimpses of the Amazing Prayer-Life of a Missionary in India. The Sunday School Times Company, 1923. public domain]

The doctor was astonished when he examined John Henry Hyde. “The heart is in an awful condition. I have never come across such a bad case as this. It has been shifted out of its natural position on the left side to a place over on the right side. . . . What have you been doing with yourself?” What Hyde had been doing was bowing in long hours of intercession for the church of India and its workers, sometimes pouring out his soul the entire night. His prayer life had earned him the nickname “Praying Hyde.” The Spirit of God was so strong in him people felt they were ushered into God’s presence when he raised a petition to heaven.

Hyde had not intended to become a missionary, but when his older brother, Edmund, died as a student missionary in Montana, John felt he should take his place. He consulted a friend, who urged him to lay the matter before the Father, “and stay until He decided for him.” Next morning the friend felt a hand on his arm. Looking around, he saw Hyde. “It’s settled,” Hyde said.

But he was not yet ready for God’s work. Aboard ship, sailing for India, he opened a letter from an older man who urged him to “seek for the baptism of the Holy Spirit as the great qualification for mission work.” Angrily Hyde crumpled the letter. Obviously, he had yielded his life to the Lord. How dare his friend suggest he lacked the Spirit? After thinking it over, though, he realized his friend was right. He went to his knees and requested Holy Spirit power for the work ahead of him.

In India he never had a home of his own but lived with other missionaries or in a little tent. When his language progress was slow, the mission board threatened to send him back to America, but the Indians interposed, saying that even if he did not speak the language of their lips “he speaks the language of our hearts.” He did eventually learn two Indian languages and preached in both of them. 

One day an Indian asked one of Hyde’s coworkers if Christ had indeed freed him from sin. Hyde realized if the man had asked him instead of the coworker, he would have had to answer “no.” He saw that either God must deliver him from his sin or he would have to leave mission work. He could not honestly preach victory over sin unless he experienced that victory. He got the victory and in telling of it brought a number of other Christians to repentance.

In 1908, he asked the Lord for a soul a day. That year he won over four hundred people to Christ. The next year he asked for two souls a day. Again, the Lord answered. Near the end of his nineteen years in India, Hyde asked for four souls a day and the Lord granted his request. If he did not meet his daily target, he could not eat or sleep, but examined himself for fault. He concluded his failures were tied to a lack of praise.

For years Hyde suffered from debilitating headaches. A missionary in India since 1892, he once had to lie outdoors in the shade because of such a headache. Sympathetic women gathered around him, asking what was wrong. He seized the opening to speak to them of Christ and felt his infirmity had been intended that day for just that opportunity.

Following discovery of his heart problem, Hyde left India in March 1911 to get medical attention. In the United States he learned that he also had a malignant tumor of the brain that must be removed at once. He did not long survive the operation. John “Praying” Hyde died on this day, 17 February 1912. His last words were, “Bol! Yisu Masih, Ki Jai!” (Shout the victory of Jesus Christ!) A coworker wrote to Hyde’s sister, “If ever there was a godly man, forgetful of himself and devoted to the Master’s service, your brother was that one.”

Dan Graves

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Spiritual discipline was a factor in Hyde's success. Stream Celebration of Discipline at RedeemTV or purchase the digital download through Vision Video.

To learn more about the Holy Spirit, the real reason for Hyde's success, watch The Essential Bible Truth Treasury #4. The digital download of this also can be purchased through Vision Video.

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