“Oh,That I May Never Loiter on My Heavenly Journey!”
-- from the diary of David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians in 18th Century America.
David Brainerd asked Christ into his heart at the age of 21.At the age of 29 he died in the home of Jonathan Edwards.Two years later Edwards published Brainerd’s diary which has never since been out of print.Of his prayer life before Jesus came into his heart, Brainerd wrote, “I never once prayed for the glory of God…never once acted for God in all my devotions….my prayers, although religious, were not performed from any love or regard for God.” But after he encountered Christ, Brainerd became dedicated to serving Him and bringing every decision to God in prayer and fasting.
Once he had been praying for two hours on his knees at the edge of the wilderness where a ferocious tribe of Indians was encamped.While he prayed, three Indians, with knives drawn, crept upon him intending to take his scalp.As they approached, they noticed a rattlesnake poised to strike Brainerd as he prayed.Suddenly the snake uncoiled and slithered away.The braves were amazed and told the tribe of this man whose God had protected from the deadly fangs of the snake and thus from their knives. That victorious prayer made it possible for Brainerd to share Christ with them and become their pastor and friend.Eight years he was a Christian, four of them a missionary to the Indians, before tuberculosis claimed his life. Brainerd’s diary is a remarkable record of his faith in God’s answering his prayers.Why did John Wesley say, “Let every preacher read carefully over the ‘Life of Brainerd.’”?Why was it written of Henry Martyn that “perusing the life of David Brainerd, his soul was filled with a holy emulation of that extraordinary man; and after deep consideration and fervent prayer, he was at length fixed in a resolution to imitate his example”?Why did William Carey regard Edward’s “Life of Brainerd” as a sacred text?Why did Robert Morrison and Robert M’Cheyne of Scotland and John Mills of America and Frederick Schwartz of Germany and David Livingston of England and Andrew Murray of South Africa and Jim Elliot of modern America look upon Brainerd with awe and draw power from him the way countless others did? The answer is that Brainerd’s life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use weak, sick, beaten-down, discouraged, lonely, struggling saints, who cry to Him day and night, to accomplish amazing things for His glory.