Plumer and Prime on the Power of Prayer

We have noted previously that James Waddel Alexander wrote a wonderful memorial of the Fulton Street prayer meeting and revival of 1857-1858. But the theme of the power of prayer stirred up by this revival was especially the province of Samuel Irenaeus Prime, who authored four volumes on this topic over the years:

  • The Power of Prayer, Illustrated in the Wonderful Displays of Divine Grace at the Fulton Street and Other Meetings in New York and Elsewhere, in 1857 and 1858 (1858, 1859);

  • Five Years of Prayer, With the Answers (1864);

  • Fifteen Years of Prayer in the Fulton Street Meeting (1872); and

  • Prayer and Its Answer: Illustrated in the First Twenty-Five Years of the Fulton Street Prayer Meeting (1882).

Prime was above all a man of prayer, and deeply impressed with both its necessity in the life of the believer, and its efficacy. In the last volume (p. 147), he shared this thought about prayer’s power:

In the Christian life and in Christian labor prayer is all powerful, for in prayer we lay hold of God's omnipotence. A minister said he had been deeply impressed with the thought that power comes from God. In the battle of Waterloo, some of the English troops were ordered to fall on their faces for a time, so as to let the deadly fire of the French artillery go over them. At the right moment the command came to spring to their feet and show fight. So it was suggested, as the soldiers of the Lord, we need often to fall flat upon our faces before Him in humiliation of heart, and wait until He calls on us for action.

In Prime’s first record of the 1857-1858 revival, several chapters are included from other contributors, such as William Swan Plumer on the efficacy of prayer. This chapter is a real gem. Plumer writes (p. 350) a truth that we do well to remember:

It is not possible to over-estimate the value of prayer. For more than thirty-five years I have had much intercourse with dying saints and sinners of various ages and conditions. In all that time I have not heard one express regret that he had spent too much time in prayer; I have heard many mourn that they had so seldom visited a throne of grace.