John Hyde, known as the apostle of prayer, was born in 1865 in Carthage, Illinois. He was the son on a Presbyterian preacher named Rev Smith Harris Hyde. John and his brother Edmund both attended seminary together to follow in their father’s preaching footsteps. Growing up, John admired his older brother and viewed him as his spiritual mentor. John’s call to the mission field came by way of personal tragedy. During one summer vacation, his older brother Edmund was engaged Sunday school mission work in Montana and contracted mountain fever. Doctors told Edmund to return home to Illinois. Along the way, delirium set in and eventually Edmund passed away amongst his family on his arrival at his home. John realized there now laid a hole on the mission field that his brother Edmund had planned to fill. In the last year in seminary, John yielded to God’s calling to the mission field.
In 1865 after receiving a letter that explained some of the deep spiritual needs of the Indian people, John decided God was calling him to India. No on expected John to be an amazing missionary. After all, he was partially deaf, slow to speak, and rather bland in his personality. John also had a very challenging time learning the Indian language. Eventually, John gave up learning the language to study the Bible more. When reprimanded, he would reply “First things first.” John would finally go on to be fluent in Urdu, Punjabi, and English.
After arriving in India, John joined a Christian missionary association called the Punjab Prayer-Union. The principles of the union are stated in question form. Are you praying for quickening in your own life, in the life of your fellow-workers, and in the Church? Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power? Will you pray that you may not be ashamed of Jesus? Do you believe that prayer is the great means for securing this spiritual awakening? Will you set apart one half-hour each day as soon after noon as possible to pray for this awakening, and are you willing to pray till the awakening comes? John embodied these principles as shown by his tarrying before the Lord on his face many hours at a time.
There was need for a yearly meeting for Bible study and prayer, where the spiritual life of the workers, pastors, teachers, and evangelists, both foreign and native, could be deepened. The great spiritual need produced the Sialkot conventions. Before the convention even started, John and few other leaders committed themselves to all day and night prayer and praise meetings. The leaders labored not only for the coming revival amongst the missionaries, but also the whole country of India. After the success of the first convention, the missionaries decided to make the convention yearly. Year by year the prayer union fasted and prayed, and at each convention a growing urgency for evangelism and intercession filled each attendee. John Hyde emerged as the prayer leader, and all were amazed at both the depth of his spiritual insight, and the ferocity of his burden for India. At one particular prayer convention, Hyde had the spiritual tenacity to pray for the conversion of one man each and every day for a year. Through God’s saving grace and Hyde’s fervent intercessory prayer, 400 people came to know the Lord before the next yearly convention. In 1910, John Hyde’s most passionate and heart-felt prayer was “Give me souls, oh God, or I die!”
After almost twenty years in the slums of India, John Hyde’s health began to rapidly deteriorate. John Hyde’s heart had shifted out of its natural position on the left side of his chest to a place over on the right. The years of vicious, piercing intercessory prayer caught up to John in a way. In March 1911, John left India to return home to Carthage, Illinois and seek out medical attention. On February 17, 1912 John Hyde died while visiting his sister. His last words are recorded as “Shout the victory of Jesus Christ!” May you be encouraged by this great missionary.