Extraordinary Prayer: Footnotes on Edwards and Seeking God

During his final years in Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan Edwards received an invitation from Scotland to participate in a Concert of Prayer as a “means” of rejuvenating the revivals.

As Chris Chun deftly explains, Edwards had already come to think of prayer as an appropriate conduit for advancing the awakenings and in response he published in 1748, sermons on Zechariah 8:20-22 entitled A Humble Attempt.

In the 1740s and 1750s, Edwards’s work encouraged many both in America and Scotland, “by united and extraordinary prayer, seek to God that he would come and manifest himself, and grant the tokens and fruits of his gracious presence.”

For, he argued,

The greatest effusion of the Spirit that ever yet has been, even that which was in the primitive times of the Christian church, which began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, was in answer to extraordinary prayer.

Edwards saw prayer as, “the means of awakening others … and disposing them to join with God’s people in that extraordinary seeking and serving of God.”

In a day where often every avenue of influence and strategy is first exhausted save the call to corporate prayer, may Edwards’s call for extraordinary prayer disturb what we have come to accept as ordinary.

To read an expanded version of this post, see my article on Edwards at the Theological Matters blog.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the blog of Jason G. Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives at Southwestern Seminary.