Dwight L. Moody was at home in Chicago, Illinois and in the process of erecting a meeting-house after the great Chicago fire and in the middle of construction, he felt a need to go across the seas to London, England. Moody followed this strange inclination and went to London. No one knew he was coming; he had no preaching engagements. He went there to seek the advice of great preachers like Charles Spurgeon. It is said that Moody followed Spurgeon’s carriage for a mile and half just to get to talk to the great orator. Moody talked to every London pastor who would meet with him. One pastor was so impressed with Moody that he asked him to preach the following Sunday morning and night: Moody gladly consented.
When Mr. Moody got to the church on Sunday morning, it was packed. When he went into the pulpit, he felt as if he were looking at a sea of glass. The people were stern with little or no expression on their faces. Moody struggled to get through his message and several times he had the thought… “What have I done and why did I commit to preach here? I wish I could get out of the commitment to preach here tonight. This is horrible.” He concluded the morning message and there was absolutely no response. The congregation exited the building in silence like an army of zombies. When Moody got back to the church for the evening service, he could not believe his eyes, the house was literally packed but once again, there was a look of despair and indifference upon the faces of the people. Moody began his message and it was a carbon copy of the morning service. He felt such a chill when he looked into the faces of the congregation that he was tempted not to finish his sermon. Then suddenly, about half way through the message, Moody felt a change in his own spirit. As he looked upon the faces of the congregation, it seemed that a refreshing spirit had moved through the congregation. The entire atmosphere changed.
When Moody got to the conclusion of his message, he felt an impulse to give an invitation which he had not done that morning. People came from everywhere. Entire pews came forward. He looked at the pastor and said, “What does this mean?” The pastor said, “I do not know what it means.” Mr. Moody was afraid that they did not understand so he invited all who had trusted Christ to stay after the benediction and hundreds stayed. He went over the plan of salvation again and gave another invitation and they responded a second time. He looked to the pastor and said, “What does this mean?” The pastor said, “I don’t know what it means.” The Pastor suggested, why don’t we call a meeting for tomorrow night and you speak to them again. Surely, if they return tomorrow night, we will know that they are sincere. So they announced a meeting for the following night. The following night the house was packed and again, hundred’s responded. The meeting went on for ten nights in a row and the church added 400 new members and that does not count those who were saved that were already members.
Moody was astounded. He wanted an explanation. The pastor could not give him one. He had made no plans for a meeting and had never considered asking Mr. Moody to come to his church and preach. Moody would not let it go: he was convinced someone had prayed for this meeting in advance and he was not leaving London until he found this person. The pastor didn’t have a clue but Moody relentlessly kept up the search. Finally, he came across a clue. One of the attendee’s to the meeting was an old maid who lived with her invalid sister. Her sister had been shut-in for more than two years and after and intense struggle with her affliction, she reached the conclusion that her ministry was prayer. Not only did this sainted woman pray daily. She prayed about specific things and kept journals, newspaper clipping and the sort. She knew the spiritual condition of her church and their desperate need for revival and she had been praying for two years for God to send Dwight L. Moody to their church. She had heard of Moody and she sensed that he was the man and she prayed specifically for him to come to London. She always questioned her sister as soon as she walked in the door, “How did the service go?” Her sister always had the same response, “Nothing has changed.” She anxiously awaited her sister coming home the Sunday morning Moody spoke and her sister informed her of the lack of response. The invalid sister, refused lunch and went straight to her room and prayed all evening. In the evening service, the Spirit of God swept through the congregation and everything changed. Moody sought her out, talked to her and got the full scope of the story. He was convinced it was this woman’s praying that made the difference. He found the answer he was seeking and then with great satisfaction, he returned home to Chicago.
Here is the irony. We know Moody, we know Spurgeon, we even have the name of the pastor but no one recorded the woman’s name. Moody told the story countless times but the woman remained nameless. Moody didn’t forget her, he just forgot her name. S.D. Gordon tells this story. He believed she was representative of many who make up the SECRET SERVICE. Nameless prayer warriors who make a difference.
Gordon was a native of Cleveland, Ohio and works with the YMCA [Young Men’s Christian Association]. If I am not mistaken, Gordon got to hear both Moody and Spurgeon preach. This particular story comes from his book, QUIET TALKS ON PRAYER.