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Four Years of Hell

Posted by on in Men & Women of Intercession
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This week we will look into the prayer life of Oswald Chambers. While his name might sound familiar, you will almost certainly recognize his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. Despite dying at the young age of 43, his writings and transcribed sermons have influenced thousands, if not millions of people in times past till today.


While he was raised by a Baptist preacher, it was under the teaching of Charles Spurgeon, whom we will no doubt study at a later time, that Oswald was converted. Early on, he wanted to pursue art as way to glorify God, studying at prestigious schools throughout England. Before long however, Oswald came to believe that God was calling him to serve in a different way. He left the art schools behind and studied at a small theological school.


Oswald describes those four years as “years of hell on earth.” He struggled deeply with his own inadequacy to do God’s work.


He once wrote,

“It takes me a long while to realize that God has no respect for anything I bring him. All he wants from me is unconditional surrender.”


It was during these years that Oswald began to know the prayer that comes from deep within. Near to the end of those four long years he wrote this poem.



O take my heart, my Saviour,

Move its inward springs for me,

Till Thy life in my behaviour

Springs in actions constantly

O my Saviour, I am mourning

For a living touch with Thee;

Let Thy Spirit's pure adorning

Mould Thy character in me.

O do hear me, O do hear me,

Else I think my heart will break;

ln its longing be Thou near me,

And my burning thirst Oh slake!

O Lord Jesus, hear my crying

For a consecrated life,

For I bite the dust in trying

For release from this dark strife.


Listen to the intensity of the words that come from the soul; mourning, breaking heart, longing, burning thirst, crying, release. These words are not ones of shallow want but of depth and burning desire that can only be drawn out from intense prayers. This was the turning point in Chambers’ life. Immediate peace came when, after four years, God revealed that complete surrender of Him was require to do His work.


Chambers went on to open the Bible Training College, chaplain armed forces during WWI, and preach to countless crowds of people. After his death, His wife transcribed his sermons sending them to soldiers and preserving them for our benefit even today.


While Oswald Chambers’ life was short, his impact on souls for Christ is astounding. We can well take a lesson of perseverance in prayer from this man.


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