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Little Slips of Paper Igniting a Fire of Prayer

Little Slips of Paper Igniting a Fire of Prayer

Today’s subject is a woman whose name, in all likelihood, you’re quite familiar with, Eliza Shirley.


But did you know that this woman began her influence as a young girl and had a tangible faith throughout her    life that was remarkable?


Eliza was born in England in 1863 to Amos and Annie Shirley. Amos was a pastor of their local church, and because of that Eliza grew up in a conventional Victorian home with God-fearing parents. However, as is far too frequently the case in Christian homes, Eliza and her parents lived in a state of lukewarmness towards their God. They lived properly, gave to the poor, and had all the appearances of a perfect home. In fact, as a young child Eliza would repeat each word of her father’s sermons after him, memorizing them word for word, which, as we will see in a moment, will end up being used by God in an incredible way.


When Eliza was a young teenager she attended a Salvation Army open air meeting. Nothing else can be said about this meeting other than that God met with Eliza that day and as she put it, “set her on fire” for him. Eliza was done being a lukewarm Christian and began to attend and volunteer at many of the other Salvation Army tent meetings. When she turned 16, Eliza took a position from the head of the Salvation Army, William Booth, to go and live with one other young girl, Annie Allspop, in a coal mining village in the north of England. Keep in mind this is mid 19th century England in the poorest of towns with the roughest of people.


It was here, that God taught Eliza, through Annie, the power of prayer. Upon first arriving, as she was unpacking in their tiny apartment, Eliza noticed the walls were covered with tiny pieces of paper with short notes scribbled on them. As they were talking, she twice saw Annie pull pieces of paper from the wall and stuff them in box with dozens of the slips in it. Their conversation went something like this:


“What are doing?” Eliza asked.

“These are my prayers,” Annie replied smiling. “Each time I need something, or have a prayer, I write it down, pin it to the wall, and wait for God to answer it!”

“But you took two down since I’ve been here.”

“Yep! That’s because you have already answered two prayers since you’ve been here!”

Eliza raised an eyebrow curiously.

“Two of the items you’ve brought were on my list of things I was about to run out of and needed God to provide. You brought rose scented soap. I just used the last of my soap last night! I didn’t think to even ask for rose scented, I just needed soap. But God provided even more than I asked for!”

What a powerful faith that Annie had and taught to Eliza. The Bible says to both “pray with expectation” and that “the prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (Ps 5:3, James 5:16) Later when Eliza had moved to America to extend that Salvation Army there, she too implemented the notes on the wall as an example of her faith and was not disappointed, finding that God provided for each and every need, even when it seemed impossible.

So the girls worked on, holding open air meetings while having fruit, vegetables, and often stones hurled at them. This too proved to be a blessing in disguise as they often picked through the food and took it home to eat, often that being their only source of food. One day at a meeting, a stone was thrown and hit the person that had prepared that day’s sermon. He was unable to speak and Eliza was asked to take his place. Having no preparation, she walked up and gave a sermon she had memorized from her father many years ago. This too is an example of God’s power in our lives preparing us, even at a young age, to serve Him.

Eliza and Annie saw God move through that small coal village in a way many had not thought possible. God used two young girls with praying hearts who relied on Him to convert even the most immoral men in that rough town. God can and will use even young children who have a faith in Him, who are on fire for Him, and who pray and believe Him.


Take a moment to learn this lesson from Eliza Shirley the young girl who prayed and believed.



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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

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