Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Ms 3, 1868

Long Praying and Preaching



Previously unpublished.

In the vision given me June 12, 1868, I was deeply impressed with the great work to be accomplished to prepare a people for the coming of the Son of man. I saw that the harvest is great but the laborers are few. Many that are at the present time in the field laboring to save souls are feeble, greatly lacking in physical and mental strength. They have borne heavy burdens which have tried and worn them. 1LtMs, Ms 3, 1868, par. 1

Yet, I was shown that with some of our ministers there has been too great an expenditure of strength which was not actually required. Some pray too long and too loud, which greatly exhausts their feeble strength and needlessly expends their vitality. In preaching, their discourses are protracted frequently one-third or one-half longer than should be. In thus doing they become excessively weary; and the interest of the people decreases before the discourse closes, and much is lost to them, for they can not retain it. One-half that was said would be better than more, although all the matter may be important. Success would be much greater were the praying and talking less lengthy. The result would be reached without so great weariness and utter exhaustion. Vitality is being used up needlessly, and strength wasted which for the good of the cause it is so necessary to retain. It is the long, protracted effort, after laboring to the point of weariness, which wears and breaks. 1LtMs, Ms 3, 1868, par. 2

It was this extra labor when the system was exhausted that consumed the life of dear Brother Sperry and brought him prematurely to the grave. Had he worked with reference to health he might have lived to have labored until the present time. It was this extra labor that exhausted the life forces of our dear Brother Cranson, and caused his light of usefulness to be extinguished when his light was so much needed. 1LtMs, Ms 3, 1868, par. 3

Much singing wearies to a great degree, as well as long and protracted praying and talking. Our ministers generally should not continue their effort longer than one hour. They should leave all preliminaries and come to the point at once. Cut short your discourse while the interest is the greatest. Continue not your effort until the desire is in the hearts of your hearers for you to cease speaking because they are too weary to be benefitted by what you may say. Much of this extra labor is lost upon the people, and who can tell how great the loss that is sustained by ministers who thus labor? Nothing is gained in the end by this draft upon the vitality. 1LtMs, Ms 3, 1868, par. 4

The strength is frequently exhausted at the commencement of a protracted effort, and at the very time when there is much to be gained or lost the devoted minister of Christ who has an interest, a will to labor, cannot command the strength. He used that up in singing, long praying, and protracted preaching, and the victory is lost for want of earnest, well directed labor at the right time. The golden moment was lost. Impressions that were made were not followed up and it would have been better had no interest been awakened, for when convictions have been once resisted and overcome it is very difficult to impress the minds again with the truth. 1LtMs, Ms 3, 1868, par. 5

I was shown in regard to our ministers that, in the space of one year, with the care that should be exercised to preserve the strength instead of needlessly expending it, much more will be accomplished by judicious, well-directed labor than by long talking, praying, and singing which exhaust and wear. For in this case the people are frequently deprived of labor which they much need at the right time, but cannot have because the laborer is in need of rest and will endanger health and life if he should further presume to continue his effort. 1LtMs, Ms 3, 1868, par. 6

Our dear Brethren Bourdeau and Matteson have made a mistake here, and should reform in their plan of laboring. Speak short and pray short. Come to the point at once, and in your labors stop short of exhaustion. You can both accomplish more good by thus doing, and at the same time preserve strength to continue your labor which you love, without breaking down entirely. 1LtMs, Ms 3, 1868, par. 7