William Miller, an old farmer in the U.S. Northeast in the 1830’s, loved to pray and study God’s Word. Yet for nine years he refused to follow the Holy Spirit’s conviction to walk away from his plow and preach about Christ’s soon return. Miller trembled at the thought of public speaking, and he felt burdened by his unfitness for the work. But when he finally obeyed, God worked marvelously. Miller’s first presentation converted 30 entire families, with the exception of two people. Immediately, he was urged to speak elsewhere. Protestant churches of nearly all denominations opened their doors to him.
In some large cities Miller’s work was so effective that liquor dealers transformed their shops into meeting rooms for the revival. Gambling halls lost all their customers. A Boston newspaper reported about an open-air baptism of new believers attended by at least 10,000 people.
Across the country, various denominations held prayer meetings where at almost every hour businessmen could be found assembled for prayer and praise, Seventh-day Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White wrote in The Great Controversy (p. 332).
“There was no extravagant excitement, but an almost universal solemnity on the minds of the people,” she said. Miller’s “work, like that of the early reformers, tended rather to convince the understanding and arouse the conscience than merely to excite the emotions.”
In 12 years, Miller went from being an ordinary farmer to a well-known revivalist. He gave more than 4,500 presentations to more than half a million people during that time. His work gave birth to the Adventist Church, now one of the fasting growing Protestant denominations.
Reflecting on these early years of the Advent movement, White wrote: “When the message of truth was first proclaimed, how much we prayed. How often was the voice of intercession heard in the chamber, in the barn, in the orchard, or the grove? Frequently we spent hours in earnest prayer, two or three coming together claiming the promise; often the sound of weeping was heard and then the voice of thanksgiving and the song of praise” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 161).
We can learn much from the lives of Adventist pioneers. The Advent movement went forward with such power because of Miller and many of other pioneers’ spirit of prayer and dedication. Let’s pray for this same spirit of prayer and dedication today.
Dear Heavenly Father, We aren’t qualified to do what You’re calling us to do. But help us to not resist the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives any longer. Give us strength to keep moving forward by faith and using what You’ve given us for Your glory. We want what happened in the upper room to happen again today. We want to be Your hands and feet to spread the gospel to a world in need. Please help us Father! We long to finish the work so we can go home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.