A long time ago, I read a biography of Hudson Taylor, although I must admit that I don't remember much of it. One thing does stand out to me, though, that I never forgot, and that was his prayer life. Whether he was in England, where he was born and raised, or China, where he spent most of his life and died, his existence was focused on prayer. He said that he resolved "to move man, through God, by prayer alone," even practicing this discipline in prayer for his boss to remember to pay him his salary. Time and time again the Lord answered, fulfilling one of Taylor's favorite promises in John 14:13, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
Hudson's mother found this verse while praying for the salvation of her son, and began rejoicing in the fact that Hudson was saved two weeks before she confirmed this. She rejoiced because she knew; she believed the promise Jesus spoke, that whatever we ask in His name, that He will do.
I want to include the following story I read about Hudson to highlight an important point that I am learning right now:
On January 20, 1858, Hudson Taylor married Maria Dyer, a missionary located at Ningpo. In the summer of 1867 their little Gracie, eight years old, idol of their hearts, fell critically ill. A few days earlier Gracie saw a man making an idol. "Oh, Papa," she exclaimed seriously, "he doesn't know about Jesus or he would never do that! Won't you tell him?" He did so, the little girl following with eager interest. Later on she prayed most earnestly for the idol maker and for all the idol-making, idol-worshiping Chinese.
Just a week later Gracie was dying. Their loss was overwhelming and the tempter whispered, "Your God has forsaken you." But the father wrote a few weeks later: "Our dear little Gracie! How we miss her sweet voice ... and the sparkle of those bright eyes. But He who said, 'I will never leave thee,' is with us ... nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ."
Excerpt from this biography.
I am afraid that we often read John 14:13 and we interpret it naively to think that whatever we ask in His name, He will do. But isn't that the promise? Yes. It is the promise. But the promise is fulfilled when "the Father is glorified in the Son" through whatever He does. Hudson Taylor knew this, for while I'm sure he prayed fervently for the health of his Gracie, and I'm sure he believed with all of his heart that the Lord heard him and would answer, He knew something of even greater importance. Nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ. Nothing! His trust was not in the prayer that he was waiting to be answered. His trust was in the glory of God!
What a testimony of faith. To pray with complete confidence, not in the response, but in the responder. For nothing can ever substitute for the Presence of Christ, not even an answered prayer.