John Hyde & The Sialkot Revival







John Hyde 







Mag. Claudia R. Wintoch





Revival History

J.D. King





World Revival School of Ministry

Fall Trimester 2001



1. Introduction


2. Years Of Preparation


3.  First Stirrings Of Revival


4. The Sialkot Revival Starts


5. The Second Sialkot Convention


6. Guided By Holy Spirit


7. Manifestations Of The Spirit


8. The Revival Continues And Ends


9. Conclusion


10. References
1. Introduction


In 1892 young seminary graduate John Hyde from Illinois embarked on a ship to go to the mission field of India. He was taking his brother’s place, who had died, and he had prepared himself well, even starting to learn one of the Indian languages. And yet, when he was given a letter from an admired family friend who wrote that John had to be filled with the Holy Spirit, his pride was touched and he reacted in anger. After a few days of battling it through, John had to admit that this friend was right and surrendered to God, saying

“At last, in a kind of despair, I asked the Lord to fill me with the Holy Spirit, and the moment I did this, the whole atmosphere seemed to clear up. I began to see myself, and what a selfish ambition I had. […] I was determined […] that whatever would be the cost, I would be really filled with the Spirit. […] I was willing even to fail in my language examinations in India, and be a missionary working quietly out of sight, […] I would do anything and be anything, but the Holy Spirit I would have at any cost.” (Carré 19??:73f)


This set the stage for the man who would become God’s primary vessel in the Sialkot revival which touched thousands and thousands of lives in India and abroad.


2. Years Of Preparation


Hyde had been praying for years, as God took him deeper and deeper into intercession. From the beginning he devoted more time to Bible study and prayer than language study which cost him a rebuke from his superiors and harmed his language studies, in addition to his hearing impairment. Hyde, not seeing much fruit of his laborers, came to the point of sending his letter of resignation. However, the villagers also wrote a letter, saying “If he never speaks the language of our lips, he speaks the language of our hearts.” (Miller 1943:23) and so he stayed, going even deeper into prayer. He was greatly disturbed by not seeing people saved and was seeking God for the reasons. Holy Spirit then began to reveal to him that the “life of the church was far below Bible standards” (Clark 2000). In 1899 he started spending whole nights in prayer, forgetting about food or sleep, after an incident which he describes the following way:

“Some time ago I was asked to speak at a Bible school one morning, and had no time for preparation. So I remained up all night to prepare the message. The next day I thought that since I had spent a night in getting the message ready, there was need of getting myself ready also. And would not a night of prayer and praise be a good preparation for a real blessing the following day? This was the Holy Spirit’s suggestion, and I remained in prayer that whole night. Enjoying it so much, I repeated it the following night.” (Miller 1943:58)


Hyde was to become God’s main instrument of revival in the Punjab region in India. He became known as “Praying Hyde”, “the Apostle of Prayer” and “the man that never sleeps”. However, for a long time he was not understood by his fellow missionaries who believed him to be “fanatical and extreme, yet [he] was willing to be called crazy and face this religious opposition.” (Clark 2000). Like in any revival, God’s chosen servant had to face those issues and people and yet, no bad word would ever come out of John’s mouth.


3.  First Stirrings Of Revival


John truly was a forerunner, far ahead in time. Before the Pentecostal revival had even started, he wrote home in 1900, saying that “the new century would be a time of Pentecostal power and  a double portion of the Holy Spirit would be poured out. […] He saw a full apostolic Christianity restored to the church. […] that a great revival would occur after an understanding of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” (Clark 2000).

Early in 1904, a revival broke out in the girls’ school, with many girls publicly confessing sins and accepting Jesus. The revival spread to the near-by theological seminary and of the Indian students there decided to visit the boys’ school to see the revival spread. However, they were turned away, being accused of emotionalism – another trait of true revival. Shortly after, Dr. W.B. Anderson became the new dean of the school and called for a prayer meeting for India, which took place in Sialkot in April of that year. Not many gathered, among those John Hyde, one of the leading forces and an inspiration in prayer, and other leaders that later played important roles, like McCheyne Peterson, George Turner and Alice McClure. The Punjab Prayer Union was formed, an important key to the coming revival, and all members signed the following five questions, dedicating themselves to them:

“1. Are you praying for quickening in your own life, in the life of your fellow workers, and in the Church?

2. Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power?

3. Will you pray that you may not be ashamed of Jesus?

4. Do you believe that prayer is the great means for securing this spiritual awakening?

5. Will you set apart one-half hour each day as soon after noon as possible to pray for this awakening, and are you willing to pray till the awakening comes?” (Miller 1943:49)


A call went throughout India to gather at Sialkot in August for a convention. Thirty days before its start, Hyde and Paterson started praying day and night, being joined by Turner on the tenth day. At that time they heard about the revival in Wales, which increased their prayers even more, as they believed God for the same in India. The results were tremendous as God heard from heaven and answered their cries for revival.

“I am assured that tens of thousands have been born in to the kingdom because of the soul travail at Sialkot. Myriads will one day rise up to thank God that two or three men in North India in the name of Jehovah said, ‘Let us have a convention at Sialkot!’” (Miller 1943:60)



4.  The Sialkot Revival Starts


Hyde’s foremost concern for the convention was continual prayer. For that reason two prayer rooms were set up, one for men and one for women. Someone was always in there, praying and worshiping around the clock. John Hyde usually spent most of his time in there, his bed remaining untouched. John’s dedicated prayer life convicted many missionaries and Indians alike. One Indian minister said: “When I see this man from another country so burdened for my people, I feel ashamed when I think how little I am doing for my own flesh and blood.” (Miller 1943:51). Those people were the ones who then carried the fire all over India. Seeking Indians were drawn to the prayer rooms and to Hyde, and one after the other would get saved.

“As a personal worker he would engage a man in a talk about his salvation. By and by he would have his hands on the man’s shoulders, be looking him very earnestly in the eye. Soon he would get the man on his knees, confessing his sins and seeking salvation. Such a one he would baptize in the village, by the roadside, or anywhere.” (McGaw 1970:46)


John himself was transformed at this first convention – he found a new communion with his Lord, the word was opened up to him and God enabled him to speak like never before. His only concern was serving his Lord and being His vessel.

When we keep near to Jesus it is He who draws souls to Himself through us, but He must be lifted up in our lives; that is, we must be crucified with Him. It is self in some shape that comes between us and Him, so self must be dealt with as He was dealt with. Self must be crucified. Then indeed Christ is lifted up in our lives, and He cannot fail to attract souls to Himself. All this is the result of a close union and communion, that is fellowship with Him in His sufferings. (McGaw 1970:49f.)


One night at this first convention, he was asked to speak. He came later while the man were already singing, sat down and was silent. Finally he got up confessing that he had battled with God who had told him to testify about what He had done in his life. Finally he had given in, and now he started sharing and confessing the things he had battled with in his life. Then he called for prayer and the Spirit of God fell convicting many of their sins who started confessing them aloud, crying and shouting for mercy.

The confession of sins went on and wasn’t received very well by everyone. However, Holy Spirit moved also on those who were opposed – probably a result of Hyde’s unceasing prayers.

“The victory of the Sialkot meetings was not won in the pulpit but in the closet. Often the glory rested on these meetings in a mighty way, while hidden, out of sight, John Hyde and a faithful few travailed in prayer.” (Smithers)



5. The Second Sialkot Convention


The first convention in 1904 really was a foretaste of what was to come the following year. During that year fruit of the Sialkot revival could be seen everywhere, especially by increased prayer activity and Indians getting saved. People longed to see that second convention surpass the first one. God spoke Isaiah 62:6-7 to his servant John Hyde: I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth, which became his moving force.

A few weeks before the second convention, they held a prayer meeting where the Holy Spirit moved in power, giving visions to many, showing them “how His heart was still made to bleed by His children when they were not fully consecrated to Him, and when they were not filled to overflowing with His Spirit.” (Miller 1943:67).

Dr. Pengwern Jones was the first speaker at that convention, speaking on Can God trust you?. Again, conviction fell as the Holy Spirit came down, people confessing their sins and others meeting Jesus for the first time. “Missionaries who until then had been accounted ‘good missionaries’, from then on became powerful missionaries.” (Miller 1943:64). Whole nights were spent in prayer and praise, the mission and church being changed forever. John Hyde was scheduled to speak on the Holy Spirit in the morning meetings, yet he only spoke once as the Holy Spirit took over the other meetings. John had prayed that God would reveal Himself and conceal the speaker. He often asked ministers, “Is the Spirit first in your pulpits?”, demonstrating himself what that meant.


6. Guided By Holy Spirit


John’s life was marked by complete surrender and obedience to Holy Spirit. Once he had preached twice at a convention, the second time on “Be filled with the Spirit”. While he was prepared to do the other meetings he refused to do so since “these must not be given until the challenge of the first address was fully accepted and the Holy Spirit had been given His rightful place in the lives of those who had heard.” (Miller 1943:71). John was often criticized and yet, his church was “the strongest spiritually and in the matter of witnessing and giving of its substance for evangelism” (Miller 1943:72).

During the second convention, a great deal of dissension was stirred up as “the Evil One made a desperate attempt to destroy the whole work” (Carré 19??:97). The objectors were annoyed by the confession of sins and demanded from the committee to stop that, one young even threatening to  “smash the whole convention” (Miller 1943:73). “These men would not pray, and said that it was useless to pray until the question had been decided.” (Carré 19??:97). The committee decided to let Holy Spirit do His work and some of these men finally responded positively to God’s conviction.


7. Manifestations Of The Spirit


We can see hints of the outward manifestations of the Spirit occurring at the revival meetings, However, since the revival took place in the Presbyterian church, we can assume that much was not written down or lost. As in other revivals people were trembling: “Others, as they arose to speak, trembled as hidden sins were brought to light.” (Miller 1943:66) and falling to the ground: “Before the meeting was over, the Indian translator, overcome by his feelings and overpowered by the Spirit of God, failed to go on, and another had to take his place.” (Carré 19??:69). John Hyde himself was very acquainted with holy laughter and dance, which also occurred in the meetings: “Mouths were filled with laughter and song. Then it was that we began to realize what it is ‘to joy in the Holy Ghost’.” (Miller 1943:66). “This time some shouted for joy, and others like David danced before the Lord.” (Miller 1943:74). After John was done praying, “he would clap his hands, dance, shout and was often filled with holy laughter.” (Clark 2000). The Holy Spirit was a constant guest where John Hyde was speaking. On one occasion, after a victory of obedience, John

entered the hall with great joy … he spoke three words in Urdu and three in English, repeating them three times […] ‘O Heavenly Father’. What followed who can describe. It was as if a great ocean came sweeping into that assembly, and ‘suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.’ Hearts were bowed before the divine presence as trees […] before a mighty tempest.” (Miller 1943:78) (emphasis mine)


Visions were given frequently, sometimes accompanied by trance-like states: “Some of the Indian girls, after making confession of their sins, would enter into a semi-trance, so customary among the Indian religious leaders, during which time they reported to have seen heaven, the angels, and Christ in the glory world.” (Miller 1943:81).

In 1907 a plague swept over India and John was confronted with divine healing, believing His word that the sick would recover. “I have seen remarkable answers to prayer of the recovery of people from the plague, […] Jesus is living and can bring and remove pestilence.” (Miller 1943:83).


8. The Revival Continues And Ends


Missionaries and Indian workers returned to their posts with new fire and power, starting revival fires wherever they went. In 1909 two missionaries write:

“Each year since 1905, the Sialkot convention has been the occasion for fresh baptisms of the Spirit unto sanctification, unto prayer, unto praise and service. The influence has been felt in every part of the mission field. Recent conventions, far from losing their power, have gained in actual power, even where the manifestations were neither so unusual or so dramatic. Thus the Great Builder of the kingdom, having granted numerical successes, poured out His Spirit upon the rapidly growing Church, that its life might be purified and it might enjoy spiritual power in its expanded activities.” (Miller 1943:75).


In 1908 Hyde started seeing more and more fruit from his labors in prayer. His agony for the lost increased so that his heart-cry became “Father, give me these souls or I die!” (McGaw 1970:43). It was also at that time that John started praying for a certain number of people being saved through him daily – first one, then two, then four. Often, many more would find Jesus, but if the number prayed for was not received,

“at night there would be such a weight on his heart that it was positively painful, and he could not eat nor sleep. Then in prayer he would ask his Lord to show him what was the obstacle in him to his blessing. He invariably found that it was the want of praise in his life… and as he praised God souls would come to him, and the numbers lacking would be made up. (McGaw 1970:53f)


In 1911 John Hyde started his journey back to America. His heart, worn out by endless hours of intercession, had moved to the right side of his body and he desperately needed some rest and medical attention. It is not clear when the revival started to ebb off and why. Could they not maintain the intense prayer they had learned from John Hyde? One missionary states, “We ought to have emphasized the lesson of obedience more than we did. I believe it was want of obedience that grieved the Holy Spirit and stopped that revival.” (Miller 1943:70).


9. Conclusion


John Hyde was called of God to be His major instrument of revival to India. And John was willing to pay the price, lay down his own life so that God’s kingdom could come in power in India. Truly this man of God entered into the sufferings of Christ, dying at the age of 47 from the effects of his intense life of intercession without food or sleep. He rather gave his life than see people perish eternally. While John was very focused on the salvation of the lost, his passion was also to see the church restored to its full power, so that God would be honored. His prayer life became an inspiration for many, calling many into a deeper and more dedicated life in Christ. Countless ministers were revived and empowered from on high, carrying revival fire all over India and the world. The Sialkot revival still continued after John’s death in 1912; yet he truly was the one that played a major part in it. Where would India be today had John Hyde not followed the call to India? There’s much to learn from his life, about the power of prayer and complete consecration and obedience to God. May we follow his footsteps, as watchmen on the wall, so that the kingdom of God can come to all nations. Let’s join with John Hyde’s last words on his death bed: “Shout the victory of Jesus Christ.”



10. References


Carré, E.G., Praying Hyde, Pickering & Inglis: London 19??


Clark, Jonas, Praying John Hyde. Apostle to India,, 2000


John Hyde,


John N. Hyde,


McGaw, Francis, John Hyde, Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis, MN, 1923 [1970]


Miller, Basil, Praying Hyde, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1897 [1943]


Smithers, David, John Hyde. Prayer Makes History,