“First, read the Word of God. Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you. Third believe the Word of God. Fourth, act on the Word.” – Smith Wigglesworth
Filled with compassion for the sick, Smith Wigglesworth gathered the sick week after week and transported them all the way down to the Leeds Healing Service, paying for their fare with the money he made as a plumber. This was his way of helping. An illiterate, untrained man, he was happy to help bring the sick to those who could minister to them. Although this didn’t keep him from speaking his mind. He would often criticize the healing service leaders because they wore glasses. He would ask them, “Why do you wear glasses if you believe in Divine Healing?” Despite Wigglesworth’s sometimes cantankerous nature, the Healing Service leaders appreciated his heart for the sick and needy.
One week, Wigglesworth was approached by the leaders of the Healing Service. They told him that they would all be out of town the next week and they wanted Wigglesworth to conduct the service. “I couldn’t conduct a healing service,” he said. “We have no one else,” they replied. A thought donned on Wigglesworth. All he would have to do was organize the meeting; he could always find someone to speak. “Plenty of people know how to talk,” he reasoned.
The following week the place was packed with people. As Wigglesworth searched for someone to speak, everyone responded with the same statement, “No, you have been chosen and you must do it.” Out of time and with no one else to speak, Wigglesworth took the podium. He didn’t remember what he spoke about, but after he was done sharing, 15 people lined up to receive prayer for healing. One man had come all the way from Scotland and struggled to stand up on his crutches. Wigglesworth prayed for him and the man was instantly healed! No one in the room was more surprised by these results than Wigglesworth himself. How had God just used his hands to heal this man? The healing sparked faith in the room and the remaining 14 people were all miraculously and fully healed. This humble moment began the powerful healing ministry of the man known as the “Apostle of Faith”.
Born into a very poor family in England in 1859, Smith Wigglesworth was forced to work 12 hours a day picking and cleaning turnips at the young age of six to help provide for the family. Saved at the age of eight while accompanying his grandmother to a Wesleyan Methodist service, Wigglesworth immediately became a soul-winner by leading his mother to the Lord. At the age of 16, he joined the work of the Salvation Army in his hometown of Bradford. Moved with compassion for the lost, Wigglesworth began to fast and pray weekly. He and the Salvation Army members would often spend entire nights praying for the lost. They would pray for the salvation of 50 to 100 souls each week. Week after week their prayers were answered as many were saved.
Wigglesworth moved to Liverpool to be a plumber when he was 20 and began to surround himself with scores of ragged and hungry children. Although he made good money, he spent all he had to buy food for the children. These children became his congregation and he would hold weekly meetings with them. Wigglesworth said, “I fasted all day every Sunday and prayed, and I never remember seeing less than fifty souls saved by the power of God in the meetings with the children, in the hospitals, on the ships, and in the Salvation Army. These were the days of great soul awakening.”
One day, later in his life, the Lord spoke to Wigglesworth and said, “I want you to go raise Lazarus.” Lazarus was an invalid that Wigglesworth had heard of who lived in another city and had been bedridden and spoon-fed for six years after falling ill from his work in a tin mine. This man’s body was in full decay and there seemed to be no life or hope left in him. Wigglesworth left to go raise him up.
Upon arriving, Wigglesworth was met by a dark gloom of unbelief. Nearly everyone in the village had given up on Lazarus, including Lazarus himself. Wigglesworth searched to find another six people with any level of faith who would join him in praying for Lazarus’ healing. In telling of this account, Wigglesworth said, “It will never do to give way to human opinions. If God says a thing, you have to believe it. I told the people that I would not eat anything that night. When I got to bed it seemed as if the devil tried to place on me everything that he had placed on that poor man in the bed. When I awoke I had a cough and all the weakness of a tubercular subject. I rolled out of bed on to the floor and cried out to God to deliver me from the power of the devil. I shouted loud enough to wake everybody in the house, but nobody was disturbed. God gave victory and I got back into bed again as free as ever I was in my life. At 5 o’clock the Lord awakened me and said to me, ‘Don’t break bread until you break it round My table.’ At 6 o’clock He gave me these words, ‘And I will raise him up.’ At 8 o’clock they said to me, ‘Have a little refreshment.’ But I have found prayer and fasting the greatest joy, and you will always find it so when you are led by God.”
Wigglesworth and the others went to Lazarus’ room, gathered round him, and began to pray, simply repeating the name of Jesus again and again. Five times the power of God fell on the room and then lifted. On the sixth time that it fell, Lazarus began to speak and repent for bitterness of heart and for grieving the Spirit of God. One final time the power of God fell and Lazarus was fully healed! He got up, dressed himself, came downstairs and from that day forward began to boldly proclaim what the Lord had done for him. Word spread throughout the countryside of his healing and many were saved, for Lazarus had been sick for six years. This is just one of many remarkable accounts of healing that God performed through the life of Smith Wigglesworth.
Wigglesworth lived until the age of 87 and traveled the world ministering with a powerful gift of healing. His life and ministry were marked by an unyielding faith. He said, “I am not moved by what I see. I am moved only by what I believe.” If ever Wigglesworth felt himself straying from his faith or declining in his fire, he would fast and pray until he regained it. His great faith in God led to seeing 14 dead people raised to life, many multitudes healed and saved, and millions touched by his ministry. He was an inspiration for the healing evangelists who followed, such as T.L. Osborn.
For stories of more great spiritual fathers from the United Kingdom who fasted and prayed, look into the lives of John Wesley, George Whitefield, Charles Spurgeon, Rees Howells, Hudson Taylor, and so many others whose lives were marked by fasting and prayer.