In the battlefields of the spiritual world the true heroes are often the unseen by the world. These are the ones often touched by heaven, who breathe the rarified air of the secret place of the Most High. Such a one was Father Nash a partner to the much better known evangelist Charles Finney during the Second Great Awakening.
Daniel Nash started as a preacher in upstate New York. His record there is singularly unremarkable. At age 48 he decided to give himself totally to prayer for Finney’s meetings. Nash would come quietly into towns three or four weeks in advance of a meeting, gather three or four other like minded Christians with him and in a rented room start praying and bringing heaven near. It is reported that in one town all he could find was a dank, dark cellar, but that place was soon illumined with holy light as he made it the place of intercession. In another place as Finney relates:
When I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, “Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven’t eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn’t know what to do. Would you please come see about them?”
“No it isn’t necessary,” I replied. “They just have a spirit of travail in prayer.”
When the public meetings started Father Nash would not usually attend but kept praying in his closet for the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to fall on the crowd and melt their hearts. When opposition arose Father Nash would pray all the harder.
Once a group of young men promised to break up the meetings, Nash was praying nearby and came out of the shadows to announce: “Now mark me, young men! God will break your ranks in less than one week, either by converting some of you, or by sending some of you to hell. He will do this certainly as the Lord is my God!”
Finney thought his friend had lost his sense. But by next Tuesday morning the leader of the group suddenly showed up, confessed his sinful attitude before Finney and accepted Christ. “What shall I do Mr. Finney?” he asked. Finney told him to go back to his companions and tell them how Christ had changed his life. Before that week was out nearly all of the original group had come to Christ.
In 1826 both Finney and Nash were burnt in effigy. The enemy recognized the threat of Father Nash’s prayers to their ways of wickedness.
Shortly before Nash died in 1831 he wrote:
I am now convinced, it is my duty and privilege, and the duty of every other Christian, to pray for as much of the Holy Spirit as came down on the day of Pentecost, and a great deal more….My body is in pain, but I am happy in my God…..I have only just begun to understand what Jesus meant when he said, “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
It is interesting to note that within four months of Father Nash’s death Finney left the evangelistic field to take a Church in New York City. His prayer partner in taking the enemy by storm was gone. He whose prayers and been the strength of the campaigns was now in his eternal home and the loss of power was felt.
Father Nash’s grave is in a neglected cemetery almost on the border of Canada in northern New York.
The tombstone reads:
Laborer with Finney
Mighty in Prayer
Nov. 17, 1775 – Dec. 20, 1831
Daniel Nash was not written up in the papers of the day. The elite of his day took no notice of him. There was notice in Heaven of this humble man. Like Paul, the demons knew him by reputation. In his heart dwelt fully the burning Spirit of God. Great is his reward in Heaven.
People of God, can we do any less that to burn with such a passion to see God’s Kingdom advanced!