Home > Bible Study, Collateral Studies, Prayer > How to Pray for an Hour a Day- Dr. Mike Johnston

How to Pray for an Hour a Day- Dr. Mike Johnston

Dr. Mike Johnston

 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).


I’m preparing this tract for my evangelist, pastor and teacher students to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us (2 Thessalonians 3:9). As I write this tract, I’m asking the Lord for a group of His choice faithful men who will not only read it but will sense the prompting of the Holy Spirit to join me as watchmen on the wall every morning. And while my hope is for all to participate, I’m realist enough to admit that most won’t. The devil will tell them this road is too difficult,  too confining, and too time-consuming, and that they can do just fine by praying less and working more. Hear me friend! If that reflects your thinking, I urge you please- with all due respect- to find employment in the secular world. Frankly, after thirty years of ministry I can tell you with every confidence that any ministry operating outside of prayer and the ministry of the Word is headed for shipwreck.




I use a praise and prayer list to help me remember

  • There is much to be thankful, praise, and pray for. I don’t want to miss offering them to our Precious Lord
  • Base your life, ministry, and all of your prayers on the Word of God and you’ll operate in the Will of God.
  • Present yourself as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2, and keep your mind (heart) pure (Phil. 4:8)
  • Remembering the details requires that you adopt a recall “system” that works for you
    • Write your praise notes and requests on a card, or
    • Get a spiral prayer notebook, or do as I have done,
    • Memorize them using a system of recall I’ll discuss momentarily [you will notice that I use a lot of alliteration which helps me remember key areas of intercessory focus]


I begin early- 4:00-5:00 am AND I pray for at least an hour every day!

  • I’m always up early- 7 days a week- between 4 and 5 am. Lingering in bed longer squanders my time with Jesus! He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster (Proverbs 18:9)
  • I make coffee while praying, praising my Lord, confessing my sin, and giving God thanks for Who He is and all He has done
  • I get to my office where I walk, talk, listen, praise, confess, listen, talk, listen, sit, talk, praise, confess
  • Prayer is foremost on my mind and even after my hour+ of morning prayer, I am in the attitude of prayer day and night (1 Thess. 5:17)! At mid day the Lord may remind me of something that I stop to pray for. While driving my truck (which now has no radio) I’m praying. If I get up in the middle of the night, I’m praising and praying. In fact, I’m praying as I type this for you!! Pray, pray, pray- always!!


The following can be arranged according to the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Be flexible and willing to change as He directs your thinking (Phil. 4:8).




Include confession, thanksgiving, worship, and praise. Let Him know you love Him!

Confession: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession (Dan 9:4). Thank You for dying on the cross and shedding Your precious blood for me and my family Lord. Please be merciful to me a sinner. I love You Lord Jesus!! Please forgive me Lord for . . .


Thanksgiving and praise: Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name (Psalms 100:4)


I praise and worship You, Lord Jesus. Thank You and bless You for Your love, joy, peace . . .  [I quote Gal. 5:22-23 to Him]. Praise You for Your Providence, protection, provisions, promises and purposes. Praise You Lord that Thou art gracious, kind, loving, merciful, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, immutable, and transcendent, holy, righteous, perfect, glorious, true, and just. Praise You for Heaven and Hell.


I praise and worship You, Lord Jesus. Thank You and bless You for my family, and our faith, faithfulness, favor, forgiveness, finances, and our future in Heaven with You. Thank You Father for selecting me, Thank You Lord Jesus for saving me, and thank You Holy Spirit for sealing me- and my family. Praise You for all that Thou has done and all that Thou art doing- in my life, my family, friends, and around the world. Thank You for loving us, and caring for us, for Your so great salvation and forgiveness Lord. Thank You for our holiness, health, home, our finances, our food, heat, shelter, clothing, our vehicles [detail  your thankfulness].



I pray for an hour or more every morning- then continue throughout the day


Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day (1 Kings 8:28).


For each of the following [and I name as many as possible] I ask the Lord for their salvation, sanctification, service, safety, and spiritual sensitivity. That Thou might draw, drive, or drag them to Christ. That Thou might give each of these a hunger and thirst for Thy Word, Thy righteousness, and Thyself.


IMPORTANT: Be Scriptural! Base your prayers on the Word of God and you’ll be praying in the Will of God! Be sensitive! The Holy Spirit will burden you to pray for specific things not be on your list.

FAMILY: [this is an exact sampling and includes much of the exact language typical in my praying] I pray for my family; our faith, faithfulness, and favor, forgiveness, finances and future.


I pray for my wife: Thank You Lord for Ann; for our love for You, each other, and our family. Thank You for the favor Thou hast shown to us and the way Thou has provided for us all these years. I pray that Thou might continue to bless our home, holiness, healing; for traveling mercies . . .


[Even if not included in write-up below, whenever I pray for family and friends, I ask God to draw, drive, or drag them to Christ. I include a prayer for their salvation, sanctification, service, safety, and spiritual sensitivity asking the Lord to give them a hunger and thirst for His Word, His Righteousness, and Himself].


I pray for our children: I pray for children, grand children, brothers and their wives and children all by name; asking the Lord for their salvation, sanctification, service, safety, and spiritual sensitivity. I pray for their mates, their friends, and their family’s salvation. [We learned long ago that who our children hung around with would influence their decisions- so we have made it a habit to pray for their friends’ salvation, too]


I pray for moms, dads, grandparents: ours were saved and are in Heaven now.


I pray for uncles, aunts, cousins and any distant or unknown relatives [I pray by first name for those I know and in a generality by last name for those I don’t know. This includes relatives with my last name, my wife’s maiden name, my mother’s maiden name, grandmother’s maiden name- it becomes quite extensive and yet God honors prayer so do it beloved]! Lord Jesus, please compel these souls to come to Thee.


FRIENDS: I have a list of friends and their children I pray daily for by name. I pray for a hunger for God and His Word; I name their children and pray for their salvation, sanctification, service, safety, and spiritual sensitivity and for their mates, friends, and their family’s salvation.


AMERICA: Pray for America to get back to the Bible, and the faith of our Founders; pray for a revival of righteousness and a hunger for holiness. Pray for the offices of the President, Vice President, Cabinet, Staff, Advisers, Legislators, Supreme Court Justices, and the Judicial System. Pray for local, state, and national leaders. Pray Christ-honoring men and women will be elected to office to enact and enforce Christ-honoring legislation. [IMPORTANT: this is vital to America’s future as a nation and in our role in world affairs. Our Holy God cannot- and will not- bless a nation filled with unrighteous leaders who are passing ordinances of the Amorites; ie abortion and sodomy laws- see Gen. 15:16; Lev. 18; 20] [1]


ISRAEL: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee (Psalms 122:6). I pray Lord for Thy people Israel, for the peace of Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Knesset, and the Jewish People. Pray that Thou might bless Israel to be a blessing. I pray for Jews to make aliyah to Israel (the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel). I pray for Thy providence, protection, provisions, promises, and purposes for Israel. Please give her protection and favor around the world. I pray for millions of Jews to come to Christ. [I have several ministries to Jews I pray for, asking God to bless and use them in evangelism, equipping, encouraging, and enabling ministries for Christ]. Support Israel and pray for Jews. God will bless you (Gen. 12:1-3).


ISLAMISTS: Lord I pray that those who are shackled to and blinded by Islam- especially terrorists and their leaders- that they will sense their emptiness and will repent and come to Christ. I pray for brothers Yosef, Rezza, and Walid [all were associated with terrorist organizations]; that Thou might bless them with Your Providence, protection, provisions, promises and purposes, and that Thou might give them souls for their labors.


PMI: I pray for Promise Ministries, the PMI Center for Biblical Studies, and Calvary Christian College and Seminary. Pray for your church, pastor, and the people to hunger for God! I pray for evangelism, equipping, encouraging, and enabling ministries to train evangelists, pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:11-12). I ask Lord that I might be a wise and faithful steward over my relationships, resources, and responsibilities Thou hast given me. I ask for Thy Word, wisdom, will and words in all my research, reading, and writing projects. I pray for prisons, prisoners, and pastors, chapels, chaplains, and assistants, guards, wardens, workers, and administrators; for local, state, and national prison boards and parole boards. I pray for all of our letters, tracts, books, booklets, Bibles, and courses- that Thou might quicken the truths and convict the hearts of all who read our letters and literature and that Thou might give all of them a safe and clear passage through the post offices, mail carriers, and mail rooms to get them into the hands and the hearts of the men and women that need them; that Thou might change their lives so they can change their world.


I pray for all of our Students: Lord, Your Word says- Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). I pray for past, present, and future students [approx 26,000] that Dad and I have ever influenced or ever will influence for Thee- that Thou might draw, drive, or drag them to Christ and to faithfulness to Thy Word, Thy righteousness, and Thyself and that they might be faithful to their studies, their promised support of PMI, and to the ministry for which Thou hast called them to.  I pray for our all of our free world and fenced world students in our Foundations Studies, Biblical Studies, Ministry, Prophecy, Rel. Ed., Scofield, and Theology Studies. Please give me preachers, teachers, expositors, and scholars of Thy Holy Word.


I pray for all of our Supporters: Lord, Your Word says- Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38). [since we rely on tithes and offerings committed by students and others, I pray for specific amounts of money to meet our growing needs for Bibles, printing, postage, and much more]. Lord, please bless the gifts and the givers, those we support and those who support us.


I pray for all of our Soul Winners: Lord, Your Word says- He that winneth souls is wise . . . And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Proverbs 11:30; Daniel 12:3). I pray for souls, soul winners, disciples and disciplers; I ask You Lord to bless our PMI Associate Evangelists Lord with faith and faithfulness, [2] that Thou might give them wisdom to see divine appointments for Sharing Jesus, and that Thou might give them souls for their labors. [I’m asking God for 300 of these trained and licensed men]. I pray for the souls that have come to Christ over the past few years of PMI Associate Evangelist ministry: for the 411 in 2008, 1225 in 2009; 1373 in 2010; and for 2000 in 2011 (1785 thus far); and for a yet undisclosed number for years future.


OTHERS: I pray Jeff and Tammy at Good Shepherd’s Printing Service [they provide us with excellent service and support]. [3] Thou might give them good paying jobs, good paying customers, and good faithful employees- to Jesus and bro Jeff. I also pray for the Fannin family. I pray for Oxford providing our Old Scofield Study Bibles, I pray for fundamentalism and fundamentalists around the world that are contending for the faith (Jude 1:3); etc.


I pray for other prison ministries: For the International Prison Ministry; the Network of Prison Ministries; for Coalition of Prison Evangelists (COPE). Thou might bless them according to Your will and Your Word.


 I pray for our Ministry Associates: I pray for their ministries, mission, message, money, and manpower needed to help them evangelize equip and encourage millions around the world. I pray for Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe, Prophecy in the News (Gary Stearman); Southwest Radio Church (Noah Hutchings and Larry Spargimino); e-Sword [Bible study and research program I use];  Sword of the Lord (for Dr. Shelton Smith). I pray the same for creation apologist ministries: Answers in Genesis (Dr. Ken Ham); Creation Science Evangelism (the Hovind’s); and the Institute for Creation Research (the Morris family). Please bless them and give them souls Lord. I pray for my Alma mater (Bible college), the president of the school and every graduate- to be faithful in helping win the world to Christ.


I pray for prisoners, pastors, and people around the world that are serving or suffering for Thee Lord. That Thou might give them courage and comfort. [I’m currently praying for an incarcerated pastor to be released from Iranian prison whose only crime is converting to Christ]


I pray for End Times oriented ministries that I follow: Lord please bless these men with Issachar insights- Dr. John McTernan and Geoffrey Grider [authors, bloggers, and radio hosts], David Reagan, Donald Perkins, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, Joel Rosenberg, Lion and Lamb, Mark Hitchcock, Mike Hoggard, Tim LaHaye, Tommy Ice, and a few more.


MISC: I pray for all other people, places, and things that the Holy Spirit lays on my heart.


I CONTINUE THROUGHOUT THE DAY: Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I understand my responsibility to pray doesn’t end here. I remain in the spirit and in the attitude of prayer throughout the day, and as the Lord burdens my heart to pray for specific needs as they arise- I obey Him and bring them before Him.



I read through the Bible every year from cover to cover


Bible Study: I can’t tell you how important it is to know the Word of God. This is how you order your life, ministry, and prayers. After an extensive prayer time, I ask the Lord to Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Psalms 119:18). Lord, I ask Thee for 300 men totally committed to prayer and the ministry of the Word every morning, reading through the Bible every year.

  • I read the Bible through from cover to cover at least one time every year. I use the PMI Thru the Bible in a Year schedule [you may request one from us].
  • I read through Proverbs every month by reading the chapter corresponding to the date. Example, today is the 17th of the month, so I read Proverbs chapter 17. Tomorrow I’ll read chapter 18, etc.
  • I often study another Book of the Bible, such as Ephesians (chapter per day for 6 days) repeated over a month or two along with my other daily reading. Then I choose another Book. [keep a pen and notepad close at hand for recording sermon seed ideas for tracts and booklets]
  • I also study to teach from my Old Scofield Study Bible notes. My students and I love these studies for their doctrinal soundness. [Getting an Old Scofield is another of the wisest decisions I’ve ever made].[4]
  • SIDE NOTE: I also read several Christian books per year and I subscribe to and read the Sword of the Lord which is filled with sermons, fundamentalist news, and lots of useable material for my writing projects and prayer.


WILL YOU MAKE THIS LIFE-CHANGING COMMITMENT to prayer, and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4)? If so, send me a note “I’m Committing To Prayer And To The Ministry Of The Word (ACTS 6:4)” as your opening sentence. I will then add your name to my growing list on the PMI website. However, let me be clear: I’m not looking for half-hearted decisions. I’m looking for whole-hearted disciples. More importantly, so is the Lord: When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee (Deuteronomy 23:21).


[1] Send for our tract called Amorite America

[2] These are men I have personally trained in evangelism using our Sharing Jesus course. If interested, please let me know. Once they’ve taken the course and have won a soul, we will issue them a License to Preach from PMI.

[3] WePrintForLess.com – 1019 West Main Street – Morehead, KY 40351 – 606.784.2858

[4] We have these Old Scofield Study Bibles in bonded leather, KJV, available for a gift to PMI of $30 to help us minister to you and others. Please remember, when you order from us, you help support us. Stamps are welcome.

  1. Jon
    September 3, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Since II Tim. 3:14 tells us to “vet” our teachers (“knowing of WHOM thou hast learned them”), you and your staff might be benefited by Googling “blah blah blah blah, etc” !

    • September 3, 2016 at 6:38 am

      Jon (je_third@hotmail.com) wrote: “Since II Tim. 3:14 tells us to “vet” our teachers (“knowing of WHOM thou hast learned them”), you and your staff might be benefited by Googling [“blah blah blah blah, etc”] !” MY EDIT IN [BRACKETS]

      I understand the dishonesty aspect perfectly since I was one of the scurrilous lying scoundrels years ago claiming the historic pre trib rapture Paul taught originated in 1830 from a vision given by a neurotic charismatic named Margaret MacDonald that actually turned out to be a warning with post tribulation rapture implications.

      I’m providing information from a website of integrity refuting the allegations made by anti-PreTrib contrarians who love to hate the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13):



      I’m now pleased to report after several decades of HONEST Bible study that the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s tribulation. To begin with, Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same. Neither are God’s plans for them. God’s plan for Israel concerns Christ returning to earth in a spectacular event called the Revelation – to inaugurate His Kingdom in Jerusalem (Matt. 24-25; Rev. 19-20. This plan was “spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21; see Luke 1:70). God’s plan for the Body of Christ is completely different. It concerns our heavenly inheritance, not an earthly kingdom. Jesus revealed this program to Paul only as a mystery “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25; see Eph. 3:3-9). In that it began as a mystery, it will likewise disappear in a mystery called the Rapture; an any moment event whereby Jesus returns for us in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-17), snatches us from earth, and takes us back to Heaven with Him (John 14:2-3) – when “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25). Then comes the time of Jacob’s trouble – aka tribulation.

      The tribulation – as it is most commonly known (Moses: Deut. 4:30; Jesus: Matt. 24:21, 29; John: Rev. 7:14) – is part of God’s earthly program for Israel. It is also called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15), Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Dan. 9:26-27), and “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10. It has no bearing on the Body of Christ, which will be gone before it begins. From the beginning it was prophesied to Israel (Deut. 4:30), and thus is primarily for Israel (Jer. 30-31; Dan. 12:1, Zeph. 1:15; Matt.24:21, 29). Its purpose is to punish sin and sinners (Jer. 30-31; Zeph. 1; Joel; Rev. 6-19), and prepare earth and Israel for the Revelation of the Messiah and the Jewish (Millennial) Kingdom promised to David in perpetuity through Covenant (2 Sam. 7:8-16), and sealed with an oath (Psa. 89:3-4, 20-37; see Luke1:31-33). While the prophets revealed the tribulation as a horrific but integral component in the Day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12, etc ), it was Daniel’s prophecy where its duration was revealed as the final week of seven years in his seventy week prophecy for Israel (Dan. 9:24-27; see Rev. 11:2-3; 12:14). To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15), the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev.3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). There isn’t a prophecy or a single verse anywhere in the Bible conclusively identifying the Body of Christ on earth during Israel’s tribulation without pulling from context and redefining the words “saints” and “elect” – which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation specifically refer to Israel. In light of these factors we are convinced that the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s tribulation!

    • September 3, 2016 at 7:19 am

      Jon (je_third@hotmail.com) wrote: “Since II Tim. 3:14 tells us to “vet” our teachers (“knowing of WHOM thou hast learned them”), you and your staff might be benefited by Googling [“blah blah blah blah, etc”] !” MY EDIT IN [BRACKETS]

      Jon, just so there’s no confusion here, I’m posting this – NOT for you since it appears false PreTrib propaganda has blinded you, but for those looking for truth to combat the false narrative created by you and your coterie of contrarians.

      The Big Lie
      One of the things that facilitated the Nazi rise to power in Germany earlier this century was their propaganda approach called ” The Big Lie.” If you told a big enough lie often enough then the people would come to believe it. This the Nazis did well. This is what anti-pretribulationists like John Bray[1] and Dave MacPherson[2] have done over the last 25 years. Apparently the big lie about the origins of the pre-trib rapture has penetrated the thinking of the late Robert Van Kampen[3] and Marvin Rosenthal to the extent that they have adopted such a falsehood as true. This is amazing in light of the fact that their own pre-wrath viewpoint is not much more than fifteen years old itself. Rosenthal must have changed his mind about pre-trib origins between the time he wrote his book The Pre-wrath Rapture of the Church (1990) and the recent article (Dec. 1994) since, in the former, he says that the pre-trib rapture ” can be traced back to John Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in the year 1830.” [4] Rosenthal goes on to say, ” Some scholars, seeking to prove error by association, have attempted (perhaps unfairly) to trace its origin back two years earlier to a charismatic, visionary woman named Margaret MacDonald.” [5] Even this statement is in error, since the Margaret Macdonald claim has always been related to 1830, not 1828. However, Rosenthal is correct in his original assessment that these charges are ” unfair” and probably spring out of a motive to ” prove error by association,” known as the ad hominem argument.

      Pretribulationists have sought to defend against ” The Big Lie” through direct interaction against the charges.[6] In a rebuttal to these charges I made in 1990, I gave two major reasons why ” The Big Lie” is not true. First, it is doubtful that Margaret Macdonald’ s ” prophecy” contains any elements related to the pre-trib rapture.[7] Second, no one has ever demonstrated from actual facts of history that Darby was influenced by Macdonald’ s ” prophecy” even if it had (which it did not) contained pre-trib elements.[8] John Walvoord has said,

      The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’ s claims has so little supporting evidence, despite his careful research, that one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face. Pretribulationalists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald or Irving originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.[9]

      There is a third reason why MacPherson’ s theory is wrong, Darby clearly held to an early form of the pre-trib rapture by January 1827. This is a full three years before MacPherson’ s claim of 1830.

      Darby and The Pre-Trib Rapture
      Brethren writer, Roy A. Huebner claims and documents his belief that J.N. Darby first began to believe in the pre-trib rapture and develop his dispensational thinking while convalescing from a riding accident during December 1826 and January 1827.[10] If this is true, then all of the origin-of-the-rapture-conspiracy-theories fall to the ground in a heap of speculative rubble. Darby would have at least a three-year jump on any who would have supposedly influenced his thought, making it impossible for all the ” influence” theories to have any credibility.

      Huebner provides clarification and evidence that Darby was not influenced by a fifteen-yea-old girl (Margaret Macdonald), Lacunza, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges which led to Darby’ s thought. Instead, he demonstrates that Darby’ s understanding of the pre-trib rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended.

      Darby’ s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts, says Huebner, were developed from the following factors: 1) ” he saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming . . . that Israel and the Church were distinct.” [11] 2) ” During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lord’ s return.” [12] 3) ” In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . ‘ the ruin of the Church.’ ” [13] 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827.[14] 5) Darby, himself, said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture ” thirty years ago.” ” With that fixed point of reference, Jan. 31, 1827,” declares Huebner, we can see that Darby ” had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation rapture hinges.” [15]

      German author Max S. Weremchuk has produced a major new biography on Darby entitled John Nelson Darby: A Biography.[16] He agrees with Huebner’ s conclusions concerning the matter. ” Having read MacPherson’ s book . . .” says Weremchuk, ” I find it impossible to make a just comparison between what Miss MacDonald ‘ prophesied’ and what Darby taught. It appears that the wish was the father of the idea.” [17]

      When reading Darby’ s earliest published essay on biblical prophecy (1829), it is clear that while it still has elements of historicism, it also reflects the fact that for Darby, the rapture was to be the church’ s focus and hope.[18] Even in this earliest of essays, Darby expounds upon the rapture as the church’ s hope.[19]

      Scholars Reject The Big Lie
      The various ” rapture origin” theories espoused by opponents of pre-tribulationism are not accepted as historically valid by scholars who have examined the evidence. The only ones who appear to have accepted these theories are those who already are opposed to the pre-trib rapture. A look at various scholars and historians reveals that they think, in varying degrees, that MacPherson has not proven his point. Most, if not all who are quoted below do not hold to the pre-trib rapture teaching. Ernest R. Sandeen declares,

      This seems to be a groundless and pernicious charge. Neither Irving nor any member of the Albury group advocated any doctrine resembling the secret rapture. . . . Since the clear intention of this charge is to discredit the doctrine by attributing its origin to fanaticism rather than Scripture, there seems little ground for giving it any credence.[20]

      Historian Timothy P. Weber’ s evaluation is a follows:

      The pretribulation rapture was a neat solution to a thorny problem and historians are still trying to determine how or where Darby got it. . . .

      A newer though still not totally convincing view contends that the doctrine initially appeared in a prophetic vision of Margaret Macdonald, . . .

      Possibly, we may have to settle for Darby’ s own explanation. He claimed that the doctrine virtually jumped out of the pages of Scripture once he accepted and consistently maintained the distinction between Israel and the church.[21]

      American historian Richard R. Reiter informs us that,

      [Robert] Cameron probably traced this important but apparently erroneous view back to S. P. Tregelles, . . . Recently more detailed study on this view as the origin of pretribulationism appeared in works by Dave McPherson, . . . historian Ian S. Rennie . . . regarded McPherson’ s case as interesting but not conclusive.[22]

      Posttribulationist William E. Bell asserts that,

      It seems only fair, however, in the absence of eyewitnesses to settle the argument conclusively, that the benefit of the doubt should be given to Darby, and that the charge made by Tregelles be regarded as a possibility but with insufficient support to merit its acceptance. . . . On the whole, however, it seems that Darby is perhaps the most likely choice- with help from Tweedy. This conclusion is greatly strengthened by Darby’ s own claim to have arrived at the doctrine through his study of II Thessalonians 2:1-2.[23]

      Pre-trib rapture opponent John Bray does not accept the MacPherson thesis either.

      He [Darby] rejected those practices, and he already had his new view of the Lord coming FOR THE SAINTS (as contrasted to the later coming to the earth) which he had believed since 1827, . . . It was the coupling of this ” 70th week of Daniel” prophecy and its futuristic interpretation, with the teaching of the ” secret rapture,” that gave to us the completed ” Pre-tribulation Secret Rapture” teaching as it has now been taught for many years. . . . makes it impossible for me to believe that Darby got his Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching from Margaret MacDonald’ s vision in 1830. He was already a believer in it since 1827, as he plainly said.[24]

      Huebner considers MacPherson’ s charges as ” using slander that J. N. Darby took the (truth of the) pretribulation rapture from those very opposing, demon-inspired utterances.” [25] He goes on to conclude that MacPherson

      did not profit by reading the utterances allegedly by Miss M. M. Instead of apprehending the plain import of her statements, as given by R. Norton, which has some affinity to the post-tribulation scheme and no real resemblance to the pretribulation rapture and dispensational truth, he has read into it what he appears so anxious to find.[26]

      Irvingites and The Rapture
      One of Dave McPherson’ s strangest claims is that Edward Irving and the Irvingites taught a pre-trib rapture. The Irvingites, are said by McPherson to be the source from which Darby clandestinely stole the doctrine and then claimed it as his own discovery.[27] More recently, two British theologians have also cited Irving as the real source of dispensationalism and pretribulationism. ” Clearly, then, it is incontrovertible that Irving held to a pretribulation doctrine in a form that is developed and remarkably similar to contemporary dispensational views,” say Paterson and Walker.[28] Such remarks and conclusions make me wonder if these writers have read very deeply in either Edward Irving or the Irvingite view of eschatology.

      A few years ago, an extensive critical analysis of Irvingite doctrine declared that they were still overwhelmingly historicist, while Darby and the Brethren had become futurist. Further, Columba G. Flegg notes that the Brethren teaching on the rapture and the present invisible and spiritual nature of the church,

      The later Powerscourt Conferences were dominated by the new sect. The Brethren took a futurist view of the Apocalypse, attacking particularly the interpretation of prophetic ‘ days’ as ‘ years’ , so important for all historicists, including the Catholic Apostolics. . . . Darby introduced the concept of a secret rapture to take place ‘ at any moment’ , a belief which subsequently became one of the chief hallmarks of Brethren eschatology. He also taught that the ‘ true’ Church was invisible and spiritual. Both these ideas were in sharp contrast to Catholic Apostolic teaching, . . . There were thus very significant differences between the two eschatologies, and attempts to see any direct influence of one upon the other seem unlikely to succeed- they had a number of common roots, but are much more notable for their points of disagreement. Several writers [referring specifically to MacPherson] have attempted to trace Darby’ s secret rapture theory to a prophetic statement associated with Irving, but their arguments do not stand up to serious criticism.[29]

      When reading the full message of Irvingite eschatology it is clear that they were still very much locked into the historicist system which views the entire church age as the tribulation. After all, the major point in Irving’ s eschatology was that Babylon (false Christianity) was about to be destroyed and then the second coming would occur. Classic historicism! He also taught that the second coming was synonymous with the rapture.[30] Irving believed that raptured saints would stay in heaven until the earth was renovated by fire and then return to the earth. This is hardly pretrib since Irving believed that the tribulation began at least 1,500 years earlier and he did not teach a separate rapture, followed by the tribulation, culminating in the second coming.


      F. F. Bruce, who was part of the Brethren movement his entire life, but one who did not agree with pretribulationism, said the following when commenting on the validity of MacPherson’ s thesis:

      Where did he [Darby] get it? The reviewer’ s answer would be that it was in the air in the 1820s and 1830s among eager students of unfulfilled prophecy, . . . direct dependence by Darby on Margaret Macdonald is unlikely.[31]

      John Walvoord’ s assessment is likely close to the truth:

      any careful student of Darby soon discovers that he did not get his eschatological views from men, but rather from his doctrine of the church as the body of Christ, a concept no one claims was revealed supernaturally to Irving or Macdonald. Darby’ s views undoubtedly were gradually formed, but they were theologically and biblically based rather than derived from Irving’ s pre-Pentecostal group.[32]

      I challenge opponents of the pre-trib rapture to stick to a discussion of this matter based upon the Scriptures. While some have done this, many have not been so honest. To call the pre-trib position Satanic, as Rosenthal has done, does not help anyone in this discussion. Such rhetoric will only serve to cause greater polarization of the two views. However, when pre-trib opponents make false charges about the history of the pre-trib view we must respond. And respond we will in our next issue where we will present a clear pre-trib rapture statement from the fourth or fifth century. This pre-trib rapture statement ante-dates 1830 by almost 1,500 years and will certainly lead to at least a revision of those propagating The Big Lie.

      [1] John L. Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (Lakeland, FL.: John L. Bray Ministry, 1982).

      [2] Dave MacPherson, The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin (Kansas City: Heart of America Bible Society, 1973). The Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture (Kansas City: Heart of America Bible Society, 1974). The Great Rapture Hoax (Fletcher, N.C.: New Puritan Library, 1983). Rapture? (Fletcher, N.C.: New Puritan Library, 1987). The Rapture Plot (Monticello, Utah: P.O.S.T. Inc., 1994).

      [3] Robert Van Kampen, The Sign (Wheaton, IL.: Crossway Books, 1992), pp. 445-47.

      [4] Marvin Rosenthal, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), p. 53.

      [5] Rosenthal, Pre-Wrath Rapture, pp. 53-54.

      [6] Some of the pre-trib responses include the following: R. A. Huebner, The Truth of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Recovered (Millington, N.J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1976); Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991). Gerald B. Stanton, Kept From The Hour, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956). John F. Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979). Robert L. Sumner, ” Looking For The Blessed Horrible Holocaust!” A book review of The Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture in The Biblical Evangelist (Vol. 10, Num. 1; May, 1975); ” Hope? Or Hoax?” The Biblical Evangelist (Vol. 18, Num. 3; Feb., 1984). Hal Lindsey, The Rapture: Truth Or Consequences (New York: Bantam Books, 1983). Charles Ryrie, What You Should Know About the Rapture (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981). Tim LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm: Why Christians will Escape All the Tribulation (Sisters, Ore.: Multnomah, 1992). Thomas D. Ice, ” Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture Did Not Begin with Margaret Macdonald,” Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (1990), pp. 155-68; ” The Origin of the Pre-Trib Rapture,” Part I & II, Biblical Perspectives, vol. 2, no. 1, Jan./Feb. 1989 & vol. 2, no. 2, Mar./Apr. 1989; ” Did J. N. Darby Believe in the Pretrib Rapture by 1827?” Dispensational Distinctives, vol. I, no. 6, Nov./Dec. 1991.

      [7] The following books are some of those which have the full text of Macdonald’ s utterance: MacPherson’ s Cover-Up, and Hoax. R. A. Huebner, The Truth of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Recovered (Millington, N.J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1976), pp. 67-69. Hal Lindsey, The Rapture: Truth Or Consequences (New York: Bantam Books, 1983), pp. 169-172. William R. Kimball, The Rapture: A Question of Timing (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), pp. 44-47.

      [8] Ice, ” Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture Did Not Begin with Margaret Macdonald,” pp. 158, 161.

      [9] Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, p. 47.

      [10] R. A. Huebner, Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991).

      [11] Huebner, Precious Truths, p. 17.

      [12] Huebner, Precious Truths, p. 19.

      [13] Huebner, Precious Truths, p. 18.

      [14] Huebner, Precious Truths, p. 23.

      [15] Huebner, Precious Truths, p. 24.

      [16] Max S. Weremchuk, John Nelson Darby: A Biography (Neptune, N. J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1992).

      [17] Weremchuk, Darby: A Biography, p. 242.

      [18] J. N. Darby, ” Reflections upon the Prophetic Inquiry and the Views Advanced in it” The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, vol. 2 (Winschoten, Netherlands: H. L. Heijkoop, reprint 1971), pp. 1-31.

      [19] Darby, ” Reflections,” pp. 16-18, 25, 30.

      [20] Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970), p. 64.

      [21] Timothy P. Weber, Living In The Shadow Of The Second Coming: American Premillennialism 1875-1982 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983), pp. 21-22.

      [22] Richard R. Reiter, The Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulational? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publication, 1984), p. 236.

      [23] William E. Bell, A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1967), pp. 60-61, 64-65.

      [24] Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching, pp. 24-25, 28.

      [25] Huebner, Precious Truths, p. 13.

      [26] Huebner, Precious Truths, p. 67.

      [27] See Dave MacPherson, The Rapture Plot (Simpsonville, SC: Millennium III Publishers, 1995).

      [28] Mark Patterson & Andrew Walker, ” ‘ Our Unspeakable Comfort’ Irving, Albury, and the Origins of the Pretribulation Rapture,” Fides et Historia, Vol. XXXI, No. 1 (Winter/Spring 1999), p. 77.

      [29] Columba Graham Flegg, ‘ Gathered Under Apostles’ A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 436.

      [30] Edward Irving, ” Signs of the Times in the Church,” The Morning Watch, Vol. 2 (1830), p. 156.

      [31] F. F. Bruce, Review of The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin in The Evangelical Quarterly, (Vol. XLVII, No. 1; Jan-Mar, 1975), p. 58.

      [32] Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, p. 47.

      Source: https://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/MythsoftheOriginofPretribulationism_2.html

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