Two Prayers from the Flames
It was a windy morning that February 9, 1555. Depending on the calendar used it was either a Wednesday or a Saturday that John Hooper burned. Due to the green of the kindling and the uncooperative wind two fires had failed, burning only his lower parts and scorching his upper. A much stronger third fire was begun.
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs recounts…
“In this fire he prayed with a loud voice, ‘Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me! Lord Jesus receive my spirit!’ And these were the last words he was heard to utter. But when he was black in the mouth, and his tongue so swollen that he could not speak, yet his lips went until they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with his hands until one of his arms fell off, and then knocked still with the other, while the fat, water, and blood dropped out at his fingers’ ends, until by renewing the fire, his strength was gone, and his hand clave fast in knocking to the iron upon his breast. Then immediately bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit.”
Such gruesomeness we like not to consider, but if this be what God allows to try His faithful, can we even imagine what torment awaits the devil? Indeed he likes not to think of it either and so busies himself in temptations and antics which make Him all the more deserving of that great and eternal torment which awaits him.
His goal: to dupe into following him, and not He, as many as he possibly can deceive. His path is broad with room for many and many do take it. As Jesus has said, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14).
Those who follow this deceiver follow him to the end to which that broad path leads.
In this place and in torment, one such soul prayed, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” That not being possible he prayed again, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” But that too was now not possible. (See Luke 16:19-31).
Do we who believe pray as earnestly as John Hooper? — as desperately as the unnamed rich man begged from Hell?
Pastor Andrew — indeed Christ Himself — pleads that we do so.
“Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matt. 9:38)
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
“My… prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Rom. 10:1).
“…God our Savior… wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
“The Lord… [is] not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9).