“…. the Jerusalem which is above is free….” -Gal. 4.26a
“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his own works….” -Heb. 4.10
There is a sabbath rest which has been opened up to God’s people through the cross, and we need to resist all religious activity that flows from any other place. Even prayer itself is subject to lesser and unheavenly influences, for if our intercessions spring up from the flesh, or if they are robotic and contrived, we are not likely touching the heart of God or pushing back the powers of darkness. We need to come into the prayers of Jesus Himself, not by striving, but by a radical surrender to His heart. This is where the authority lies, which we shall see from a man who knew this reality in real-life experience.
Thomas Haire was one of those rare servants of God- the kind acquainted with the rarefied air of the heavenly Jerusalem- and his prayers moved things in a manner that we know far too little of as the Church of modern America. We would do well to hear from this remarkable man.
He was a close friend and co-intercessor of Leonard Ravenhill, and travelled with him as an “Epaphras” (Col. 4.12-14).
A.W. Tozer was so impressed with Haire’s character that he wrote a booklet about his life. I want to leave you with a few thoughts from this life-long intercessor, who happened also to be a professional plumber from Ireland. We can learn something from a man who spent over 50 years praying 4 hours a day, decades of which he went sleepless for 3 nights a week, giving himself over to Spirit-endued intercession on behalf of the Church, and a dying world that he loved so fervently.
We haven’t the space to look at all aspects of his devotional life, but what strikes my heart presently is that Thomas Haire, according to Tozer, was the kindest and most tranquil man that he had ever known. Though his devotion to prayer and intercession was marked with remarkable intensity and depth, he was not a tense personality, as many who purport to be intercessors seem to be. This marks him out as unique, for his sabbatical peace was combined with a kind of authority and dominion in prayer that we have rarely seen in our day. Souls passed from darkness to light, many were healed physically, and God was glorified wonderfully on the wings of Thomas Haire’s prayers.
Throughout all of the noteworthy answers to prayer that he witnessed, he demonstrated to his contemporaries the gentleness and kindness of Jesus Himself. He was known to transition seamlessly from the bent knee of ground-breaking intercession to the bent knee of face-to-face joy-filled conversation with a child. Frequently, he would have the little ones enraptured with a story, or doubled over in laughter. He was rare indeed, and we may conclude that the ascended Nazarene, Who once unfolded the mysteries of God, drove out demons, and blessed the children, was finding a fresh expression through through this precious “earthen vessel.”
Tozer writes of Haire:
…. always he is relaxed and free from strain. He will not allow himself to get righteously upset about anything. ‘I lie near to the heart of God,’ he says, ‘and I fear nothing in the world.’
That he lies near to God’s heart is more than a passing notion to Tom. It is all very real and practical. ‘God opens His heart,’ he says, ‘and takes us in. In God all things are beneath our feet. All power is given to us and we share God’s almightiness.’ He has no confidence at all in mankind, but believes that God must be all in all. Not even our loftiest human desires or holiest prayers are acceptable to God. ‘The river flows from beneath the throne,’ he explains, ‘and its source is not of this world. So the source of our prayers must be Christ Himself hidden in our hearts.’
‘Too many of God’s people are straining for faith,’ says Tom, ‘and holding on hard trying to exercise it. This will never do at all. The flesh cannot believe no matter how hard it tries, and we only wear ourselves out with our human efforts. True faith is the gift of God to an obedient soul and comes of itself without effort. The source of faith is Christ in us. It is a fruit of the Spirit.’
(A.W. Tozer, Thomas Haire: The Praying Plumber of Lisburn; Rare Christian Books)
Of prayer, Tozer gives us more of Haire’s thoughts:
According to Tom, there is such a thing as strategic prayer, that is, prayer that takes into account what the devil is trying to accomplish and where he is working, and attacks him at that strategic point. ‘Don’t waste your time praying around the edges,’ he says. ‘Go for the devil direct. Pray him loose from souls. Weaken his hold on people by direct attack. Then your prayers will count and the work of God will get done.’
Tom makes much of the believer’s authority in Christ. Over the protests of the cautious expositor, he appropriates Scripture that might be proved to belong to a future age. ‘God says we are kings and priests,’ he declares, ‘and what is a king without a kingdom? There is a sphere where we can have full dominion in prayer. Complete authority is ours. We only need to ask and we shall receive.’ If this were mere theory we might dismiss it as being simply an error in interpretation, but it has been proved in the fires of practical living. God has given to His praying servant great power to command, to demand, and the results have been and are many and unusual.
I dare say the kind of authority and dominion Mr. Haire spoke of is something that has scarcely been touched in our generation. There have been many boasts of dominion, shouts of authority, and we have cranked up the music loud enough to move every soul in the building, but the heavens are not moved by sweat and noise. The depth of Christ’s character and the profound union with God that Tom Haire had come into were the foundations of his great authority in prayer.
Before Tozer convinced Haire that his story needed to be told for the sake of the Body, the old praying plumber resisted the idea. Not wanting to be popularized or tempted with fame, he replied in his own Irish way, “I don’t want to lose me power with God.” His secret life with God, formed through decades of engaging in prayer, was more precious to him than anything else in his life or ministry. Are you accumulating this kind of history by the grace that God gives? What do we know of “power with God” of such a kind that we would ache if it were removed from our experience?
Do our self-promoting ministries know anything of the like? Are we guarding a deep and holy union with Christ that has been formed through years of concentrated prayer and worship, or are we being tossed to and fro by the latest teaching or movement? Have we neglected the primacy of secret prayer and leaned too hard into public efforts, expending energy, burning time, and building works that are largely “wood, hay, and stubble”? Are we rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, or barely keeping our heads afloat, drinking in the spirit of the world and flitting to and fro from Christian fad to Christian fad? Thomas Haire’s “power with God” is a quickening reminder of the possibilities of grace, the glories of communion with God, and the remarkable sabbath rest and authority that the Lord places upon a man when he is in harmony with Christ through the Spirit of prayer.
May the Lord raise up tender-hearted, fervent, holy, and hidden laborers again in our day. Surely the maturation of the Church, the task of world missions, and our own call as priestly sons demands us to cast off any pursuit that causes us to lose our power with God.