A Life-changing Prayer - The One Year Christian History

A Life-changing Prayer

You never know how God will answer.

AMY CARMICHAEL was born in 1867 in Millisle, County Down, Northern Ireland. At the age of twelve, she was sent to a Wesleyan Methodist boarding school in Yorkshire, England. There at age fifteen during a children’s service she heard the song “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” In the quiet moments following the song, Amy realized that, in spite of her mother’s teaching that Jesus loved her, she had never invited him into her life. “In His great mercy the Good Shepherd answered the prayers of my mother and my father and many other loving ones, and drew me, even me, into His fold.”

After the death of her father, she went to England to live in the home of Robert Wilson, who was a cofounder and chairman of the Keswick Convention, a summer gathering of English evangelicals. Under Wilson’s influence, Amy became interested in missions, and in 1893 she sailed for Japan as the first Keswick missionary with the Church Missionary Society. After spending less than two years in Japan and Ceylon, she was forced to return to England because of poor health.

In November 1895 Amy again left England to work with the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society in South India. Traveling on evangelistic trips throughout India, she became aware that many young Indian girls were offered by parents or guardians as temple prostitutes, a practice that was later outlawed. Touched by their plight, Amy began rescuing young girls from this fate.

By 1901 she, along with the Indian colleagues and converts from her many trips, settled in Dohnavur. In 1926 she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a home and school for rescued children. Here the Indian children were educated and trained to serve God as Christian nurses, teachers, and evangelists.

Amy was known at Dohnavur Fellowship as Amma or Mother. As the leader of the fellowship, she set high standards for herself and her colleagues. She established the Sisters of the Common Life, which approached being a Protestant order. Vows were not binding for life, but if a sister married, she was required to leave the association. So committed was Amy Carmichael to India that from the time she arrived in November 1895, she never returned to England.

On October 24, 1931, Amy visited a Dohnavur dispensary and was concerned about the Fellowship’s financial support. Seeking God’s guidance regarding money, she fell silent for a long time and then prayed, “Do anything, Lord, that will fit me to serve thee and to help my beloveds.”

Later that day she was driven to a house she had rented for another dispensary. There in the darkness she fell into a newly dug pit, breaking her leg, dislocating an ankle, and twisting her spine. As a result of her fall, she was bedridden her last twenty years. Yet from her bed she remained in charge of Dohnavur and also wrote the prose and poetry through which the work of Dohnavur became known around the world.

In 1938 Carmichael believed that God gave her a promise that she would die in her sleep. This she did on January 18, 1951.

Announcing her death, the bells of the House of Prayer at Dohnavur played the music she had requested, to which her words had been set:

One thing have I desired, my God, of Thee;

That will I seek: Thine house home to me.

I would not breathe an alien, other air;

I would be with Thee, O Thou fairest fair.

For I would see the beauty of my Lord

And hear Him speak, who is my heart’s adored.

O Love of loves, and can such wonder dwell

In Thy great name of names, Immanuel?

Thou with Thy child; Thy child at home with Thee;

O Love of loves, I love, I worship Thee.


Do you believe that Amy Carmichael’s fall in 1931 was God’s answer to her prayer earlier that day, “Do anything, Lord, that will fit me to serve thee and to help my beloveds”? Do you dare to pray such a prayer?

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants.”

Luke 1:38

From the Book:

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The One Year Christian History
By E. Michael Rusten and Sharon O. Rusten

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