You can pray when you can do little else.
At age 18, he began dreaming of ministry and began the lifelong habit of the morning quiet time, his journal for February 23, 1834 reading: Rose early to seek God and found Him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company? In 1836 he began pastoring St. Peter’s church in Dundee, beginning each day reading God’s Word and praying.
But McCheyne wasn’t well. He experienced “violent palpitations” of the heart, growing so weak and frail that he took an extended trip, seeking to recover. But he missed his church, and on February 27, 1839 he wrote them these words in a pastoral letter:
I wish to be like Epaphras in Colossians 4: “Always laboring fervently for you in prayer.” When hindered by God from laboring for you in any other way, it is my heart’s joy to labor for you thus. When Dr. Scott of Greenock, a good and holy minister, was laid aside by old age from preaching some years before his death, he used to say, “I can do nothing for my people now but pray for them. … ” This I also feel.
McCheyne only partially recovered, dying in 1843 at age 29. On the day of his death nothing was heard in the houses of Dundee but weeping. Men, meeting each other on the streets, burst into sobs. Scottish ministers studied his life and methods for the next hundred years, and his collected letters and sermons are classics. He once said, “If the veil of the world’s machinery were lifted off, how much we could find is done in answer to the prayers of God’s children.”
How much indeed.
We have not stopped praying for you since the first day we heard about you. In fact, we always pray that God will show you everything he wants you to do and that you may have all wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives. Then you will live a life that honors the Lord. … (Colossians 1:9,10a)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Feb. 27.