“Pray often; for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.”
John Bunyan was born in England on November 30, 1628. He was sixteen years old when England was going through a civil war in 1644. He became a soldier. One particular afternoon, young Bunyan was suddenly called away from his post. A fellow soldier took his place and was killed shortly thereafter. He would likely have died as a teenager if this soldier hadn’t traded places with him that day, and there was no doubt in his mind that God had something important planned for his life.
Like his working-class family before him, Bunyan grew up learning the trade of a tinker, or a brazier – someone who mends pots and kettles. When Bunyan got married in his early twenties, he and his wife were very poor (she had been an orphan). All they owned were a couple of Christian books which her father had left her before his death. They both treasured and read the books often. Bunyan, especially, was influenced by what he read. He was realizing that his current lifestyle and choices were wrong.
Eventually, because of this conviction over sin, he trusted Jesus Christ to be the Savior and Lord of his whole life. With the changes in his new lifestyle came also the desires to preach and to share the Gospel. God’s grace had made such a difference in his life!
John Bunyan became a preacher at a time in England’s history when preaching outside of the state church’s approval was considered a crime. The leaders of the day believed that rightly-preached doctrine would start a rebellion. Bunyan kept preaching, anyway. He felt compelled to share the Gospel of grace.
He was convicted of preaching against the law and was sent to prison for twelve long years. This was a painful time of constant separation from his wife and children, and they remained impoverished, since there was not very much Bunyan could do from his prison cell to bring in money.
He did do a lot of thinking and writing while he was in prison. It was during this time in prison that he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress – the greatest Christian allegory ever written. An “allegory” is simply a story told with word pictures. Missionaries everywhere still translate Pilgrim’s Progress into the language of their people to share this story with those they wish to win.
Do you think it was difficult for John Bunyan to know his family was suffering in his absence? Do you think he wondered sometimes whether God was really taking care of them, or whether he had made a mistake? Have you ever read Pilgrim’s Progress and learned a little more about how to understand the Gospel through its allegorical stories? Do you believe that God can use the difficult circumstances in your life for His greatest glory and for your greatest good?
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.