"At this meeting of the presbytery I first saw Rev. Daniel Nash, who is generally known as 'Father Nash.' He was a member of the presbytery. A large congregation was assembled to hear my examination. I got in a little late, and saw a man standing in the pulpit speaking to the people, as I supposed. He looked at me, I observed, as I came in; and was looking at others as they passed up the aisles. As soon as I reached my seat and listened, I observed that he was praying. I was surprised to see him looking all over the house, as if he were talking to the people; while in fact he was praying to God. Of course it did not sound to me much like prayer; and he was at that time indeed in a very cold and back-slidden state--Charles Finney"
After this meeting Nash was struck with a serious case of inflamed eyes. For several weeks he had to be kept in a dark room where he could neither read nor write. During this time "he gave himself up almost entirely to prayer. He had a terrible overhauling of his whole Christian experience; and as soon as he was able to see, with a double black veil before his face, he sallied forth to labor for souls."
His labors did not take the form of personal evangelism or of evangelistic preaching. Instead he began one of the greatest ministries of prayer evangelism recorded in history. This rejected and broken former preacher gave himself to a labor that would influence praying people to this day.
Charles Finney's labors in evangelism began in the region of Evans Mills, New York, and here Daniel Nash headed to start his special prayer ministry for Joyce Wortman Finney. When he arrived, Finney stated, "He was full of the power of prayer." The two men were drawn into a partnership that was ended only by Daniel's death seven years later.
When God would direct where a meeting was to be held, Father Nash would slip quietly into town and seek to get two or three people to enter into a covenant of prayer with him. Sometimes he had with him a man of similar prayer ministry, Abel Clary. Together they would begin to pray fervently for God to move in the community. One record of such is told by Leonard Ravenhill:
"I met an old lady who told me a story about Charles Finney that has challenged me over the years. Finney went to Bolton to minister, but before he began, two men knocked on the door of her humble cottage, wanting lodging. The poor woman looked amazed, for she had no extra accommodations. Finally, for about twenty-five cents a week, the two men, none other than Fathers Nash and Clary, rented a dark and damp cellar for the period of the Finney meetings (at least two weeks), and there in that self-chosen cell, those prayer partners battled the forces of darkness."
Another record tells:
"On one occasion when I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, 'Brother Finney, do you know a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven't eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn't know what to do. Would you please come see about them?'
Though he prayed in private, yet he often prayed with such fervency that others became aware of his praying. This was not intended, but simply was the release of a deeply burdened soul. The lady at the boarding house became aware of his groans as he prayed. His enemies claimed "that it was impossible for him to pray in secret since, whether he went into his closet or the woods, he prayed with such vehemence that he could be heard half a mile away." While this was likely an exaggeration of his normal practice, there is a record of a single occurrence of note:
"In the revival at Gouverneur (in which the great majority of the inhabitants, Finney believed, were converted), Nash rose very early and went into a wood to pray. 'It was one of those clear mornings,' said Finney, 'on which it is possible to hear sounds at a great distance.' Three-quarters of a mile away lived an unconverted man who was suddenly arrested by hearing the voice of prayer. He could distinguish that it was Nash's voice, and this brought to him such a sense of the reality of religion as he had never before experienced; he experienced no relief until he found it in Christ."
Shall I tell you how he died? He prayed more and more; he used to take the map of the world before him, and pray, and look over the different countries and pray for them, till he expired in his room, praying. Blessed man! He was the reproach of the ungodly, and of carnal, unbelieving professors; but he was the favorite of Heaven, and a prevailing prince of prayer."
Thus he entered glory on his knees December 20, 1831, at the age of 56. His body is buried near where he pastored in that former church's graveyard with a small stone to mark the spot.
Perhaps God will see fit to raise up others to have a similar ministry in these needy days. Dear reader, will you consider the cost, the need, and the opportunity? Will you give yourself to a ministry of prayer as God leads you and enables?