“O most merciful Christ,” John Huss wrote while awaiting his execution, “give us a courageous spirit, so that it may be ready. And if the flesh is weak, may your grace go before it, for without you we can do nothing, and above all, without you we cannot face a cruel death. Give us a bold courage and upright faith, a firm hope, and perfect charity, that we may give our life for you in all patience and all joy. Amen.”
Huss had called for reform in the fifteenth-century church, challenging priests who sold indulgences (the right to sin without consequence) and calling for biblical standards of justice. Huss was promised royal protection to present his defense. But he now sat in a dungeon, awaiting death, and cried out to God.
On July 6, 1415, Huss was stripped and chained to a stake. As the fire was lit around him, Huss prayed, “Lord Jesus Christ, it is for the sake of the gospel and the preaching of the word that I undergo with patience and humility this terrifying, ignominious, and cruel death.”
As the flames rose around him, Huss, with his final breath, cried out, “Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon me.”
Huss’s witness was crucial in ending the practice of selling indulgences and influencing Christians to return to biblical teachings.
Prayer. That which does the most, we often do the least. Prayer is our first defense against spiritual warfare, yet often our last resort. Those who are persecuted for their faith teach us the priority of prayer. Their last remarks are not fighting words. Their final actions on earth are not resistance. Instead, prayer is their dying breath, confounding their accusers and convincing others of their resolute faith. History shows persecuted saints’ dying prayers can influence others for the gospel perhaps more than if they had lived. When you are in life’s crucible and the “flames” are hot around you, will you turn to prayer? Will others see your first and last defense is your communication with your heavenly Father?
Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a daily devotional written by The Voice of the Martyrs. Order your copy online.