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"Abel Clary - Who Was This Champion of Fervent Prayer?"

Steve Porter
Oct 6, 2019

From the Desk of Steve Shultz:

Steve Shultz

     Steve Porter is one who studies out past moves in history to see what we can glean from in our present time.

    In his recent article, he writes about Abel Clary and his powerful ministry of prayer.

    Do you think your prayers aren't making a difference, OR are you wanting to increase your prayer life in this Kairos time with God?

    You'll want to read this recent article from Steve Porter and find out how you, too, can be a champion of prayer in this generation. (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.) 

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History of Abel Clary

The late-summer, early morning sun was just sneaking over the horizon when I climbed into my Nissan to make the much anticipated, two-hour journey from Rochester, New York to the Adams Rural Cemetery located in Adams, New York to do research for my book. The town of Adams is located in Jefferson County, south of Watertown, and was named after President John Adams.

Ironically, Charles Finney had roots in Adams when he joined the congregation of George Washington Gale and became director of the church choir. After a dramatic conversion to the Lord and baptism into the Holy Spirit he left his legal practice to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, when you study the names of well-known citizens connected with the town of Adams there is a glaring absence of one notable name: the Rev. Abel B. Clary.

Try as I might, I couldn't dig up much information on the great man of God, but I knew I had to give honor to this amazing man of prayer and his special relationship with Father Daniel Nash. Little is known about the details of the personal life of Daniel Nash, but even less is known about Abel Clary.

Here is what we do know: Rev. Abel B. Clary was born in 1796, in Colrain, Mass., to Abel Clary Sr. and Dolly Baker Clary. (Some sources suggest that he was born in Conway, Mass., several miles from Colrain.)

He died January 1, 1833, at the young age of thirty-seven, just some years shy of the end of the Second Great Awakening. He was buried off of South Main Street in the Adams Rural Cemetery, Adams, Jefferson County, New York. (Photo via Steve Porter)

We know his father and mother outlived him. His father, Abel Clary Sr., was born in 1763 and passed away at the mature age of ninety on September 20, 1853. His mother, Dolly Clary, was born in 1767 and passed away on July 29, 1843 at the age of seventy-six or seventy-seven. Both of his parents were also buried at the Adams Rural Cemetery, Adams, Jefferson County, New York.

I am sure his parents were deeply grieved to have their son die before them. I believe to lose a child is the very worst pain a parent can face. I felt so compassionate toward Abel Sr. who lost his son and wife before his own death.

From my research I could find no records of marriage or children the Rev. Abel B. Clary left behind, so there's a good chance he never married.

Partnership in Prayer

We know that he had an amazing relationship with Father Nash as they combined their passion for souls; these two dear men of God were the chief forerunners for Evangelist Charles Finney.

Indeed, Nash and Clary would quietly enter a town before services even began, rent whatever space they could afford, enlist the help of other like-minded Believers and gather to pray for endless hours, covering the upcoming evangelistic services. They fasted and prayed before, during and after the services ended for Heaven to open and the Holy Spirit's presence to invade Earth as never before, bringing men to their knees in humble repentance.

They were desperate for souls to be saved from eternal Hell, and their fervent prayers actually birthed a great awakening that, in the end, turned their world upside down. On their knees, they prayed until the damp, dark prayer cellars were aflame with the very fire of the Holy Spirit.

Leonard Ravenhill tells the following story in great detail:

"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."

Today I believe Abel Clary represents a prophetic message to the Church regarding the vital need for "fervent prayer support." As we know, Scripture says that where two or three get together to pray, their power is mighty! (Photo via Unsplash)

"Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on Earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

It is rare in our day to find two such men who are willing to lay it all down to give themselves to birthing a revival through unity and fervent intercession. They had no agenda other than to lift their voices in one accord, believing for a spiritual awakening in their day. They made no effort to build up a ministry or develop a brand, and no one took credit for the power of God that fell; they were just two humble men who partnered to link their hearts in beautiful harmony with the Spirit of God.

A Fiery Burden

Charles Finney said that Clary continued to pray as long as Finney was preaching and never stopped until after the evangelist left the area. Clary never once appeared in public but gave himself utterly to prayer. He humbly accepted the assignment to pray Heaven down to Earth, so that the lost would be convicted and subsequently find Christ.

In fact, Finney only discovered Clary's prayer journal after the man went to be with the Lord. In its pages, he had chronicled the heavy burdens for which God inspired him to pray. Looking at it from this vantage point, we can see how those urges to pray lined up exactly with the outpourings of the Spirit that occurred so often during Finney's powerful meetings.

Reading in Finney's journal, we find that he described Abel Clary as the son of a very excellent man, who, at that time, was an elder in the church where Finney accepted Christ. Clary's father apparently came to Christ during the same set of revival services where Finney himself had been converted.

Can't You Talk Louder, God?

Abel had been licensed to preach, but the burden to pray was so heavy that he could scarcely stand, let alone speak or preach. So, he chose to remain behind the scenes, lending all his efforts to prayer, with the goal of breaking through, allowing access to the Holy Spirit, to transform the hearts of men.

His soul was so deeply affected during prayer that he would often writhe and groan in anguish for the lost souls of men. He was apparently a man of few words, which is often the case with those who have a mighty, fiery burden to pray.

Finney went on to say of Abel:

The first I knew of his being at Rochester, a gentleman who lived about a mile west of the city, called on me one day, and asked me if I knew a Mr. Abel Clary, a minister. I told him that I knew him well. "Well," said he, "he is at my house, and has been there for some time, and I don't know what to think of him." I said, "I have not seen him at any of our meetings." He replied, "he cannot go to meeting," he says. "He prays nearly all the time, day and night, and in such an agony of mind that I do not know what to make of it. Sometimes he cannot even stand on his knees, but will lie prostrate on the floor, and groan and pray in a manner that quite astonishes me."

Finney immediately realized that God had sent the man to cover his meetings in prayer, which was why the miraculous had become the norm there. He sent the visitor on his way, telling him not to worry, that everything would turn out as it should.

Finney's journal focused on one very notable event. During the time he was preaching in Auburn, he recognized Abel Clary in a meeting and noticed that he seemed to be heavily burdened to pray, right then and there. Finney, who was well aware of the man's reputation as a powerful prayer warrior, was glad to have him there. His brother, Dr. Clary, was also a professor of religion but didn't have his brother's gift for prayer. During a break between services, the doctor invited Finney to join them for lunch and a time of rest.

Once they arrived at the house, it wasn't long before they were called to come and eat. Dr. Clary turned to his brother and asked him to bless the food, and he nodded that he would. However, he had scarcely spoken a word when he broke down, pushed his chair away from the table and fled to his room. (Photo via Unsplash)

The doctor, who assumed he was feeling ill, followed him, only to return a moment later telling Finney that Abel wanted to see him. When Finney asked what was wrong, he answered that he didn't know but that his brother appeared to be in great distress. He went on to say that he thought it was his state of mind that upset him so deeply.

When Finney arrived at his room, Clary lay groaning on his bed, and the evangelist realized that he was seeing evidence of the Spirit making intercession for him with groanings that couldn't be uttered—exactly as described in Scripture (Romans 8:26).

Momentarily, Clary could scarcely speak when he said, "Pray, Brother Finney." Finney knelt beside his bed and prayed in English for the souls of the lost and continued to pray until Clary's distress passed as he lay there, utterly exhausted and spent. Then Finney joined those at the table, amazed by what had happened.

He knew that he had witnessed the voice of God praying through Abel Clary, and he was convinced that God would use it in a powerful way. And that's exactly what happened. The pastor of the church hosting the revival later reported that over the six weeks he was preaching, 500 people had come to know the Lord.

The Rise of Forerunners

Few people have ever heard of Reverend Abel B. Clary, who only lived into his mid-thirties, but his humble, sweet spirit and willingness to fervently pray were responsible for the salvation of many souls in his day.

Knowing that God often demands great sacrifice in order to produce great results, how will we respond? When the Holy Spirit calls on us to fervently pray, will we be willing to set aside distractions and to get down to the business of prayer? If we won't, who will?

I believe God is raising up forerunners like Abel Clary who know how to sustain revival through supportive prayer. This special brand of intercessor doesn't care about name recognition or being seen. You will find them in a back room somewhere birthing another great awakening through fervent intercession. They groan and travail, carrying a burden that far surpasses the natural realm. Others may misunderstand them, but their fervent prayers shake nations.

With a special plan to visit the cemetery where Abel B. Clary was buried, I pulled into Adams with great anticipation that morning. I'd been communing with the Lord on the road and I felt sure there was a special purpose for the powerful presence of God that accompanied me that day. (Photo via Flickr)

I struggled to hold back the tears as I stood at the graveside pausing to ponder and celebrate the short life of Rev. Abel B. Clary, who was part of a special family known for prayer and their passionate love for God.

At the top of his parents' tombstone was a picture of the Word of God! Oh, how they must have loved His holy Word! I could only wonder at the incredible legacy they must have imparted to their children. These days, we can scarcely imagine what God can do with a family dedicated to fervent prayer and intercession.

That morning, I stood alone in the cemetery, but I wasn't really alone. The Lord was there! He was with me, stirring up deep wells of prayer inside me. I released fervent prayers for Rochester—my city—for yet another great awakening!

I was overwhelmed and awed to honor that great family, realizing what an incredible gift they had been to the Body of Christ. I thanked God for them and knew that if God could use the prayer life of Abel Clary to change the course of American history, He can use those of us who live now to fervently pray for another mighty move of God.

Lord, start with us! The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come, Holy Spirit, and pour out on us again!"

The name of Abel Clary may not have been recorded in his town's historical records, but Heaven knows his name—and wants it to be a model of the power of fervent prayer and intercession that we can emulate today! (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)

Steve Porter
Refuge Ministries


Steve and his wife Diane founded Refuge Ministries and a presence-driven publishing company, Deeper Life Press. Steve is a regular contributor to many prophetic publications including the Elijah List, Spirit Fuel, and the Identity Network. His writings have been read worldwide by hundreds of thousands of people. He also has been interviewed by the Trinity Broadcasting Network and a few other TV programs. Steve's books, articles, and videos have touched countless lives around the world. The Porters reside near Rochester, NY.

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Can't You Talk Louder, God?
Steve Porter's Itinerary:

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October 6, 2019
Living Water's 40th Anniversary
Living Waters Church
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October 20, 2019
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October 20, 2019
Tri-Une Healing Ministries
108 Dexter Ave, Oriskany, NY
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