It was in the fall of 1961. Only one mile from the writers home, and two miles from my home church and pastorate, a great revival was in progress; in fact about the greatest apparently ever to be witnessed in this locality. On one particular afternoon I was engaged in cutting wood on my farm, which is located eight miles south east of Monett, Missouri. Being in deep thought and concern about the revival we kneeled at the base of a tree and in humbleness of soul proceeded to pray for the revival, for the dear brethren who were conducting it, for the salvation of souls and for the community in general. That same evening in the revival service as opportunity was given for personal testimony the writer, in giving his testimony, made casual mention of having prayed for the preacher of that night’s service while kneeled by an old tree.
The revival continued, and after having gone on for eighteen weeks, came to a close. In a few weeks thereafter the evangelist made mention to me that he would like to go to that same old oak and have prayer. He was assured that if he would come to my home we would do so. In a short time this gesture of worship was carried out with blessing.
Others expressed the same desire as the weeks went by and these desires in turn were put into practice. Soon it became a rather common thing to learn of someone; or even a small group, being engaged in prayer over on the ridge near the old oak tree. To be sure they were made perfectly welcome to enter my gates and drive over on the ridge and spend time with the Lord. Often we made the remark that “we would that every ridge on our farm was converted into an altar of prayer.”
Then it began to be announced at the church that the men and boys, all who so desired, would meet on the ridge on Monday night for open air prayer meeting. This having started became a regular service. Now for many, many months men and boys have gone to this ridge every Monday night, regardless of weather conditions, for this open air prayer meeting. There have been as many as thirty seven in attendances at one time. They have gathered in the snow, sometimes in the rain, many, many times in the cold, sometimes when warm and mild, when the moon was shining brightly and when the night would be dark. But without fail a group is always there on Monday night. The hills are resounding with the earnest prayers of believers, with their shouts of praise and with their songs of joy and testimonies of thanksgiving and appreciation. It is always blessed to be there.
Enthusiastic young people met and gathered a pile of stones like the patriarchs of old. Loving hands proceeded to erect a crude alter and a partial windbreak. Some dug a pit in which to build a fire on cold Monday evenings. Some came and gathered wood, etc.
This old ridge has been hallowed and made sacred by the ardent devotions of the saints of the Lord. Souls have been converted there. Many have gone away and left their burdens there. Many spiritual problems have been solved there, and many souls encouraged to keep on keeping on for the Lord.
Now on this date in May 1966, as, and while, this regular Monday night service is continuing, this is the history thus far, and the blessed outcome to date of ‘Prayer at the Old Oak Tree.’ May the Lord be praised. You are always invited.
Addendum (Winford Davis)
April 21, 1983
The afore mentioned prayer meetings continued without interruption for a period of six years. In the mean time our pastorate changed, others moved here and there, etc., and gradually the regular Monday night gatherings ceased. However, the loving memories certainly continued to linger on in the minds of many. Now, in the recent early years of the nineteen and eighty’s, this practice has resumed. On Friday nights however, instead of Monday nights. The same precious fellowship is enjoyed. The same brotherly love. The same lovely stars, and the same beautiful moon shine down in splendor on the happy group that meets there. This will forever be a sacred spot, and will forever be held dear in the minds of those who have met there through the years gone by. To be sure the same welcome is extended.
Added Addendum (Sam Biggers)
This invitation and record of a place where God met men and women (and still does on special occasions) by Pastor Winford Davis was written over fifty years ago and was provided to me in a Christmas card by friends who attended many of the prayer meetings. It was reported to me by these dear friends that a recent meeting in the fall of 2016 was held on a Monday evening and many were in attendance with the evident presence of the Lord as they met in prayer. Prayer was offered for our nation, their community, and their families and for personal needs. I was aware there were meetings in the past but have never attended one since I was unaware of the date the prayer meetings were being held. I have requested that I be notified of future meetings and plan to attend, hoping to gather some of the Christian men in my community and join in prayer with fellow believers in the Monett and Purdy, Missouri communities which is located about fifty miles south. The present landowner is a Christian and continues to make the location of the altar a site where special prayer meetings are held.
I can testify with personal knowledge of the impact of the prayer meetings on the believers within the community and surrounding communities. There is a wide community of believers from various churches who meet together in special meetings – many influenced by the prayers of the men and women who met (and sometimes still meet from time to time) on that special spot under the old oak tree and prayed for the divine influence of Almighty God upon their lives, their families, their churches and their communities. One church in particular has been impacted by the prayers of men and women who met together when they were younger in prayer on the ridge under the tree. These men are now grandfathers and some are great-grandfathers. Some are friends. While they are unknown to many outside of their churches and local community, they are giants in the faith in my mind. Many of their children and grandchildren are faithful believers, influenced by the prayers of these committed, faithful men and women who believed and continue to believe the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (and woman) avails much (James 5:16).
I have copied the invitation of Pastor Davis as submitted to me which is an authentic copy of his original record and invitation – typed out on a typewriter. I desire this release of Pastor Davis’ commitment to prayer and the recording of the faithfulness of men and boys (and women) to prayer will ignite a passion within us to seek the face of God in prayer. Our challenge is to commit to make prayer a priority in our life, both individually and corporately. We need to take the words of II Chronicles 7:14 to heart because God has never changed and He will respond to the sincere prayers of righteous men, women, boys and girls. We can take our nation back, not with a new president, but upon our knees. More important is what matters to God. We can become an effective tool in the hand of God if our hearts are yielded to His purpose and plan which will be revealed to us as we listen to Him in His response to faithful, honest hearts poured out in prayer for His intervention in our lives and those all around us in the marketplace of humanity.