Thursday, July 29, 2010

Johnny Oxtoby and prayer

Johnny Oxtoby was a member of the infant Primitive Methodist Movement in the 1820s. He had the sort of faith that moves mountains.

He was a prayer warrior. He spent hours on his knees each day, which prepared him for his amazing conquests. In 1823, he was commissioned to revive the mission to Filey, a fishing port on the coast of North East England.

He set out a few days later. Asked where he was going, he replied: ‘To Filey, where the Lord is going to revive his work.’ When he came in sight of the town he fell on his knees behind a hedge, and pleaded with God for hours for the success of his mission.

A miller passing by overheard the strange prayer: ‘You must not make a fool of me. I told them at Bridlington, “You were going to revive your work”, and You must do so or I shall never be able to show my face among them again, and then what will the people say about praying and believing?’

Eventually assurance came, and rising from his knees, he exclaimed: ‘It is done, Lord! It is done! Filey is taken! Filey us taken!’ Filey was indeed taken. A great revival began, which completely transformed the moral condition of the town, and laid the foundations of a powerful church in that locality for many decades to follow.

Today the Filey Fishermen’s Choir proudly continues the work started by John Oxtoby in 1823.

Abridged from The Romance of Primitive Methodism, by Joseph Ritson


  1. "He had the sort of faith that moves mountains." I completely agree with that.

  2. I am one of the last members of the Filey Ebenezer Chapel, which used to be the Primitive Methodist fisherman's chapel, a legacy of Johnny Oxtoby's work. Although I was away at University when Ebenezer was closed, I am painfully aware of the near total lack of support of the Filey Fishermen's choir for that Church. In the seventies, choir practice wa The local pub and only one or two members of the choir, at the most were to be seen regularly at Ebenezer. I know that the present choir has Christian believers in it, but only one fisherman to my knowledge.

    There is no room for comfortable nostalgia in Filey, most of the local population have turned their backs on the wonderful Christian Heritage of Oxtoby. Our churches are filled with the elderly. I don't know in what way the Filey Fisherman's choir is continuing the eork of Oxtoby, I have yet to see the fruits. We should be looking to Christ for our Salvation, not a nostalgia trip.

  3. We Christians in Filey do look back to Praying Johnny, and Bobby is right with his comment about comfortable nostalgia.
    So lets take this from Praying Johnny-the PRAYING
    Dear God,
    bring the people of Filey to you , let them realise their need of you as Lord and Saviour. Soften hearts, awaken desire for YOU, bring healing and above all touch lives with your Holy Spirit, and start with me, In the name of Jesus, AMEN

  4. Bobby and Margaret
    Thanks for your update with the situation in Filey today. I am not trying to build nostalgia, but rather I am trying to inspire Christian leaders and believers today as to the value of passionate faith-filled prayer, as modelled by John Oxtoby.

    I echo an "amen" to Margaret's prayer.