During the earlier years of the college, they were some outstanding examples of answers to prayer on a national scale. They were the precursors of the strategic praying on a world-wide scale to which the College was to be called in later years, and two of them are worth recording.
The controversy which raged over the proposed introduction of the New Prayer Book in the Church of England in 1928 will be well remembered. Practically all the bishops were in favor of it, despite its Romeward tendencies; and according to the newspapers, it was a foregone conclusion that Parliament would accept it. There must have been very few in the country who could have believed that the House of Commons would reject it. Suddenly, two days before the debate in the House, the Holy Spirit asked Mr. Howells if he believed the Lord could stop it going through. If he did, he was to call a meeting that afternoon for the one definite purpose of “turning down the new Prayer Book”. He fought it out alone with God from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then called the meeting. Lectures for the afternoon were canceled. The Spirit came down with great power,, and the meeting continued until the Lord gave full assurance of victory.
The next morning the newspapers told how the House of Lords had voted and accepted it; but the veto was with the House of Commons, who were to vote that day, and the Holy Spirit said to Mr. Howells, “Go on, nothing doubting.” The dramatic scenes in the House of Commons will be remembered when, before a crowded audience, one or two members spoke as they had never spoken before on the dangers of allowing any further Romeward tendencies to creep into our national Church. It was reported that the atmosphere of the House was like a religious meeting, and to the amazement of everybody, they voted the new Prayer Book out; but, as Mr. Howells said, “The Lord had given us the victory the previous afternoon.”
Some years later, in 1936, there came the serious national crisis over King Edward VIII and his proposed marriage. In this again the Lord led the College to take a stand in prayer. The diaries of the daily meetings give the following account:
December 4. “The News about the king has come to light: in the morning papers, and the Director tells us how serious conditions are. We came back in the evening and pleaded with the Lord to guide the king, and give wisdom and discernment to all those concerned in this crisis.”
December 5. “Day of prayer in College. Situation in England very grave, because it concerns not only our land, but the British Empire.”
December 6. “Day of prayer and fasting in the College. We pray for the Empire in its present crisis. The Lord reveals that it is His will for Edward to abdicate. Mr. Howells was as strong as a lion in the fight, and declared, ‘Edward is not to reign, or the Lord has not spoken by me.’ There is a wonderful victory as we believe in the evening.”
December 7. “There is thanksgiving over the victory of yesterday. The papers reveal that while at the end of last week the king was challenging the position, now he is anxious to do only what will be best for the Empire.”
December 9. “Believing for the Lord to help King Edward to make decision according to God’s will, and that his soul may be blessed.”
December 10. “Came back at 2.30 p.m. to ask the Lord to control the country, now that the news of the abdication of King Edward VIII is known.”
December 11. “We are thankful for this believing of the Holy Spirit. The Lord has saved the Empire, and raised the standard of life in our beloved land.”
The College had a growing company of friends in South Wales, many of whom were frequent visitors, getting great spiritual refreshment from the meetings and fellowship, and many were faithful supporters of the work. To some also Mr. Howells was able to minister in things practical as well as spiritual.
One man, who had been a friend of the College since its foundation, went through very hard trials in his business. His creditors were pressing him, and one day, in desperation, he asked Mr. Howells to pray that the Lord would take the wheels off their chariots! (Ex. 14:25.) Mr. Howells found that his friend was on the point of locking the door and giving up everything. “You will do nothing of the sort,” he said. “What about your sons?” He took him to the bank and arranged to clear all he needed. From that day he began to prosper, and has been the means of much blessing to the College for many years.
There was another friend of the College, a deacon in his church, who used to come to the meetings. His business went down, and he came with a very heavy heart to talk things over with Mr. Howells and ask for prayer. One day Mr. Howells went to his home and found that everything was being sold up. The mother and daughter were crying, but the Lord told His servant to tell them that he was going to meet the demands on them, and the tears became tears of joy!
Another time Mr. Howells was needing the money for the rates, but he knew of a man who was in the same position, and the last day had come for them both. Mr. Howells had not nearly enough for his own need, which was 40 Pounds, but he had the 8 Pounds needed by his friend; so he went to give it to him. When he arrived, he found the man and his wife on their knees praying for the money. “You can get up from your knees,” he said. “The Lord has told me to deliver you.” He said nothing about his own need, but on his return to the College, he found a gift awaiting him — of 40 Pounds.
On another occasion Mr. Howells was praying for a certain sum of money, which he needed that very day. There was a woman who always gave him that amount at this particular season, in the middle of the term. She arrived on that day and brought the deliverance, but he could see she was cast down. She told him that her son-in-law was in great trouble, and that there was a case in the assizes over it. If he had committed the crime and was found guilty, he would be imprisoned. The case was coming on in a week, and she couldn’t sleep. She wanted Mr. Howells to go to the Lord about it and then tell her whether he would be put in prison or not. “I had prayed for that money and she had brought it,” he said, “and that might sway my judgment. Could the Lord tell me whether he was guilty or not? I thought; because if he was guilty, the Lord couldn’t make him free. On the other hand, if he was not guilty and was in danger of being committed, could the Lord deliver him? I went upstairs and was there a long time. After much prayer, the Lord told me, ‘He is not guilty and he will be freed.’ So I asked her, ‘Did the Lord send you today? Did He tell you I would give you the result?’ ‘Yes,’ she said. So I said to her, ‘If you want to cry, cry all you want to now before I tell you; but you are not to shed one tear after! He is not guilty, and he grill be freed.'” To their surprise, the jury could not agree and they had to postpone the case for two days. Then, when the case was resumed, the judge found one of the witnesses telling a somewhat different story from before. The prosecution broke down and the judge at once stopped the case. The man was acquitted, and the news went all through the town.