The third Monday of January is commonly referred to as ‘Blue Monday’, which is said to be the ‘most depressing day’ of the year. Scientists have dismissed this to be a baseless pseudoscience. Still, many people are struggling with feelings of depression. What makes life worth living? What gives meaning and purpose to life?
For Derek Prince this was probably his number one preoccupation as a young man, both of Eton College and of Cambridge University. In this article, he shares how he found answers to these questions in this article.
Although I was outwardly a playboy, in a sense, inwardly I was longing to be challenged, to find something I could give my life for. Something that was worth living for and dying for.
Now I was born in the city of Bangalore, India, because my father was an officer in the British Army serving in India. In those days it was traditional for Britishers serving overseas to send their children back to Britain for the sake of their health and education. And so, as a child of 5 I was sent to England and grew up there. At the age of 18 I was admitted to King’s College, Cambridge as the Senior Scholar of the Year.
What is life about?
By that time I had come to the conclusion that Christianity was a harmless occupation for old ladies of both sexes. I didn’t see any reason for me to be involved in it. But I always had an unanswered question somewhere inside me, what is the real meaning of life? What is life about? What is there that we can do that will really be worth doing? I concluded that Christianity didn’t have the answer so where was I to turn?
I decided philosophy would be the place to look for the answer. So for seven years of Cambridge I studied philosophy. Academically, I was extremely successful. I was one of the youngest people ever to be elected to a fellowship in King’s College, Cambridge. But there was one problem. I still hadn’t resolved this question, what is it that would really make life worth living? What is it that life is for?
At that time World War II broke out and I knew I was going to be called up into the British Army, so I volunteered for the Royal Army Medical Corps. But what was I going to read? I said to myself there’s one book in the world which is more widely read and more influential than any other book in human history and I know very little about it. The Bible. So, just before I went into the army I bought myself a nice new black Bible. However, I found the Bible a very wearisome, baffling book. Was it philosophy? Was it theology? Was it poetry? Was it mythology? Was it history? It didn’t seem to fit into any category.
No interest in religion
Then one day, another soldier said, “I wonder if you’d like to come with me to a place I’ve found next Sunday afternoon?” I told him that I was not interested in religion but I didn’t have anywhere to go on Sunday afternoon so went with him.
Now, I went to that service as critically minded as anybody has ever attended a church but it was unlike anything I’d ever been in. They used red hymn books, and choruses and they would clap their hands. I felt acutely embarrassed to be in such a place.
The pastor took his text from the 6th chapter of the prophet Isaiah, a vision that Isaiah had of the Lord on His throne. And when Isaiah saw the Lord he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips in the midst of a people of unclean lips; and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” When I heard that phrase, “a man of unclean lips in the midst of a people of unclean lips,” I said to myself, no one ever described you better than that. So, he had my attention.
In this vision a seraph flew, took a live coal from off the altar with the tongs, laid it on Isaiah’s lips and said, “Lo, this has touched thy lips, thine iniquity is taken away and thy sin purged.” And then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us? And he answered, Here am I, send me.” I anticipated that the preacher would explain what happened to Isaiah but it didn’t happen that way. He got to the end and then he took me by surprise. He said: “Every head bowed, every eye closed.” Then he said: “If you want this thing, put your hand up.”
As I sat there, two inaudible voices were speaking to me. One of them was saying in my left ear, “If you put your hand up in front of all these old ladies and you’re a soldier in uniform, you’re going to look very silly.” The other voice was speaking at the same time in my right ear and it said, “If this is something good, why shouldn’t you have it?” I was unable to respond and I sat there and the silence dragged out. And then a miracle took place. Without my willing it or expecting it I saw my own right arm go right up in the air. And I knew I had not raised it.
A life-changing encounter with Jesus
Two or three days passed and I felt like somebody suspended between two worlds. I’d stepped out of one world but I hadn’t stepped into the other. Looking back now in the light of things I learned later, I realized that there was a tremendous invisible barrier which was I had become deeply involved in yoga and there was this invisible barrier that kept me from acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God. I eventually decided near the end of that week I was going to pray until something happened.
So when my fellow soldier was asleep I put my stool in front of the window, sat on it, put my elbows on the window sill and said now I’m going to pray. Then I discovered I couldn’t pray. I didn’t know whom I was going to pray to. I spent about an hour just sitting there trying to start to pray. It was about midnight and then suddenly I was aware that there was another person in the room. I didn’t see this other person but the person became very real to me.
I began to lose control of what I was saying and I began to say out loud to this person, “Unless you bless me I will not let you go.” I also said, “Make me love you more and more.” And when I got to the phrase more and more, again, I couldn’t stop. I said more and more and more and more. That was totally out of character for me. I mean, I would have been embarrassed to kiss my mother in public and here I was saying to this unknown person “make me love you more and more.”
Then something seemed to break loose inside me and I began to sob. I had no intellectual understanding of what I was crying for but I was just sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. This lasted well over half an hour, I lost count of time.
And then, again without any process of reasoning inside me, the sobbing changed to laughter. I began to laugh. I was not amused about anything, it was totally unconnected with humor. And it seemed to me I was sinking in a sea of laughter which was reverberating all around the room.
Waking up to a changed life
The next morning when I woke up I thought to myself, was that a dream or did it really happen. I really didn’t have any time to speculate because I had various tasks to do and I just went about my duties. But about midday I stopped and took stock and I said to myself here I’ve been mixing with these blaspheming soldiers for six hours and I haven’t said one wrong word. It was not that I had decided to give it up, it just wasn’t in me any longer.
I thought about what the seraph said to Isaiah, “This has touched thy lips, thy sin is purged, thine iniquity is taken away.” It wasn’t something that Isaiah did, it was something that was done in him and for him.
Another thing was that the previous night I hadn’t known how to pray, the next day I couldn’t stop praying. At one point I went to a tap to take a mug of water to drink and I couldn’t drink the water till I thanked God for it.
But the most dramatic change in me was in my reading of the Bible. And this was from one day to the next. The previous day it had been a baffling, wearisome book that I didn’t understand. The next day wherever I read in the Bible it was like this. It was as if there were only two persons in the universe—God and me—and the Bible was God speaking directly to me.
Jesus is alive
After a while I said to myself; have I been studying philosophy all these years and I really never found what I was looking for. Now I’ve discovered that the Bible is true and relevant and up to date. Why should I spend any more time on philosophy when it doesn’t have the answer and the Bible does? So I made the decision right then that from then on I was going to study the Bible.
From that day to this there are two things I have never been able to doubt. First, that Jesus is alive. Second, that the Bible is true. I never had to reason, I knew without any doubt that the person I had encountered in that barrack room was Jesus. And those two revelations that Jesus is alive and the Bible is true totally, permanently and radically altered my whole life.
I don’t want this just to be an entertaining story. I want it to mean something in your life. In John 7:17 Jesus said, “If any man will do God’s will he shall know….” You don’t “know” and then “do.” You “do” and then “know.” It doesn’t come by intellectual reasoning. It comes by commitment. Commitment is the key that unfolds the will of God in your life, and purpose for living. You can’t bargain with God. He doesn’t ask for your talents. He doesn’t ask for your money. He asks for you. Submit to Him. Yield to Him. Trust Him. He has your best interests at heart.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:1–2, “Present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.” Then he said, “You will prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Now, that is commitment. Present your body. Hand yourself over to God without reservation. Then you are renewed in your mind. And with the renewed mind you can discover God’s will for your life.
I want to help you, just take you one step on the journey. I can’t solve your questions. All I can do is just give you a simple prayer that you can pray out loud to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you’re the Son of God and the only way to God. You died on the cross for my sins and you rose again from the dead that I might be forgiven and received as a child of God. Because you have received me, Lord, I receive myself. I renounce all guilt, all inferiority, all doubt and fear. And by this act of standing, Lord, I commit myself without reservation to your will and purpose for my life. I trust you Lord, from now on to direct me to my calling and I offer myself to you for whatever purpose you have for my life. And Lord, I believe that you receive me because I come in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Has this article helped you? Help others to experience the same! Share it with friends or on your social media.
Interested in more? Listen to Derek Prince sharing his full story:
Or listen to Derek's podcast on How to be Renewed in Your Mind.