Not all prayer warriors are the civil, “genteel” type. Robert Sheffey was unique.
Many stories about Sheffey related to his power in prayer. Some of his prayers concerned critical needs of agricultural communities, such as the need for rain in time of drought or the prevention of rain during harvest. Because Sheffey hated the liquor traffic, his most remembered prayers were directed against stills and the people who ran them. According to an expert in the folklore of itinerant Methodist preachers, there are “at least twenty-five accounts of how Sheffey’s prayers led to the immediate destruction of whiskey stills and distilleries,” many apparently versions of the same episode. (The owners were not moonshiners; at the time, distilling was perfectly legal.) According to one minister, Sheffey prayed for the destruction of three distilleries on a creek near where they had been preaching. The minister claimed the proprietor of one still, in robust health, died suddenly; at a second, Sheffey prayed that a tree would fall on the still house though there were no trees nearby, and a “great storm came and actually landed a tree on the still”; and a third still was destroyed by fire after Sheffey had spent a night in prayer against it. Men were said to have left the area rather than become the object of Sheffey’s prayers.
But his prayers for souls were fervent and were heard.
It was common for Preacher Sheffey to come to the camp meetings and go off into the woods to pray on his sheepskin until he felt the meeting was going to break open. My uncle, J. W. Perry was preaching one night at Wabash and Preacher Sheffey returned to the camp shed about the time he wound it up. Uncle John went to his tent to rest while the “mourners” prayed at the shed. Preacher Sheffey joined them praying and exhorting others to come forward. It is reported that on that very night many in the crowd report they heard the angels singing above them, although some doubted. But many came to faith that night because of the praying parson.
There’s a great film available from Unusual Films on Robert Sheffey:
My wife and I were able to visit the grave of this fascinating servant of the LORD. On his tombstone it says:
Fully consecrated to God’s service, he preached the Gospel without money and without price and has entered upon his reward. The poor were sorry when he died.
Robert Sheffey Epitaph
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;