Daniel Whittle lived just before Prohibition took effect. Prohibition was a movement led my many Christian leaders to fight back against the negative effect of alcohol on the home and the community. Several societies (such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union) urged people to sign a pledge to abstain from alcohol (similar to churches that have “purity rings” today). But did those pledges work?
In a rural district, in the North of England, lived a shoemaker who had signed the temperance pledge often, but never had strength to keep it. After a while, he was able to keep it, and reformed entirely. A friend was curious to learn how he had been able, at last, to win the victory, and went to see him.
“Well, William, how are you?”
“Oh, pretty well. I had only eighteen pence and an old hen when I signed, and a few old scores; but now I have about ten pounds in the bank, and my wife and I have lived through the summer without getting into debt. But as I am only thirty weeks old yet (so he styled himself), I cannot be so strong yet, my friend.”
“How is it you never signed before?”
“I did sign; but I keep it different now to what I did before, friend.”
“How is this?”
“Why, I gae doon on my knees and pray.”
Here was the real strength of prayer. His own resolves were of no value; but when he called on God to help, then came new strength, and he was kept by restraining grace. The bitter experience of those who pledge and pledge over and over again, and never gain the victory, at last must come to either of two ends – their utter destruction, or else to call on God in prayer, to help them keep the pledge manfully, and make them stedfast in their resolutions.