Rees Howells was an absolute legend. Called by God to prayer, intercession and missionary work he dedicated his life to the service of Jesus and others. He is not well known, because he just got on with it! A guy called Norman Grubb (I love that name) wrote his biography . . . Norman himself was a missionary, but also wrote books and biographies of great people of faith he had encountered and worked with. These were two incredible, yet humble – men of God.
In the biography of Rees, which you can see here (DO get it!) . . . Norman writes about some incredible stuff Rees was involved in during the welsh revival in the early 1900s. Basically, Rees was praying and leading revival meetings. God was showing up BIG time. Everything was pretty amazing. Then, two amazing things happen (I know, revival is pretty amazing as it is . . . ) – First – he tells Rees that he wants him to dedicate himself to prayer, rather than lead the meetings. Stay at home. Don’t be upfront. Pray by yourself. Give yourself to that – and God told him he would raise up is friend (who he had been working with) who would lead greater times of revival and more would happen – if Rees would dedicate himself to prayer. No glory! Just get on your knees and pray. Nobody would know that this new thing was happening because of Rees, he was to just do it without telling anyone . . . Rees faithfully does this and things go even more crazy! The Lord does more because of his quiet faithfulness. That’s pretty amazing in itself! Then, second, (and for this bit, we have to understand the culture of the time) God talks to Rees about his prayer life (which, I am thinking is pretty STUNNING up to this point . . . !) During his prayer times, Rees removes his hat – and this is pretty normal behaviour I guess, and he probably didn’t wear his hat around the house . . . but there he is, in his space with God. Praying. Hatless (we can all identify with that I think, unless you are into hats . . . ) BUT, what was not done was going out of your house, if you were a bloke without something on your head, a hat, a cap – it was just expected. Headgear was worn back then. Well, God said to Rees – when you pray you take your hat off, well – you are always in my presence. I want you to be constantly in a state of prayer, you are never NOT in my presence – so, Rees, don’t wear your hat when you go out. I would have struggled with the praying quietly while some friend hogged the lime light at a revival meeting . . . Rees humbly got on with that. This hat thing however seemed to throw him and he wrestled with it! It just wasn’t done! Eventually, he did it – people thought he was crazy, his family wondered if he should be committed! Rees reached a new place of humility and a fresh understanding of prayer – and this was a guy who was a PHENOMENAL prayer!
What – you might be thinking – does this have to do with us? Well – what is my hat?
That’s it really. Is there anything keeping me from knowing and experiencing the presence of God all the time, knowing I am always in his presence? Knowing I should always be in that place of prayerful submission, moment by moment, in the quiet and still moments by myself and in the hustle and noise and demands of the world and life – how am I doing? How are you doing?
Got a hat? Take it off.