The story is as follows: When in Canada on our first furloughs I was frequently amazed at the incredulity expressed when definite testimony was given to an answer to prayer. Sometimes this was shown by an expressive shrug of the shoulders, sometimes by a sudden silence or turning of the topic of conversation, and sometimes more openly by the query: "How do you know that it might not have happened so, anyway?"
Gradually the impression deepened: "If they will not believe one, two, or a dozen testimonies, will they believe the combined testimonies of one whole life?"
The more I thought of what it would mean to record the sacred incidents connected with answers to prayer the more I shrank from the publicity, and from undertaking the task. There were dozens of answers far too sacred for the public eye, which were known only to a few, others known only to God. But if the record were to carry weight with those who did not believe in the supernatural element in prayer, many personal and scarcely less sacred incidents must of necessity be made public.
Again and again I laid the matter aside as impossible. But I know now that the thing was of God. As months, even years, passed, the impelling sense that the record of answers to prayer must be written gave me no rest.
It was at the close of the 1908-10 furlough -- during which, as a family, we had been blessed with many and, to our weak faith, wonderful answers to prayer -- that my oldest son urged me to put down in some definite form the answers to prayer of my life, and extracted from me a solemn promise that I would do so.
But months passed after returning to China, and the record had not been touched. Then came a sudden and serious illness which threatened my life, when the doctor told me I must not delay in getting my affairs in order.
It was then that an overwhelming sense of regret took possession of me that I had not set down the prayer testimonies, and solemnly I covenanted with the Lord that if he would raise me up they should be written.
There was no more question of what others might think; the one thought was to obey. The Lord raised me up; and although he had to deal with me very sternly once more before I really set myself to the task, the testimonies that are given here were written at last -- most of them in odd moments of time during strenuous missionary journeys among the heathen.
Thus it will be seen that these incidents of answered prayer are not given as being more wonderful, or more worthy of record, than multitudes the world over could testify to; but they are written and sent out simply and only because I had to write them or disobey God.