Elizabeth Sisson (1843-1934) was an early missionary, itinerant evangelist, church planter, and author. She was one of four daughters born to New England whaling captain, William Sisson, and his wife Elizabeth (Hempstead) Sisson. She was converted in 1863 in New London, Connecticut, and felt a calling to ministry. She reported that she saw a vision of Christ, who said to her: “I have ordained you.” She joined Second Congregational Church and later attended an Episcopal church.
In 1871 she left the U.S. to serve India as a missionary for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) where she ministered among Hindus and Moslems. After she was stricken with severe illness, Sisson was forced to leave India for a period of recuperation in London. She reported that she was healed of an “incurable disease” at W. S. Boardman’s Bethshan Faith Home in London. In 1887 she returned to the U.S. and was a gospel worker in Chicago for a time.
She soon took up a teaching and writing ministry. During this period, she became associated with Carrie Judd Montgomery and became the associate editor of Triumphs of Faith in Buffalo, New York. The two women went to San Francisco in the fall of 1889, where Carrie met and married George Montgomery. During this time Sisson attended some tent meetings held by Maria Woodworth-Etter in Oakland. She later resigned her post with Triumphs of Faith and returned to New England, where she was baptized in the Holy Spirit at a camp meeting at Old Orchard, Maine.
For several years Sisson traveled as an evangelist, accompanied by her sister Charlotte. She held meetings in New England, Canada, and other places. In 1908 she made an evangelistic tour to the British Isles. She spent four months ministering with F. F. Bosworth in Dallas in 1915. That same year she also ministered in Detroit.
Sisson attended and actively participated in the 1917 General Council. She delivered the keynote address on the topic of “building of the body of Christ.” She became affiliated with the Assemblies of God soon afterwards on Dec. 18, 1917, at the age of 74. In her final years she made her home at 17 Jay Street, New London, Connecticut.
Sisson became a sought-after conference speaker and was a prolific writer. She contributed articles to Word and Work (Framingham, Massachusetts), Confidence (Sunderland, England), The Latter Rain Evangel (Chicago), the Pentecostal Evangel, and Triumphs of Faith (Oakland, California). She contributed more than 65 articles to the Pentecostal Evangel and well over 100 articles to other Pentecostal periodicals. In addition, she authored over 30 tracts and booklets. Many of these focused on the topic of prayer. She passed away at her home on Sept. 17, 1934, at the age of 91.
One of her articles on prayer, written 100 years ago, was called “The Last Lap of the Race.” It included a three-point message on 1) the prayer race, 2) how to pray, and 3) the victory.
She started out by saying, “On a racecourse everything depends, not on the beginning of the race … but when comes the last lap of the race, how every eye is fixed upon the runners.”
She stressed that as Pentecostals, we have come to that critical moment — the last lap of a race. And she said this 100 years ago. How much more relevant is this idea today. She quoted the powerful verse in Joel 2:28: “It shall come to pass in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out my Spirit upon ALL flesh.”
She considered this outpouring of God’s Spirit upon all flesh as the last blaze of glory in the Gentile age. She wrote that “truly we are in the last lap of the prayer race. It is ours to apprehend the program of God and pray it in.”
She emphasized the vital importance of prayer with a single declaration: “Restrain prayer, retard God’s operations. Increase prayer in the Holy Ghost, and speed this plan of God.” Indeed, when in prayer we have given Him “good measure pressed down and running over,” He will answer back with “gospel measure,” said Sisson.
Sisson listed many examples of answered prayer. She recommended being “hidden in the name of Jesus, covered by the blood” when you pray. She also stressed that it is the power of Jesus’ Name that brings the “Victory of the Throne” when praying. Sisson gave several examples from the Old Testament regarding prayer and praise. She stressed that true victory comes through praising God.
Read Elizabeth Sisson’s article, “The Last Lap of the Race,” which was published on page 2 of the Feb. 4, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel and continued on page 2 of the Feb. 18, 1922, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Return of the Lord,” by Arthur W. Frodsham
• “Seven Reasons Why Sick Are Not Healed,” by Max Wood Moorhead
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.