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Lord, give us the desire to be used by you like Patrick. Use us to transform our nation or wherever you call us.

Did you know that St. Patrick was a real person–and that we can celebrate the spiritual legacy of St. Patrick on March 17th? It doesn’t include green beer or corned beef and cabbage, but his legacy is a real story of the transformation of a nation.  Read on…

America is obviously in need of Biblical transformation, as are all the nations of the world. But can we really expect such transformation to ever occur? Can God’s Kingdom come to earth and His will be done here as it is in heaven? Can a nation experience Biblical transformation in our lifetime?

First, since Jesus taught us to pray for this, we can have assurance it can occur. Jesus also gave us the commission to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:18-20), as this is a part of His plan for man while living on earth. In addition, there are many examples in history. Perhaps the greatest example of how Biblical revival transforms nations occurred in the fifth through the seventh centuries, beginning when a young Celt was carried to Ireland as a slave.

Patrick of Ireland was an outstanding example of a man who discipled a nation. He was a world figure; one of the very great among men; “one of the dominant personalities of world history.”[1] He completely transformed Ireland in his lifetime and set the nation on its destiny. His work in Ireland was a world event. Historian Seumas MacManus writes:

All histories of all countries probably could not disclose to the most conscientious searcher another instance of such radical change in a whole nation’s character being wrought within the lifespan of one man.[2]

There was a complete transformation of Ireland from the time before and after Patrick. The people before Patrick were worshiping idols and “were carrying the ruthless law of the sword far over sea and land” enslaving those they encountered. After Patrick, the worship of the living God was predominant throughout the nation, and the Irish people “left the conquering sword to be eaten by rust, while they went far and wide again over sea and land, bearing now to the nations— both neighbouring and far off— the healing balm of Christ’s gentle words.”[3]

Patrick’s providential preparation is an amazing story. Around the year 389 A.D., at the age of 15 or 16, Patrick was captured and enslaved by Irish marauders. He spent six years as a slave in Ireland during his impressionable years. He learned the language, religion, and culture and became an Irishman in many ways. Most importantly, he was converted, remembering his Christian upbringing, and had the seeds of his life work planted in him. His life of a shepherd gave him much time to pray and seek God. He eventually escaped Ireland, acting upon a vision from the Lord, and would not return for over 35 years.[4]

Patrick was about 58 years old when God sent him back to Ireland to fulfill his destiny. His work for the next 28 years brought about as great a transformation in a nation as any man has ever wrought during his lifetime.

The foundation of his life work, and what is needed to transform nations today, was laid in Patrick while he was a slave in Ireland. Brought up in a Christian home, as a youth Patrick had forgotten God and wandered into the ways of sin, but he was awakened unto God. He writes in his Confessions, “And there the Lord opened the understanding of my unbelief so that at length I might recall to mind my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord, my God, who hath . . . taken pity on my youth and ignorance.”[5]

Patrick had much time to pray while he watched the flocks day and night, writing:

I was always careful to lead my flocks to pasture, and to pray fervently. The love and fear of God more and more inflamed my heart; my faith enlarged, my spirit augmented, so that I said a hundred prayers by day and almost as many by night. I arose before day in the snow, in the frost, and the rain, yet, I received no harm, nor was I affected with slothfulness. For then the spirit of God was warm within me.[6]

Patrick went into other parts of Ireland, dispelling the darkness with the light of the Gospel, making many converts, including King Laoghaire’s two daughters. His influence grew mightily, to the point where all the serpents and venomous things were driven out of Ireland, which is true spiritually more so than physically. (While there are no snakes in Ireland, this was probably the case before Patrick arrived.[9])

Over the years, thousands of people were converted including many kings and leaders of the people. “An unquenchable burning desire for bringing souls to Christ was the passion of Patrick’s life.”[10] In addition to multitudes of converts, Patrick worked to bring transformation in all spheres of life:

  • He saw untold thousands converted.
  • He founded 700 churches.
  • He trained and set in place Church leadership — 700 bishops and 3000 ministers.
  • He set up training centers to educate thousands.
  • He transformed civil government, working with kings to establish godly laws. He wrote the Liber Ex Lege Moisi, which were extracts from the Laws of Moses. He directed the compilation of the laws known as Senchus Mor, revising old laws in accordance with Biblical precepts. Liber and Senchus Morbecame the basis for civil law in Ireland.

In his later years Patrick directed, as mentioned above, the compilation of the laws known as Senchus Mor. He revised the old laws in accordance with Biblical precepts. These laws were also known as the Brehon Laws (from the Irish name of the official lawgiver). He also wrote his famous Confession and other works, which still inspire people today. He died around the year 460, but his work would impact Ireland and all of Europe for centuries to come.

Fruit of Patrick’s Work Transformed a Continent

Many other nations were impacted through those who were trained in the churches, seminaries, and schools Patrick started. Many holy men and women continued Patrick’s work. The three greatest Irish saints were Patrick, Bridget and Colm Cille (Columba).

In the centuries succeeding Patrick, Christians swarmed forth, like bees from a hive, from the Irish monasteries and schools to distant lands carrying the faith and truth that brought many people out of barbarism. One historian wrote: “It was thus, when the whole world seemed irrecoverably sunk in barbarism . . . the Irish went forth into every part of the world,” to spread Christianity and knowledge.[14]

The barbarians (Vandals, Huns, Franks, Visigoths, Saxons, Angles, Jutes, etc.) swept through Europe in the 400s, conquering and destroying all before them. The light of the Gospel in much of Europe was threatened to be extinguished. It was at this crucial time that the fruit of the work of Patrick in Ireland began to grow. One modern book’s title describes the influence: How the Irish Saved Civilization. Carrying Christianity, Ireland’s sons “became the teachers of whole nations, the counselors of kings and emperors.”[15] In addition, Christians from all over England and Europe flocked to Ireland to be trained in the Holy Scriptures, only to return to their lands to sow all that they had learned.

(Excerpted from The Providence Foundation, by Stephen McDowell.)

276 People Prayed
2299 People have read this article

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  1. I thank God for what He Has done through His followers as Patrick did and I pray that many more will be called to that same kind of ministry. I know very little about Catholicism, but I must say I have seen Catholics who were dedicated to Christ. May God raise up people of God around the world to preach the Truth to all nations. There is a great need for intercessory prayer for God to send soul winners into the field for they are white unto harvest.

  2. Catholics do not worship dead Saints. Catholics worship God alone.
    Catholics do have a great devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
    When Mary and Jesus were at a wedding feast at Cana, Mary noticed the embarrassing situation of running out of wine. Mary called on Jesus, who at first told his Mother that it wasn’t his time. But Mary INTERCEDED and told the waiters to do what Jesus said. Jesus told the waiters to fill the jugs with water, which Jesus turned into jugs of finest wine. That was Jesus’ first miracle. Mary and the Saints are intercessors, as we all can be, as the Body of Christ.

    1. You said it right.
      Sad so many Christians have wrong ideas about Catholics.
      We worship God alone.
      I bet Jesus followed the 4th Commandment to perfection–“Honor Thy Mother and Thy Father.” And therefore, I imitate Him. I honor Mary. I do not worship her.

      Thanks for saying it so well.

  3. Sadly the Catholics in Ireland worship dead saints and have a great devotion to Mary which is still idol worship. Lord we are asking for a true transformation to the US. One where the Word of God is central in a we think, say and do. May the Lord Jesus Christ and His resurrected power flow in the church of the living God.

    1. Susan, you have a very misinformed view of the Catholic faith. There may be some Catholics who don’t know their faith and you judge the Catholic faith by them. Catholics do not worship dead people any more than you worship your friends when you ask them to pray for you. Veneration does not mean worshiping. There are many sincere, loving the Lord, and very uninformed anti-Catholic Protestants who have joined the Catholic Church through studying the early Church Fathers writings and the Bible.There are hundreds of their testimonies on Most tried to refute Catholic beliefs yet found them very Scriptural when checking the Bible. Read some of their stories of how the Holy Spirit drew them to the truth.

        1. I’m with you, I was raised Catholic and privately educated. God keep calling me out of Catholicism from the 6 th grade. I know so much more about God and Jesus than I was ever taught. Some Catholics are content to stay in the box. God has probably called them to do more and learn more, but those calls have been ignored.

          1. Same here God was calling me out by 4 or 5 grade. I never could accept much of the teaching. Especially the voodoo beads. I praise Him everyday for showing me truth. And for the living word of God.

        2. Being raised Catholic and then leave the church does not mean you are knowledgeable to have credibility to trash the Catholic faith. God may have called you out of the Church to Protestantism because he calls the bottom of the barrel out and the cream of the crop in. That is the only way he maybe could reach you. But God certainly did not call you to trash what you left. Rarely does a Protestant coming into the Church trash his former denomination, We once were considering leaving the church too because of our pastor. In prayer God quickly answered and it was clear as a bell. The message He gave us was, “If you can’t love what you want to leave as much as you want to go to, I’m not calling you.

          1. As I said yesterday “this is where we agree to disagree let it rest. This is not a page for open debate it’s a page for prayer

    1. All faiths seem to have some political order within or idols of their denomination or church. We pray to our Father in Heaven. In the name of Jesus because He is the only way to the Fsther. We have one heavenly Father. There are some so called fathers of the faith. And mothers as well. But they are mentors helping to disciple us. I appreciate them all and thank Goc He is changing our doctrines to be more than the traditions of men. Church had evolved since the book of acts taking us into darkness at a time but also allowing the Holy Spirit to bring us into greater revelation of what the scriptures say. Onward Christian and Catholic Soldiers.

  4. Dear Lord thank you for the example of St. Patrick-what one person totally surrendered to you and willing to obey your call on their life can do! I pray I be so fully surrendered. Open the eyes of Americans to their sin.I pray for a great moving of your spirit in our land that we fall on our faces in prayer repenting of sin and pleading for souls to be saved. I ask in powerful name of Jesus.

  5. This is a wonderful reminder of this man’s commitment to God and how it change the world at that time. I was raised catholic and remember the nuns telling stories of St. Patrick and driving snakes out of Ireland and how he brought Christ to the country. One of the nuns was from Ireland and had great passion for her home land and share other stories with us.

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