One of my favorite things to do during the Summer months (especially on vacation) is to read biographies of great men and women of the past.

One that deeply impacted me was on the life of David Brainerd, missionary to the Native Americans in the early 1700’s. It was entitled, An Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd and was written by Jonathan Edwards.

David Brainerd only lived 29 years before the Lord called him home, yet despite his short life, God used his influence for generations to come. Brainerd was known for his passion and dedication to following Christ no matter the cost.

His life story inspired me greatly as a young 18-year-old freshman in Bible College. His words continue to challenge and inspire me to follow Christ wholeheartedly.

American philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Taking time to learn from godly men and women that have gone before us can enrich our souls and inspire our hearts. I almost always come away from reading a biography of a godly leader encouraged, uplifted and inspired to live for Christ in even greater ways.

Reading about the lives of godly saints who have gone before us serves as a poignant reminder that our current struggles are very similar, if not the same, as the challenges they faced. It breathes fresh hope into our souls and reminds us that we’re not alone in this spiritual battle.

I would encourage you to pick up a biography this Summer and learn from the successes and failures, the ups and downs, the good times and the bad times of other great men and women that have gone before us!

Here are a few quotes that I have gleaned from David Brainerd. I hope they encourage, inspire and challenge you in your walk with Jesus. I’ve included at the bottom of this blog a brief biography of the life of David Brainerd for your information.

Quotes from the Life of David Brainerd

“O God, let me make a difference for You that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.”

“Once more, Never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on Him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace.”

“We are a long time in learning that all our strength and salvation is in God.”

“We should always look upon ourselves as God’s servants, placed in God’s world, to do his work; and accordingly labor faithfully for him; not with a design to grow rich and great, but to glorify God, and do all the good we possibly can.”

“When you cease from labor, fill up your time in reading, meditation, and prayer: and while your hands are laboring, let your heart be employed, as much as possible, in divine thoughts.”

“Oh, that I could spend every moment of my life to God’s glory!”

“It is sweet to be nothing and less than nothing that Christ may be all in all.”

A Short Biography

David Brainerd (April 20, 1718 – October 9, 1747) was an American missionary to the Native Americans.

Brainerd was born in Haddam, Connecticut. He was orphaned at fourteen and had an experience that intensified his dedication to Christianity at age 21 in 1739. Shortly after, he enrolled at Yale, but was expelled his junior year for privately saying of a college tutor, “He has no more grace than this chair”. Although his contemporaries, Jonathon Edwards, Wesley and George Whitefield attempted to re-enroll him, he was continuously turned away. The episode grieved Brainerd, but some two months later, on his 24th birthday, he wrote in his journal, “…I hardly ever so longed to live to God and to be altogether devoted to Him; I wanted to wear out my life in his service and for his glory …”

The University later named a building after Brainerd (Brainerd Hall at Yale Divinity School), the only building on the Yale University campus to be named after a student who was expelled.

He then prepared for the ministry, being licensed to preach in 1742, and early in 1743 decided to devote himself to missionary work among the Native Americans. Supported by the Scottish “Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,” he worked first at Kaunaumeek, an Indian settlement about 20 miles from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and subsequently, until his death, among the Delaware Indians in Pennsylvania (near Easton) and New Jersey (near Cranbury). His heroic and self-denying labors, both for the spiritual and for the temporal welfare of the Indians, wore out a naturally feeble constitution, and on October 9, 1747 he died at the house of his friend, Jonathan Edwards, in Northampton, Massachusetts. Brainerd is believed to have died of tuberculosis.

He made a handful of converts, but became widely known in the 1800s due to books about him. His Journal was published in two parts in 1746 by the Scottish Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; and in 1749, at Boston, Jonathan Edwards published An Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd, chiefly taken from his own Diary and other Private Writings, which has become a missionary classic. A new edition, with the Journal and Brainerd’s letters embodied, was published by Sereno E. Dwight at New Haven in 1822; and in 1884 was published what is substantially another edition, The Memoirs of David Brainerd, edited by James M Sherwood. Brainerd’s writings contain substantial meditation on the nature of the illness that eventually led to his death and its relation to his ties with God. (