John G. Lake - A Man of Faith and Works

Dr. John G. Lake’s ministry led to the medically confirmed healing of more than 100,000 people – through prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. His life was a powerful example of faith in action. John Lake believed that EVERY Christian ought to live such a life, experiencing the fullness of Christ.  He never ceased to exhort others to attain this fullness, which God is ready and willing to bestow.

In his youth, John Lake was often confronted with disease

John G. Lake was born in 1870 in Ontario, Canada, one of seventeen brothers and sisters. He was born rather sickly, as were a number of his brothers and sisters, eight of whom had died by the time he was a young boy. He joined a Methodist church at the age of 16, and decided to trust God alone for healing. 

Two years into his marriage to Jennie Stevens (whom he had married in 1893), she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and heart disease. In a few years her condition worsened, and the doctors told him there was nothing more that could be done for her, with some of his family still ill, and now his wife, Lake began to wonder where God’s power was. 

He experienced healing under the ministry of John A. Dowie

Earlier in his life he had experienced God’s healing power, when while in his youth he suffered from rheumatism, resulting his legs becoming misshaped, causing his entire body to become crooked. He went to John Alexander Dowie’s ‘Healing Home’ in Chicago, where an older man laid hands on Lake, and he was healed instantly.

Over the years, Lake took other members of his family to the Dowie ‘Home’, to be healed, determined that no more of his family should die, and sought the Lord at great length for their healing!

During Jennie’s final hours, Lake threw his Bible against the fireplace mantle in despair and it opened to the book of ACTS chapter 10.  His eyes drifted to verse 38: " …God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." Lake realized through this verse that God was not responsible for Jennie’s illness or any illness. He then knew that it was the devil that was the cause of her being sick and the devil was the one destroying his life. 

His wife Jennie miraculously came back to life as an answer to prayer

Technically, Jennie had died, however that day Lake sent a telegram to Dowie, stating that his spirit would not let go of Jennie and that he could hang on to God and that he believed, if Dowie would pray for her, she would be delivered.  She was up and well within the hour! This was in 1898 and became national news, bringing many to visit their home to see God’s miracle and to receive healing for themselves.

Such events brought Lake to an amazing ministry of power and anointing in the Holy Ghost, whom became the focus of his life and ministry.  John G. Lake preached the Gospel with a vitality and power that is rarely met today. 

Being involved in real estate and insurance, John Lake became very wealthy over the next years, but it was during this time that God dealt with him in such a way that the course of his life was definitively altered. During this time, he had continued practicing a ministry of healing.  Every answer to prayer and miraculous touch of God created within him a greater longing for the deeper things of the Spirit.  During his business life, he made it a habit of preaching somewhere every night.  After the services, he would then join with friends who, like himself, were determined to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit as they believed the early disciples had received it (ACTS 2:1-4). 

Eventually, John Lake was baptised in the Holy Ghost

His prayer was; "God, if You will baptize me in the Holy Ghost and give me the power of God, nothing shall be permitted to stand between me and one hundredfold obedience."

Sometime after this, he accompanied a minister to pray for an invalid lady who had had inflammatory rheumatism for ten years.  While the minister talked with the lady, John Lake sat at the opposite side of the room deeply moved in his spirit.  He testified that he suddenly felt as though he had just passed under a deep shower or warm tropical rain that fell not only on him, but through him.  His whole being was soothed into a deep stillness and calm.  An awe of the presence of God settled over him. 

After moments passed, he seemed to hear the Lord say, "I have heard your prayers, and I have seen your tears.  You are now baptized in the Holy Spirit." Then Dr. Lake testified to "currents of power" that began to rush through his being, increasing so greatly at his entire body began to vibrate intensely. 

John G. Lake At this time, the minister friend asked him to join him in prayer for the woman.  He found it difficult to walk across the room; the presence of the Lord was so intense.  As he touched the sister's head with his hand, her clenched hands opened and her joints began to work.  The woman who had been an invalid for so long arose from her wheelchair and was perfectly healed! As a result of his baptism in the Holy Spirit, Dr. Lake testified to seeing mankind through "new eyes".  He had a great desire to proclaim the message of Christ and to demonstrate His power in the world. 

From that point he could hardly focus on his business; preaching to the men that came to his office, rather than sell them insurance! Many left his office converted to Christ:

"After some months, I found my interest in commercial and worldly affairs was passing away.  A man would come into my office.  I could not think of his money.  I could only think of his soul.  Oh, was he saved? Could I bring him to Jesus? And many times it ended in my telling him of this wonderful saviour and having to pray instead of talking business at all.  Oh beloved, when the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Ghost, comes, it is Jesus' own passion for souls.

You must love them.  You can't help it.  Jesus died for them.  The Holy Ghost is His Spirit.  He loves them still.  He loves through you.  Again, the Lord said, "Follow me," and like Matthew I closed my office, arose and followed Him."1

He donated his savings and started out in independent evangelistic work

It was in April 1907 when he closed his office door for the last time and disposed of his bank account by giving to various religious and educational institutions. Dr. Lake then started out in independent evangelistic work with a single dollar, being absolutely dependent upon the Lord, along the faith lines of George Mueller of England and Hudson Taylor of the ‘China Inland Mission’.

During the next several months, he preached each day to large congregations with outstanding results.  Many people accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour, others were healed of diseases, while others received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as described in ACTS 2:38-39

While in a meeting in northern Illinois, the Lord spoke to him and directed him to go to Indianapolis to prepare for a winter campaign.  He was instructed to acquire a large hall, and then he was told that in the spring he would go to Africa:

Many miracles of God's provision were experienced on his way out to South Africa

He arrived with his missionary party in South Africa, on May 15, 1908.  Before he could come ashore, it was necessary for him to place $125 with the immigration department.  He had no money, but he stood in the line of people who were making their payments, and believed that even at this late hour that “God would supply his every need” (PHILIPPIANS 4:19), soon a man walked up, tapped him on the shoulder, and called him out of the line.  He handed him a traveller’s cheque for $200 and said, "I feel led to give you this to help your work.”

Upon arrival in Johannesburg another miracle occurred: a lady intercepted the Lake family at the train station, enquired about the number of children, and stated: “The Lord has sent me to meet you, and wants to give you a home".  Dr. Lake recalled this prayer answer of rent-free accommodation offered by a lady he had never met before: “That same afternoon we were living in a furnished cottage in the suburbs, the property of our beloved benefactor, Mrs. C. L. Goodenough of Johannesburg who remains to this day our beloved friend and fellow worker in the Lord.”2

Thousands of lives were transformed through the power of God during those years in South Africa, and the understanding of Christ was brought far and wide, to the British, Dutch, and native peoples, 125 white congregations and 500 black congregations were established there in that short time.

After spending 5 years in South Africa and losing his first wife through having a stroke (most likely due to the strain of the missionary work) Lake returned to the USA and began travelling for about another year, he then remarried with Miss Florence Switzer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1913. 

Under his ministry in the US, Spokane became 'America's healthiest city', with 100,000 confirmed healings

In 1914 he opened the ‘Healing Rooms’ in Spokane, WA, where there were more than 100,000 medically confirmed healings in the space of only 5 years.  This was to be the climax of his life’s work; as a result of his ministry during that time, Spokane came to be known as being ‘America’s healthiest city’, similar to Zion City, where John Alexander Dowie ministered a few years earlier. 

John G. Lake, despite having a mighty healing ministry was not satisfied with this alone, he noted that many ministries had failed because they were built on one thing: tongues, healings, or power etc.  John G. Lake sought to teach people the whole depth of God’s Word and righteous living, i.e. to be like Christ in character, thought, and deed, and that all who are called of God may be freed from the shackles with which Satan binds them with:

"I tell you God says, 'quit your sins, and then come to Me, and I will pardon you.' He doesn't say, 'you come on with your sins and I will pardon you'. He says, 'you quit your meanness, you quit fooling with the doctor, and the devil, you quit your secret habits, and come to Me, and I will deliver you', that is the only way to God, that is the way in God.

So a Christian’s consecration is not just a consecration of his spirit to God, nor of his soul to God.  It's a consecration of body and soul and spirit – the entire man, everything there is of us, and it cuts us forever plumb of from looking for help from the flesh, the world, or the devil.  3

So there arises in the heart the desire and prayer for the Spirit of God to eject, crucify, and destroy every tendency of opposition to the Holy Spirit.  Think not that thou shall attain the highest in God until within thine own soul a heavenly longing to be like Him who gave His life for us possesses thine heart.

Think not to come within the court of God with stain upon thine garments.  Think not that heaven can smile upon a nature fowled through evil contact.  Think not that Christ can dwell within temples seared by flames of hate.  No! The heart of man must first be purged by holy fire and washed from every stain by cleansing blood.  Know ye not that he whose nature is akin to God’s must ever feel the purging power of Christ within?" 4

In May 1920, Dr. Lake moved to Portland, Oregon, to establish a similar work to that of his church in Spokane.  Within a few years, this ministry in Portland was making a similar impact in Oregon as had the church in the Pacific Northwest. 

John Lake created faith in his audience and emphasised the awareness of "Christ in You - the Hope of Glory"

Dr. Lake's ministry was unusual, to say the least.  He possessed a remarkable ability to create faith in the hearts of his hearers.  Gordon Lindsay was no exception; having followed Dr. Lake's ministry with deep respect and admiration, he one day had need of the great man's faith.  He was stricken with a critical case of ptomaine poisoning and hung for days between life and death. 

Dr. Lake offered prayer for Gordon, and although deliverance did not immediately come in a visible manner, he stated with confidence that the Lord had indeed answered the prayer.  Mrs. Lake brought Reverend Lindsay some of the type-written sermons her husband had recently given, and while reading these, faith suddenly sprang into his heart.  Gordon arose from what many had thought was his deathbed, instantly healed.

John G. Lake While he was in Portland, Dr. Lake had hopes of raising-up a chain of healing missions on the order of his works in Spokane and Portland.  However, though he was not yet advanced in age, he lived with an intensity that had taken its toll.  A decline from the strength and vitality that had characterised his earlier ministry became apparent.

He seemed unable to match his spiritual vision with the physical strength that was required to bring it to pass.  In Houston, Texas, he had some initial success in the founding of a church, but was called away to the side of his eldest son who had suffered a serious accident that almost took his life and never to return to Houston. 

For a while, he ministered in churches throughout California and returned to the city of Portland for a time.  Afterwards, he then returned to Spokane, there he pastored until his death.

On ‘Labor Day’ 1935, Dr. and Mrs. Lake attended a Sunday school picnic.  He came home very tired and after a hot supper, lay down to rest.  A guest speaker was at the church that evening so Mrs. Lake prevailed on him to stay at home and she went to church in his place.  When she arrived home, she found that he had a stroke in her absence.  He lingered for about two weeks, unconscious most of the time, until September 16, 1935, when he passed away from this life to spend eternity with his master and maker that he loved so much.

John Lake’s ministry was a powerful example of faith in action. He led an extraordinary life, and believed that EVERY Christian ought to live such a life, experiencing the fullness of Christ.  Lake never ceased to exhort others to attain this fullness, which God is ready and willing to bestow. 

He never said that there would not be trials and difficulties, but the prize of being a son or daughter of God was John G. Lake’s aim for everyone to whom he ministered and dared to believe that the Word of God is true...all of it.  When his faith took action, miracles took place.  Let us judge ourselves and ask God to anoint us with this same power as we believe in His callings for our lives. 

  • 1. John G. Lake, The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings, Compiled by Roberts Liardon, Whitaker House Publishers (1999), 80.
  • 2. Ibid, at 748-749.
  • 3. Ibid, at 115.
  • 4. Ibid, at 196.