“Give me Scotland, or I die”: John Knox as a Man of Prayer

John Knox was born in Scotland about 1514. So he was only about three years old when the Protestant reformation started in Germany in 1517. Converted to Protestantism from Roman Catholicism in 1543, Knox lived during the time when it was often very dangerous to be a follower of Christ. When the Roman Catholic Mary Tudor (also known as “Bloody Mary” because of her ruthless persecution of the Protestants) became queen in 1553, Knox, who was in England at this time, was forced to hide. He eventually landed in Geneva where he met John Calvin, who became his mentor. Knox retuned to Scotland in 1559, the year after Queen “Bloody Mary” died and was succeeded by the Protestant Queen Elizabeth. He remained in Scotland, bringing reformation to the church until his death in 1572. The Collected Prayers of John Knox

Today people remember Knox as the leader of the Protestant reformation in Scotland and the founder of Scottish Presbyterianism. But what others don’t realize is that by the end of his ministry, he became more well known for his prayer than for his other ministries.  The devout Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, is reputed to have said, “I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe.” Why do you think the Queen said this? Well, because she saw the impact of Knox’s prayer. From a human point of view, it was the prayer of Knox that sparked the Reformation in Scotland. His prayer became the fuel of the ongoing reformation during his time. His prayer shook the land of Scotland, causing a revival among God’s people.

Perhaps of all the prayers of Knox, “Give me Scotland, or I die” is the most quoted one.  It was not an arrogant prayer but a passionate plea, showing his intense desire for the conversion of the people of Scotland. His prayer was an expression of his great confidence in God. One of Knox’s mottos was “one man with God is always in the majority.” His prayer also echoes the Apostle Paul’s prayer in Romans 10:1, “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” I wonder if we have the same desire for our fellow countrymen. When was the last time you prayed for your country like Knox did for his? Do we sincerely pray for our fellow countrymen’s conversion?

Knox remained prayerful even to death. During his dying hours, “he was much engaged in meditation and prayer. These words were often in his mouth”: “Come, Lord Jesus. Sweet Jesus into Thy hand I commend my spirit. Be merciful, Lord, to Thy Church, which Thou hast redeemed. Give peace to this afflicted commonwealth. Raise up faithful pastors who will take charge of Thy Church. Grant us, Lord, the perfect hatred of sin, both by evidences of Thy wrath and mercy.”

“Grant us, Lord, the perfect hatred of sin.” What a godly prayer of Knox! Indeed, after he died on November 24, 1572 (at about age 58), Principal Smeaton, one of Knox’s contemporaries, said of him, “I know not if ever God placed a more godly and great spirit in a body so little and frail.” Knox was not perfect, but we can definitely learn from his prayer life.

To learn more about Knox’s theology, spirituality, and practice of prayer, see The Collected Prayers of John Knox (Reformation Heritage Books, 2019).








13 responses to ““Give me Scotland, or I die”: John Knox as a Man of Prayer”

  1. Edward Appiah Avatar
    Edward Appiah

    Wow hanceforth I will pray for Ghana

  2. Adeyemi Avatar

    John Knox is a man of prayer and he single-handedly bring revival to the city of Scotland with the help of Holy Ghost. Can someone recognize some of his book to me
    Am from Nigeria.

  3. Abraham kenny Avatar
    Abraham kenny


  4. Lilla Avatar

    Great article very informative. Mary Queen of Scots was the mother of King James who authorized the KJB.



  6. musingsofmanettekay Avatar

    Thank you for this summary of John Knox. His prayers are still relevant today.

    Yehovah, have mercy on us, that every nation, tribe, and people repent while there is time.

  7. Alan Kearns Avatar

    Reblogged this on Devotional Treasures and commented:
    An excellent short biography of the prayers of John Knox of Scotland. I was encouraged by this and I hope it encourages you too.

    1. Agu Josephat Nnanna Avatar
      Agu Josephat Nnanna

      I need John Knox works. Can i get them ?

  8. Alan Kearns Avatar

    What a beautiful encouraging short biography of a true man of God; if only Scotland could find a few like him today!

  9. Biggie's Big Blogs Avatar

    “Give me the world or I die!” Is my prayer now!!
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. Jacob Hoek Avatar
    Jacob Hoek

    Since this plandemic the majority of reformed leaders are referring to Romans 13 for their caving to the rulers, disrersgarding the plain command, “rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil” so Knox oppossed bloody queen Mary, should our leaders not have an identical attitude in obeying God? We are commanded to resist the devil, what about his followers? If christians have other motives are they scriptual? In mark 8, 35 and 5 other texts, the Lord tells us not to try saving our lives, then we will lose it. But if we will lose it instead for Christ and the Gospel’s sake the same shall save it. If we arekilled for keeping church doors open, we will save our lives. This is Christ’s instruction, so let nune spin it around, for you will lose your life. Awful TRUTH !

  11. Cauda Joseph Avatar
    Cauda Joseph

    Am from Nigeria

    1. Lilla Avatar

      I have the book for you.

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