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Prayer advocate T.W. Hunt dies at age 85

SPRING, Texas (BP) — Thomas W. (“T.W.”) Hunt, widely recognized in Christian circles as an authority on prayer, died Dec. 11 at the age of 85.

Hunt was the author of such books as “The Mind of Christ” and “Disciple’s Prayer Life” and a former professor of music and missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Hunt’s granddaughter, Katherine Fruge, a doctor of philosophy student at Southwestern, characterized his passing as “successfully finishing his race,” noting that he died peacefully with family by his side “cheering him on to victory.”

“T.W. Hunt met Jesus yesterday,” Southwestern President Paige Patterson said in a Dec. 12 statement. “It was a meeting of a faithful servant and his Lord, to be sure. But in a sense, it was just a reunion of old friends, because few men ever walked with God like Enoch and T.W. Hunt.

“As a faculty member, as a pastor and as a friend, Dr. Hunt was the champion of prayer and devotional walk with the Master. His family, his friends, his church and his seminary will miss him profoundly.

Now, my friend, enjoy all that God has now richly provided for you,” Patterson said.

Born in 1929, Hunt grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ at age 10, although it would be many years before he fully surrendered to God’s plan for his life. Until then, Hunt earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in musicology and piano and taught music classes at the University of North Texas and, later, at Oklahoma College for Women.

The trajectory of Hunt’s life changed, however, when he received a special gift in 1959 — a copy of the Martin Luther translation of the Bible — from a student who knew that he spoke German, which Hunt learned while serving overseas in the Army and as a missionary.

The day he received the Bible was one of the most memorable of his life. “It just seemed to be kind of … me,” he recalled in a Baptist Press article many years later. “Luther had linguistic skill and spiritual insight. [I made] the decision to commit all my life to Christ in 1959, reading that German Bible.”

Four years later, Hunt followed God’s call to teach in Southwestern’s school of church music. Within a few years, he had transformed the way music was used for missions. Specifically, he developed the Music in Missions class that is still in the school’s catalogue today.

The new course, for which Hunt wrote the textbook, offered students techniques for using music to communicate the message of the Gospel by focusing on the indigenous music of the particular mission field. This concept would later prove to have played an integral role in revolutionizing music evangelism.

In 1987, LifeWay Christian Resources (then-Baptist Sunday School Board), which had previously published Hunt’s Disciple’s Prayer Life and, soon after, “The Doctrine of Prayer,” asked Hunt to move to Nashville to serve as the board’s first prayer consultant. Although the decision was difficult due to Hunt’s fondness for teaching, after much prayer and Bible study, it became clear he had finished what God wanted him to do at Southwestern and it was time to move on. So, confident in God’s will, Hunt accepted the position.

From that position, Hunt became recognized as an earnest prayer warrior and often was asked to speak on prayer at conferences and state conventions, sparking several thousand churches to begin or undergird their prayer ministries. He retired from LifeWay in 1994.

After leaving LifeWay, Hunt remained an active author and speaker over the next two decades. In 1994, LifeWay published what would be Hunt’s most popular work, The Mind of Christ, a Bible study co-authored with Claude V. King on Philippians 2:5-11.

Throughout more than five decades of ministry, Hunt always asked people not to focus on him. Instead, as he once said to Baptist Press, “I’d rather they know about God.”

Mark Estep, pastor of Spring Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, where Hunt was a longtime member, said Hunt was the most godly person he ever met.

“He truly walked with the Lord and demonstrated that walk each and every day,” Estep said. “He was my friend, mentor and encourager. There is no one on this earth for whom I or my church has more respect than T.W. Hunt. T.W. taught in our church many times, usually on the subject of prayer or the work of the Holy Spirit. Our people always were blessed by his deep insight and his ability to communicate what God had taught him. He will be missed more than words can say.

“I have no doubt that as he stepped through the gates of heaven, he humbly bowed before our Lord and heard the words, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant,'” Estep said.

Hunt was preceded in death by his wife Laverne in 2009. Funeral arrangements were not available at press time.

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  • Alex Sibley