Peter Marshall: How to Hear God’s Call

In 1927, God sent Peter Marshall to the United States. He had a purpose, and a promise from on high to come to America and become a minister. He didn’t clearly know all the steps in his path of life in the United States, but he trusted that God would light his path.

Listen to Dr. Marshall’s words, “I was coming to the United States to enter the ministry, because I believed, with all my heart, that those were the orders from my Chief. But I did not know how or when or where. I could not foresee the wonderful way in which God would open doors of opportunity. I could never imagine the romantic, thrilling way in which God was to arrange my life.” A Man Called Peter, (pg.34)

When we get our call from God to accomplish his task for our lives, He arranges the details in a perfect mosaic. Our hearts are especially tuned in to follow the call He places in us.

The Bible tells us of another man who gets a call from God. 

In 2 Samuel 7:3, “Nathan replied to the king, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.’”

The heavenly hotline has caused king David’s heart to burn brightly. He, like Peter Marshall, knew that God had a purpose, a calling that he had to do because God had flipped the light on in his heart.

But think for a moment. How does God’s idea come into our hearts?

How can we know what to do and if that is what God would have us do? First, let me say that being faithful in the little things is how God assigns bigger things. If we can’t be kind, loving, faithful, obedient in the little things, God certainly won’t trust us with a bigger purpose in his Divine plan.

But when we are faithful in the little then God desires and designs a God-sized task.

Peter Marshall came to America on April 5th, 1927. All he knew was that God had called him from his home in Scotland to a new land.

He knew God turned on a purpose but didn’t know where that purpose might lead. It led him first working a job in New Jersey and eventually to Birmingham Alabama. There he started teaching a men’s Bible class. Finally, he was accepted to a Presbyterian Seminary named Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur Ga.

Dr. Peter Marshall
Dr. Peter Marshall

He knew God would provide, but he didn’t know how. The men’s Bible class wrote him a letter. They said they knew God had called him and wanted him to realize his dreams. They also knew ministry was discouraging and that the enemy would constantly harass him. They wanted to help. They paid for his entire first year.

It’s in those times when you are faithful in whatever small thing God has before you that God speaks in such a powerful way.

God helped young Peter Marshall get through Seminary and get ready for what was to be next. Here is where we must make our decision to go on. To determine what’s next.

For Peter Marshall it was a small town church in Covington, GA. After three years of faithful ministry he was called to Atlanta. It was there he met his wife. In the movie A Man Called Peter, his future wife a student of Agnes Scott College started attending church there. Soon droves of college students began attending.

The church in Atlanta at one time was going to close it’s doors, now people would line up and stand outside just to listen to God speak over loud speakers through this young man.

God had a bigger purpose in mind for Peter Marshall. Just like God had a bigger purpose in mind for David. So God makes a promise.

If the prophet Nathan came to you today and said, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” What would you do?

Dr. Peter Marshall was called of God to become the pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. The church had a rich history. It was called “the church of presidents.”

Abraham Lincoln had gone to church there. Now here is a Scottish immigrant in 1937 becoming its pastor. They had long standing traditions that had them in a place of steady decline for some years and this new preacher was called there by God to shake up a church and ultimately a nation.

As someone said, “God never calls the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

Dr. Marshall became the pastor, the leader of one of the most prestigious churches in our country. He said he lacked, “the poise, the balance’ the preparation, the academic standing, the confidence and the grace to be bridled in the pulpit.” (pg. 94)

Peter Marshall
Peter Marshall

However, Peter Marshall thrived there. He went on to become the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate until his untimely death at the age of 46. He knew God would keep His promise’ but he never knew how far God’s promise would take him.

That’s the way it is with the promises of God. He was told to marry his wife Catherine. God spoke to him clearly. The romance side of the promise is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to this wonderful story of such a Godly couple.

You and I can trust God’s purpose and promise for our lives. By the way, I didn’t tell you about Peter Marshall’s wife, Catherine. She had taught school before they were married and years later after Peter went to heaven, God gave her another assignment.

She became an author. She started by writing her husband’s biography which became a best seller and then a movie. After that, she wrote more than 20 books selling 16 million copies

Her best known work is the novel Christy, which also became a movie.

I’ll give you Catherine Marshall’s words in the biography of her husband to better explain: “Dreams carried around in one’s hearts for years, if they are dreams that have God’s approval, have a way suddenly of materializing.” A Man Called Peter, (pg.86)

When people saw a shepherd, God saw a king.

When people saw a light hearted, unpolished preacher, God saw the chaplain to the U.S. Senate.

When people saw a school teacher and preacher’s wife, God saw an accomplished author.

Are you still waiting for His call?

Keep Looking Up!

Heaven is closer than you think.

May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Rodney is an author, pastor, and the founder/managing editor of He has written over 200 articles and his first novel, The Rise of the Prophet, has just been released.

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