"Some churches now advertise courses on how to pray. How ridiculous! That is like giving a course on how to fall in love." —A. W. Tozer
Tozer understood prayer as few do: as a way of life. Now readers can share that same grand vision.
Prayer combines the best of Tozer on prayer into one volume. Tozer was captured by the great wonder of God, and he regarded prayer as the primary means of coming into His presence. But if our everyday life is filled with the barrenness of busyness and there is no serious urgency to pray, we forfeit the wonder of being conformed to the image of Christ and knowing our God more intimately—the true Christian life.
Prayer is doable. God is accessible. And Tozer provides the wisdom and encouragement to help us encounter Him daily. With commentary and reflection questions provided by compiler W.L. Seaver, Prayer takes our understanding of prayer to new depths and helps us have a life that prays.
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About the Author
DR. W. L. SEAVER is an associate professor of statistics at the University of Tennessee. He holds a Ph.D. in Statistics, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Biblical Studies. He is not only an author of more than thirty articles and four books but also a researcher and consultant whose expertise is in finding patters in data and the Scriptures over time. He has developed discipleship ministries with athletes, students, faculty, and the local church. He and his wife, Barbara, have three grown children
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Communing with God in Everythingâ"Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer
By W. L. Seaver, JAMES VINCENT
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2016 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago
All rights reserved.
THE WHOLE LIFE MUST PRAY
Prayer at its best is the expression of the total life. Certainly there have been and will continue to be instances when an isolated prayer may be answered even when the one uttering it may not have been living an exemplary Christian life. But we assume that most of those who read this page are not satisfied to get a prayer through occasionally; they want to know a more satisfying prayer life, one that elevates and purifies every act of body and mind and integrates the entire personality into a single spiritual unit. Such prayer can only be the result of a life lived in the Spirit.
All things else being equal, our prayers are only as powerful as our lives. In the long pull we pray only as well as we live. Some prayers are like a fire escape, used only in times of critical emergency — never very enjoyable, but used as a way of terrified escape from disaster. They do not represent the regular life of the one who offers them; rather they are the unusual and uncommon acts of the spiritual amateur.
William Law somewhere pleads for Christians to live lives that accord with their prayers, and one of our well-known hymns asks that God help us "to live more nearly as we pray." Most of us in moments of stress have wished that we had lived so that prayer would not be so unnatural to us and have regretted that we had not cultivated prayer to the point where it would be as easy and as natural as breathing.
We do not want to leave the impression that prayer in times of sudden crisis is not a good and right thing. It most certainly is, and God is said to be a "very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1); but no instructed Christian wants to live his whole life on an emergency level. As we go on into God we shall see the excellency of the life of constant communion where all thoughts and acts are prayers, and the entire life becomes one holy sacrifice of praise and worship.
To pray effectively it is required of us that there be no unblessed areas in our lives, nor parts of the mind or soul that are not inhabited by the Spirit, no impure desires allowed to live within us, no disparity between our prayers and our conduct.
All this may appear to be placing the standard too high to be reached by men and women under the sun. But it is not so. If Christ is the kind of Savior He claims to be, He should be able to save His people from the bondage of sin. This is not to support the man-made doctrine of "sinless perfection ; it is rather to declare the God-inspired doctrine that it is possible to "walk in the Spirit" and so "not fulfill the lust of the flesh." It is to say that God has made provision in the cross of Christ for His children to be delivered from the galling yoke of sin: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:11).
Undoubtedly the redemption in Christ Jesus has sufficient moral power to enable us to live in a state of purity and love where our whole life will be a prayer. Individual acts of prayer that spring out of that kind of total living will have about them a wondrous power not known to the careless or the worldly Christian.
From The Root of the Righteous (1955; repr., Chicago: Moody, 2015)
EXPLORING WITH TOZER
Tozer's opening comment that "prayer at its best is the expression of the total life" is both a simple and complex truth. It is simple to the believer who is in constant communion with the Father where all his thoughts and acts are prayers. His entire life is one holy sacrifice of praise and worship. This individual is not necessarily a prayer warrior as others would classify him; but a saint desirous of moment by moment fellowship with the Lord, of impacting his world for Christ not only by his righteous actions but also his prayers, and of leaving the fragrance of Christ among believers and nonbelievers. This believer understands that God "always leads us in triumph in Christ" (2 Cor. 2:14–15).
The truth that "prayer at its best is the total expression of the total life" is complex to the believer who is not in constant communion with the Father, who has conformed much to the world, and who sees prayer only as a fire escape in difficult times or in critical emergencies. This believer tends to call on God only when he cannot work out a solution to a difficult situation, that is, he has no other option. To this believer, prayer is a duty and burdensome. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). When the whole life prays, there is no burden or legalistic bondage with prayer. The other issue that adds to the complexity of this truth on the total life is the inability of this believer to discern or connect the dots on unanswered prayer, sin, and their walk in Christ. Prayer seems to be a mystery to this believer, a random process that doesn't make sense. However, in actuality, God is trying to grasp the attention of this believer by unanswered prayers or few prayers being answered to make him realize that God desires his submission to Him in all things under the power of the Holy Spirit, his resistance to the devil, and his drawing near to God (and God will draw near to him) (James 4:7–8). If this believer responds to God's wooing, he will begin to realize that a holy life is the fertile soil for prayer that changes the world around them. To not respond to God s gentle and loving promptings forces God the Father to discipline us in many ways inclusive of our prayers that we might share His holiness (Heb. 12:10). Thus, the journey is more painful and complex!
REFLECT AND APPLY
1. "All things being equal, our prayers are only as powerful as our lives." How does one assess our life in Christ? Do we start with prayer? Put another way, are my prayers filled with emergency prayers or much prayer throughout my day? Do we examine our priorities of seeking first the kingdom of God? This honest assessment will take some time alone and may require some input from a spiritual mentor or two.
2. How does one cultivate a prayer life so that prayer becomes as natural as breathing? Should we read more books on prayer? Talk about prayer more? Pray more? Study James 4:7–8; 1 Peter 5:6–10; and 2 Kings 22:18–20.
3. What were the circumstances of your last emergency prayer? What was the answer? How was your prayer life affected after that–did it become a digression, a return to the status quo, or serve as a progression? Write down your impressions of the aftereffects from your last answered emergency prayer.
4. Was there a time in your life where you prayed more or saw more answered prayer? Reflect on what your walk in Christ was like at that time. On the other hand, can you identify some times in your life where your walk in Christ was more holy but answered prayer was less? What is the possible reason for this?CHAPTER 2
THE SACRAMENT OF LIVING: PART 1
One of the greatest hindrances to internal peace the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas — the sacred and the secular. As these areas are conceived to exist apart from each other and to be morally and spiritually incompatible, and as we are compelled by the necessities of living to be always crossing back and forth from the one to the other, our inner lives tend to break up so that we live a divided instead of a unified life.
Our trouble springs from the fact that we who follow Christ inhabit at once two worlds — the spiritual and the natural. As children of Adam we live our lives on earth subject to the limitations of the flesh and the weaknesses and ills to which human nature is heir. Merely to live among men requires of us years of hard toil and much care and attention to the things of this world. In sharp contrast to this is our life in the Spirit. There we enjoy another and a higher kind of life — we are children of God; we possess heavenly status and enjoy intimate fellowship with Christ.
This tends to divide our total life into two departments. We come unconsciously to recognize two sets of actions. The first are performed with a feeling of satisfaction and a firm assurance that [these actions] are pleasing to God. These are the sacred acts and they are usually thought to be prayer, Bible reading, hymn singing, church attendance, and such other acts as spring directly from faith. They may be known by the fact that they have no direct relation to this world, and would have no meaning whatever except as faith shows us another world, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5:1).
Over against these sacred acts are the secular ones. They include all of the ordinary activities of life we share with the sons and daughters of Adam: eating, sleeping, working, looking after the needs of the body, and performing our dull and prosaic duties here on earth. These we often do reluctantly and with many misgivings, often apologizing to God for what we consider a waste of time and strength. The upshot of this is that we are uneasy most of the time. We go about our common tasks with a feeling of deep frustration, telling ourselves pensively that there's a better day coming when we shall slough off this earthly shell and be bothered no more with the affairs of this world.
This is the old sacred-secular antithesis. Most Christians are caught in its trap. They cannot get a satisfactory adjustment between the claims of the two worlds. They try to walk the tightrope between two kingdoms and they find no peace in either. Their strength is reduced, their outlook confused and their joy taken from them.
I believe this state of affairs to be wholly unnecessary. We have gotten ourselves on the horns of a dilemma, true enough, but the dilemma is not real. It is a creature of misunderstanding. The sacred-secular antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament. Without doubt, a more perfect understanding of Christian truth will deliver us from it.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our perfect example, and He knew no divided life. In the presence of His Father He lived on earth without strain from babyhood to His death on the cross. God accepted the offering of His total life, and made no distinction between act and act. "I do always those things that please him" was His brief summary of His own life as it related to the Father (John 8:29). As He moved among men He was poised and restful. What pressure and suffering He endured grew out of His position as the world's sin bearer; they were never the result of moral uncertainty or spiritual maladjustment.
The apostle Paul's exhortation to "do all to the glory of God" is more than pious idealism. It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we should be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot.
That monkish hatred of the body, which figures so prominently in the works of certain early devotional writers, is wholly without support in the Word of God. Common modesty is found in the sacred Scriptures, it is true, but never prudery or a false sense of shame. The New Testament accepts as a matter of course that in His incarnation our Lord took upon Him a real human body, and no effort is made to steer around the down-right implications of such a fact. He lived in that body here among men and never once performed a non-sacred act. His presence in human flesh sweeps away forever the evil notion that there is about the human body something innately offensive to the Deity. God created our bodies, and we do not offend Him by placing the responsibility where it belongs. He is not ashamed of the work of His own hands.
Perversion, misuse, and abuse of our human powers should give us cause enough to be ashamed. Bodily acts done in sin and contrary to nature can never honor God. Wherever the human will introduces moral evil we have no longer our innocent and harmless powers as God made them; we have instead an abused and twisted thing which can never bring glory to its Creator.
Let us, however, assume that perversion and abuse are not present. Let us think of a Christian believer in whose life the twin wonders of repentance and the new birth have been wrought. He is now living according to the will of God as he understands it from the written Word. Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be as truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord's Supper. To say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; it is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and turn the whole life into a sacrament.
If a sacrament is an external expression of an inward grace, then we need not hesitate to accept the above thesis. By one act of consecration of our total selves to God we can make every subsequent act express that consecration. We need no more be ashamed of our body — the fleshly servant that carries us through life — than Jesus was of the humble beast upon which He rode into Jerusalem. "The Lord hath need of [him]" (Matt. 21:3) may well apply to our mortal bodies. If Christ dwells in us, we may hear about the Lord of glory as the little beast did of old and give occasion to the multitudes to cry, "Hosanna in the highest."
That we see this truth is not enough. If we would escape from the toils of the sacred-secular dilemma, the truth must "run in our blood" and condition the complex of our thoughts. We must practice living to the glory of God, actually and determinedly. By meditation upon this truth, by talking it over with God often in our prayers, by recalling it to our minds frequently as we move about among men, a sense of its wondrous meaning will take hold of us. The old painful duality will go down before a restful unity of life. The knowledge that we are all God's, that He has received all and rejected nothing, will unify our inner lives and make everything sacred to us.
From The Pursuit of God (1948; repr., Chicago: Moody, 2015)
EXPLORING WITH TOZER
This particular selection from Tozer's works might seem a bit strange to be chosen for a book on prayer, especially since references to prayer are slight. However, Tozer makes it clear from the outset, as do the Scriptures, that "the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas — the sacred and the secular" is one of the greatest hindrances to internal peace for the Christian, who inhabits two worlds, the spiritual and the natural. This compartmentalization of life leads a believer to identify sacred acts, such as prayer, Bible study, worship, and more, and then to categorize the secular acts of everyday life as mundane and non-spiritual. Tozer notes that most Christians today are caught in this trap between two worlds. As a result, "they try to walk the tightrope between two kingdoms and they find no peace in either. Their strength is reduced, their outlook confused, and their joy taken from them."
This tension, this conflict, this uneasiness, or this dilemma can lead to a Christian life filled with powerlessness and prayerlessness. Every act of our lives should contribute to the glory of God, and Jesus Christ is our example in that He never once performed a non-sacred act. His life was filled with power and prayer! Hopefully, we desire the same, but to get there we need to realize and practice every day that there is no non-sacred act. For instance, mowing the yard, washing the dishes, cleaning a garage, getting some exercise, organizing a shelf, writing a report, and hundreds more such secular acts should not rob us of intimate fellowship and prayer with God but should enrich it. Of course, that might mean that we have to unplug ourselves partially from the technology that intrudes into our thoughts, that seemingly magnifies our importance, that fills our time with meaninglessness, that stifles us from hearing God's voice, and that undermines the sweet fellowship with Him that He desires for all His children.
Excerpted from Prayer by W. L. Seaver, JAMES VINCENT. Copyright © 2016 The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Journey Awaits 11
1 The Whole Life Must Pray 17
2 The Sacrament of Living: Part 1 23
3 The Sacrament of Living: Part 2 31
4 To Be Right, We Must Think Right 39
5 Prayer: No Substitute for Obedience 47
6 The Importance of Prayer in God's Eternal Work 53
7 Born after Midnight 59
8 Praying without Condition 67
9 The Power of Silence 73
10 Dangers in Unanswered Prayer 79
11 What Profit in Prayer? 87
12 Three Ways to Get What We Want 93
13 Prayer Changes People-and Things 101
14 On Wrestling in Prayer 107
15 Praying Till We Pray 113
16 God's Selfhood and Prayer 119
17 Truth Has Two Wings 129
18 Honesty in Prayer 137
19 Measuring Spirituality by Public Prayers 145
20 The Best Things Come Hard 151
21 A Word to the Men about the Women 159
22 Does God Always Answer Prayer? 165
23 Vague Praying and Expectation 175
24 In Everything by Prayer 181
25 Jesus Lives to Make Intercession for Us 187
26 Prepare by Prayer: Part 1 193
27 Prepare by Prayer: Part 2 203
28 Believing Prayer 211
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love how sleek and lovely this book cover is. It looks like Moody is updating some of Tozer's works into updated versions with covers that match this one. This book on prayer combines the best of Tozer's works on prayer into one book. One of the themes in this book is how if there's no serious urgency to pray, we don't pray and can forfeit the wonder of being united with God and conformed to the image of Christ. There is so much truth and goodness in this book on prayer. Having attended Christian school for middle school through college, I was amazed at how easily some of the truth about prayer slipped from my mind. I found that the lack of urgency and immediate necessity to prayer has side tracked how often I pray, and this book came at a good time for me. There's just something special about reading Tozer's words that help reorient me. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
A.W.Tozer: Thoughts on Prayer There are so many books and authors out there that I know are amazing, and that I’m really missing something by never having made them a priority. Tozer is my “undiscovered author,” and it’s not as if I haven’t delighted in brief quotations of his words — a mix of the understated and the profound. It is even true that portions of his sermons read online have jolted me awake to God’s holiness and drawn me closer to the rosy glow of truth. Now, thanks to W.L. Seaver, I’ve spent some focused time with Tozer’s writing, for he has compiled Tozer’s insights on prayer from sixteen of his books and several sermons. Prayer: Communing with God in Everything is a skillfully curated scrapbook that captures Tozer’s knack for portraying the majesty of God in all things. While prayer is portrayed in all its efficacy and mystery, it is still abundantly clear to the reader that “God will never be other than Himself, no matter how many people pray, nor how long, nor how earnestly.” Having said that, Tozer urges believers to: •“pray past the ordinary into the unusual; •enter the prayer chamber filled with faith and armed with courage; •bring his will into line with the will of God so God can do what he has all along been willing to do.” Three features of these collected insights are most helpful: 1. Mr. Seaver has organized the material so that excerpts concerning the correction of common misconceptions about prayer are grouped together, as are motivational excerpts for making the most of one’s prayer life. Each chapter has been labeled with its source and date of publication for ease of future study. 2.For readers who are new to reading theology, W.L. Seaver’s commentary following each chapter will be a confidence builder, answering the question: “Did I get the point here?” For the teacher who needs resources to fuel a class on prayer, the work of compiling material, writing questions for reflection, and making application with specific Scripture passages has already been done. 3.Tozer’s sermon transcripts reveal his pastoral heart and his deep conviction of the enduring truth of God’s Word. Step-by-step and story-by-story, principles and examples from Scripture become recommendations from an older and wiser friend who is in awe of God, who has seen with his own eyes that “God will make iron swim,” and who challenges his listeners to join him on their knees. // This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Ive ben reading a paperback copy of this book with my small group and it is incredible! Tozer was a very spiritual and deep thinker of his time and Seaver has very insightful thiughts based off of Tozer's writings.