Hello Friends -
I'd like to pass along an insightful word for the hour from my friend, A.W. Tozer. You may be wondering, "Who the heck is A.W. Tozer?"
A.W. was a young man from Akron, Ohio who (as a teen) overheard a street preacher once say, “If you don’t know how to be saved…just call on God.” Upon returning to his home, Tozer climbed into the attic and took the preacher’s advice.
In 1919, five years after his decision to follow Christ, and without formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to pastor his first church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. This began forty-four fruitful years of ministry with The Alliance Church. His final years were spent pasturing the Avenue Road (Alliance) Church in Toronto, Canada.
Considered by many to be a modern-day prophet, Tozer felt that the church was on a dangerous course towards compromising with “worldly” concerns.
On June 3, 1950, he wrote “It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run, and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that.”
Prayer was of vital importance for Tozer. His biographer, James Snyder once said of A.W., "He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them.”
Two of Tozer's books are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy.
Tozer died in 1963. He was buried in Akron, Ohio, with a simple epitaph marking his grave: “A. W. Tozer — A Man of God.”
This morning I was reading an email devotional written by A.W. As we prepare to step into the next season that God has planned for us, let each of us remain acutely aware that prayer will never be a substitute for obedience to God.
More and more often I find myself listening as people tell me that, despite praying for years, God has not answered the cries of their hearts. Many have sought out spiritual elders and ministers to anoint them and pray for them - but heaven remains silent. They have chased prophetic voices in order to receive "a word from the Lord" - but, despite the all "spiritual goosebumps", their lives remain unchanged. They are still sick, still living in fear, still in bondage, still tormented, still bitter and still oppressed. Yet when I ask them about the spiritual condition of their hearts and the level of their surrender to God, they become very silent.
Many people have spent years on their faces - crying out in prayer before the Lord, seemingly unaware that all He asks is for us to obey Him and His word. God has graciously allowed us time to get our personal "houses" in order - to decide if we are going to live for Him, going to obey Him, and going to surrender completely to Him. Despite the spiritual "lateness of the hour", many are struggling with the decision to yield all - be all - give all to their Lord.
What is He asking of you?
What are the deep issues of your heart that you have been trying to ignore and push to the back of your mind - maybe for years?
In the days ahead, instead of spending more time alone in prayer, let's all agree to expend our energy in learning to: love our wives, respect our husbands, teach our children, feed the hungry, deal with our addictions, care for the poor, reconcile relationships, honor the elderly, forgive those who hurt us, curb our gossiping tongues and let go of our bitterness and offense. Give God permission to "clean you up" and "clean you out" in whatever way He sees fit.
What if these are the reasons that God's manifest power and presence are being withheld from His Church?
What if simple obedience to the Lord is the key to unlocking revival in our midst?
Yes, we will continue to pray - but above all, we must endeavor to live lives of obedience before God and one another.
Please listen closely to A.W.'s word on this topic . . . .
Revival: Prayer is Not a Substitute for Obedience (by A.W.Tozer)
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."John 14:21
Intensity of prayer is no criterion of its effectiveness. A man may throw himself on his face and sob out his troubles to the Lord and yet have no intention to obey the commandments of Christ. Strong emotion and tears may be no more than the outcropping of a vexed spirit, evidence of stubborn resistance to God's known will....
No matter what I write here, thousands of pastors will continue to call their people to prayer in the forlorn hope that God will finally relent and send revival if only His people wear themselves out in intercession. To such people God must indeed appear to be a hard taskmaster, for the years pass and the young get old and the aged die and still no help comes. The prayer meeting room becomes a wailing wall and the lights burn long, and still the rains tarry.
Has God forgotten to be gracious? Let any reader begin to obey and he will have the answer. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him" (John 14:21).
Isn't that what we want after all?
"Lord, help me to obey Your commandments. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak! I long to live in that obedience, in order that I may know the Father's love and manifestation to me. Amen."