The Prayer Life by Andrew Murray
Andrew Murray as an author & Foreword
Andrew Murray as an author.
Andrew Murray's first published books dealt with the urgent question of the training of children. Nothing can have impressed this young minister on his journeys among the voortrekkers as deeply as the large numbers of infants presented for baptism. The Boers are a healthy and prolific race. Families of a dozen or more are common, and mothers are occasionally met with who have borne twenty or twenty-four children. The task of Christian mothers, upon whom devolves the duty of inculcating the first principles of morality and teaching the simplest truths of religion, is assuredly no easy one. Mr Murray's first book was designed to assist the mothers of his flock in the performance of this duty by providing a Life of Christ in language adapted to the comprehension of the child. It appeared in 1858 as an illustrated quarto volume under the title Jezus de Kindervriend.
His methods of work during the latter years of his life are thus described by his daughter: 'He sits up very straight in his study chair, and dictates in a loud, clear voice, as though he were actually addressing his audience. His hours of work are usually from 9 or 10 till 11 in the forenoon, during which time two or three chapters of a book are completed. He is very particular about punctuation, and always says: "New paragraph," pointing with long, slender finger to the exact spot on the paper where the new line must commence, "fullstop," "comma," "colon," "semi-colon," as the sense may require. Should his secretary perpetrate some mistake or other in spelling, he would make some playful remark like: "You will have to go back to the kindergarten, you know." At 11 o'clock he would say: "Now give me ten minutes' rest; or no, let us write some letters for a change."
Then half a dozen letters would be quickly dictated, in reply to requests for prayer for healing, for the conversion of unconverted relations, for the deliverance of friends addicted to drink, or, it might be, business letters.
He always dictated in a tone of great earnestness, and was specially anxious to get a great deal into a page. "Write closer, closer," he often repeated. When near the end of the foolscap page, he said: "Now the last four lines for a prayer"; and then he would fold his hands, close his eyes, and actually pray the prayer which ended the written meditation.
To a greater extent than almost any other religious writer of our age Mr Murray possessed the insight and the authority of one of the prophets of olden time. At critical moments in the history of the church he never failed to raise his voice and to direct attention to the real issues. Those who are intimate with his career in South Africa will agree that there was no man who could rise to a great occasion like Andrew Murray. He possessed the gift of speaking, at the right season, the right and just word, of opening up the larger view and kindling the nobler emotions. This gift he exercised in his writings also.
Of the blessing which Mr Murray's writings have brought to the thousands, the tens of thousands, and the hundreds of thousands who have purchased and presumably read them, it is impossible to speak. Scores of letters have been preserved, from correspondents all over the world, expressing the deep gratitude of the writers for spiritual benefit derived from the study of Mr Murray's volumes. The author of these lines has personally examined some one hundred and fifty such letters, and their perusal has produced an overwhelming impression of the blessed ministry which Andrew Murray exercised by the use of his fertile and tireless pen. Unknown persons in every quarter of the globe hail him as their spiritual father, and ascribe whatever growth their Christian life has undergone to the influence of his priceless devotional works. 'What I owe to you eternity alone will reveal,' is the language of a lady in New South Wales; and her testimony can be paralleled by that of correspondents from the United States and Canada, Great Britain and the Continent, Holland and South Africa, India, China and Australasia.
[From The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa by J. Du Plessis, Marshall Morgan and Scott, 1919, pp. 460ff.1
A few words with regard to the origin of this book and the object with which it was written will help to put the reader into the right position for understanding its teaching.
It was the outcome of a conference of ministers at Stellenbosch, South Africa, April 11-14,1912. The occasion of the conference was as follows: Professor de Vos, of our Theological Seminary, had written a letter to the ministers of our church (Dutch Reformed Church) concerning the low state of spiritual life which marked the Church (universal) generally, which, (he said), ought to lead to the inquiry as to how far that statement included our church too. What had been said in the book, The State of the Church, called for deep searching of heart. He thought there could be no doubt about the truth of the statement in regard to the lack of spiritual power. He asked whether it was not time for us to come together and in God's presence to find out what might be the cause of the evil. He wrote: 'If only we study the conditions in all sincerity, we shall have to acknowledge that our unbelief and sin are the cause of the lack of spiritual power; that this condition is one of sin and guilt before God, and nothing less than a direct grieving of God's Holy Spirit.'
His invitation met with a hearty response. Our four theological professors, with more than two hundred ministers, missionaries, and theological students, came together with the above words as the keynote of our meeting. From the very first, in the addresses there was the tone of confession as the only way to repentance and restoration. At a subsequent meeting the opportunity was given for testimony as to what might be the sins which made the life of the Church so feeble. Some began to mention failings that they had seen in other ministers, either in conduct, or in doctrine, or in service. It was soon felt that this was not the right way; each must acknowledge that in which he himself was guilty.
The Lord graciously so ordered it that we were gradually led to the sin of prayerlessness as one of the deepest roots of the evil. No one could plead himself free from this. Nothing so reveals the defective spiritual life in minister and congregation as the lack of believing and unceasing prayer. Prayer is in very deed the pulse of the spiritual life. It is the great means of bringing to minister and people the blessing and power of heaven. Persevering and believing prayer means a strong and an abundant life.
When once the spirit of confession began to prevail, the question arose as to whether it would be indeed possible to expect to gain the victory over all that had in the past hindered our prayer life. In smaller conferences held previously, it had been found that many were most anxious to make a new beginning and yet had not the courage to expect that they would be able to maintain that prayer life which they saw to be in accordance with the Word of God. They had often made the attempt but had failed. They did not dare to make any promise to the Lord to live and pray as he would have them; they felt it impossible. Such confessions gradually led to the great truth, that the only power for a new prayer life is to be found in an entirely new relation to our blessed Saviour. It is as we see in him the Lord who saves us from sin - the sin of prayerlessness too - and our faith yields itself to a life of closer intercourse with him, that a life in his love and fellowship will make prayer to him the natural expression of our soul's life. Before we parted, many were able to testify that they were returning with new light and new hope to find in Jesus Christ strength for a new prayer life.
Proceed to the First Chapter