Tozer in Prayer

In the past I’ve been exhorted in my prayer life by the writings of A.W. Tozer. But in reading A Passion For God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett (Chicago, IL; Moody, 2008 ) I’ve now been exhorted by Tozer’s practice of prayer.

Late in the book, Dorsett recounts a fairly famous account of Tozer’s writing of his classic The Pursuit of God. Here is that account—written by Tozer himself (a man not given to self-promotion).

He was invited to speak at McAllen, Texas, and he thought on the long ride down there that he would write on this book. He boarded the train—the old Pullman train—at LaSalle Street Station in Chicago—the days when you would pull the curtain on the roomette and he would be all alone. Well he asked for a little writing table which the porter brought him and he started to write. Along about nine o’clock the porter knocked on the side of the door and said, “Friend, this is the last call for dinner—would you want something to eat?” And he said, “Bring me some toast and some tea” which he did. [Tozer] kept on writing, all night long, this thing coming as fast to his heart as he could write, and when they pulled into the station, about 7:30 the next morning, at McAllen, Texas, that book was finished and all he had in front of him was just the Bible.

Dorsett follows with these exhortive descriptions.

The Pursuit of God is one of the most striking manifestations of the truth that if a man will concern himself with the depth of his ministry, the Holy Spirit will take care of the breadth. Zwemer was correct about the book’s origin. This powerful little book that has had such a profound impact on the souls of hungry Christians who crave a deeper knowledge of God was impregnated and nurtured in Tozers soul. And the gestation happened in long hours of adoration and awe of God. Although the author never boasted about his devotional habits, those few who knew him well knew that the angular man with little formal schooling learned much about his Lord and his God in the secret place.

Tozer spent incalculable hours in prayer. Most of his prolonged prayer time—with his Bible and hymnals as his only companions—took place in his church office on the back side of the second floor. He would carefully hang up his suit trousers and don his sweater and raggedy old “prayer pants” and sit for a while on his ancient office couch. After a time his spirit would drift into another realm. In time, he would abandon the couch, get on his knees, and eventually lie facedown on the floor, singing praises to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

No one presumed to interrupt these times of intimacy between A. W. Tozer and the Lover of his soul. But occasionally one of the men closest to him would climb the steps to his office and chance to see him on the couch or floor—totally oblivious to the world. Francis Chase, Harry Verploegh, and Tozer’s assistant pastor, Ray McAfee, all saw him at one time or another in one of these postures. And more than one of them mentioned that Tozer was weeping or moaning facedown in the old carpet.

-Lyle Dorsett, A Passion For God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer (Chicago, IL; Moody, 2008 ), pp. 121-122.

7 thoughts on “Tozer in Prayer

  1. This line about Tozer drilled me between the eyes as I read it: “Most of his prolonged prayer time—with his Bible and hymnals as his only companions—took place in his church office on the back side of the second floor.” Reading Tozer compels me to click off the internet and head to a solitary place…with those two items. Though they be dead, they STILL speak.

  2. On April 19, 1992, I had just finished reading THE PURSUIT OF GOD and decided to pray the prayer he talks about whe he says we should ask God to “rend the veil of your heart.” I prayed it and soon found myself on my face in repentance and cries for mercy as the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin. I was born again that night and my life was totally transformed. By His grace, God was pleased to use the writing of Tozer to bring me to faith in Christ. I still read that book every other year and still find in it profound meaning and truth.

  3. Thank you for bringing a microscope to Tozer, and particularly to Prayer! I just read this prayer in one of his article’s from a compilation entitled “The Next Chapter After the Last” (pgs38-39):

    “The world’s pleasures and the world’s treasures henceforth have no appeal for me. I reckon myself crucified to the world and the world crucified to me. But the multitudes that were so dear to Christ shall not be less dear to me. If I cannot prevent their moral suicide, I shall at least baptize them with my human tears. I want no blessing that I cannot share. I seek no spirituality that I must win at the cost of forgetting that men and women are lost and without hope. If in spite of all I can do they will sin against light and bring upon themselves the displeasure of a holy God, then I must not let them go their sad way unwept. I scorn a happiness that I must purchase with ignorance. I reject a heaven that I must enter by shutting my eyes to the sufferings of my fellow men. I choose a broken heart rather than any happiness that ignores the tragedy of human life and human death. Though I, through the grace of God in Christ, no longer lie under Adam’s sin, I would still feel a bond of compassion for all of Adam’s tragic race, and I am determined that I shall go down to the grave or up into God’s heaven mourning for the lost and the perishing. And thus and thus will I do as God enables me. Amen.”

  4. I have only recently put up on my weblog under “Saints Gallery” a brief note of appreciation for A.B.Simpson, the godly Canadian Presbyterian who founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I mention the debt I owe for being introduced to him and The Alliance through A.W.Tozer. It was Tozer more than any other who caught the spirit and therefore the mantle of Dr.Simpson’s great heart for God and the lost world. Though he served as an Alliance Pastor and for a long time was the Editor of the Alliance Witness, he was from the 40’s a minister-at-large to the churches of every persuasion.

    I’m delighted to see that he is being introduced to a new generation of those who desire God with all their heart. My own collection of some of my favorite Tozer classics are at

    John Paul Todd

  5. I do not share the admiration for A.B. Simpson that I have for Tozer. In all our study and theology, may we read Tozer and take note of his example. Theology must live in our shoes, and if it doesn’t we have the wrong theology.

  6. Good Morning..we are wondering if you would know of any Tozer Meditations that are emailed each day…

    we sure are enjoying Tozer on the Holy Spirit compiled by Marilynne E. Foster

    thank you


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