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.