With Thanksgiving


From R. A. Torrey, Dwight Moody’s hand-picked first president of Moody Bible Institute, and, sadly, one of the most-overlooked of the fin de siecle Christian writers and teachers:

There are two words often overlooked in the lesson about prayer which Paul gives us in Phil. 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

The two important terms often overlooked are with and thanksgiving.

In approaching God to ask for new blessings, we should never forget to return thanks for blessings already granted. If any one of us would stop and think how many of the prayers which we have offered to God have been answered, and how seldom we have gone back to God to return thanks for the answers thus given, I am sure we would be overwhelmed with confusion. We should be just as definite in returning thanks as we are in prayer. We come to God with most specific petitions, but when we return thanks to Him, our thanksgiving is indefinite and general.

Doubtless one reason why so many of our prayers lack power is because we have neglected to return thanks for blessings already received. If any one were to constantly come to us asking help from us, and should never say “Thank you for the help thus given, we would soon tire of helping one so ungrateful. Indeed, regard for the one we were helping would hold us back from encouraging such rank ingratitude. Doubtless our heavenly Father out of a wise regard for our highest welfare oftentimes refuses to answer petitions that we send up to Him in order that we may be brought to a sense of our ingratitude and taught to be thankful.

God is deeply grieved by the thanklessness and ingratitude of which so many of us are guilty. When Jesus healed the ten lepers and only one came back to give Him thanks, in wonderment and pain He exclaimed, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? (Luke 17:17).

How often must He look down upon us in sadness at our forgetfulness of His repeated blessings, and His frequent answer to our prayers.

Returning thanks for blessings already received increases our faith and enables us to approach God with new boldness and new assurance. Doubtless the reason so many have so little faith when they pray is because they take so little time to meditate upon and I thank God for blessings already received. As one meditates upon the answers to prayers already granted, faith waxes bolder and bolder, and we come to feel in the very depths of our souls that there is nothing too hard for the Lord. As we reflect upon the wondrous goodness of God toward us on the one hand, and upon the other hand upon the little thought and strength and time that we ever put into thanksgiving, we may well humble ourselves before God and confess our sin.

The mighty men of prayer in the Bible, and the mighty men of prayer throughout the ages of the church’s history, have been men who were much given to thanksgiving and praise. David was a mighty man of prayer, and how his psalms abound with thanksgiving and praise. The apostles were mighty men of prayer; of them we read that they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Paul was a mighty man of prayer, and how often in his epistles he bursts out in definite thanksgiving to God for definite blessings and definite answers to prayers. Jesus is our model in prayer as in everything else. We find in the study of His life that His manner of returning thanks at the simplest meal was so noticeable that two of His disciples recognized Him by this after His resurrection.

Thankfulness is one of the inevitable results of being filled with the Holy Spirit and one who does not learn in everything to give thanks cannot continue to pray in the Spirit. If we would learn to pray with power we would do well to let these two words sink deep into our hearts—with thanksgiving.

Notable Authors You (Regrettably) Never See Mentioned on Christian Blogs


A random walk through the Christian blogosphere is an enlightening experience that effectively takes the pulse of the technically-abled side of the Church. From even a short visit to a few blogs, one could argue that Christian bloggers don't seem to span the gamut of Christian thought and that's probably close to the truth. In the wake of GodBlogCon, a few brave souls have asked whether or not the Christian blogosphere is in a homogeneous funk, and I would have to agree that it is.

As one of the precious few charismatics actively blogging, I'd like to remedy this just a tad by suggesting that perhaps there is more to read out there than flows from the pens of C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, D.A. Carson, John MacArthur, and C.H. Spurgeon. As much as they are routinely quoted by what seems to be 97.5% of the Christian blogosphere, there are outstanding authors who are never mentioned, yet they had profound ministries that stretched across the globe.

For the betterment (and broadening) of Christian thought, I present three authors whose underrepresentation in the Christian blogosphere only serves to diminish our conversation.

R.A. Torrey
For anyone attending the GodBlogCon, it was sponsored by the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University. Considering all the hoopla around this event, R.A. Torrey Picno one bothered to shed some light on the man who lends his name to that Institute, Reuben Archer Torrey.

A gifted author, teacher, pastor, and evangelist, Torrey not only served as Dean of Biola for twelve years, but was also D.L. Moody's handpicked successor to that great evangelist's church and what later became Moody Bible Institute. (An outstanding bio can be found here and at Wikipedia.)

Torrey, a true charismatic, penned an outstanding treatise on the Holy Spirit that I've routinely recommended to people, The Person & Work of the Holy Spirit. Many have commented that his works on prayer are some of the finest written, and you can find a free version of one of those prayer writings and a few of his other works at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library (a site everyone should have bookmarked.)

Torrey authored over forty books, many still in print. Such a talented and gifted man of God we'd all be hard pressed to equal. He deserves to be read and quoted from liberally.

Andrew Murray
While many of the writers that are usually referenced in the Christian blogosphere have a fiery and impassioned message along the lines of the Apostle Paul, Andrew Murray is more in the gentle, loving, and profound mold of the Apostle John. Andrew Murray PicPerhaps it is because of Murray's soothing pastoral heart that he's not ripe for controversy, but I contend that in an age when so many Christians are at odds, Murray's vast output of writings are more needed than ever. (Bio of Murray here and at Wikipedia.)

This post came about because of yesterday's reference to abiding in Christ. For those seeking to do just that, there is no equal in books on the subject than Andrew Murray's Abide in Christ (free online version here.) He, too, penned a classic on prayer, With Christ in the School of Prayer. I'd also recommend his book Humility, one of the best ever written on the topic. And like Torrey, Murray endorse modern day charismata, having overseen the miracle-filled South African Revival of 1860, an event that changed his life. He later was a key player in the Keswick movement that fueled both the great missionary thrust at the turn of the 20th century and the Welsh Revival. You can find free versions of many of his writings scattered thoughout the Internet, but the CCEL, again, is a fantastic resource for Murray.

Watchman Nee
I can think of few great men of the Faith whose writings have eluded more people than Watchman Nee. Perhaps it's his distinctly Asian view of Christianity, but no matter the reason, Watchman NeeNee is a man wholly surrendered to the Lord and his writings have profound depth. What else can be expected from a man who spent the majority of his Christian life locked up in solitary confinement in a Communist prison cell? Many today would claim that Nee's devotion to the Lord is the reason the Chinese house church movement is still going strong. (Nee bio here and at Wikipedia.)

Nee's The Normal Christian Life is a book every Christian should read, and it's one of the scant few worthy of inclusion in the Essential Reading sidebar of Cerulean Sanctum. Packed with wisdom on living out faith in Christ, it's a classic exposition of Romans. (CCEL has a free online version here.) I also heartily recommend his look at Ephesians, Sit, Walk, Stand. Having read several of Nee's books, I can promise that anything he writes will be fresh and will challenge you with godly wisdom from a different perspective than what you might be used to. A tragically underrepresented author in Christian blogging.

Other great writers do exist. C'mon folks, let's put a few different players out on the field!