In my book Moving Mountains: Lessons in Bold Faith from Great Evangelical Leaders, I have a chapter on Andrew Murray, in which I tell the story of how Murray almost quenched a revival. He, his father, and his church had been praying for revival, but it arrived in a form he never imagined—people were praying loudly and emotionally all at once, some of them even trembling and swooning, unacceptable in his staid Dutch Reformed background.
He was trying to stop them, but someone told him this is what was happening in the revivals in America with Charles Finney, Phoebe Palmer, and others. Instead of quenching the revival, he realized this was God at work. He stepped out of his comfort zone, and instead embraced the unusual move of God. He became a revivalist himself, leading his entire denomination in revival, and being elected as Moderator of his Synod.
Andrew Murray was a Scotsman who became a Dutch Reformed missionary to South Africa. He has written many devotional books on prayer, Christian living, and the deeper and higher life in Christ. I was first introduced to Murray as a teenager by my Aunt Lois King, who had been a missionary to Angola. She gave me a copy of God’s Best Secrets and Day-by-Day with Andrew Murray. They were the first year-long devotional books that I ever read.
From there, his books on prayer enriched my prayer life: With Christ in the School of Prayer, Abide in Christ, and Waiting on God, which I have read over and over. Along with A.B. Simpson, he mentored me in the higher and deeper life in Christ. At a time when I already had a copy in my library and didn’t think I needed it, a veteran missionary thrust into my hand his little book Humility. Oh, how I did need it then, and still do now. Other convicting, challenging books have been The School of Obedience and Absolute Surrender.
When I needed professional Christian counseling from ministerial burnout as a 32-year old, the counselor assigned me to read Murray’s Be Perfect to help me through healing my legalistic, perfectionist past. I could not understand why I should read a book on perfectionism when I was a recovering perfectionist. But as I read, the lights came on, and peace flooded my heart as I came into a real understanding and encounter with Jesus that what God wanted and expected was not someone who does not blow it, but someone who has a heart that seeks God.
In one sense, when comparing the writings of Murray and A.B. Simpson, they are almost like twins—you read one thing from Simpson and find almost the same thing from Murray in different words—on two separate continents. I like to call them “The Holy Spirit’s Universal Sunday School Lessons.”
Murray’s Divine Healing and Simpson’s The Gospel of Healing are like that—you read one, you have read the other. Of course, each brings out their own insights and perspectives. They each had their own personal experience of God’s divine healing power. For Murray, he had lost his voice for two years from constant preaching and strain on his vocal chords. He spent three weeks at Bethshan Healing Home in London, founded by William Boardman who started the Higher Life movement. During that three weeks, he received constant prayer, what today we call soaking prayer–as well as soaking in the Word of God and worship, faith confessions of Scripture, anointing with oil. As a result, he was healed, never to have problem with his voice again.
Although not about healing, another of his books played a large part in my healing from 3rd stage rectal cancer—The True Vine, a 30-day devotional on John 15. The day after being diagnosed with cancer, I went to a used book sale (You can’t keep a preacher and professor away from a book sale, even when he has cancer!). I already had 15 of Murray’s books, but this one I did not have. It was as though God said to me, this is your key to get through this—Abiding in Jesus, the Vine. I read from that book every day, over and over again throughout the ordeal—learning to abide in the presence of Jesus was key through it all. In the end, God healed me.
Like other mentors, Murray wasn’t perfect and I didn’t agree with everything he taught. Yet I have learned so much from Murray. Like Simpson, he taught Covenant theology—that as spiritual Israelites we have covenant or redemption rights and privileges. This theme is found all through Murray’s writings, but especially in The Two Covenants.
The Holiest of All, his expositional devotional preaching from Hebrews, along with Simpson’s Christ in the Tabernacle, brought me into a deeper, fuller understanding of what it means to draw near to Christ in the Holy of Holies, the abiding place with Jesus:
“We have Jesus as our Forerunner into God’s presence, with all the power of His death and resurrection-life working in us and drawing and lifting us with divine energy into the Father’s presence. Yes, Jesus with His divine, His heavenly life, in the power of the throne in which He is seated, has entered into the deepest ground of our being, where Adam, where sin do their work, and there is increasingly carrying out His work of lifting us heavenward into God’s presence, and of making God’s heavenly presence here on earth our portion.”
Murray describes that life in the Holiest Place as one who has been there, no, not just been there, but stays there. His words lift me up into that Holy of Holies, and I pray they will for you too:
“Oh the blessedness of a life in the Holiest!
Here the Father’s face is seen and His love tasted. Here His holiness is revealed and the soul made partaker of it.
Here the sacrifice of love and worship and adoration, the incense of prayer and supplication, is offered in power.
Here the outpouring of the Spirit is known as an ever-streaming, overflowing river from under the throne of God and the Lamb.
Here the soul, in God’s presence, grows into more complete oneness with Christ and more entire conformity to His likeness.
Here, in union with Christ, in His unceasing intercession, we are emboldened to take our place as intercessors who can have power with God and prevail.
Here the soul mounts up as on eagle’s wings, the strength is renewed, and the blessing and the power and the love are imparted with which God’s priests can go out to bless a dying world.
Here each day we may experience the fresh anointing, in virtue of which we can go out to be the bearers, and witnesses, and channels of God’s salvation to men, the living instruments through whom our blessed King works out His full and final triumph.
O Jesus! Our great High Priest, let this be our life!
I’ve so enjoyed your mentor series, especially this tribute to Andrew Murray, who greatly influenced my life. I was first introduced to him when I read “With Christ in the School of Prayer.” Thank you for this encouragement.