"The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God." – Genesis 17:8
I’m not sure how I was first introduced to Andrew Murray. As a young Christian, I’d go into the Christian bookstores near my home and spend hours searching, like a pirate looking for buried treasure. I’d read the titles and examine the covers of every book that caught my eye. Sometimes, I’d open them up and look at the table of contents or glance quickly through the substance of the book. I recognized, from the moment of my conversion, that God grants us spiritual growth through many avenues; one of which was books. Years later, as I studied the lives of other saints, I would find out that John Wesley believed this as well. He once said, “It cannot be that the people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading.”
One day, I walked out of the Christian Bookstore with a book by Andrew Murray. It was entitled, ‘The Practice of God’s Presence’ and it was an anthology of seven major works penned by Murray. Little did I know, it would be the start of a wonderful relationship between me and a man who had been dead for nearly a century. It would also jump-start my faith and draw me into a deeper relationship with Christ than I ever thought possible.
Who was Andrew Murray?
Andrew Murray was a Dutch minister who spent most of his life in South Africa. He wrote over 200 books and tracts, helped found a school called The Huguenot Seminary, and was involved in numerous other good works. He’s best remembered for his many writings, in particular his popular book ‘With Christ in the School of Prayer.’ Although he pastored a Dutch Reformed church and that was his theological background, he wasn’t always accepted by other Reformed ministers. His writings had a definite Wesleyan-Arminian flavor and his teaching place a little too much emphasis on the will for much of the Reformed-minded.
Another unique doctrine that he taught was that of divine healing. In 1879, he began having problems with his throat. He eventually got to the point that he could no longer preach. He went to several doctors and his problem fluctuated, sometimes better, other times worse. Then, he went to the home of a Dr. Boardman who taught on the doctrine of divine healing. After spending some time here, Murray’s throat was totally healed, never to cause him another problem. This experience caused him to take up the doctrine of divine healing as one of some importance.
Obviously, he accomplished a great deal for the Kingdom of God in his 89 years; far more than I could even begin to summarize in these few paragraphs. If you’d like more information about his life, there’s a decent biography on his life by W. M. Douglas that can be found here.
Murray’s Three Best Books to Start With…
If you’ve only read one Andrew Murray book, chances are that it’s this one. If, however, you’ve never read this book, quit reading this blog and go pick it up. Or, even better, just follow this link and read it for free. In this classic, Andrew Murray brings the reader on a month-long spiritual journey focusing on the New Testament teachings on prayer. The book is divided up into thirty-one chapters, each one is short enough to quickly read through in a few minutes. But reading it is just the first step. It’s an immensely practical book that will call you to a higher level of prayer. He discusses the need for faith in prayer, prayer’s purpose, how God’s Spirit affects and is affected by our prayers, intercession, what a life of prayer looks like and much more. Like many of the classics, this is a book that will constantly challenge you to examine yourself; however, the subject is basic enough that Christians of every spiritual maturity can glean something from it. There’s definitely a reason why this is Murray’s most-read book.
The first time I read through this book, the power of the cross came alive in my mind. I can still remember so vividly how I sat in awe, contemplating the power of Christ’s blood to cleanse from all sin. I stopped reading mid-chapter, put the book down (something I rarely do), and just meditated on Christ’s sacrifice. If you’ve gone through ‘With Christ in the School of Prayer’ and have a desire to see what else Andrew Murray has to say, this is a great book to tackle next. In this one, Murray covers a subject that’s at the very heart of Christianity: Christ’s sacrifice. He ties the New and Old Testaments together so neatly that as you work your way through it, the division will dissolve and you’ll come to realize just how much the entirety of scripture points to Christ’s death on the cross. Specifically, he discusses what the purpose of the ‘blood’ is in scripture, why it’s important, and what it accomplishes for the believer. If you’ve wondered about the significance of the blood, this book will open your eyes to its power. If you think you have a grasp on the importance of the blood in Christ’s sacrifice, give it a read. You may be surprised at all that Murray draws out of the scripture and lays out for the reader to feast on. This book can also be read online, here.
Andrew Murray was not a writer who dwelt on esoteric or theoretical doctrines. He was a pastor and wrote like one. He was immensely practical and was primarily concerned with seeing doctrine lived out. This focus is one that took root in my own thinking and has guided my spiritual development. This book, Daily Experience with God, is a book that is driven by the idea of practical theology. Murray uses it as an opportunity to guide the reader into a deeper, more fulfilling walk with Christ. Through it, he discusses a variety of topics that touch on the Christian life including: how we can better enjoy scripture, our identity in Christ, how to enjoy greater fellowship with God, what the trinity means for us, what Christian meditation is, being a doer of the word, and living a life of holiness. This book lays out what a spiritual life looks like. He leaves few stones unturned in his quest to call us to a deeper devotion to the things of God. Unfortunately, this is not one that I’ve been able to find online; however, you can find a copy for fairly cheap on Amazon.
I want to include this book because it’s on a topic that is seldom discussed in most contemporary churches. Murray makes a strong case for divine healing from the scriptures without condemning those who disagree. In the preface to this book, he says, “I have been convinced anew of what the Word of God teaches us in this matter, and of what the Lord expects of us. I am sure that if Christians learned to realize, in a practical sense, the presence of the Lord who heals in their everyday lives, their spiritual lives would thereby be developed and sanctified.” His concern is not merely physical. Instead, he argues that a belief in divine healing will lead to a deeper spiritual life. Now, this is a topic that has divided people throughout Christianity’s history. Nevertheless, Murray’s treating of it is well-done and if nothing else, it’s a great book to read as a challenge to your own beliefs. This book can be found for free online at this link.
If you’ve never read anything by Andrew Murray, I hope you’ve been encouraged to give his writings a try. If you’ve already read these books, give one of his many other works a read-through. His writing is Christ-centered and it calls us to that deeper devotion to God and God alone that we all so desperately need. Let us know what you think of Andrew Murray or the books that I’ve recommended in the comments below.
Grace and Peace,
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