This weekend I finished reading James L. Snyder’s biography of A. W. Tozer entitled, The Life of A. W. Tozer: In Pursuit of God. I couldn’t put the book down and I would encourage every pastor to pick it up and soak in the life of this great man of God. Tozer said that he wanted to know God more deeply than any other person in his generation. The result of this pursuit can be seen in several of Tozer’s books, which are still being read today: The Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God.
Even though his writing and speaking ministry would carry him all over the country, Tozer was, first and foremost, a pastor. Immediately following his ordination to the gospel ministry, Tozer slipped away by himself and spent time in prayer. He recorded this prayer and I have included part of it here. It challenged me as I consider my calling and I hope it will be an encouragement to other pastors.
Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should become a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the face of the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, or professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offerings. Help me to remember that I am prophet – not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from over-eating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
If in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.
And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me that position or riches or fame. I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.