Moody Was a Man of Prayer and a Deep and Practical Student of the Bible
This is part two of a four part post of R.A, Torrey’s great essay, Why God Used D.L. Moody. Here are Torrey’s seven reasons why he believed God used Moody.
WHY GOD USED D.L. MOODY – by R.A. Torrey – Introduction
- A Fully Surrendered Man
- A Man of Prayer
- A Deep and Practical Student of the Bible
- A Humble Man
- His Entire Freedom from the Love of Money
- His Consuming Passion for the Salvation of the Lost
- Definitely Endued with Power from on High
* * * * *
2. A Man of Prayer
The second secret of the great power exhibited in Mr. Moody’s life was that Mr. Moody was in the deepest and most meaningful sense a man of prayer. People oftentimes say to me: “Well, I went many miles to see and to hear D.L. Moody and he certainly was a wonderful preacher.” Yes, D.L. Moody certainly was a wonderful preacher; taking it all in all, the most wonderful preacher I have ever heard, and it was a great privilege to hear him preach as he alone could preach; but out of a very intimate acquaintance with him I wish to testify that he was a far greater pray-er than he was preacher.
Time and time again, he was confronted by obstacles that seemed insurmountable, but he always knew the way to surmount and to overcome all difficulties. He knew the way to bring to pass anything that needed to be brought to pass. He knew and believed in the deepest depths of his soul that “nothing was too hard for the Lord” and that prayer could do anything that God could do.
Often times Mr. Moody would write me when he was about to undertake some new work, saying: “I am beginning work in such and such a place on such and such a day; I wish you would get the students together for a day of fasting and prayer” And often I have taken those letters and read them to the students in the lecture room and said: “Mr. Moody wants us to have a day of fasting and prayer, first for God’s blessing on our own souls and work, and then for God’s blessing on him and his work.”
Often we were gathered in the lecture room far into the night n sometimes till one, two, three, four or even five o’clock in the morning, crying to God, just because Mr. Moody urged us to wait upon God until we received His blessing. How many men and women I have known whose lives and characters have been transformed by those nights of prayer and who have wrought mighty things in many lands because of those nights of prayer!
One day Mr. Moody drove up to my house at Northfield and said: “Torrey, I want you to take a ride with me.” I got into the carriage and we drove out toward Lover’s Lane, talking about some great and unexpected difficulties that had arisen in regard to the work in Northfield and Chicago, and in connection with other work that was very dear to him.
As we drove along, some black storm clouds lay ahead of us, and then suddenly, as we were talking, it began to rain. He drove the horse into a shed near the entrance to Lover’s Lane to shelter the horse, and then laid the reins upon the dashboard and said: “Torrey, pray”; and then, as best I could, I prayed, while he in his heart joined me in prayer. And when my voice was silent he began to pray. Oh, I wish you could have heard that prayer! I shall never forget it, so simple, so trustful, so definite and so direct and so mighty. When the storm was over and we drove back to town, the obstacles had been surmounted, and the work of the schools, and other work that was threatened, went on as it had never gone on before, and it has gone on until this day.
As we drove back, Mr. Moody said to me: “Torrey, we will let the other men do the talking and the criticizing, and we will stick to the work that God has given us to do, and let Him take care of the difficulties and answer the criticisms.”
On one occasion Mr. Moody said to me in Chicago: “I have just found, to my surprise, that we are twenty thousand dollars behind in our finances for the work here and in Northfield, and we must have that twenty thousand dollars, and I am going to get it by prayer.” He did not tell a soul who had the ability to give a penny of the twenty thousand dollars’ deficit, but looked right to God and said: “I need twenty thousand dollars for my work; send me that money in such a way that I will know it comes straight from Thee.” And God heard that prayer. The money came in such a way that it was clear that it came from God in direct answer to prayer.
Yes, D.L. Moody was a man who believed in the God who answers prayer, and not only believed in Him in a theoretical way but believed in Him in a practical way. He was a man who met every difficulty that stood in his way — by prayer. Everything he undertook was backed up by prayer, and in everything, his ultimate dependence was upon God.
3. A Deep and Practical Student of the Bible
The third secret of Mr. Moody’s power, or the third reason why God used D.L. Moody, was because he was a deep and practical student of the Word of God. Nowadays it is often said of D.L. Moody that he was not a student. I wish to say that he was a student; most emphatically he was a student. He was not a student of psychology; he was not a student of anthropology – I am very sure he would not have known what that word meant; he was not a student of biology; he was not a student of philosophy; he was not even a student of theology, in the technical sense of the term; but he was a student, a profound and practical student of the one Book that is more worth studying than all other books in the world put together; he was a student of the Bible.
Every day of his life, I have reason for believing, he arose very early in the morning to study the Word of God, way down to the close of his life. Mr. Moody used to rise about four o’clock in the morning to study the Bible. He would say to me: “If I am going to get in any study, I have got to get up before the other folks get up”; and he would shut himself up in a remote room in his house, alone with his God and his Bible.
I shall never forget the first night I spent in his home. He had invited me to take the superintendency of the Bible Institute and I had already begun my work; I was on my way to some city in the East to preside at the International Christian Workers’ Convention. He wrote me saying: “Just as soon as the Convention is over, come up to Northfield.” He learned when I was likely to arrive and drove over to South Vernon to meet me. That night he had all the teachers from the Mount Hermon School and from the Northfield Seminary come together at the house to meet me, and to talk over the problems of the two schools. We talked together far on into the night, and then, after the principals and teachers of the schools had gone home, Mr. Moody and I talked together about the problems a while longer.
It was very late when I got to bed that night, but very early the next morning, about five o’clock, I heard a gentle tap on my door. Then I heard Mr. Moody’s voice whispering: “Torrey, are you up?” I happened to be; I do not always get up at that early hour but I happened to be up that particular morning. He said: “I want you to go somewhere with me,” and I went down with him. Then I found out that he had already been up an hour or two in his room studying the Word of God.
Oh, you may talk about power; but, if you neglect the one Book that God has given you as the one instrument through which He imparts and exercises His power, you will not have it. You may read many books and go to many conventions and you may have your all-night prayer meetings to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit; but unless you keep in constant and close association with the one Book, the Bible, you will not have power. And if you ever had power, you will not maintain it except by the daily, earnest, intense study of that Book.
Ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are merely playing at Bible study; and therefore ninety-nine Christians in every hundred are mere weaklings, when they might be giants, both in their Christian life and in their service.
It was largely because of his thorough knowledge of the Bible, and his practical knowledge of the Bible, that Mr. Moody drew such immense crowds. On “Chicago Day,” in October, 1893, none of the theaters of Chicago dared to open because it was expected that everybody in Chicago would go on that day to the World’s Fair; and, in point of fact, something like four hundred thousand people did pass through the gates of the Fair that day. Everybody in Chicago was expected to be at that end of the city on that day. But Mr. Moody said to me: “Torrey, engage the Central Music Hall and announce meetings from nine o’clock in the morning till six o’clock at night.” “Why,” I replied, “Mr. Moody, nobody will be at this end of Chicago on that day; not even the theaters dare to open; everybody is going down to Jackson Park to the Fair; we cannot get anybody out on this day.”
Mr. Moody replied: “You do as you are told”; and I did as I was told and engaged the Central Music Hall for continuous meetings from nine o’clock in the morning till six o’clock at night. But I did it with a heavy heart; I thought there would be poor audiences. I was on the program at noon that day. Being very busy in my office about the details of the campaign, I did not reach the Central Music Hall till almost noon. I thought I would have no trouble in getting in. But when I got almost to the Hall I found to my amazement that not only was it packed but the vestibule was packed and the steps were packed, and there was no getting anywhere near the door; and if I had not gone round and climbed in a back window they would have lost their speaker for that hour. But that would not have been of much importance, for the crowds had not gathered to hear me; it was the magic of Mr. Moody’s name that had drawn them. And why did they long to hear Mr. Moody? Because they knew that while he was not versed in many of the philosophies and fads and fancies of the day, he did know the one Book that this old world most longs to know – the Bible.
I shall never forget Moody’s last visit to Chicago. The ministers of Chicago had sent me to Cincinnati to invite him to come to Chicago and hold a meeting. In response to the invitation, Mr. Moody said to me: “If you will hire the Auditorium for weekday mornings and afternoons and have meetings at ten in the morning and three in the afternoon, I will go. “ I replied: “Mr. Moody, you know what a busy city Chicago is, and how impossible it is for businessmen to get out at ten o’clock in the morning and three in the afternoon on working days. Will you not hold evening meetings and meetings on Sunday?” “No,” he replied, “I am afraid if I did, I would interfere with the regular work of the churches.”
I went back to Chicago and engaged the Auditorium, which at that time was the building having the largest seating capacity of any building in the city, seating in those days about seven thousand people; I announced weekday meetings, with Mr. Moody as the speaker, at ten o’clock in the mornings and three o’clock in the afternoons.
At once protests began to pour in upon me. One of them came from Marshall Field, at that time the business king of Chicago. “Mr. Torrey,” Mr. Field wrote, “we businessmen of Chicago wish to hear Mr. Moody, and you know perfectly well how impossible it is for us to get out at ten o’clock in the morning and three o’clock in the afternoon; have evening meetings.” I received many letters of a similar purport and wrote to Mr. Moody urging him to give us evening meetings. But Mr. Moody simply replied: “You do as you are told,” and I did as I was told; that is the way I kept my job.
On the first morning of the meetings I went down to the Auditorium about half an hour before the appointed time, but I went with much fear and apprehension; I thought the Auditorium would be nowhere nearly full. When I reached there, to my amazement I found a queue of people four abreast extending from the Congress Street entrance to Wabash Avenue, then a block north on Wabash Avenue, then a break to let traffic through, and then another block, and so on. I went in through the back door, and there were many clamoring for entrance there. When the doors were opened at the appointed time, we had a cordon of twenty policemen to keep back the crowd; but the crowd was so great that it swept the cordon of policemen off their feet and packed eight thousand people into the building before we could get the doors shut. And I think there were as many left on the outside as there were in the building. I do not think that anyone else in the world could have drawn such a crowd at such a time.
Why? Because though Mr. Moody knew little about science or philosophy or literature in general, he did know the one Book that this old world is perishing to know and longing to know; and this old world will flock to hear men who know the Bible and preach the Bible as they will flock to hear nothing else on earth.
During all the months of the World’s Fair in Chicago, no one could draw such crowds as Mr. Moody. Judging by the papers, one would have thought that the great religious event in Chicago at that time was the World’s Congress of Religions. One very gifted man of letters in the East was invited to speak at this Congress. He saw in this invitation the opportunity of his life and prepared his paper, the exact title of which I do not now recall, but it was something along the line of “New Light on the Old Doctrines.” He prepared the paper with great care, and then sent it around to his most trusted and gifted friends for criticisms. These men sent it back to him with such emendations as they had to suggest. Then he rewrote the paper, incorporating as many of the suggestions and criticisms as seemed wise. Then he sent it around for further criticisms. Then he wrote the paper a third time, and had it, as he trusted, perfect. He went on to Chicago to meet this coveted opportunity of speaking at the World’s Congress of Religions.
It was at eleven o’clock on a Saturday morning (if I remember correctly) that he was to speak. He stood outside the door of the platform waiting for the great moment to arrive, and as the clock struck eleven he walked on to the platform to face a magnificent audience of eleven women and two men! But there was not a building anywhere in Chicago that would accommodate the very same day the crowds that would flock to hear Mr. Moody at any hour of the day or night.
Oh, men and women, if you wish to get an audience and wish to do that audience some good after you get them, study, study, STUDY the one Book, and preach, preach, PREACH the one Book, and teach, teach, TEACH the one Book, the Bible, the only Book that is God’s Word, and the only Book that has power to gather and hold and bless the crowds for any great length of time.