Charles Spurgeon was a unique combination of personality and prayer. His multifaceted ministry life fell into orbit around his devotional life. But how did Spurgeon remain devoted to God in the midst of all the distractions that constantly pulled at his attention? How did Spurgeon keep his focus on Jesus Christ admist the crashing waves of life?
Here are several lessons from Spurgeon about maintaining intimacy with God in the busyiness and routine of everyday life.
1. Experience intimacy with God through the personality He has given you.
Spurgeon had a marvelous and magnetic personality. He was winsome, profound, easy to speak with, and he never forgot a face. He once told his students, “I once counted eight sets of thoughts which were going on in my brain simultaneously, or at least within the space of the same second.” No doubt, his memory assisted his pastorate that contained nearly 6,000 members. It was, indeed, a “megachurch” long before that word ever came into the vernacular. Spurgeon provided oversight to sixty-six organizations, preached multiple times each week, and was a voracious reader. How, then, did he carve out time for prayer and personal devotion?
“I quarry out the truth when I read, but I smelt the ore and get the pure gold out of it when I meditate!”
Spurgeon was once told that a man spent three hours on his knees in prayer. Spurgeon reponded, "I could not do it if my eternity depended on it!" Then his friend, William, recalled Spurgeon saying,
"I go to God with a promise, which is in reality a cheque issued by God Himself on the bank of heaven. He cashes it for me, and then I go and use what He has given me, to His glory. . . I think I can say that seldom many minutes elapse without my heart speaking to God in either prayer or praise."
The key to Spurgeon's prayer life was saturation. By living in a constant atmosphere of prayer and devotion, Spurgeon permeated his life with prayer and that shaped his personality.
2. Allow God to Speak
Another unique aspect of Spurgeon’s walk with God is found in his daily entry into His presence. He said, “Be much with God in holy dialogue, letting Him speak to you by His Word while you speak back to Him by your prayers and praises." He understood that “thought is the backbone of study.” By allowing God to guide our thoughts, Spurgeon focused on responding to God leading. He explained:
"I have spread the Bible on my chair, kneeled down, put my finger upon the passage, and sought of God instruction. I have thought that when I have risen from my knees I understood it far better than before."
Spurgeon liked to linger on a particular Scripture passage while prayerfully listening as the Holy Spirit illuminated its message. Of course, there is a always a tendency for us to rush into God’s presence with personal agendas and self-centered to-do lists. But, when God initiates his conversation with us through Scripture, prayer become God-centered and kingdom-focused.
3. Build an Entry Ramp and Drop an Anchor
Spurgeon not only spoke of meditating upon the Word of God, but he also spoke of meditating on the God of the Word. When we enter into a conversation with our bosses and superiors, it's always wise to listen more than we speak. Likewise, when we approach the throne of God in prayer, we must prioritize the contemplation of the One with whom we encounter. Spurgeon told his congregation:
"O that you were busy after the true riches, and could step aside awhile to enrich yourselves in solitude, and make your hearts vigorous by feeding upon the person and work of your ever blessed Lord! You miss a heaven below by a too eager pursuit of earth. You cannot know these joyful raptures if meditation be pushed into a corner."
“You cannot measure a fire by the bushel, nor prayers by their length.”
When we feed upon the person and presence of Jesus Christ, we become satisfied, nourished, and empowered. Thus, the entry ramp into Scripture intake, prayer, and meditation is not one of religious obligations but intimacy. Prayerful meditation throughout the day anchors our lives, helps us discover our center, which is Jesus Christ, and launches us into a living relationship with the ultimate Superior.
4. Stay logged in
We often encounter the website message: “Do you want to stay logged in?” In that moment, we have the option of remaining connected or logging out.
Prayer works like that, too. Throughout the day, we can unconsciously log out of prayer with a flippant “amen” and continue on with our busy lives. However, Spurgeon would challenge us, as Scripture does, to stay logged in. To stay attentive to God's voice no matter where our day will lead us. Look at how Spurgeon maintained an open-ended conversation with God. Peter Morden explains:
"His basic pattern was to pray morning and evening. . . Sometimes he would pray with his family . . . sometimes he would be alone. But his prayer life certainly did not stop there; Spurgeon wanted to maintain continued communion with God throughout the day. One of the ways he sought to do this was by praying short, one-sentence prayers as he went about his daily work. . . These short, pithy prayers are what have been called 'arrow prayers', prayers addressed to God in the midst of a day full of all sorts of different tasks."
Fostering communion with God allowed Spurgeon to inject into each of his tasks, decisions, and relationships the guidance, discernment, and blessing that comes directly from Christ. With Spurgeon, may each of us use our God-given personality to carve out time over the course of our routine to focus on encountering Christ through Scripture intake, prayer, and meditation.
About the Author
Keeney Dickenson is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Crockett, Texas, and is the Founder and Director of Prayeridigm Ministries. He received his DMin in Biblical Spirituality from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky on “Preaching from the Overflow of Personal Piety: The Contribution of Prayer and Bible Intake to the Pulpit Ministry of Charles Spurgeon.” Follow Keeney on LinkedIn or Twitter@keeneydickenson.
Check out the newly-released Volume 2 of The Lost Sermons of Charles Spurgeon.