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Liberty Theological Seminary

Reflection on
Quiet Talks on Prayer

A Paper
Submitted to Kennedy Adarkwa, Ph.D.
In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the course
Strategic Prayer and Spiritual Warfare
EVAN 670

By
Baskin, Deborah M.
ID #: 23181365

29 January 2012

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INTRODUCTION
S. D. Gordon (1859-1936) was a productive author who penned twenty-five
books. Quiet Talks on Prayer was the first book of a twenty-two book series. It was
published in 1901 and sold more than 500,000 copies over the next forty years.1 Though
Gordon never received an academic degree, he was a much loved and respected speaker
and missionary who traveled all over America, Europe, and Asia. He was born in
Philadelphia and served as the Assistant Secretary of the Philadelphia Young Mens
Christian Association from 1884 to 1886. From 1886 to 1895, Gordon served as State
Secretary for the YMCA in Ohio.2
In Quiet Talks on Prayer, Gordon presented a persuasive case on the importance of
prayer and the perseverance one should practice in prayer. The authors intended
audience is any Christian who is seeking ways to improve his relationship with God.
Since this book was written in the early 1900s, it can be difficult to grasp some of his
analogies. One must be measured in reading this book and will have to become
accustomed to Gordons syntax and vocabulary. Quiet Talks is not a book that one can
read quickly or with ease. Despite these difficulties, one will garner a wealth of
information on how to establish a deeper prayer life. This reflection will give a sectionby-section summary, followed by an evaluation and critique of the book, and conclude
with a personal application acquired from the contents of the book.
SUMMARY OF BOOK
Quiet Talks on Prayer is divided into four parts with each section containing
several short chapters. Part one is entitled The Meaning and Mission of Prayer. Gordon
stated in chapter one, There is one inlet of power in the life anybodys life any kind
1 Dan Augsburger, S D Gordon Talk Quiets..., Path 2 Prayer, http://www.path2prayer.com/article.php?
id=276 (accessed January 28, 2012).
2 Ibid.

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of power: just one inlet the Holy Spirit. He further discussed the five outlets of the
Spirits power in ones life: 1) through ones life Gods power should flow out of the
person who allows the Holy Spirit to take control, 2) through ones lip, 3) through ones
service, 4) through ones money, and 5) through ones prayers.4 Gordon specified, The
greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray. It is not the only thing. But it
is the chief thing.5 He established that since man battles the spirit world, he needs a
spiritual weapon. Gordon then went on to explain that, Now prayer is a spirit
force...Further, spirit beings are not limited by material obstructionsPrayer has these
qualities of spirit beings of not being limited by space, or by material obstacles.6 In
chapter three, The Earth the Battlefield in Prayer, Gordon detailed why prayer is vital in
battling Satan and his demons. Chapter four discussed whether or not prayer influences
God. Gordon asserted, It (prayer) does not influence His purpose. It does influence His
actionWhen we learn His purpose and make them our prayers we are giving Him the
opportunity to act.7
Section two entitled Hindrances to Prayer consisted of three chapters: Why the
Results Fail, Why the Results are Delayed, and The Great Outside Hindrance. Using
scriptures from Isaiah and Psalms, Gordon revealed that, Sin cuts the wire; it runs the
message into the ground.8 He also said that God does not usually answer selfish prayers.
Gordon maintained that ones motives and sins can and do encumber ones prayers.9 In
chapter six, Gordon gave the explanation as to why results are postponed or denied by

3 S. D. Gordon, Quiet Talks On Prayer (Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2003), 7.


4 Ibid.. 8.
5 Ibid.. 9.
6 Ibid.. 23-24.
7 Ibid.. 40.
8 Ibid.. 52-53.
9 Ibid.. 54-55.

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God. He asserted that reasons are due to Gods kindness or for a greater purpose. Man
does not always see from the same vantage point as God. Therefore, man needs to trust
God. Gordon used Hannah as a proof of this position. He stated Hannahs answer was
delayed that more might be given and gotten.10 Another reason that prayers may be
hindered is due to Satan and his demons. Daniels conversation with an angel describing
his battle with the prince of Persia (a demonic spiritual being) resulting in his delay in
responding to Daniels prayer demonstrated the need to be persistent in prayer while one
waits.11
The third section titled How to Pray contained five chapters: The How of
Relationship, The How of Method, The Listening Side of Prayer, Something About
Gods Will in Connection with Prayer, and May We Pray with Assurance for the
Conversion of Our Loved Ones? In order to have effective prayer a relationship with the
Father is vital. This cannot be accomplished without spending time in the Word and
operating on faith. Clearly the only basis of such a relationship to God is Jesus.12
Gordon highlighted several scriptures such as Matthew 18:19-20, Mark 11:22-24, John
15:7, and John 16:23-24 to emphasize the Christians relationship with Christ. These
verses dealt with Jesus presence when two or more pray, faith in God, abiding in Christ,
and Jesus choosing and appointing the believer.13 Gordon asserted that those abovementioned verses prove there is no limitation as to who shall ask, nor the kind of thing
to be asked for. There are three limitations imposed: the prayer is to be through Jesus; the
person praying is to be in fullest sympathy with Him; and this person is to have faith.14
In discussing the method of praying Gordon maintained that is it necessary to make
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13
14

Ibid.. 69.
Ibid.. 84.
Ibid.. 94.
Ibid.. 94-97.
Ibid.. 97.

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Gods purpose ones prayer. He gave six suggestions on how to pray: 1) unhurried daily
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time when one is fresh and alert, 2) having a place where one prays, 3) give the Bible its
place in prayer, 4) allow the Spirit to teach one how to pray, 5) pray in Jesus name, and
6) pray with faith.16 Gordon emphasized the need to listen to God as part of ones prayer
time. In order to accomplish this one must study the Bible for the purpose of knowing
God.17 Gordon gave several suggestions of how to read the Bible including a plan called
wide reading that he defined as Rapid reading through regardless of verse, chapter, or
book divisions. Reading it as a narrative, a story.18 In chapter eleven the point is made
that the purpose of prayer is to accomplish Gods will in ones life. He (God) recognizes
His own purpose and plans being repeated in this man down on the earth by His own
Spirit.19 Finally, Gordon addressed the need and assurance that one can pray for a lost
loved one or friend. He said, The heart of God hungers to redeem the world.20
The final section of the book was called Jesus Habits of Prayer. It was composed
of five chapters which detailed how and where Christ prayed. Gordon described the way
Christ prayed, his need for prayer, his love of prayer and the power He received through
prayer. He detailed Christs experiences as told in the gospel accounts. Lastly he ended by
presenting a composite picture of how Christ practiced prayer: 1) time of prayer, 2)
places of prayer, 3) constant spirit of prayer, 4) prayed in the great crises of His life, 5)
prayed for others by name, 6) prayed with others, and 7) greatest blessings of his life
came during prayer.21

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20
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Ibid.. 107.
Ibid.. 107-114.
Ibid.. 120.
Ibid.. 124.
Ibid.. 135.
Ibid.. 139.
Ibid.. 171-173.

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EVALUATION AND CRITIQUE
S.D. Gordons book has several strengths. He wrote it for the ordinary man of his time
period with the deep desire to propel him into a deeper and more trusting relationship
with God. He wrote the book in a logical sequence allowing each section to build a
foundation for which the reader can assimilate the proceeding sections.
Secondly, he used many scriptures to validate his convictions and teachings on
prayer. This use of scripture will appeal both to the theologian and the layman. One
example that I particularly found appealing was: If you abide in Me, and My words
abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7,
NKJV). Strongs defined abide as To remain as one.22 In other words, we are to be one
with Christ. This emphasized that we must be in an intimate relationship with Him. If we
are one with Christ, we will know His will and be able to pray it with confidence and
trust. This is a beautiful promise and truth. However, there is yet another aspect of this
type of relationship, Christs words must also abide in us. In order to have this occur we
must read the scripture.
Gordon explained in great detail how we are able to abide in Christ, which is a third
strength that I would like to elaborate upon. His suggestion of wide reading is extremely
attractive to me since it will increase appreciation and understanding of the scripture. He
said that we should read it as a narrative.23 This is an excellent method of reading the
Bible. Gordon emphasized that one is to read rapidly page-by-page and not to spend time
trying to understand everything. The point of wide reading is to enable the reader to fit
the parts of the scripture together. This type of reading allows one to grasp the big picture
22 Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. Lexicon
Results,http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3306&t=KJV (accessed
January 29, 2012).
23 S. D. Gordon, 124.

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of the Bible. Wide reading is done daily and deliberately. This type of reading allows us
to remain in Christ and to know His will and truths. We cannot pray Gods purpose if we
are pulling scriptures out of context and applying those scriptures to our desires and
wants. We must understand becoming one with Christ is the only way to accomplish and
know Gods purpose.
Gordons section called The Birthplace of Faith is the fourth strength on which I will
review. Gordon stated, Prayer must be in faith. But please note that faith here is not
believing that God can, but that He willThen rising and going about your duties,
saying, that the thing is settled.24 Gordon assured us that one is unable to mechanically
insist that he believes; instead he gives four characteristics of faith. First, faith is
intelligent. In order to be intelligent one must discover Gods will through Bible reading
and prayer. Second, faith is obedient in that it fits Gods will into ones life. Third, faith is
expectant. This is demonstrated by looking for results. Fourth, faith is persistent. It hangs
on despite delays.25 I felt that Gordon validated these characteristics in the scripture he
used. Examples of this would include the earlier mentioned story of Daniel and the
prayers of Christ that Gordon elaborated upon. As Christians, we can apply the actions of
Christ to our lives and discover Gods purpose and therefore be confident that the Father
heard our prayers. This type of confidence grows ones faith.
One of the most compelling discussions was praying, Thy will be done.26 One can only
pray those four little words when he truly believes that God is on his side. Gordon
describes God as good, pure, holy and love.27 I would concur with this assessment of God
especially in view of the sacrifice of His Son. This act should propel man to pray for
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25
26
27

Ibid.. 114.
Ibid.. 114-115.
Ibid.. 43.
Ibid.

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Gods will in his life with trust. Gordon also pointed out that when we pray those words,
we are submitting to Gods purpose in our lives. Submitting our will to the Fathers will
is the real battlefield that each of us must face. We can either submit to the good and
perfect will of God or allow Satans will to be accomplished in our lives.28
Regrettably, I did have one questionable area with Gordon. He implied that when we pray
for the lost that victory is definite. In Chapter 12, Gordon assured us that since man is
bound together with love and concern for others that means we have the responsibility to
reach the lost.29 I find no fault with this statement. We are called to pray Gods will and
we know that God desires that no man should be lost. Gordon advocated methods of
praying for the lost using scripture as a guide. Again, these recommendations are
excellent. However, he makes an overconfident statement with which I have a difficulty.
Without any doubt we may assure the conversion of these laid upon our hearts by such
praying.30 While I would love to believe this assertion because it brings me comfort
especially in regard to lost loved ones, I am afraid that this cannot be validated in
scripture. I believe that we are called to pray without ceasing for the lost. However, I also
know that God has given man a free will. My prayers are unable to force another to
surrender to God. Throughout the scripture we are told of people who rejected God and
His plan for their lives. One incident that I am reminded of is when Paul preached to
King Agrippa in Acts 26. Agrippa told Paul that he had almost persuaded him to become
a Christian. Paul was a man of prayer. He devoted his life to preaching the gospel and
sharing the salvation of Christ; however, Agrippa did not choose salvation in spite of
Pauls prayers and testimony.
PERSONAL APPLICATION
28 Ibid.. 47.
29 Ibid.. 140.
30 Ibid.. 142.

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Quiet Talks on Prayer brought my attention to the need for prayer in my life to be as
natural as breathing. I want to be more devoted in my prayers especially in regard to
praying Gods will. This is an area with which I struggle. Due to tragedies in my life, my
ability to trust was hindered. I continued praying but often felt like I was Gods
stepdaughter. I would pray with conviction for others but I lacked that confidence
concerning my own life and needs. My faith was shattered and I had to rebuild it. This
has been a long process. I try to say daily, I love and trust God. Gordons sections on
Gods love once again reminded me to pray with sureness and say, Lord, not my will but
Your will be done. I have started to end all my prayers with that statement and
wondrously I find that I mean it! This has been difficult of me to do. Yet after reading
Gordons book, I find that I desire to pray for the Fathers will to be accomplished in my
life and with my family.
A second application that I have been motivated to do is to accomplish Gordons
wide reading of the scripture. When I was in the seventh grade, I decided to read through
Hurlbuts Story of the Bible. This is rather lengthy book that is a narrative account of the
scripture. As a twelve-year-old child, this helped me with the understanding of the text of
the Bible. We are fortunate today because there is a plethora of Bible translations that are
much easier to comprehend. I am going to practice Gordons suggestion of wide reading
with a set time each day. Right now, my plan is to set aside a thirty-minute block of time
after I eat my lunch. Usually, the house is quiet and this will allow me uninterrupted time
to read the scripture. I think that it will put my mind more in line with the mind of Christ.
CONCLUSION
Gordons book was difficult for me to read at first. I found Gordons syntax
awkward and I will admit that if this had not been required reading I would have put the

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book back on a shelf. However, I am glad that I persevered through those first chapters
because Gordons view on prayer has been inspiring and challenging. This is a book that
if read thoughtfully will radically change some of your practices on prayer. I believe that
any Christian would enhance his prayer life if he read and followed some of the
applications that Gordon presents in Quiet Talks on Prayer.

BIBLIOGRAHY
Augsburger, Dan. S D Gordon Talk Quiets Path 2 Prayer.
http://www.path2prayer.com/article.php?id=276 (accessed January 28, 2012).

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Gordon, S. D. Quiet Talks On Prayer. Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2003.

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