A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer
A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer was born in Newburg, a small farming community in western Pennsylvania. His conversion came at the age of seventeen, when he was living in Akron, Ohio. While on his way home from work at a tire company, he overheard a street preacher say: “If you don’t know how to be saved... just call on God.” Upon returning home, he climbed into his attic and prayed earnestly to God for his salvation and to surrender his life to Christ.

In 1919, five years after his conversion, and without any formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to pastor his first church. This began forty-four years of ministry, associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical denomination that preached the need for holiness.

For thirty-three years, A. W. Tozer served as a pastor in three different churches. His first pastorate was in a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. Tozer later served as pastor for thirty years at Southside Alliance Church in Chicago (1928 to 1959). He spent the final years of his life as pastor of Avenue Road Church in Toronto, Canada. In observing contemporary Christian living, he felt that the church was on a dangerous course towards compromising with “worldly” concerns.

In 1950, Tozer was elected editor of the Alliance Weekly magazine, now called Alliance Life, the official publication of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. In his first editorial, dated June 3, 1950, he wrote “It will cost something to walk slowly in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that.”

A. W. Tozer Among the more than forty books that he authored, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. During a train trip from Chicago in the late 1940s, A.W. Tozer began to work on The Pursuit of God. He wrote all night long, the words coming to him as fast as he could put them down. By the next morning, when the train pulled into McAllen, Texas, the rough draft was done. Although written in such a remarkably short period of time, the depth, clarity and completeness of Tozer’s message has made The Pursuit of God an enduring favorite. It has sold about 1.7 million copies in 15 different languages.

A. W. Tozer’s books impress on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with God. Most of Tozer’s other books are actually compilations, collected together from the best sermons he preached and the best articles he wrote through the years. As a result, they read with unusual poignancy. J. I. Packer wrote about Tozer: “Through all of Tozer’s books and articles there sihines a passion for God that puts our shallowness to shame. Reading him is like drinking at an oasis in the desert.”

Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer. “His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life,” writes his biographer, James L. Snyder in the book, In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. As Snyder expressed it, “Tozer had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them.”

Living a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Tozer, never owned a car—preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.

A. W. Tozer and his wife had seven children: six boys and one girl. He was buried in Ellet cemetery, Akron, Ohio, with a simple epitaph marking his grave: “A. W. Tozer - A Man of God.”