S.D. Gordon Biography

A plain man, controlled by a deep desire to edify God’s people

The following provides a short biography of S.D. Gordon, whose writing have been quoted extensively in the PRAY portion of this web site. S.D. Gordon is an example of how God can (and often does) use ordinary Christians who are extraordinarily committed to His purposes.

There must be an open hand and heart and life through which God can give what He longs to. An open life, an open hand, open upward, is the pipeline of communication between the heart of God and this poor befooled old world. Our prayer is God’s opportunity to get into the world that would shut Him out. – S.D. Gordon in Quiet Talks on Prayer

In the early 1900s, S.D. Gordon was a widely traveled speaker in high demand. A prolific author, he wrote more than 25 devotional books, most with the phrase Quiet Talks in the title. His first book sold half a million copies over 40 years! He died in 1936.

E.W. Kenyon said that “S.D. Gordon is a sporadic outburst of divine grace. He is unusual, as are all of God’s rare tools… he is perfectly balanced in the Word and in the Spirit. He represents that rare but vanishing class of spiritually minded men of the last generation.”

The Treasury of Quiet Talks Selections from S.D. Gordon” (1951) by John W. Bradbury gives this brief biography (adapted):

Samuel Dickey Gordon ministered the deep things of God, he was not an ordained minister, He could boast no academic degrees, he was never doctored [he never received an earned or honorary doctorate]. Theological concepts he obtained from his Bible. A plain man, controlled by a deep desire to edify God’s people, he won the respect of the learned and at the same time the affection of the simple.

Gordon lived a long and useful life. He was born in Philadelphia August 12, 1859 and died June 1936. A public school education was all the academic training he had. But, as a young man, he was hard working , consecrated and sought the best God had for him. He served as assistant secretary of the Philadelphia Young Men’s Christian Association in 1884-86 so efficiently that he became state secretary for the YMCA in Ohio, serving from 1886 to 1895. In this period he developed a quiet style of devotional speaking which was quite the opposite of the powerful forensics which dominated the pulpit style of that period.

 

Gordon then took four years to visit the mission fields of the Orient and to tour Europe on speaking missions. His quiet manner, simplicity, illustrative quality and gentle spirit won for him a great following wherever he went. “Quiet Talks on Power” was his first book, published by Fleming H. Revell in 1901. Gordon was then forty-two. His “Quiet Talks on Prayer” followed in 1904, “Quiet Talks on Service” and “Quiet Talks about Jesus”, in 1906. The demand for his books had grown so great that he could produce two in a year and follow thereafter with one series of Quiet Talks each year until 1915 when the first World War disrupted everything. After the war he resumed his Quiet Talks in books but not at the same speed. Altogether he produced twenty-five books, twenty-two of which belonged to the Quiet Talks series.

 

An incessant and tireless itinerant, Gordon never lacked for opportunities to preach. He never called himself a preacher, preferring the title of lecturer. In a real sense he was unique. His manner of speaking, never dull, always illustrated by parabolic stories, had gripping power to hold the attention and stir the heart.

 

His brother, James Logan Gordon, was an ordained minister, and served three pastorates in Canada and then at the First Congregational Church in San Francisco. – John W. Bradbury

Sources and More About S.D. Gordon

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