James McConkey was a native of Pennsylvania, graduated from Princeton College (now University) in 1880 as president of his class, and later studied law and was admitted to the bar. He played an influential role in the work of YMCA and in founding the Africa Inland Mission. An invalid most of his life, he died in 1937 at the age of 79. His book, the Three-Fold Secret of the Holy Secret is considered by some the best book ever written on the Holy Spirit. He wrote four other major books from what I can tell, the next best being the Surrendered Life. He also wrote books on last day events, prayer and victory.
L. H. McCraw, James H. McConkey
James McConkey on Prayer
“God, the eternal God of the universe, stands, as it were, like an almighty servant and says, “If you, my child, will only pray I will work; if you will only be busy with asking I will see to the doing. Not only does He bestow at our crying, but He acts. Not only does our praying evoke His bounty, it sets in motion His omnipotence. Wherefore, as we enter into the secret chamber of prayer, nothing will so stir us to mighty intercession, nothing will so soon make us master-pleaders with God for a lost world, as to whisper to our own soul, again and again this wonderful truth, “while I am praying God is really doing that which I am asking.” (Read more of this chapter on prevailing in prayer)
"Prayer comes to its own; enters into its lawful heritage of mighty power only with men who have reached the end of themselves and are clinging to God. Power in prayer did not come to Jacob while he strove in his own strength, but when he clung in his own helplessness. “What poor humans are we, that God must needs let us be driven into the stress of necessity and helplessness because in no other way can he constrain us to betake ourselves to prayer to Him! Yet it is even so. Do we pray when the wind is a-beam, the skies fair, and our ship running free before the breeze? Nay, but when the mast is overboard, the rudder gone, and the ship in the trough—then we pray. Do we pray when our loved ones are in prosperity, health, and strength? Nay, but when the sober-faced physician shakes his head, and says he has done all he can, and death’s shadow settles down over the chamber of a precious one—then we pray. Strength is self-reliant and thinks it needs no God. But weakness is driven to God-reliance and there learns the secrets of the prayer life. Helplessness begets dependence—dependence leads to prayer; and prayer brings power. Out of our own insufficiency into God’s sufficiency, by the pathway of prayer, is the secret of power. Wherefore self-strength may be worse than weakness. For the weak man learns to cling and pray. But the strong one stays self-centered and misses God.”
"God is so near, and the arrows of prayer so swift in their course, and our Father so waitingly intent for every cry of prayer that starts on its upward way, that it does not take long to go in. In an instant of doubt: at the ﬁrst pang of distress: with the ﬁrst mis-step of a mistaken course: in the ﬁrst second of a ﬁerce temptation, we may go in. Amid the rush of trafﬁc, the fever of a hurried day, the pressure of a strained and suffering one you may go in, if for but a second or two of precious approach. You may lift your heart in it all and whisper-”God help me; deliver me: give me strength: guide me: suffer not my foot to slip.” And He will hear you. And you will learn the sweet lesson of how quickly and how easily we may go in, in this so sorely needful life of prayer."
James McConkey on Prayer and God's Will
"Ye are My friends if ye do whatsoever I command you." Each friend stood ready to do that which pleased the other friend, even if it went to the laying down of his life for that friend. Well, can this be true of God, that He does our will? Listen:—"If ye abide in Me. and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Behold the marvel and the blessing of the prayer life! God's wonderful fact that, for the man or the woman who is abiding in Him, He stands ready to do their will, through prayer. Why should it not be so? When we ask God to do anything according to His will, why should He not do it? God is just as pleased to do that part of His will for which you ask, as any part of His will in the universe. It is for the honor, and glory, and interest of God to do your will, when you are asking according to His will. Out there on those great wheat farms in the western prairies is not the owner ready to do the superintendent's will as well as the superintendent to do the owner's will? If the harvesting machine gets out of order, and the superintendent asks for its repair, it is to the interest of the owner to repair it. If the grain is mildewed and spoiling, and the superintendent asks for hands to harvest it, it is to the interest of the owner to answer his request. So when we live in His will, and are striving to do His will, it is to the interest of God's own kingdom that that will be done, and it pleases God to do it. God is just waiting for us to choose His will. And when we choose to do His will, and ask for anything according to it, He will do it. I tell you, the greatest thought about prayer is not that we are praying to God to do something for us, but that we are praying to God to carry out His will in this world of His. And when we pray that, God stands ready to carry it out. "Ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done." When we say, "Lord, I will to separate myself from sin; I will to come out from the emptiness and foolishness of the world; I will to walk closer with Thee; I will to know more of Thy power through communion with Thee, through Thy Word, through separation and service;" when we choose these things which are within the will of God, He is ready to do our will, because He is simply doing His own will in us."
James McConkey on Victory
"Work it out in love. Work it out in daily, faithful ministry. Work it out as God works in you. But more than that, You may miss it. You may fall short of God’s perfect plan for your life. Therefore work it out ‘with fear and trembling’! .... Trembling—lest the god of this world blind you to the vision of service which God is ever holding before you. Trembling—lest the low standard of life in fellow Christians about you lead you to drop yours to a like groveling level. .... Trembling—lest some little circle in the dark ends of the earth should fail of the giving, the praying, or the going which God has long since planned for you. Trembling—lest the voices of worldly pleasure and ambition dull and deafen your ears to the one voice which is ever whispering, ‘Follow thou me; follow thou me.’"
"A Drowning boy was struggling in the water. On shore stood his mother in an agony of fright and grief. By her side stood a strong man seemingly indifferent to the boy's fate. Again and again did the suffering mother appeal to him to save her boy. But he made no move. By and by, the desperate struggles of the boy began to abate. He was losing strength. Presently he arose to the surface, weak and helpless. At once the strong man leaped into the stream and brought the boy in safety to the shore. "Why did you not save my boy sooner?" cried the now grateful mother. "Madam, I could not save your boy so long as he struggled. He would have dragged us both to certain death. But when he grew weak, and ceased to struggle, then it was easy to save him." To struggle to save ourselves is simply to hinder Christ from saving us. To come to the place of faith, we must pass from the place of effort to the place of accepted helplessness. Our very efforts to save ourselves turn us aside from that attitude of helpless dependence upon Christ which is the one attitude we need to take in order that He may save us. It is only when we "cease from our own works" and depend thus helplessly upon Him that we realize how perfectly able He is to save without any aid from us."
James McConkey on the Holy Spirit
“What then is the secret of (the Holy Spirit’s) fullness, of His abundant life of Peace, Power, and Love? We answer: The absolute unqualified surrender of our life to God, to do His will instead of our own. Thus, when we surrender our sins and believe, we receive the Holy Spirit; when we surrender our lives and believe, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Spirit is God’s answer to repentance and faith; the fullness of the Spirit is God’s answer to surrender and faith. At conversion the Spirit enters; at surrender the Spirit, already entered, takes full possession. The supreme, human condition of the fullness of the Spirit is a life wholly surrendered to God to do His will.” The Three-Fold Secret of the Holy Spirit, p. 43
"Every Christian, that is, every one who repents and believes, confesses and is baptized, has received Christ into his life, and therefore has received the Holy Spirit ; but there is a fulness of the Spirit which is more than this. " When we surrender our sins and believe, we receive the Holy Spirit ; when we surrender our lives and believe, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Spirit is God's answer to repentance and faith ; the fulness of the Spirit is God's answer to surrender and faith."
"James McConkey said at one time that he believed that a few men had a monopoly on the Holy Spirit. ‘But now,’ he said, ‘I know that the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on a few men.’” Quoted in Promises of God by H. M. S. Richards
James McConkey on Surrender
“Not only are we to commit our lives to God, but we must also allow Him to have His way with them. The committal of all things must be accompanied by the submission in all things. When we yield our lives, we yield our plans concerning our lives, and accept God’s dealings with them. Not only “commit your way unto the Lord,” but “trust also in Him.” Not only take your hands off, but let Him put His hands on, however He may see fit. Many mistakes are made here. We commit the clay into the potter’s hands, but we do not remain under those hands. We commit the marble to the divine sculptor, but we do not relish His use of the chisel. We commit our ship to the broad ocean of His will and purpose, but we do not like the way He directs at the helm. Therefore when the potter begins shaping with painful pressure, the sculptor hammers and chisels, and the helmsman steers into the teeth of a dispiriting, heart-rending, tempest, we shrink from the pressured hammer blows and turn from the turbulent, unanticipated, swells.”
“But we must not do this. For God alone knows what is best for the life that has been placed in His hands. He alone sees the preparation needed for an eternal existence hereafter. We only know a little about its present; He knows its end “from the beginning.” He alone knows how to shape it for His perfect purpose. Only He knows what will best achieve its eternal weight of glory in the ages to come. But to do this, He needs a submitted will. He cannot work the desires of His Father-heart for us if we shrink, waver, and rebel under the new and unexpected treatment. The “commit” that puts all into His hands, needs the “trust also” that keeps all things under His hands. Therefore we must not only fully commit everything to God’s keeping, but trustfully submit to God’s shaping chastening. Let us not only give ourselves into His hands, but also stay under His hands as He deals to us that which is best from His standpoint, however grievous it may seem from ours. As we deliberately and irrevocably commit everything to His keeping, let us say to Him: “Lord, I don’t know what is best for this life, but You do. While I pursued my own will concerning it, I only found failure, mistake, fruitlessness, and disappointment. Now, yielding it to You, I also submit to Your will concerning it. As You see fit, send prosperity or adversity, rest or toil, service or suffering, abasement or exaltation, crucifixion or glorification, the midnight darkness of need or the noonday blaze of fullness in You. Continue the work of your hands, do not spare your chastening efforts, and keep the furnace fires burning, until Your perfect work is accomplished with me. By Your grace I will walk with You regardless of the path you have chosen for me. I will trust You when I cannot see You. I will submit to You when I cannot understand You. I choose to yield myself wholly, absolutely, and irrevocably, in humble, trustful submission, to You and Your blessed will.”
“In the fashioning and keeping of our lives there are no hands as safe as God’s. He has planned those lives in Christ Jesus from the beginning of time. He knows their strengths and their weaknesses; He knows how to mold them to achieve their destined end; He knows the place which He has prepared for them; He knows the preparation needed; He knows their limitations and their possibilities. He knows how they can be made to so glorify Him and advance His kingdom that their influence shall last through all eternity.” James McConkey, adapted from “Committal,”
James McConkey and Yielding
“The question is have you YIELDED? Bought with a price, and not your own, have you taken your hands off your own life and consecrated it wholly, unﬂinchingly, eternally to the Lord Jesus Christ, to be His loving bond-slave forever? It is not now a question of His fullness; that is limitless. It is a question of your receptiveness, your surrender. Is He worthy of trust, of absolute trust? Then how child-like will you trust Him? How absolutely will you yield to Him? With what self-abandonment will you throw yourself upon Him? How far up toward the height of His perfect surrender will you climb? He will meet you where you meet Him. The only limit to His fullness is that which you impose in the limitation of your surrender. The more absolutely, sweepingly, irrevocably you yield yourself, time, talents, possessions, plans, hopes, aspirations, purposes, yea all to Jesus Christ, vouching yourself His loving bond-slave to do and suffer His will, the more you shall know the blessed fullness of His Spirit. You may have all the fullness you will make room for. James McConkey 3-Fold Secret of the Holy Spirit”
James McConkey on Trusting God
The real battle is the "First . . . unto God" struggle. Real victory is trusting His will without worrying about what His will may be or where His will may lead. The battle is over yielding ourselves to God, rather than a struggle over going to a foreign mission field against an unyielding will. When the struggle to give ourselves wholly to God is settled, the the other battles have been won. Then the Holy Spirit can fill the wholly yielded life with such happy obedience that following God's special direction will be our joy and delight. God does not call us to surrender to a field or a calling; rather to yield ourselves in blank to Him. The real issue is not, will I go to Africa, but do I trust God enough to place my life in His hands, regardless of the particular place or form of service to which He may direct.
“When you commit your case into the hands of a physician you wisely allow him to have his way. Be equally wise with God. Be patient while He works in you. You cannot deny self and leap with one bound into a full person in Christ Jesus. Self cannot be dethroned in one blow, for not only are you to deny self, but your are to perfect and further that denial by living it daily. (Luke 9:23.) Initially you will not see the full meaning of surrender; you could not bear it. At first you will not have a complete revelation of the self-life; it would break your heart to see yourself all at once and you would be filled with despair.”
"Much of our prayer life consists in beseeching God to surround us with a new set of circumstances. Instead of that we should pray for grace to stay under the present circumstances while He works out in us His purpose of Christ-likeness. God does not need a new set of circumstances to make you Christ-like. All He needs is for you to "stay under" the old set with which He has environed your life. I question if there is any Christian reading these lines who needs a change of circumstances as much as he needs that Christ-like change in himself which God is seeking to work out as he stays under his present conditions."
"Cease treating the daily round of your life as a common thing. It is holy ground. Every day is aflame with the presence of God, even though your blinded eyes fail to recognize it. Every golden hour is a tiny square in the mosaic of God's beautiful pattern for your life. Every opportunity is a holy chance to win a soul from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Every distress and necessity is but a new lesson in the matchless school of patience, teaching you how to "stay under" the hand of the skilled Potter who is fashioning you as a vessel of honor and glory for all eternity. Every pang of suffering is a golden milestone which marks your progress from the doing of the desires of the flesh, into the broad and boundless place of the will of God, whose length, breadth, height, and depth it will take all time to reveal, and all eternity to fulfill to its uttermost."
"Faith is dependence upon God. And this God-dependence only begins when self-dependence ends. And self-dependence only comes to its end with some of us when sorrow, suffering, affliction, broken plans and hopes bring us to that place of self-helplessness where we throw ourselves upon God in seeming utter helplessness and defeat. And only then do we wake to find that we have learned the lesson of faith: to find our tiny craft of life rushing onward to a blessed victory of life and power and service undreamt of in the days of our fleshly strength and self-reliance. Oh, the victory of what the world would call a broken life! Broken in self-strength to find the strength of God: broken in fortune to find the riches of God: broken in earthly pleasure-quests to find the joy of God."
The God-Planned Life
"Yea, for every cloud that floats across the summer sky; for every blade of grass that points its tiny spear Heavenward; for every dewdrop that gleams in the morning sun; for every beam of light that shoots across the limitless space from sun to earth, God has a purpose and a plan. How much more, then, for you who are His own, in Christ Jesus, does God have a perfect, prepared life plan." (Read all of this sermon)
The Ministry of Suffering
"God does not want us to be like vases of glass or porcelain, which shatter at the mere touch of temptation. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel, able to bear twisting and crushing to the uttermost limit without collapse. He wants us to be, not hothouse plants, but storm-beaten oaks; not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind, but granite rocks withstanding the ﬁercest storms. To make us such He must needs bring us into His testing-room of suffering. It is there He tries out the stuff of which He would have us be." (Read all of McConkey's sermon on suffering)
"God would not only have us yield all that we are to His service, but all that we have to His keeping. He would have His yielded children to be at perfect rest and peace concerning all the varied interests of their lives. He would have them "anxious in nothing;" "casting all their care upon Him;" "kept in perfect peace" because they trust in Him. Essential to this is the great lesson of committal. For perfect peace has its human condition in a perfect committal. This would He have us fulfill that He may show His perfect power over to keep." (Marvelous on how to commit one's life to God)
The Yielded Life
"This is the secret of the mysterious, inner unrest of your soul. It is the Holy Spirit. He is moving you to that advanced step in your Christian life which will flood it with blessing; --the surrender of yourself to Him. And are you still resisting? When Cameron Scott was day and night thus beset by the Holy Ghost with these words, "YE: ARE NOT YOUR OWN," they so troubled his resisting heart that at last he sought to erase the text from his Bible! Beloved, are we resisting the Holy Ghost? Have we not cast out this truth from our lives, which is far worse than erasing it from our Bibles?" (Another convicting sermon of James McConkey)
"Cease treating the daily round of your life as a common thing. It is holy ground. Every day is aﬂame with the presence of God, even though your blinded eyes fail to recognize it. Every golden hour is a tiny square in the mosaic of God’s beautiful pattern for your life. Every opportunity is a holy chance to win a soul from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Every distress and necessity is but a new lesson in the matchless school of patience, teaching you how to “stay under” the hand of the skilled Potter who is fashioning you as a vessel of honor and glory for all eternity. Every pang of suffering is a golden milestone which marks your progress from the doing of the desires of the ﬂesh, into the broad and boundless place of the will of God, whose length, breadth, height, and depth it will take all time to reveal, and all eternity to fulﬁll to its uttermost." (Read all of Holy Ground)
The Believer's Gift to God.
"What costly mistakes we make here. This life, which we shall live but once; this life, with which every unsuccessful experiment means eternal loss; this life, the most solemn and precious trust that can be put into human keeping--we dare to lay our hands upon, and abase it from God's eternal destiny to our own selfish ends. The unskilled child essays to run the delicate and costly mechanism of a great locomotive, of whose power and possibilities the child knows absolutely naught. There is but one result. The great machine "runs wild," and wreck and ruin follow its unguided flight. Even so are we who lay our hands upon these lives of ours, regardless of our Lord's claim upon them. Sad wreck do we make of them. Disappointments, baffled plans, darkness, clouding of God's presence, suffering, break-downs,--bodily, mental and spiritual,--and utter failure are the woeful results. And then after years of disappointment and failure, we hand over to God the marred remnant for Him to use. And yet even then how good our Lord is! How great His grace; how tender His love! Without a word of chiding or a whisper of reproach, He deigns to take what is left. He puts the past under the blood. He glorifies Himself unspeakably with the yielded remnant, using it as best He can. Withal, while this is His second best for us; while, possibly, these years of disappointment and affliction were His only mean of bringing us to Himself, let us ever remember that His best is always that, like the Macedonians we 'first give our own selves to the Lord," and then to the life work which has been ordained for us "by the will of God.'" (Read all of The Believer's Gift to God)
The Dedicated Life
"Jesus Christ, our loving Lord, stands here tonight. He stretches forth His hands, pierced with cruel nails for you and me. He points to the wound in His side, made by the blood-thirsty spear. He shows you the scars on His forehead, made by the crown of thorns. He says, 'My child, behold My mercies to you. I saved you from the guilt of sin; I brought you from death unto life; I gave you the Spirit of God. Someday I will glorify your body and will make you to sit down with Me on My throne. My child, by My mercies, I beseech you.' You say, 'Lord what do you want from me?' He answers, 'I want you. I want you for My kingdom and My service. I beseech you, by My mercies to you, give your life to Me.'" (Read the rest of James McConkey's important sermon on dedicating one's life to God).
The Surrendered Life
"Make no reservation with God. Let the act of surrender sweep IN every interest, plan, power, and possession of your being. Let one foot of the compass be pivoted at the very center the heart and will and let the other describe a circle to its most distant horizon, omitting nothing from its encircling bounds. As there is no detail of our lives beneath the notice of a loving God, there should be none too trivial to yield to Him. Of course all God asks is sincere-heartedness, not omniscience. He does not expect us to see at a flash all the details which are comprehended in the act of consecration. The God of love whose worship included a sacrifice for sins of ignorance bears very gently with such ignorance in His children. All he asks is that we yield honestly all we do see, and yield trustfully all we do not see but which He may in days to come show us to be comprehended in our act. Let us be sincerely minded to be wholly His, "and if in anything ye are otherwise minded even this will God reveal unto you." So if our hearts are honest in purpose and act, let us not come into the bondage of fearing that we have rot compassed everything in our act of surrender and that therefore God accepts it not. This is grave error. Our God is not unreasonable and arbitrary, but tender, loving, compassionate. The consecration of our life, with an honest heart, tip to our best light and understanding of consecration, is perfectly satisfactory and acceptable to Him." (Read the rest of what I believe is the best book on written on this practical subject)
The Three-Fold Secret of the Holy Spirit
"The ﬁrst thing we need clearly to see is that EVERY CHILD OF GOD HAS RECEIVED THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST. It is of the greatest importance, in the search for the secret of the abundant life, that this glorious fact should be clearly seen and accepted by the believer. For if he has not received the Holy Ghost, then his attitude should be that of waiting, petitioning, and seeking for the gift which is not yet his. But if he has received the Holy Ghost, then he must take an entirely different attitude, namely, not of waiting and praying for the Holy Ghost to be received but of yielding and surrendering to Him who has already been received." (Read all of this book which was considered by many to be the best book ever written on receiving the Holy Spirit)