A Testament of Devotion

ISBN: 0060643617
ISBN 13: 9780060643614
By: Thomas R. Kelly Richard J. Foster

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About this book

Since its first publication in 1941, A Testament of Devotion, by the renowned Quaker teacher Thomas Kelly, has been universally embraced as a truly enduring spiritual classic. Plainspoken and deeply inspirational, it gathers together five compelling essays that urge us to center our lives on God's presence, to find quiet and stillness within modern life, and to discover the deeply satisfying and lasting peace of the inner spiritual journey. As relevant today as it was a half-century ago, A Testament of Devotion is the ideal companion to that highest of all human arts-the lifelong conversation between God and his creatures.I have in mind something deeper than the simplification of our external programs, our absurdly crowded calendars of appointments through which so many pantingly and frantically gasp. These do become simplified in holy obedience, and the poise and peace we have been missing can really be found. But there is a deeper, an internal simplification of the whole of one's personality, stilled, tranquil, in childlike trust listening ever to Eternity's whisper, walking with a smile into the dark."

Reader's Thoughts

Sarah Wilcher

I keep this book with me at all times. I plan to wear the pages thin. It was a gift to me from my spiritual director and I am grateful beyond words. Small, short snippets into the life of Thomas Kelly that offer tools and hope for a rich, full, life of presence.


Thomas Kelly was a Quaker missionary who died too young in 1941. Testament of Devotion compiles fives essays that are meant to urge us to center our live's on God's presence. In our busyness, we can live a life centered and consumed by God's presence. An excert: "But what is the content and aim of this yearning Love, which is the Divine Love loving its way into and through us to others? It is that they too may make the great discovery, that they also may find God, or, better, be found by Him, that they may know the Eternal breaking in upon them and making their lives moving images of the Eternal Life."

Dr. Stephanie Bennett

This is my all time favorite devotional. It is not written as a devotion with a page by page separation. Rather, it is the story of one 20th-century intellectual who sought God and found Him. Thomas Kelly is a man I'd love to meet. His style of writing is so down to earth yet profound. The book has become a reprieve for me when I am at my lowest moments.


This book is the perfect follow-up to Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God. While we learn from Brother Lawrence that an abiding presence with God is possible, we learn from Kelly how to acquire it, what it costs, and what fruit will be born from it. This is a very quick read, but should be savored and re-read.

David Firth

Written in 1941 and compiled posthumously, I expect that it would have been better if the author had been present to tune it. This said, Thomas R. Kelly (a chemist before entering Quaker seminary) packed quite a bit of spiritual truth into a small volume.

Garland Vance

Phenomenal! This little book guides the reader through developing a greater awareness of God's presence. I will read it again and again as each page is filled with incredible wisdom. So much depth that I cannot capture all of the insights.

Karyl Savageau

Actually, I finished this book long ago and am only now updating my GoodRead page. This book fit in with others along the way to encourage my attention, apprehension and increasing awareness of God as the center of my life. It is so easy to slide into busyness or mindlessness which encourage forgetfulness. This book is able to promote one's heart to remember how deeply loved each of is by the King of Heaven, and that makes me (at least) able to rest there and love more easily.

Chris Schutte

A wonderful book on cultivating a deep sense of God's presence in our day-to-day lives. His thoughts on simplicity are both compelling and challenging.


This little book came to my attention via the author's fellow Quaker and spiritual teacher, Richard Foster--for me, a longtime guide to the spiritual life.It's a book that says good things in the rhetorical style of mid-twentieth-century university-educated divines (I think Elton Trueblood especially), a style not everyone enjoys but I generally do.What makes this book particularly powerful, because poignant, to me is to read it in the light of Kelly's own career. It is sketched at the end, but it makes a huge difference to how I hear his voice when I know about the crushing disappointment and humiliation he suffered professionally.So perhaps you'll want to read it once as "just" a spiritual book. But then consider re-reading it in the light of the biography, and sentences will now jump out at you and touch your heart in new ways.I rate the book at only 3 stars, though, because in my view it gets decidedly less interesting and less helpful in the second half. But even that part has good stuff.A quote or two: "Religion as a dull habit is not that for which Christ lived and died.""Self-renunciation means God-possession.""The high and noble adventures of faith can in our truest moments be seen as no adventures at all, but certainties."

Noel Walker

A little dated (written in 1941) but still a rich introduction to "Life from the centre." Kelly is prophetic when he writes that "we are bowed down with burdens, crushed under committees, strained breathless, and hurried, panting through a never ending program of appointments. We are too busy to be good wives to our husbands, good homemakers, good companions of our children, good friends to our friends, and with no time at all to be friends to the friendless." (p. 112) Kelly perscribes a return to life from the centre. We imagine that the complexity of our lives comes from the complexity of our environment but Kelly says this isn't so. We bring the complexity in our over busy hearts. The point is even more convincing when you consider that this was written over 70 years ago. Life is always busy when "we are not skilled in the inner life... that is where the roots of our problem lie." (p. 114)I find it remarkable how all these writers from different centuries, (Augustine, Brother Lawrence, Kelly and others) describe a reflective life is such a similar way. A very convicting and encouraging book.


I related to Kelly's description and feeling of the deep center he felt, feels and experiences. I've only experienced little glimpses of this in practicing centering for the past 5 years or so, and sitting in silence with God.

Scott Jeffries

I didn't know what to expect when I first opened Thomas Kelly's A Testament of Devotion. I knew the book was listed among the best in Christian spirituality but I didn't know anything about the book.I didn't know that Kelly was a Quaker and that the essays within the book were taken from talks that he gave. I didn't know how much my favorite Christian writer, Dallas Willard, was influenced by Kelly.I also didn't know that I would need to read it more than once to fully appreciate it. The first time I read it, I was underwhelmed and slightly disappointed in the overtly Quaker teaching. I mean, I am a Baptist, and any talk of the light within makes me think of Shirley MacLaine and "woowoo" New Age stuff. But then I read it a second time and appreciated it so much more. I began to take in some of the rich passages that were inspiring and convicting. For example, he mentions that "complete obedience" is our goal not "amazing revelations." I particularly liked his discussion of having the "simplicity of the trusting child." And Kelly's explanation of the "Holy Now" was excellent.Finally, I really appreciated his moment to moment approach to the spiritual life. Highly influenced by Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God, Kelly detailed the experience of connection with God in the midst of everyday life. This is a very good point and one that gets completely ignored in Evangelical circles who never seem to take the spiritual life beyond morning BIble study and prayer.I don't know if I would recommend this book to a young believer but for a seasoned disciple looking for a challenge to live "the other half," this book would be much better than 90 percent of what is coming out of Christian bookstores.


Excellent book by a Quaker author. Clearly a person of deep faith. I found the ending chapters of the book most meaningful. It addresses how to balance a new kingdom reality in the current Earthly kingdom.Just one of many jewels from the book:"The hard-lined face of a money-bitten financier is as deeply touching to the tendered soul as are the burnt-out eyes of miner's children, remote and unseen victims of his so-called success. There is a sense in which, in this terrible tenderness, we become one with God and bear in our quivering souls the sins and burdens, the benightedness and the tragedy of the creatures of the whole world, and suffer in their suffering and die in their death."


My grandfather, a Methodist minister, gave this to me for my birthday. It was one of his and my grandmother's favorite books, one which they lived by. I'm learning a lot about them through reading it, and it's bringing my grandmother back to me.

William Knox

s mainly the simplicity and passion with which Kelly writes. It helps that these are excerpts of talks given by him intended to inspire his audience.So if you're looking to add some meaning to life, just read through these pages. There are less than 90 of them so you can finish it off in a day, which I would recommend for maximum impact.One word of warning it's written in a Quaker/Christian context, so it those assumptions don't mean anything to you or bug you, just substitute something that you feel does move your life. If you haven't found anything yet, just act as if you have and you can't fail to be washed along by one of the simplest and most inspiring spiritual boks around.It

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