Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was the son of a Dutch missionary sent to South Africa. He ministered for 60 years in South Africa, praying that “May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence, and not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for him to fill full of his Spirit and his love.”
In [South Africa] there are various diseases that affect our orange trees. One of them is popularly known by the name of the root-disease, A tree may still be bearing, and an ordinary observer may not notice anything wrong while an expert sees the beginning of a slow death. Then again, the phylloxera in the vineyard is nothing but a root disease, and it has been found that there is no radical cure, but by taking out the old roots and providing new ones.
The old sort of grape is grafted on an American root, and in course of time you have the same stem and branches and fruit as before; but the roots are new and able to resist the disease. It is in the part of the plant that is kill from sight that the disease comes, and where healing must be sought.
The Church of Christ and the spiritual life of thousands of its members suffers from the root-disease; the neglect of secret intercourse with God. It is the lack of secret prayer, the neglect of the maintenance of that hidden life “rooted in Christ,” “rooted and grounded in love,” that explains the feebleness of the Christian life to resist the world, and its failure to bring forth fruit abundantly. Nothing can change this but the restoration, in the life of the believer, of the inner chamber to the place which Christ meant it to have.
As Christians learn, instead of trusting their own efforts, what it is daily to strike their roots deeper into Christ, and to make the secret personal fellowship with God their chief care, true godliness will flourish. “If the root be holy, so are the branches.” If the morning hour be holy to the Lord, the day with its duties will be so too. If the root be healthy, so are the branches.
From The Inner Chamber and the Inner Life, by Andrew Murray.