A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Raymond Kelly

Thomas Raymond Kelly was a Quaker mystic. His book “A Testament of Devotion” is widely read by people interested in spirituality. This is our summary.






Thomas Raymond Kelly (June 4, 1893 – January 17, 1941) was an American Quaker educator and professor. He taught and wrote on the subject of mysticism.

At Hartford Seminary, he earned his first doctorate. It was in philosophy. Later, he began working on his second doctorate, this one at Harvard University.

Kelly was arranging to publish a devotional book, but he died of a heart attack.

Later, a colleague submitted five of those devotional essays to the publisher, along with a biographical sketch of Kelly. It was published in 1941 under the title A Testament of Devotion.

A Testament of Devotion is widely read, especially by people interested in spirituality.




Chapter 1. The Light Within

Deep within us, there is an inner sanctuary of the soul. It is the Divine Center where the eternal Voice speaks to us. Yielding to that Presence is the beginning of True Life.

This Living Christ within us initiates. God the Lover stands at the door and knocks. Our response is adoration and joy, thanksgiving and worship.

All things are ours. We are Christ’s. And Christ is God. This Inner Light is the Center of Reference for anyone who wishes to dwell in the secret place of the Most High.

Our outward deeds are the fruit of our inner life. We bring the Light into the world.

Our rational mind thinks. But at a deeper level, we are communing in prayer and divine attendance, resting in the Eternal Lover. This is the most important thing in the world.

the deep level of prayer and of divine attendance is the most important thing in the world [page 13]

Our perspectives change. Our priorities change. Faith and hope and love are engendered within us. If God is for us, who can be against us?

We see all things dimly, yet through the eye of God. We begin to pray without ceasing, through our inward orientation. At first we alternate between inward and outward. But we move toward both at once.

Whether our growth is slow or fast, we are thankful. Like little children, we trust the Father.

This Inner Level is due to the divine Source. We pray, and yet it is not us but the Greater who prays in us.

We become new creations. The former things have passed away, and all things are new. We are torn from the world, and yet we are filled with love for it.

What unifies Christians is not a sociological construct. Nor a culture. Nor a political platform. Nor a worldview. And not even a religion.


Chapter 2. Holy Obedience

As we gaze upon the world, dramas are unfolding. But inside of us, an even begger drama is unfolding.

It is the drama of the Hound of Heaven baying relentlessly upon the track of human beings.

The author directs us to complete and holy obedience to the Voice of the Shepherd.

Many people follow the Lord halfway. Churches are filled with such people. But we are to commit our lives in unreserved obedience. We must be born again (John 3:3).

The gateway is the inner sanctuary of the soul.

Some people have life-changing mystical experiences. But our souls are shaken by Fire itself, the Eternal Love, the Hound of Heaven. This is the passive way.

But most people must follow the active way. We struggle and wrestle. Our growth is gradual. We must begin where we are. Obey. Practice silent prayer. When you stumble, just start over again. Learn receptivity.

If we have passion for holiness, we must be humble. Humility is not self-hatred. Rather, it is consummate wonder of God. But pride keeps trying to conquer us.

Deep humility makes us bold. Like the prophets, we say “Thus saith the Lord!

When we live in holy obedience, we are ready to live a life that is stained by suffering.

The cross teaches us to welcome suffering, for it is the final seal of God’s gracious love.

Holy obedience transforms us to have trust like a child. It is simplicity beyond complexity. It is the radiant joy of the Transfigured Face.

It is listening to Eternity’s whisper, with a smile, in the dark.

Psalm 73:25. Whom do I have in heaven? There is no one on earth whom I desire besides you.


Chapter 3. The Blessed Community

Being immersed in the love of God brings us to be in love with certain people. Those relationships are surprising and rich. They are a fellowship, where we share life and love.

Our fellowship is with people who live at the Center. Other relationships dim.

We come to see religious leaders in a new light. Many are outwardly busy, do not live at the Center.

The light of Eternity often shines upon people who are not in leadership positions. They know the joyous immediacy of the presence of God. When we are with them, we are in the Blessed Community. We are home.

In that Blessed Community, our differences are leveled. All have drank deep and have something valuable to offer.

Religious leaders can be occupied with heady problems. They first need to come into the Fellowship of the Light. When we are clothed with God, we are at home with one another.

His wooing love urgently falls upon all people in the Blessed Community. For those who yield, the scales fall from their eyes. They are transformed.

We carry each other by wordless prayer. We are constantly one with another. We share each other’s strengths and joys.

Moment-by-moment, his body and blood become our life in the Blessed Community.


Chapter 4. The Eternal Now and Social Concern

Eternity breaks into our world of time and space. The Eternal Now meets the Temporal Now. The Other Side meets This Side. Yonder meets Here. Heaven meets Earth.

In ages past, churches used to be too focused on the eternal.

But now churches are too focused on the temporal. They are all about economics and politics. They evaluate projects based on worldly benefit.

We are to live our lives in both realms simultaneously.

But instead many believers survey the past and calculate future possibilities. They form a plan, and then ask for God’s blessings.

But after experiencing the Divine Presence, we live on a new plateau. We live in the world, and yet we are also above it.

2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.

We are more flexible. God is the doer; we are to be still and know, listening for the subtle promptings of the Holy Spirit.

The first fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy unspeakable.

The second is love. In the Eternal Now, we see all people in a new way. We see them from the plateau heights. We rejoice when they rejoice; we suffer when they suffer.

The third is peace. With the Eternal Now, all is secure. All is assured.

That Eternal Love sends us out into the world. We are sent toward everything in creation. United with God, we bear in our souls the sins and burdens of the whole world.

Yet we only need to concern ourselves with a few central tasks.


Chapter 5. The Simplification of Life

Our lives are complicated. We are swamped with obligations. We are constantly busy. Our life is slipping away. We hardly know peace or joy.

We shouldn’t blame those complexities on our world. Or our environment.

Instead, the problem is that our lives are not integrated. All our separate selves are not organized by one inner Self.

Instead of one inner Self, we are a committee of separate selves. Each shouts its demands, and we try to fulfill them all.

Yet we know there is a better way. It is rich and unhurried. It is serenity and peace. Some of us find this deep Center of being. They know peace and power and joy.

That Center is within us all. It is heart and a life. It whispers within us. Before that Holy One we stand.

Do you want to “center down,” and live in the holy silence? Do you long for the Inner Presence? Does the Fire Within burn inside you? Are you at peace?

Do you want your life to be transformed into peace and power and glory and miracle?

Short little prayers now-and-then can be helpful. And we need 30 minutes to an hour a day. But even more, it is possible to live this way continually.

It is a revolutionary way of living. It is to be hid with Christ in God the Father in the midst of our entire day.

That rich inner life within spills over into our external lives. From the Center emanates a genuine love for other people.

It is a life of peace and power. It is simple and serene. It is amazing and triumphant and radiant. It takes no time. But it takes all our time.


Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.