USEFUL TO GOD: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody


Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody

The world has yet to see what God will do when His people commit to following him with all they are and have. Let us aim to be women and men who make ourselves useful to God.

The great thing Dwight Moody did were also simple things like prayer, study, giving thanks, remaining humble, remaining free from the love of money, and constantly seeking to submit himself to God’s will. Such are the great things of faith.”

In addition to taking a fresh look at the eight characteristics included in R. A. Torrey’s, Why God Used D. L. Moody, Useful to God includes one additional characteristic that opened Dwight Moody’s life up to the Lord. Useful also includes biblical reflections related to the nine characteristics discussed, new illustrations of D. L. Moody, and questions for individual reflection and small group discussion.




Looking back at Dwight L. Moody’s life, it is tempting to focus solely on what God accomplished through a common man from Northfield, Massachusetts. Preaching to 100,000,000 plus, starting multiple schools, spearheading the Christian publishing movement, and inspiring untold numbers of men and women across multiple generations is difficult to ignore. Yet, why God used D. L. Moody is as important as what God accomplished through him.

As a reprisal of R. A. Torrey’s “Why God Used D. L. Moody,” Useful to God serves as a reminder that our most powerful witness to God and the gospel comes as we delight in God’s instruction, sit at the feet of Jesus, and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Our best work happens when we look with eyes that see and listen with ears that hear so that we walk by faith, not sight (Matt. 13:9-16; 2  Cor. 5:7).

Useful to God is not intended simply to describe a set of characteristics or to introduce you to Dwight Moody’s life and ministry. It is intended to challenge you to cultivate the characteristics noted in your own life. My hope is that you will pursue these characteristics with passion and urgency as you become uncomfortable being anything less than useful to God. As D. L. Moody once said in his book Secret Power, “if I know my own heart to-day, I would rather die than live as I once did, a mere nominal Christian, and not used by God in building up His kingdom. It seems a poor empty life to live for the sake of self. Let us seek to be useful. Let us seek to be vessels meet for the Master’s use, that God, the Holy Spirit, may shine fully through us.” May we learn to be useful to God.


James Spencer earned his Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In 2020, he published Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind. He has also co-authored Trajectories: A Gospel-Centered Introduction to Old Testament Theology (2018), as well as contributing to the Moody Bible Commentary (2014), Marriage: Its Foundation, Theology, and Mission in a Changing World (2018), and The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy (2019).

After eleven years of academic leadership in biblical higher education, James now serves as President of D. L. Moody Center, an independent non-profit organization based in Northfield, MA, and is dedicated to preserving the legacy of D.L. Moody. James also serves on faculty at Right on Mission.

You can see more from James at his personal website