Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book review: A Praying Life

Over the years, I've read a lot of books about prayer. A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller is, one of the best that I've read in a long time. Here's a bit about the book, from the NavPress website:
 Author Paul Miller shares his insights and conclusions about how to connect the broken pieces of your life and allow prayer—even poorly delivered—to fill the gaps with meaning and substance.

Miller's down-to-earth approach and practical nature will help you see that your relationship with God can grow and your communication with Him can get better.

Parents will find Miller's family-life experiences especially helpful.
I whole-heartedly agree with that description and very much did find the author's life-experiences helpful in understanding the points that he was making.  This isn't a book that just lays out a procedure for how to pray and a formula of what to do and tells the reader how to follow it. Instead, it gets into the heart of a Christian and into the importance of prayer with topics such as praying like a child, learning to trust again, learning to ask your Father, and living in the Father's story. The book discusses some of the barriers to a good prayer life, like cynicism, trust, the influence of Western culture on our mindsets, and naive optimism (to name a few) and also talks about the role of prayer in developing a deep relationship with God.  I found these chapters to be really thought-provoking and saw myself and my way of thinking in many of the discussions. Throughout all these chapters, the author continually shares stories from his own life- many about his adult daughter who suffers from autism, and shows how God has worked in his family over the years.

Only after the issues and challenges that face a believer in his or her prayer life have been thoroughly discussed does the author get into the final section, praying in real life. In this section, the author makes some great suggestions about prayer tools. I'm especially intrigued by the idea of prayer cards, rather than a traditional prayer journal, and plan to implement that method immediately!

When I'm reading a book for review, I usually mark sections that I especially liked and want to talk about in the review.  I got to the end of this book and looked down to realize that I'd flagged about one in ten pages. A bit much to share in this review! I think it really spoke to me because the author is so open and honest about his own struggles-in life and in his prayer, and was also honest about the work that God did in his life while he waited for his prayers to be answered.

I'll close with one of my favorite paragraphs, which I think sums up the general idea of this book so well.
We don't need a praying life because that is our duty. That would wear thin quickly. We need time to be with our Father every day because every day our hearts and the hearts of those around us are overgrown with weeds. We need to reflect on our lives and engage God with the condition of our souls and the souls he has entrusted to our care or put in our paths. In a fallen world, these things do not come automatically.

If you're a Christian and would like a deeper, more intimate prayer life (and I think that category includes most of us), take a look at this wonderful book.

Disclosure: I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”