Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Praying Life

Why do so many of us find it easy to pour out our hearts to our spouses and our friends, talking about anything and everything with them and listening to their thoughts as well, yet when it comes to prayer, we find ourselves tongue-tied? Why do we so often exhaust all other options, finally resignedly saying "All that I can do now is pray"? Why does it sometimes seem as if prayer is just another thing on our To Do List of spiritual activities?

In A Praying Life (NavPress), Paul E. Miller has written an honest, down-to-earth, and extremely practical book. Right at the beginning, he identifies that the focus of the book is not prayer, but getting to know God. We have no problem communicating with someone we know and love! The tone of this book is one of encouragement. Prayer is not some ethereal concept or Olympic-level activity attainable only to professional pastors and theologians. God longs to hear the prayers of each of His children. There is no caveat of "Don't Try This At Home" attached to prayer.

The book opens with the section Learning to Pray Like a Child. This may be one of the most crucial aspects we need to learn and re-learn. I love how he says,
Jesus does not say, "Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest." No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:38, NASB). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy. (pp. 51-52)
He wants us as we are.

The book's subsequent sessions are Learning to Trust Again, Learning to Ask Your Father, Living in Your Father's Story, and Learning to Pray in Real Life. Illustrations from the life of his own family, including transparent sharing of difficult lessons he's learned, are scattered throughout and make this an authentic book rather than a dry theological tome. While I think most of the time we need to quit reading books ABOUT prayer and just pray, I recommend this book!

LET'S FACE IT! PRAYER IS HARD! In fact, prayer is so hard that most of us simply do not pray unless an illness or a public setting, such as saying grace at a meal, demands it. Prayerlessness is rooted in a core unbelief that can shape our lives, even as Christians. Because of prayerlessness, our lives are often marked by fear, anxiety, joylessness, and spiritual lethargy.

If prayerlessness marks your life more often than not, then this book is for you. Basing the text on the popular PrayerLife seminar, which has encouraged thousands of Christians to a vibrant prayer life, Paul Miller writes to the heart of the matter. This is, indeed, the book for any Christian who wants to know the joy and power of a vibrant prayer life.

A Praying Life is an honest look at the difficulties of prayer, unanswered prayers, and successes in prayer. Readers will appreciate Paul Miller's down-to-earth approach and practical nature. Parents will find his family-life experiences especially helpful.

Paul spent his childhood in California and Oregon, moving east when his father, Dr. Jack Miller, began teaching at Westminster Seminary. After graduating from college, Paul taught at inner-city Christian schools in Philadelphia for ten years. With a group of parents, he started Spruce Hill Christian School (K-8), an inner-city, multiracial school where he was principal and teacher.

In 1983, he helped his father found World Harvest Mission, where he served as the associate director from 1983 until 1996. In 1999, he completed a master of divinity at Biblical Seminary and founded, a mission that helps Christians and non-Christians alike “see Jesus” through inductive Bible studies.

During his time as associate director, Paul wrote several discipling courses, including a course on grace called Sonship. In the early '90s, Paul also wrote The Love Course, a course that studies the personality of Jesus as a way of learning to love. In 2001, Paul wrote Love Walked Among Us (NavPress). Paul weaves stories of his own struggles to love with stories of how Jesus loves. The book is based on The Person of Jesus study, an in-depth, inductive Bible study of what Jesus is like as a person. Both the book and the study are written to include non-Christians who have no background in Christianity. In 2005, the PrayerLife study was released, which is an eleven-week course on prayer for “badly praying Christians."

Paul is married to Jill, who is known for her sense of humor and faith. They have six children, seven grandchildren, three goats, two donkeys, and two dogs.

You can purchase A Praying Life at Amazon or your favorite Christian bookseller.

Thanks to NavPress for providing a copy of this book for me to review.


View blog reactions


ruth stiles said...

Thank you for this review. I think this will be one of the next books I purchase....I struggle in my communication with God...and why? I mean I have no trouble picking up the phone to call my sister or expose my true feelings to my mom....I think this will be a wonderful resource.

What did you personally like about it?

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

I literally laughed out loud at the quote Jesus does not say, "Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest."

This is so true of my prayer life that I want to have all of my ducks in a row...the list of prayer requests, my Bible nearby and a perfectly quiet room with no distractions...then I lose so much of the joy in communicating with God. I think that my best praying is often done spur of the moment as life happens to me.

This is a book that I need to check out!


Lisa Spence said...

I've heard so many good things about this book!