Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Praying Life Great Book on Prayer

A Praying Life (Paul E. Miller) is cut from a different cloth than other books on prayer I've read, like E. M. Bounds, Andrew Murray, R. A. Torrey, and Paul Cedar. Those books were all good, to be sure, but A Praying Life connected with me in ways that the others didn't. (Again, not that they didn't connect with me, but not at such personal levels as Miller's book.)

I'll just highlight some of the stuff that was helpful to me.

For one thing, I liked his take on childlike prayers. Think of how a child talks with an adult. They talk about what's on their mind. They jump from topic to topic. They aren't stoic. They aren't eloquent. If something bothers them, they let you know.

Pray like that, Miller says. When it comes to prayer, don't try to be something you aren't. Be who you are. Is your life messy? Then come to prayer messy. God can handle it. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). Are you burdened? Then come to prayer burdened.

Miller also deals with the incredible promises of Scripture (like, we will receive whatever we ask for in prayer) head-on. He says that is his experience most of the time. And since then I've found some of the same reality in my life. (Miller also acknowledges the reality of unanswered prayer and talks about how God uses even that in crafting our lives.)

Where the book perhaps resonated most deeply with me--and again, it connected with me at many points--was with the topic of parents praying for their children. Miller says he does his best parenting through prayer.

He talks about his realization that he cannot get into his children's hearts. Wow! Just the very thing I want to do! I want to get in there and tinker and make sure they are seeking, trusting, and growing in Christ. And I can't! But by prayer, the Spirit weaves into our kids' lives the things we desire. (How I've seen God doing this recently!)

He talks about the fluctuation parents exhibit between being demanding ("They must change, and I will make them") and despair ("They can't change; I give up"). My personal experience? Been there, done that. Miller says (and I am finding) the middle road, and the best one, is prayer.

And what do you know? His son's name is Andrew, and he prays for some of the same things for his Andrew that I pray for mine. (I told you this book connected with me at very personal levels.)

This is turning into a long review. Let me sum up by saying that this book, because of its personal approach and authentic illustrations from the author's family life, has probably had more immediate impact on my prayer life than any other book on the subject I've read.

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