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Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? Hardcover – September 13, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; 1st Printing edition (September 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780310271055
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310271055
  • ASIN: 0310271053
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Yancey strikes a moving chord with this book that is more full of yearning and wonder than it is of easy answers. Prayer, he writes, is our partnership with God, our chance to join forces with God's power to confront suffering and evil head-on. Yancey is candid about his nagging sense of failure in prayer, but the book is suffused with a cautious hope; he writes of his growing confidence and joy as his prayer life has deepened from a spiritualized to-do list to a conversational communion with God. The key, Yancey writes, is that prayer is a window into knowing the mind of God, whose kingdom is entrusted to all of us frail, selfish people on earth. As with his other books, Yancey draws upon his international travels to bring a fresh perspective to the topic, detailing, in nations such as Romania and South Africa, how he believes prayer has transformed hearts and permitted bloodless change. The book's strength lies in its balance, with Yancey holding equally important ideals in a beautiful tension: action and meditation, doubt and certainty, and the unchanging God with the God who appears so moved by people's petitions in the Bible that he changes his mind. Yancey also offers some startling and insightful observations about Jesus' own prayer life. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

'...a reader-friendly book...subtle, elusive, and evanescent, inviting readers to discern their own meaning....'Prayer' can help reinvigorate a prayer life. It invites us to believe that God is listening. (The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

'...Yancey writes...as a journalist, with a sharp eye for detail and an investigative unwillingness to force conclusions. Chapters are short, but brimming with juice. Stories abound. Part of the time, Yancey just wonders about prayer. And Yancey...is a mighty fine wonderer.... (Christianity Today)

'Philip Yancey has done it again: taken a much-written-about topic and infused it with freshness and deeply mined relevancy....This is a valuable read for anyone: youth worker, pastor, parent, mature teen -- anyone.' (YouthWorker Journal)

'..a new and powerful effort....Philip Yancey asks the tough questions about prayer that many are afraid to ask....Yancey writes as a friend and fellow-struggler, giving voice to the questions we may ponder but never bring up....This questioning process...inspires us to pursue prayer more earnestly....[This book] will encourage you as you meet with God daily and bring the details of your life before Him. You'll develop a stronger prayer vocabulary and a richer sense of the mystery and joy of prayer.... (Presidential Prayer Team)

'...theological substance, quality of biblical reflection, and readability...make it accessible even to those coming to faith, Bible reading, or prayer for the first time....Yancey writes more as a journalist, with a sharp eye for detail and an investigative unwillingness to force conclusions....One of the chief benefits of Philip Yancey's work is that he'll go where the evidence leads....' (Christianity Today)

'...one of the many small evidences of this book's forcefulness is the number of times I did put it down -- the number of times I interrupted my reading because I was inspired to pray....[This] is the rare book about prayer that, rather than inadvertently distracting me from the pursuit of a praying life, actually prompts me to pray....' (Books and Culture)

'Philip Yancey is that rare example of a self-proclaimed recovering fundamentalists who is actually a spiritually healthy human being.' (Birmingham News)

'...the experience of reading 'Prayer' is similar to the experience of prayer itself: a meandering journey with streaks of brillance, communion, illumination, and satisfaction....'Prayer' is a reader-friendly book, peppered with vignettes and sidebars from people attesting to the power of prayer....[It] is subtle, elusive, and evanescent, inviting readers to discern their own meaning....'Prayer' can help reinvigorate a prayer life. It invites us to believe that God is listening.' (The Plain Dealer)

'[Prayer] is well researched, captivating, and meets the reader right where he/she is at in the moment....If you are like me and have difficulties in praying then this book is a must for you.' (1340MAG.com)

'He knows that the main purpose of prayer is not to make life easier, but to know God.' (Christian Science Sentinal)

'Yancey strikes a moving chord with this book that is more full of yearning and wonder than it is of easy answers....[It's] suffused with a cautious hope....The book's strength lies in its balance, with Yancey holding equally important ideals in a beautiful tension...' (Publishers Weekly)

'Gently and with intelligence and compassion, Yancey works toward a vision of prayer as a kind of 'awkward rehersal' and, ultimately, toward the kind of conversation humankind had with God at the beginning of creation.' (Library Journal)

'...the author's exploration of the topic includes a candid assessment of his own sense of failure, along with his growing sense of wonder at the possibliities of conversation with God....' (Today's Christian Woman)

'Yancey's combination of talent, research, and openness about his own struggles make 'Prayer' worth looking into if you...have ever felt frustrated with your prayer life.' (Relevant Magazine)

'...offers readers' compelling insights about the topic of prayer, exploring the mysterious intersection where God and humans meet and relate....' (Homecoming (Bill and Gloria Gaither))

'Philip Yancey approaches the mysteries of communicating with God in this thoroughly researched yet highly accessible book....[He] skillfully interweaves Scripture with insights from Christian thinkers of many traditions, cultures, and eras....Fresh anecdotes and relevant testimonies of ordinary people give the book a compelling quality.' (The Banner)

More About the Author

I worked for 10 years as an Editor and then Publisher for Campus Life magazine. There I learned journalistic skills (there's no tougher audience than teenagers), but every year it seemed I wrote fewer and fewer words. In 1980 my wife Janet and I moved to downtown Chicago where I began a career as a freelance writer. (She has worked as a social worker and hospice chaplain--which gives me plenty of material to write about!) We lived there until 1992, when we moved to the foothills of Colorado. I've written around 20 books, most of them still in print, thankfully. Three of them I coauthored with Dr. Paul Brand, who influenced me more than any single person. My own favorites are "Soul Survivor" and "Reaching for the Invisible God" because both of them forced me to dig deep and get personal. I'm a pilgrim, still "in recovery" from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that interest me.

Please visit my website at www.philipyancey.com for more information, essays, events, travel notes, and a blog.

There is also an official Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/PhilipYancey?v=wall

Customer Reviews

Yet this is THE best of his books that I have ever read.
Lydia Gadalla
While most other great books on prayer teach you the kinds, disciple and practice of prayer, "Prayer" by Philip Yancey talks about what prayer IS.
Avril Sol
There will always be mysteries we don't have answers to, but that shouldn't stop us from asking and expecting the best from God.
Janet Oberholtzer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

287 of 293 people found the following review helpful By Alex Tang on September 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Yancey, Philip. 2006. Prayer: Does it make any Difference? London: Hodder and Stoughton. This review is based on the British edition which was released earlier.

Philip Yancey, author of best selling Disappointment with God and Soul Survivor, is a popular author because he puts in words, what many Christians are feeling but are afraid to articulate. He deals with controversial topics of living a Christian life with brutal honesty. Hence a book on prayer is most welcome. Prayer is the most talked about subject in Christian life yet least practiced. Yancey stated that to him, prayer is the area where two themes of struggle in Christian life meet: "Why God doesn't act the way we want God to and why I don't act the way God wants me to."

In Part 1, Yancey developed the theme of who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. He also highlighted the fact that God wants to keep company with us. It is in this context that, Yancey developed his argument why we should pray. To him, prayer is a partnership with God which he developed in Part 2. God wants to partner with his creatures in His great redemption plan of the present fallen creation. Prayer then is a form of negotiation. Skillfully skirting the theological issue of whether an unchanging God can change His mind, Yancey explored the numerous passages in the Bible that God did changed His mind. He concluded that the underlying reason that God does change His mind is because of love. "For God so loved the world..."

In Part 3, Yancey explored the `language of prayer.' Basically, this section is a `how to pray' section. However I am glad he explored the silence of God in his chapter `the sound of silence'.
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111 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Imagine sitting with David, before he became king of Israel, and hearing his laments and frustrations with God which eventually circled back to an attitude of praise. You might hear some of the same questions and observations in this book. I've always admired Yancey's willingness to wrestle with the tough issues, to share from his own weaknesses, and to engage his brain while also relying on faith. His latest book embraces these same qualities, presenting a theological yet practical look at prayer's place in the lives of Christians.

So, does prayer make a difference? That's the central question of the book, and it points poignantly at a relationship with the living God. It does not, however, sugarcoat the harsh realities: those who die despite numerous prayers of faith; those who prosper while living sinful lives; the seeming distance of God when we yearn for his nearness.

Throughout the book, sidebars give insight into the joys and turmoils of believers from around the world. These add a nice touch of humanity to the narrative, a reminder that the issue of prayer is not merely an ethereal one, but one that affects each of us to our core. Some never receive the easy answers they hope for, while others rarely pray and find wide paths of apparent blessing. Yancey deals with questions of sickness, prosperity, spiritual destitution, sin, and the ultimate desire to know God and to be known. One particular thought hit home: Why is that God doesn't do the things we want him to, and why is that we don't do the things he wants us to?

If you're looking for an easy, 1-2-3 step book on abundant living through prayer, look elsewhere. If you want everything to fit into a nice, tidy box, this isn't the book for you.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By ff on September 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Yancey tackles one of the more difficult aspects of Christianity and deals with many of most common questions and concerns about prayer. He assures us, several times, that we simply don't have all the answers, but he bases his beliefs on what Christ did and said. All his discussions are supported by Biblical texts. The material is challenging, however, he breaks it up with stories and quotes from many people working through the same enormous issues: why was that prayer answered, and that one not? for example. The book is also organized and chapters titled such that you can reread sections as life situations warrant. In the end, it is simply encouraging. There's no formula, no perfect prayer, no checklist. At a recent talk, Mr. Yancey was asked how we know if we're doing it right. His answer will stick with me: if you're praying, you're doing it right. Combined with his encouragement to keep on keeping on, this book on prayer should be inspiring to all.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Avril Sol VINE VOICE on October 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of, if not the, best contemporary books on prayer, well suited to the ordinary Christian like me. While most other great books on prayer teach you the kinds, disciple and practice of prayer, "Prayer" by Philip Yancey talks about what prayer IS. As part one of the book states, prayer is essentially "keeping company with God".

Yancey describes the flow of the book as a journey of discovery about and towards prayer in part one. He then writes about why we should pray (should we pray at all? is there a need for prayer?), whether or not prayer makes a difference to us or to God, whether or not prayer changes the circumstances we are praying for, and whether prayer changes God's decisions about those circumstances.

In part 3 he talks about the obstacles to prayer such as not knowing what to pray, what to say when praying, whether or not there is an appropriate "language of prayer", and what do we do if we can't get any words out to pray "properly".

After we finally get to the point where the reader is finally encouraged to start praying, Yancey then deals with the greatest obstacle to people who pray: unanswered prayer. He ends the book with "the practice of prayer" which, I think, is a better term for the spiritual discipline of prayer. He also lists resources to help the reader in his practice of prayer.

All in all, Mr. Yancey has just written a book that chronicles the average Christian's prayer life: the false starts, the actual journey (and practice) of prayer, the dry spells, the emotionality, the refusal to accept God's answers (or lack thereof) to prayers, the realization that prayer is the only way he can reach (talk) to God and, finally, the acceptance of the reality that he can't profess to have any kind of relationship with God if he doesn't pray.
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