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Does Prayer Change Things? (Crucial Questions (Reformation Trust)) Paperback – September 18, 2009
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Sproul writes (spoiler alert):
"Things change, and they change according to His sovereign will, which He exercises through secondary means and secondary activities. The prayer of His people is one of the means He uses to bring things to pass in this world. So if you ask me whether prayer changes things, I answer with an unhesitating 'Yes!'" (Loc. 100)
"Prayer, like everything else in the Christian life, is for God's glory and for our benefit, in that order" (Loc. 64). Prayer reminds us that God is in control, we are not, and He is sovereign over every circumstance of the universe as it unfolds.
"If I thought even for one moment that a single molecule were running loose in the universe outside the control and domain of almighty God, I wouldn't sleep tonight" (Loc. 44)...God's sovereignty casts no shadow over the prayer of adoration. God's foreknowledge or determinate counsel does not negate the prayer of praise" (Loc. 73).
Prayer intrinsically changes us and our attitudes.
"What prayer most often changes is the wickedness and the hardness of our own hearts. That alone would be reason enough to pray, even if none of the other reasons were valid or true" (Loc. 119).
"Prayer prompts and nurtures obedience, putting the heart into the proper 'frame of mind' to desire obedience" (Loc. 15).
"Peter did not pray, and as a result he fell into temptation. What is true of Peter is true of all of us...we fall in private before we ever fall in public" (Loc. 37).
When we pray we acknowledge that God gave us a way to Him through Jesus and that we are loved and accepted and forgiven because of Christ:
"When God promises us that He will forgive us, we insult His integrity when we refuse to accept it. To forgive ourselves after God has forgiven us is a duty as well as a privilege" (Loc. 291).
But if God is omniscient and knows what I need before I ask, why bother praying? Foremost, because God commands us to:
"Regardless of whether prayer does any good, if God commands us to pray, we must pray" (Loc. 50). Prayer is about maintaining a relationship with someone who we are to love more than any other:
"Spurgeon said that 'the proud sinner wants Christ, and his own parties; Christ, and his own lusts; Christ, and his own waywardness. The one who is truly poor in spirit wants only Christ'" (Loc. 519).
(Perhaps my favorite quote:)
"Yes, He knows what is in my mind, but I still have the privilege of articulating to Him what is there (Loc. 70)...If God knows what I'm going to say before I say it, His knowledge, rather than limiting my prayer, enhances the beauty of my praise (Loc. 75)...I may not understand the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but I do realize that what stems from the wickedness of my own heart may not be assigned to the will of God...There will always be a conflict between divine sovereignty and human autonomy. There is never a conflict between divine sovereignty and human freedom (Loc. 110).
Sproul recommends the ACTS acronym of prayer, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication, and unpacks each biblically. Ultimately, we become better at prayer only by praying: "To become accomplished in anything, we must practice. If we want to learn how to pray, then we must pray-and continue to pray" (Loc. 632).
One seeming contradiction is Sproul's earlier mention that Jesus modeled for his disciples praying to God as "Daddy" in Aramaic, which would have been shocking and heretical. But that's the relationship we have now through Christ. However, Sproul returns later and scolds those who "would speak (to God) as if to a friend at a baseball game" (Loc. 369). "We should not come rushing into God's presence arrogantly, assaulting Him with our petty requests, forgetting whom we are addressing" (Loc. 235).
Even with that minor point I would not hesitate to give this book to anyone; it'd be the first I'd recommend on the subject. I would like to read Tim Keller's recent book on prayer before the year is up. Unfortunately, my time reading is often time spent not praying, and that is something I have struggled with. Prayer is one of the hardest things for me to do. 4.5 stars out of 5.
In Does Prayer Change Things?, R.C. Sproul eliminates the confusion about prayer by illustrating a clear Biblical picture of what it looks like in the believer’s life, its meaning, purposes, and effectiveness.
Subsequently, what the reader steps away with is an acute understanding of how prayer nurtures the relationship between creation and the Creator, transforming the believer more so than it changes circumstances. Ultimately, prayer brings us closer to God so our desire subordinates itself to His will.
The book is divided into six chapters: “The Place of Prayer”, “The Purpose of Prayer”, “The Pattern of Prayer”, “The Practice of Prayer”, “The Prohibitions of Prayer”, and “The Power of Prayer.” Sproul begins by urging all believers to take prayer seriously as it is the formal means of communication before a timeless and holy God. Thus, it is not a casual, impromptu conversation amongst “buddies” but a formal, regal, and structured affair. The author then clarifies exactly what that structure is in what I think is the most useful part of the booklet: The Pattern of Prayer. Here, Sproul analyzes line-by-line what Jesus told His disciples (The Lord’s Prayer) on how to pray.
Does Prayer Change Things? is part of the Crucial Questions booklet series, which provides practical answers to some of the most basic questions about the Christian faith and everyday Christian life. Overall, each of the books I’ve read in this series is worthwhile, quick, to the point, and very practical. This book is no exception. Anyone serious about their prayer life, serious about instructing others about their prayer life, or who earnestly seeks to discover the power of prayer should read this book.
read "Faith" and "The Bible" next.) If you love the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, you will love the R.C. does not divide the
scriptures. He doesn't quote just from New Testament passages, as most Christian pastors do. He includes both New and Old, and that is just what the Bible says, the Scriptures can not be broken! Yay Sproul! I love his take on the Model Prayer, although he does seem to skim over the part about the kingdom coming...as in heaven so on earth, which proves that the kingdom will be here on the earth and not in heaven. You can't prove that we are going up to heaven. The last image in the Bible is of the Kingdom coming down to this earth, so I was hoping that he'd make that distinction. Even though he didn't I still have nothing but praise for this wonderful book and can't wait to read his other ones. I'm curious about how he will try to prove the Trinity (another falsify that is not in the Bible) but as I mentioned, I'm no interested in Christian dogma and theology.