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4.7 out of 5 stars
Rubbing God's Ear With His Promises: A Year's Prayers
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on September 16, 2009
First, a disclaimer. I've known John Groh, on and off, for 40 years. When I was an undergraduate, he taught church history at the small Lutheran college I attended. When I covered religion for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, he served on the faculty of Concordia Seminary in Exile, the school that broke away from The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod after doctrinal controversies rocked that church body in the 1970s. Now, three decades later, we both find ourselves living in the Arizona desert.

The John Groh I know is thoughtful, witty and warm, sometimes cantankerous but always true to his convictions. Over the years, he has distinguished himself as a scholar, a theologian, an Air Force chaplain and, in a complete turnabout, a real estate investor and a successful maker of bolo ties. He has seen the world from the ivory tower of academia and the rough-and-tumble of the marketplace. His collection of prayers is rich and human because it is informed by a life lived on many fronts.

Groh's prayers are humble toward God and yet treat him with a high degree of familiarity. For example, Groh is not afraid to ask God the question that haunts all believers to one degree or another: Do you care what is happening?

"People poke fun about your being a loving God," Groh says. "They ask where you are when thousands of children die each day from malnutrition and diarrhea. Lord, forgive me for sounding faithless, but my heart breaks without an answer for them."

Then he goes on: "Nonetheless, in faith I believe that you do not gaze passively at this ball of rock and clay in the Milky Way. In Christ you stand alongside us, fighting evil and bringing comfort and mercy as we tend the sick and injured and comfort survivors, and joining our grief to provide food to the starving and medicine to the sick.... Help me see you in the other's face as we battle evil, for in Christ's sufferings you are always with us, as promised."

The underlying theme of each of these prayers is that we, as God's sons and daughters, can call upon him to keep the promises he has made to us. Sadly, much of America might superficially hear that statement to mean that God will deliver material blessings to those who believe in him. Spend some time with Groh's book, however, and you'll see that the promises God makes to us are to give us new life and a new spirit, one rooted in the love God has for his people.

These promises are fulfilled not in a selfish pursuit of stuff but in the same selfless spirit that led God to die and rise again so that we might live. The more you delve into "Rubbing God's Ears With His Promises," the more you'll find yourself transformed and recommitted to reflecting that spirit in your life.
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on November 13, 2009
Finally, I found a genuine prayer book. It is a year's prayers, and actually more. If you're running on empty, stop here and be filled with God's promises. If you're full, stop here and bask in the comforting shade of God's promises. Either way, this prayer book is for you.

I've never read a prayer book from cover to cover, but this one I did, and it was rewarding. All significant aspects of prayer were exercised--adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. And an excellent index helps you quickly find what you want. Since the prayers are so RIGHT ON, you will probably want to give it as a gift to a friend or relative.

It's hard to rate a prayer book, but this is a five star one for me. Here are the five stars that brightly shine through these prayers. Your heart will be turned home, to God, who He is and what He has done. And that in turn brings you to see who you really are, and confess the truth about yourself--your thoughts, your words, your deeds. Cleansed, you give thanks to God, claiming all that God has promised. Now you get to your needs and the needs of others. And, at the end, you practice silence in the presence of God, saying, "Amen," assured that your prayer is acceptable to Him and heard by Him. He Himself commanded you to pray like this and promised to hear you. You simply are saying back to Him what He said to you. That's real prayer. That's a five star prayer.

In praying the prayers of this book, I was deepened in my faith, strengthened in my spiritual growth, offered the occasion for reflection and thought both in the words and the carefully chosen art work. Prayers are crisply written, meaningful and insightful in thought and word, useful to the reader both for prayer and meditation, for breath of a renewed spirit, and realized confidence in God at work in your life.

By praying these prayers, you will rub God's ear with His promises--

When [God] said, "Seek My face,"
My heart said to [Him], "Your face, LORD, I will seek."
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on September 5, 2009
Do you sometimes find it difficult to find the right words when you pray? Are you sometimes not sure about how and what needs to bring to God? Do you have doubts about whether or not God hears and responds to prayer? If any of the above has been a problem in your prayer life, you will find the John Groh's new book of prayers a valuable resource. It has the intriguing title Rubbing God's Ear which Dr. Groh informs us is taken from the sixteenth century reformer Martin Luther's comment on what prayer is all about. Dr. Groh points out:"Praying rubs God's ear with promises because they are the foundation of Christian faith. To pray is to say `Lord you promised to be with me,' `Jesus your promise of the Holy Spirit,' `Mighty God you promised Noah," `Great Spirit, I call on your promise to bless,' and "Good Lord are you ignoring your promise? "

The 373 prayers in the book benefit greatly from the richness and diversity of Dr. Groh's life experiences. He is a Lutheran minister and also an Air Force Reserve chaplain. In addition to his seminary degree he holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago. He is a scholar and has been a college and seminary professor. He has numerous publications including a scholarly work on 19th century German Protestants Dr. Groh has also experienced the world outside the ivory tower atmosphere of educational institutions having spent the last three decades as a real estate investor.

The prayers reflect some of the great themes of Christian theology. One of the ongoing themes is the recognition of the inadequacies of our selfish human nature and at least 10 of the 58 categories which are listed in the table of contents, deal with some aspect of confession and repentance. However a much more persistent theme throughout the book is the richness and fullness of God's mercy in Jesus Christ. Dr. Groh informs the reader in the introduction that a seminary professor taught him "how to hang a personal or public prayer on the skeletal acronym of ACTS, representing Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication" and each of these categories is reflected in the prayers. There are, for example, many beautiful prayers of praise and adoration giving glory to God as one recognizes the magnificence of his creation and the fullness of God's love for us. Although, as already pointed out, the book includes many prayers of repentance and confession, they inevitably conclude with recognition of God's mercy in Christ and thanksgiving for His greatness and goodness to us. Prayers of supplication for specific needs are dispersed throughout the book. At a time of great family tragedy, my wife and I found the prayers in the category "Hardship and Affliction" especially meaningful.

The book is beautifully illustrated with many small pictures as well some as full page pictures which add to the devotional quality of the book. The table of contents lists the categories into which the prayers are divided and the number of prayers in each category. There is also an index which helps readers find the right prayer for their present need. Dr. Groh is an accomplished writer as well as a skilled poet and interspersed throughout the book are prayers in the form of beautifully written poems. This is a magnificent book which will add greatly to the prayer and devotional life of all who use it properly. Although in a short review it is impossible to illustrate adequately the richness of the prayers in Rubbing God's Ear, it seems fitting to conclude with at least one illustration of the beauty of these prayers and the central themes which are found throughout the book. One that particularly impressed this reviewer was the poem entitled "Open your Heart to God" which is included under the category "Meditating" It reads:

Open your heart to God,
Feel now his gentle prod;
Balm he will pour on your anger and strife,
And relief for the pressures of life.

Open your heart to grace,
All of God's gifts retrace:
Strength for your body and depth for your soul,
And his mercy to sew you up whole.

Open your heart to joy,
Every good art employ;
Rhapsody ringing and God's healing song,
In your breast they most surely belong.

Windows fly open above,
Savor the Father's love;
Warmth tumbles down on your heart's icy crust
From the Potter who made you from dust.

Jesus now smiles at you,
Turn there to see the view;
Loving and dying the Master gives all,
And brings healing to hearts with his call.

Anger and fear release,
Nurture your heart with peace;
God in his Spirit your life will renew,
And reshape your sweet heart all anew.

Sing now this prayerful hymn,
Knitting your heart to him;
Beating with his you will sing with new voice,
And forever your heart will rejoice
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on September 3, 2009
How many of us have had concerns that we want to bring to God's attention, but have difficulty putting them into words? This book provides over 370 brief, eloquent prayers covering many of life's situations and concerns, which can serve as starting points for verbalizing our own unique joys and worries.

The title of this book is unusual in that "rubbing God's ear" are not the words that normally come to mind when we think of the prayer process. In his introduction, Dr. Groh attributes this phrase to Martin Luther's description of prayer as claiming God's promises for our own lives. Many of these prayers follow this theme in that they refer to God's promises to those who follow Him. Although Dr. Groh is Lutheran, these prayers can be used and appreciated by all Christians.

Although very eloquent, these prayers are very applicable to every-day, real-world situations that all of us encounter. Dr. Groh's life experiences are unusually varied and these prayers reflect that breadth of real-world understanding. After growing up in a small Missouri town, he became an ordained Lutheran pastor, a university professor, an Air Force Chaplain, a realtor, and a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. The prayers in this book obviously are based on the joys, disappointments, and perspectives gained from this wealth of experience.

Since there are 373 prayers, one possible way to use this book would be to go through the prayers in sequence as part of daily devotions over the span of a year. However, this book is organized to enable the reader to also search for a prayer by general category (presented by the Table of Contents), or by specific topic or concern (presented by the Index). Some of the general categories are: Doubt and Uncertainty, Children, God's Promises, and Witnessing. Specific topics include: Collecting possessions, Fulfilling God's will, Handling disappointment, and Maintaining balance in life. Another unusual added feature of this book is the inclusion of over 200 images to encourage reflection and meditation.

In summary, these prayers are eloquent and inspirational, yet down-to-earth. This book will be beneficial to everyone who is seeking a richer prayer life.
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on September 13, 2009
Prayers are very personal things, and what speaks to one person may not resonate with another. Fortunately, in his book, "Rubbing God's Ear with His Promises", John Groh has assembled a collection of christian-themed prayers that are bound to speak to each of us at some time in our lives. The book, which includes over 370 prayers, as well as some beautiful photographs and artwork, is divided into sections such as Life's Journey, Human Emotions, Renewal and Faith and Works. These sections enable the casual reader to find the perfect prayer to fit any given situation, and this, I believe, is how the book may best be used. Also included in this book are many poems and song lyrics written by the author over the course of his own christian journey. While I am not a big fan of organized religion, I appreciate this book as a resource that beautifully puts into words some of the thoughts that I have often wanted to share with God. It would be a lovely gift for a christian friend experiencing a difficult life situation, or as a celebration of one of life's many blessings.
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on October 3, 2009
I found John Groh's book "Rubbing God's Ear With His Promises" most interesting because of the way it is broken down into categories, and how it applies to everyday situations. You can journey through this book by reading a prayer or poem each day, or go to a category that reflects where your life is in any given moment and find a passage that will help and guide you. I find this book to be a great resource and a great way to communicate with God. As I've read through this book I found myself reflecting on many things I have not thought about in some time, and John's words created a better understanding for me. I have already shared this book with a friend who recently lost his mother and found some of the prayers very comforting for the feelings and sadness he is going through at this time in his life. I think this book would be a great gift and a great resource for someone going through a difficult time in their life, as well as for someone experiencing a joyful time in their life.
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on June 14, 2011
This book has more than a years worth of prayers that cover such things as Accidental idols. Avoiding gimmee requests. Candle of faith. Solo holiness etc which are both unique and truly uplifting.

Right from the get go, the quirky title grabs you and each prayer holds a special interest, great for reciting around the family table and coming from a great source of inspiration for all ages.

The fact that it is indexed so well means you can go in order or dip in to wherever you need it at that moment in time.

It all helps with faith, healing and general all round great feeling.
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