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Six Prayers God Always Answers Hardcover – April 25, 2008
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This book breaks through our secular society and offers real clarity, illuminating God's truth and the promise of the cross without getting too bogged down in scriptural references. Yes, God listens and hears every prayer and answers them all...though results may vary. :-) A beautiful read!
Some of the passages that stood out include: "we hold nothing of substance with which to bargain." (Pg. 40) When our first child died of an awful accident, there were periods of bargaining as he hung between life and death. After he died the prayers changed to questions. Why? God has never answered why. But as written on page 80, "Swapping the old question for a new one leads to revelation." We found out with Job that there were more important things to understand and questions to ask that had never before entered our consciousness. God gifted us with new and more weighty questions. And as written on page 81, " Why is important only as it informs future behavior." And on page 142, "Faith helps us to find answers beyond those we're looking for." "God supplants our original request for one that is better, deeper, more noble or profound." (Pg. 185) We have lived and experienced that truth.
In the case of Mary and Martha's loss, Lazarus' death was overturned so the analogy is not 100% our situation. For though we prayed for our son's resurrection, it did not happen. Yet I can answer your question on page 132 relating to Mary and Martha, "Was the price of their pain worth the gift of their faith?" with a resounding yes. And although I would never wish the experience of losing a child on anyone else, I would neither trade it for anything as a result of God's immeasurable gift of himself to us in and through the experience.
It is as the authors begin their profound book, " We are no longer asking God for proof of his existence but rather for proof of his presence." ( Pg 51) Yes, it is all about God's presence and God's courtship and the master romantic wisely leaves us with some mystery as on page 249, "If we feel like our prayers aren't being answered, perhaps it is because we don't see the answers. We don't recognize God's responses. The way to correct that is not to learn better techniques, but to learn more about God." Yes! Isn't that exactly what God wants and where our experiences are meant to take us?
Finally as declared on page 255, "Prayer doesn't work. God works. And God works when people pray." What an amazing God who desires relationship and turns it into partnership dependent upon free will. What an amazing book which asks the tough questions and dares to answer. I highly recommend it.
Starting with a simple, but not completely formed idea, that "Prayer doesn't work. God works." we are taken on a ride through page after page of anecdotes and Bible stories that reflect different kinds of prayers we often breathe throughout our lives. I appreciated how the authors began by talking about prayer in general, its history, its language, and most importantly what prayer is and what it is not.
At the beginning, they point to illustrations of great "prayer warriors" throughout history, citing a story of two monks who made great personal sacrifice to live lives of prayer and devotion. In stating exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to read from this book, they authors related that many well-intentioned pastors tell stories like this from the pulpit in an effort inspire their people toward a deeper prayer life. In reality, since they are holding up such and exemplary, yet rare, example, they are actually turning people off from prayer. These fantastic stories of faith make the average Christ-follower feel inadequate and they decide to give up.
Graciously, the authors point out that examples of this sort emphasize style over substance. The truth is, as they relate, that prayer should be like communicating with a lover. Prayer is a conversation with God, and there is no formal presentation necessary to a prayer encounter with God. How can we rest on formality when prayer is an intimate encounter that literally makes us naked before God, stripping away every part of us that is not real and leaving us bare. Just try to be formal when you're buck naked. Go ahead, try it.
What the authors posit is that prayer is an instinctual thing, built into the very core of humanity. How can this be said when it seems so few people pray? While not excusing such things, there is a list running throughout the book of statements we often view as profane that may actually be instinctual prayers to the Creator.
Sometimes, in our polished-to-perfection, stick-in-the-mud-pharisaical-perfection, we automatically think that these people are just "taking the Lord's name in vain." What about when we hear expressions made in the heat of the moment. "God, help me. I'll never do it again." "God, are you there?" "Goddamn it!" "Save me, God!" "Please, God!" "Oh god, you're beautiful."
"What if these are really prayers?" the authors ask.
"Does a father stop listening to his child because the kid is swearing at him? Or is he able to see beyond the pain and the hurt that life has inflicted, to see it as a cry of a beloved child, wounded, crying out to Abba? Could Jesus see these outbursts as a cry of a wounded brother or sister? How do we know what is in the heart of those who utter such words? Do we even know our own hearts? We might just be condeming the prayers of a hurting child who is crying out, `Lord, forgive me.'"
This book is recommended for anyone who is looking for fresh perspective on a life of prayer.
According to the authors, prayer doesn't work--God works, and God works when people pray. This book asks the tough questions and answers them so laymen can understand.
-Nan S., Georgia, USA
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2. Boxed and ribboned thoughts about God find no page space, either.