Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Praying Life

One of the best books that I've read recently is Paul Miller's A Praying Life. I had quoted from it a few days ago, but that does not sum up the impact the book made on me. I've read a lot of books on prayer, but I've not read one as practical and thought-provoking, realistic and hopeful.

In 32 short chapters, Miller draws the reader into his praying life, which means drawing us into his life. In so many books on prayer, I feel like the prayer expected is formal, orderly, technique-driven (i.e. the acronym ACTS). I can pray like that--in fact, I often do each morning as part of my morning worship. But at least for me, such prayer often feels divorced from my life once I leave my study. Miller freely describes the messiness of his life, especially connected with his physically challenged daughter Kim, and helps the reader envision how praying happens in the midst of a real, messy life.

But even more, Miller shows us that praying means come to a Father who loves us, his own blood-bought children. And since we are children, we are helpless--which is why we come to our Father: we recognize that we can do nothing without him. But since we are children, we should be unrestrained--like my children, who constantly burst into my conversations with my wife expecting me to care for their immediate needs. My kids don't wait for an appointment; rather, they rush into my presence with their needs and requests. Why don't I live that way with God my Father?

There is a great deal else I took from this book--most notably, because I can't change my kids but because God can change my kids, rather than trying to change my kids through the force of my words, I'm taking my concerns to God and asking him to change my kids through the power of his Spirit. Specifically, I've begun praying Scripture for my children in the areas in which I perceive their greatest needs--"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:4)"; "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13)"; "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov 15:1)." It is part of praying through my life and hopefully by God's grace develop a praying life.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. There are few books that are life-changing; this is one of them.

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