Weaknesses are so hard to admit, and we tend to hide them, hoping they never see the light of day in front of family, friends and even God. But unlike our family and friends, our God is an all-knowing God, capable of loving and forgiving beyond understanding. In the person of Jesus Christ He faced temptations like we have, and in fact He uses weakness to draw us near to Him. These are some of the principles within this book that encouraged me to change my prayers into personal prayers, unlike those we have been taught when we were children, which follow a specific structure and produces guilt if you went straight ahead to asking for things without first giving adoration and thanksgiving.
The book is divided into five parts: learning to pray like a child, learning to trust again, learning to ask your Father, living in your Father’s story, and praying in real life. But before he goes through all that, he showed us why Christians are struggling to pray in today’s culture. Our generation has been overwhelmed with cynicism due to emergence of philosophies that separates God from everything that happens in this world. We don’t see the connection between life events (especially suffering) with God. Whenever we experience frustrations, we no longer have the belief that prayer will do anything. Whenever we experience successes, we think it is ourselves that led us to victory.
Paul wrote about praying like a child, honest and carefree, trusting and believing, easily amazed, and whenever in a helpless position, their first resort is to cry out for their parents continually, “Abba”. He then shared testimonies on how he learned to ask God, and through God’s Word, have confidence in approaching God’s throne of grace in asking for whatever we need. The next part was on living in God’s story, where Paul showed how everything is connected and what role prayer plays in the grand story God is weaving into our lives. Lastly, he shared practical ways in applying a prayerful life – through prayer cards and prayer journals among others.
Throughout, Paul Miller told the story of how prayer worked in his life, his wife and children, and his friends. It felt very personal, as if I was reading a private diary. Despite that, it also felt very relational, and I saw myself how God worked in my life through prayer. I also began to change my prayer into a very personal one, and my prayer list grows everyday I might be adopting prayer cards one day. God seems to give me more reasons to pray – friends and acquaintances reach out to me randomly in the past few days, and I find myself praying for them for whatever they are struggling with. I also pray for myself because I don’t want to have pride in my heart – I continually pray for humility, for it is not me who actually reached out to these people, and the words I tell them are not coming from me but from Bible verses that I apply to my life also. I also began to pray for help and wisdom in witnessing to other people, which I didn’t really care about before, because I thought I can leave this work to people with the gift.
While reading this book, I realised not only how God is working in my life in the little things, but how I began to read the Bible frequently because I know that someday God will put my faith to the test, and I need to be ready and equip myself with the unending comfort of God’s promises. Paul’s lives (both the author and the apostle) are good examples of my expectation of a Christian life, where God uses thorns in the flesh or ongoing suffering as remembrances of our own weakness and perfection in Jesus Christ. While I can say that my life currently is not that dramatic and rather blessed, I know that someday it might not be, just how it was before when I was going through very difficult times. I might find myself in the desert someday, unable to see the way out, but I want to be able to draw strength and hope from God when that time comes.
I would recommend this book to new and old Christian friends, my parents and parents’ Christian friends, because it made me want to pray for them and I want them to have a more meaningful prayer life!
I usually put my favourite quotes at the end of my book review but I won’t be able to give the necessary context just by quotes, so if you are reading this or are here for the quotes, go read A Praying Life instead. You will not regret it.
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