Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Review 2013 ... #8 Prayer by Philip Yancey

How this book came to me:  I bought it at Ollie's quite a few years ago, started to read it (I don't remember reading any of it, but I noted a few things in the first chapter, so obviously I did!), and there it sat on the bookshelf til now.

Nutshell Synopsis: Prayer is about... you guessed it... Prayer!  Mr. Yancey wrote this book from the perspective of a person wanting to discover what prayer is, what prayer does, how and why we pray, what our prayers mean to God, and much more.

Quotes from the book:

"Prayer helps correct myopia, calling to mind a perspective I daily forget.  I keep reversing roles, thinking of ways in which God should serve me, rather than vice versa."

"In a world that glorifies success, an admission of weakness disarms pride at the same time that it prepares us to receive grace.  Meanwhile, the very weakness that drives us to pray becomes an invitation for God to respond with compassion and power... In the presence of the Great Physician, my most appropriate contribution may be my wounds... By trying to be strong, I may even block God's power."

"For most of us prayer serves as a resource to help in a time of testing or conflict.  For Jesus, it was the battle itself.  Once the Gethsemane prayers had aligned him with the Father's will, what happened next was merely the means to fulfill it.  Prayer mattered that much."

"Not everyone worries about the philosophical underpinnings of prayer.  For those of us who do, however, what we conclude about this issue may well determine how we view the utility-- or futility-- of prayer."

"Real power rests in those who perceive history as God's own drama, who tap into a power accessible only to those who ask and seek and knock.  Prayer sets God loose.  As we revolt against the world's disorder in our actions and in our prayers, refusing to resign ourselves to evil, we demonstrate that there remains, in Jesus' phrase, "faith on earth.""

More Info:  I am almost positive I know why I stopped reading this book all those years ago.  The layout of the writing must've thrown me off.  Having a few crippling quirky OCD tendencies, I probably had too much difficulty with the offsets (which are numerous) not being in predictable placements.  This time I was able to push through the chaos and focus on the content rather than the style.  <Satisfied grin at small accomplishments!>  The author also included many, many quotes from other sources about prayer.  He seems to be, at heart, an investigative reporter and wants to provide the reader with multiple points of view.  Even conflicting perspectives.  He also has other resources on prayer listed in the back of the book.

Reading Level:  Phillip Yancey is a trained writer,  highly educated, and writes at a level slightly more advanced than most books I read.  I had to consult a dictionary a few times when I could not figure out a word by context.  But don't let that scare you away.  There are so many thought-provoking passages in Prayer that it makes the little extra effort worth it. 

Re-readability:  I doubt that I will read this book cover to cover again but will definitely keep it on hand for thoughts and quotes.

Lasting Impressions:  After I got past my own aversion to the layout, I began to really appreciate this book and the ways in which I was prompted to approach such a personal topic.  "By bringing us into the presence of God, and giving us a glimpse of the view from above, prayer radically changes how we experience life.  Faith during affliction matters more than healing from affliction.  Submitting to God's will is preferable to a rescue from crucifixion.  Humility counts more than deliverance from a thorn in the flesh."

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