Prayer and Prodigals – Week in Books #20

One of my goals for this decade is to become a woman of fervent prayer, and I think Paul Miller’s book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World is probably the most helpful book on the topic I’ve read so far.  Page after page is filled with challenging, convicting, and encouraging discussion about prayer, common misconceptions about prayer, and how to build a rich prayer life.  Miller also weaves in related topics like a Christian view of hope and reality, anxiety, humility, cynicism, thankfulness and covenant.  The book is packed with excellent material and is a rich resource.

I was particularly glad that Miller used so many examples from his own life and his family.  Although this is not a relationship book or a parenting book, I found more helpful points on those topics in this book than I have in many books devoted to marriage and raising children. A Praying Life is a great mix of theory and practical example, so that the reader comes away understanding the concepts deeply but also knowing how to apply them.

A Praying Life will be one of my top picks for this year, and I highly recommend it.

I read Tim Keller’s fantastic book The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith last year (feel free to read my first review if you missed it) but recently finished reading it again with the Biblestudy I attend.  Reading the book and discussing it with other people gave me even more to consider than when I read it on my own.  As I mentioned before, I think it would be impossible for any Christian to read this book and not be challenged and convicted in some way.

In the book, Keller discusses the familiar parable of the Prodigal Son, and shows how our superficial understanding of a wayward son welcomed back home misses some of the bigger points Jesus was making when he told the story.  Keller develops his point by looking at the original audience of the parable (“sinners” and Pharisees), describing the cultural context of the way households and inheritances worked, and driving home the fact that the parable is about TWO sons who were lost, not just one, and how this applies to our lives.

Reading this book gave me a greater understanding of the sinful tendencies of my own heart, the cost of my salvation, my worth as a child of God, and how that should play out in my relationship to my family, my church, and my community.  I think The Prodigal God is a great book for individual or group study and would recommend it to you strongly.  This is also going to be a top book for 2010 (I know!  Two in one week!).

Our small group Biblestudy recently finished reading Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name, another excellent book on prayer that I previously reviewed.  Although not as jam packed as A Praying Life reviewed above, Praying Backwards is a solid book.  I found that discussing it with the other people in our small group was particularly helpful and made me consider things from angles I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

If you only have time for one book on prayer, I would suggest A Praying Life, but if you are looking for multiple titles on the subject, Praying Backwards would be a good addition to your library.

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