Friday, February 5, 2016

A Praying Life- Chapters 5-6

(A few friends and I are reading this book together.  Each week we will read two chapters and on Friday I will post my comments from the reading.  Others may add their thoughts in the comments section.  If you are interested in reading this book as well, here is the link for the Kindle version of the book.)

Chapters 5-6
- David has been preaching through the book of John, so Jesus' frequent references to His unity with the Father are something I've been reminded of recently.  I believe the author takes it a step further: "Jesus defines himself only in relationship with his heavenly Father." (Pg. 45, Loc. 572)  If the Messiah, the Savior did that, how much more should I?  This was a good challenge for me.

- He believes that "Jesus goes on to encourage us to pray in the privacy of our rooms so our out-loud praying doesn't become a verbal show." (Pg. 48, Loc. 617)  I don't think I've ever heard the idea of out-loud praying explained as a reason why Jesus commanded to go into the inner room.  I do see how praying out loud helps keep from "getting lost in your mind" as I think he describes it.

- "Don't set impossible goals and then collapse."  (Pg. 49, Loc. 643)  "Start with a small goal that you can attain rather than something heroic." (Pg. 50, Loc. 652)  I have had to learn this in other areas of life.  I can think of specific failures where I tried to do too much all at once (ex: when out of shape, deciding I'd ride the exercise bike for 15 minutes and keep the speed above 15 mph the entire time).  Instead, I've learned to first establish a habit, then once it is established, try to further develop it.   

- Following up with the previous thought, I will make a specific time commitment regarding prayer for each day until next Friday, and I'll keep myself accountable by writing about it in next week's post.

- "We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us.  God looks at the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers." (Pg. 55, Loc. 711)  With this I realized that when I think my praying is inadequate, I am concentrating more on me than on my Father, with whom I'm supposed to be speaking.  Said otherwise: in those instances I'm actually trusting me (my prayers) rather than trusting God.

- Dependency was the theme of chapter 6 but was also mentioned in chapter 5.  I think my favorite quote was: "If we think we can do life on our own, we will not take prayer seriously.  Our failure to pray will always feel like something else - a lack of discipline or too many obligations.  But when something is important to us, we make room for it." (Pg. 59, Loc. 760)  I needed the reminder that when I am remembering that I need God in order to live my life, then I will pray.  It will be important enough to me to fit it in, even if that means pushing other things out. 

- I struggle to know how dependency then merges with accomplishing the tasks we have to do.  He stated, "In other words, I didn't feel helpless.  I knew what to do."  (Pg. 53, Loc. 675)  After reading that, my natural reaction is to begin questioning everything I do.  For example: am I truly feeling helpless to write this blog post?  If I'm not, is that sin?  After reading these chapters, I know I need to be more dependent, but I wonder to what extent.  Maybe another way to say what I'm thinking is: when is it time to stop praying (being dependent) and to begin doing ______, believing that God will work?  If praying is expressing dependence, then can't taking steps express faith?  (I welcome input- but I'm not expecting you guys to solve this for me.  I'm just trying to express a question that came up in my mind when thinking through the content.) 

I've had my say- what say you?


  1. "Every minute spent in prayer is one less minute where you can be doing something “productive.” So the act of praying means that you have to rely more on God."
    This thought challenged me to consider my time praying as deliberate faith in God’s work because I could not work. Maybe even a step farther, that if I never got to work today that is okay because it has to be God at work. Though we all burn with a desire to work for the Lord, our calling is to be a vessel for him to use.

    "Why? Because I already knew the solution: “Kim needs to stop pacing. I will tell her to stop pacing.” In other words, I didn’t feel helpless. I knew what to do. I call this the idiot approach to life. In other words, “You idiot, if you would just stop …"

    How true this has been for myself, the reason for not praying is that I knew the answer. Which is actually saying, I don’t need God.

    "It didn’t take me long to realize I did my best parenting by prayer. I began to speak less to the kids and more to God. It was actually quite relaxing."
    Again, this was a great challenge to me personally. I think that I could substitute parenting with all areas of my life - husband, father, pastor. “It didn’t take me long to realize I did my best pastoring by prayer.”

  2. I really appreciated the author's clear teaching on how Jesus lived His earthly life. I personally feel like many Christians fail to understand this. Though they know Jesus was a man, they still think that the reason He could heal people & overcome sin & perform other great miracles was because, well, He was God. I don't mean this irreverently, but many view Jesus as some type of “Superman”; you know, He's kind of man but He has other supernatural powers.

    The author reminds us that Jesus lived completely as a man in total dependence on His Father (pg.45). The reason He could overcome the devil's temptations & perform many miracles is because He was drawing upon the Father's power, not just because Jesus himself was God. What an encouragement for me as a man! Jesus faced life exactly as I face it and was victorious; and when I follow His example of utter dependence on God I can share in that victory as well! Again, I just really appreciated his pointing out that Jesus had a praying life because, as man, He knew He desperately needed God.

    “Jesus' anguish is our normal” (pg.45). This quote was very convicting to me. Jesus was in anguish, pain, and deep distress because He lost fellowship for a few hours with His Father. Though my outward may appear right, I know in my heart that I can go for days without a deep intimacy with my Father, and yet I feel no anguish or pain. God help us to get to that point!

    “It didn't take me long to realize I did my best parenting by prayer” (pg.59) – with my wife & I being on the verge of adopting two children, I appreciated this quote and will seek to implement it at an even higher level than I have been doing.

    In response to Jacob's thoughts on dependence, I would view dependence and faith as synonymous. Faith is not just believing in God, it's believing in God to do something for you, which is dependence. We are saved by faith, but what is that? It is depending on Christ's finished work alone. I don't see it as, well I'm depending on God when I'm praying but then I have to work. Whether it's praying, getting up to preach, witnessing to someone, or writing on this blog, I need to be consciously aware of my weakness to do anything right, because in my flesh there dwells no good thing, and I need to be by faith (dependence) drawing upon God's power. I guess my thought is we shouldn't separate dependence upon God and doing things for God, because if we're doing things for God without depending on Him, we're in real trouble.

  3. I enjoyed these chapters and enjoyed reading your thoughts on this passage.
    I'm not able to write much this week, but one quote I found especially interesting, besides the ones already mentioned was on page 56 where he writes, "We tell ourselves, 'Strong Christians pray a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I'd pray more.' Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are." In other words, the stronger I am, the more I'll become aware of my true weakness. I think the reverse of this could also be true in that, if I consider myself to be strong, I may be very weak indeed.