Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Praying Life- Chapters 9-10

(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 9-10
- "If Satan can't stop you from praying, then he will try to rob the fruit of praying by dulling your soul."  (Pg. 77, Loc. 955)  This reminded me that the physical act of praying isn't enough.  I can be physically praying, yet it not be the type of interaction that my Father is wanting to have.  I must give attention to the inward and the outward.

- I liked his perspective that the praying life "engages evil."  (Pg. 79, Loc. 983)  Praying isn't being passive and overlooking something, it is choosing to fight against it in the most powerful way possible.

- I personally struggle to know how be optimistic without being naively optimistic.  When am I to believe that God can work and continue to pray like the widow speaking to the unjust judge?  How do I still believe God can and continue to trust even if he doesn't answer the way I'm praying?  When is it time to stop being optimistic and to stop praying like the Apostle Paul and the thorn in the flesh?  I agree with his words against naive optimism, but I struggle to see how to apply it all in the details.

- "As you grasp what the Father's heart is like, how he loves to give, then prayer will begin to feel completely natural to you."  (Pg. 85, Loc. 1071)  This quote challenged me to continue to seek God's Word, so that I'll know His heart, which will then encourage rather than discourage me to pray.

- "Instead of critiquing others' stories, watch the story our Father is weaving."  (Pg. 86, Loc. 1089)  This theme is often mentioned in the Chronicles of Narnia.  When someone wants to know about another, Aslan reminds him that it is not for him to know.  I find it so easy to question "Why ....?" when I look at others' situations and compare with mine.  This reminded me to realize God is creating a unique story for each individual, and that my undue attention on others' stories will result in failing to see my story.

- I often struggle with the way preachers explain how we are to "in everything give thanks."  I appreciated the author's words: "Thankfulness isn't a matter of forcing yourself to see the happy side of life.  That would be like returning to naive optimism.  Thanking God restores the natural order of our dependence on God.  It enables us to see life as it really is."  (Pg. 89, Loc. 1142)

I've had my say, what say you?

Discussion on Chapters 7-8


  1. “Our can-do attitude is turning into relentless self-centeredness” (pg.82) – I just liked this quote. The American dream of being anything you want to be has certainly kept the focus on self, not God. It makes sense then that when things don't go according to someone's plan, he becomes cynical. Thought it was a good point that we must have our faith & confidence in God alone, not just in faith itself. Again, the focus must be on God, not my praying or my faith.

    He mentions on pg.89, “Either I thanked God or I gave into bitterness. . . .there was no middle ground”. It made me see that if I'm not presently thanking God, then I'm presently doubting Him or being bitter or complaining. There's no middle ground in this matter – if I don't have the right Godly attitude then I have the wrong sinful one!

  2. Sorry for the lack commenting. I finally am through chapter 11. Here are some highlights that I saw.

    He quotes a Yoani Sanchez who states: "[Cynicism is] a double-edged sword. It protects you from crushing disappointment, but it paralyzes you from doing anything." I thought this was a good statement.

    Like Jacob, I appreciated the reminder that prayer "engages evil," as the author states. It is not a grocery list of our observations but coming to our Father and asking Him to work on our behalf.

    The Father-child analogy has been a big help to me recently. I even talked about with two different Moldovans today. While we are supposed to put childish things away and be men, there are several aspects we are to hold dear and emulate as children. The author has pointed out these positive aspects. In particular, believing whatever Dad says, not being flustered over problems that arise... because Dad is working on the problems, and being grateful for the simple things (likes kids love cardboard boxes). The author in chapter 10 says, "Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd."

    The author applied the double-minded in a way I had not thought of before. He says, "All sin involves a splitting of the personality - what James calls being "double-minded" (4:8)." I totally see his application of this and believe it is helpful in self-searching to see if we need to confess something. He goes on to say, "repentance brings the split personality together and thus restores integrity to the life. The real self is made public. When the proud person is humbled, the elevated self is united with the true self." I think that those of us in ministry need to be careful of not living two lives. Being real is of utmost importance.