This 331 page book is definitely would I would call a work on prayer. Not unlike some of Philip Yancey’s other books that I’ve read, like What’s So Amazing About Grace? and Disappointment with God, this one knocked it out of the park.
Recently I was looking through the NEGST theological library for some books that I thought I’d like to read one day, and I stumbled across a rather large section on prayer. As I did a little more searching, I found that there are simply a large number of books about prayer in the world. Prayer is something that humans very much desire to participate in, but at the same time neglect for a variety of reasons- doubt that it’s useful, feeling like their voice is hitting the ceiling, not sure what it’s for, lack of time, busyness, or laziness.
For all these reasons, this book is a good one to read. Yancey takes the reader on a journey through the emotions and questions surrounding prayer. Does prayer change God? Or does it change us? Why do two people pray for physical healing, one gets it and the other doesn’t? Are we supposed to pray for miracles? Is it okay to argue with God? What does faith have to do with prayer? Is it okay for me to pray for a close parking spot to the store while some people are dying of hunger around the world?
All of these things Yancey walks through… and not in a “here is the right answer” kind of way, but in a fatherly, brotherly, friend-like way that takes into consideration both the biblical text as well as various peoples’ experiences.
In the end, Yancey concludes that you just have to do it. And that ultimately, God desires our hearts, our lives, and our relationship. And that’s why we pray.
Dispersed throughout each chapter are short testimonies, some joyful, some mournful, some confusing and some clear, from various people—ordinary and famous—about their experience with prayer. I think that was a really good addition to the book—it helped it to be even more conversational and honest.
If you’re looking for a thorough, conversational, non-scholarly, non-pretentious book on prayer, this is the one for you. But you don’t have to take my word for it. (haha, any reading rainbow fans— out there? ☺)