We do a yearly personal review that covers every aspect of the ministry and personal spiritual growth in each pastor here at NCBC. In the reviews we put together high level goals for the next year. One of my goals was to focus on prayer in my personal life and in the ministry. That goal lead me to pick up Philip Yancey’s book, “Prayer – does it make a difference?” and I’m glad I did.
When I was going to Liberty University I had to read a book by E.M. Bounds on prayer that really changed the way I looked and did prayer. Yancey’s book has moved me to consider the importance prayer really has in life just like Bounds book did. I will limit this review to a key thought and two practical ideas that I want to use in my personal prayer life that I got from Yancey's book.
The key thought is that prayer is God allowing me to be a part of his plan. Yancey put it this way, “I enter into the action begun by another, my creating and saving Lord, and find myself participating in the results of the action.” I often struggle with prayers that aren’t answered and I find myself upset and frustrated. But when I think that God is allowing me to be a part of his plan through a relationship with Him – pray takes on new meaning. In this relationship I can let God see me as I am. “The most important purpose of prayer may be to let our true selves be loved by God.”
One practical idea is to re-write psalms in my own words. This sounds like a huge project but one I would love to do.
The other practical idea Yancey got from the pastor David Mains. It is his recommendations to make sure prayers are on target. I’m going to put them here for me to reference but they are not mine they are David Mains:
1) “What do I really want? Am I being specific, or am I just rambling about nothing in particular?
2) Can God grant this request? Or is it against God’s nature to do so?
3) Have I done my part? Or am I praying to lose weight when I haven’t dieted?
4) How is my relationship with God? Are we on speaking terms?
5) Who will get the credit if my request is granted? Do I have God’s interests in mind?
6) Do I really want my prayer answered? What would happen if I actually did get what I prayed for?”
With this key thought and practical ideas I hope to move my understanding of prayer to a level that I don’t fully understand but fully except God to work in me. This book is a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who is asking the question, “Prayer does it make any difference?”