The strength of Paul Miller’s book on prayer is the way he takes prayer from that of a separate activity to one that integrates it into all of life. Miller uses every day experiences from his own family life to illustrate this integration. I found it to be a practical, inspiring and interesting read.  Here are just a few of the lines from this book that I highlighted:

A Reason We Struggle with a Praying Life

“Everywhere we go we hear background noise. If the noise isn’t provided for us, we can bring our own iPod. Even our church services can have that same restless energy. There is little space to be still before God.”

The Need to Make Space for God

“You don’t create intimacy; you make room for it. This is true whether you are talking about your spouse, your friend, or God. You need space to be together. Efficiency, multitasking, and busyness all kill intimacy. In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly.”

Make Anxiety a Springboard to Prayer

“Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, manage it, or smother it with pleasure, we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we’ll discover that we’ve slipped into continuous prayer.”

Come Messy

“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness (Mt 11:28). Come overwhelmed with life. Come with our wandering mind. Come messy. Don’t try to get the prayer right; just tell God where you are and what’s on your mind. That’s what little children do. They come as they are, runny noses and all. Like the disciples, they just say what is on their minds.”

A Childlike Spirit vs. a Cynical Spirit

“The opposite of a childlike spirit is a cynical spirit. Cynicism is, increasingly, the dominant spirit of our age.” The author confesses, “Personally, it is my greatest struggle in prayer. If I get an answer to prayer, sometimes I’ll think, it would have happened anyway. Other times I’ll try to pray but wonder if it makes any difference. Many Christians stand at the edge of cynicism, struggling with a defeated weariness. Their spirits have begun to deaden, but unlike the cynic, they’ve not lost hope.”

I Can’t Cure Myself!

“Often we are too weary to figure out what the problem is. We just know that life–including ours–doesn’t work. So we pray, ‘Father, Father, Father’. This is the exact opposite of Eastern mysticism, which is a psycho-spiritual technique that disengages from relationship and escapes pain by dulling self. Eastern mystics are trying to empty their minds and become one with this nonpersonal  ‘all.’ But as Christians we realize we can’t cure ourselves, so we cry out to our Father, our primary relationship.” (Last week I wrote a review of the popular culture book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. When Ms. Gilbert spoke of prayer it was in the context of eastern mysticism. The lack of relationship with God the Father was something that saddened me deeply about her spiritual search.)

Write God’s Story for You in a Prayer Journal

“Many of us rush around without much conscious knowledge of the pilgrimage God is carving out for us. When tragedy strikes, we’ve not learned the ways of God, so we have no frame of reference from which to respond. So, we slog through life, missing the divine touches. Writing in a prayer journal helps us take stock of our location on the journey. We can become poets, artists with our soul. When we keep a prayer journal, we can reflect on what God is doing on the patterns of our Father’s care instead of reacting to life. If we see our lives as a pilgrimage, then it becomes an integrated whole. If we understand the story, it quiets our souls. It’s okay to have a busy life. It’s crazy to have a busy soul.”
Verdict: Highly recommend this book!
©Brenda Pace, 2010
Were you aware that there was a day recently set aside to pray for Christians in Turkey? I missed it too. Several years ago I had an incredible experience in Turkey to include a powerful time of prayer and fellowship with some Turkish Christian women. To be a Christian in their country is not an easy thing. (We had to change the location of our meeting three times in order to not arouse suspicion.) I left that nation so full of love for those women and burdened for their plight I knew I would never forget to pray for them. But, I have forgotten. And I am saddened by this fact.
The Official Day of Prayer for Turkey
April 18 is the international day of prayer for the church in Turkey. On this day in 2007, three Turkish Christians were brutally murdered for no other reason than actively living out their lives as followers of Christ.
While I was in Turkey I had the opportunity to view the rich Christian heritage of that little nation. I visited the location of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation and was humbled and inspired by visiting the catacombs  in Cappadocia where early Christians worshipped to escape persecution. So much of our scriptures were written from this land and yet today Christians are believed to make up only 0.3 per cent of the population.

The catacombs of Cappadocia

Today is the day…tomorrow too
While I appreciate a day set aside to bring prayer needs to the forefront, I don’t want to have to have them to remember. It’s May 18, a month later than the ‘official’ prayer day, and I am praying for the Christians of Turkey today.  I’m asking the Lord to remind me to consistently and regularly pray on their behalf.  He has been doing just that as the faces of those dear women in our secret circle of prayer have been in my mind and heart of late. I pray they and others like them are strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit to live their lives in a way that would bear much fruit.
A few photos from my trip with accompanying prayers

May they be an open door that no one can shut, keeping his Word and not denying His name. (Rev. 3:8)

Make them a pillar as they overcome. Write on them the name of God. (Rev 3:12)

May they shine as your light and be a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)