Prayer much…? Yeah, it’s a constant struggle for me too, which is why I read Paul E. Miller’s book “A Praying Life.”

            In the “About Me” section of my blog I stated that I would write about things that I love (Jesus, my wife, my daughter, etc.) and books that I read or were currently reading.  That being said, I’d like to share a brief summary of Paul Miller’s newest book “A Praying Life” (we’ll see how faithful I am to the word brief).  I’ve read a lot of books and I intend to read a lot more.  The adage that “leaders are readers” is something I’ve personally adopted and try to intentionally make a part of my work-week.  And throughout the many books I’ve spent hours immersing myself in there are only a few books that I would make a part of my yearly calendar of reading – “A Praying Life” is one such book (another one is C. J. Mahaney’s book “Humility” just in case you were wondering).   So here are some of the “high-points” for me as I was reading through this amazingly poignant, challenging and helpful book.  For the sake of time I’m going to simply state these via of bullets.  

  • One of many reasons we don’t pray is because we honestly don’t think it will work.
  • The act of praying is hard as well – our minds many times are easily distracted.
  • Our inability to pray comes from the Fall of mankind.
  • We live in a society that prizes itself on accomplishments, but prayer is simply talking to God – we need to “get to work.”
  • The praying life feels like dinner with good friends –sitting back and immersing yourself in conversation with cherished friends…only you’re doing it with the God of the universe.
  • The more my faith grows, the bolder my prayers get.
  • Deep in our psyches we want an experience with God or an experience in prayer.  Once we make that our quest we lose God.  You don’t experience God; you get to know him. You submit to him.  You enjoy him.  He is, after all, a person.
  • Many Christians haven’t stopped believing in God; we have just become functional deists, living with God at a distance.
  • Come to God…messy, as the real you, overwhelmed with life, with a wandering mind,
  • Talk to God as a child – ask like a child and believe like a child.
  • If you know that you, like Jesus, can’t do life on your own, then prayer makes complete sense.
  • Seven suggestions for how you can spend time with your Father in the morning:  Go to bed, get up, get awake, get a quiet place, get comfortable, get going and keep going.
  • Prayer = helplessness
  • You don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; you just need to be poor in spirit.
  • Anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos.
  • The opposite of a childlike spirit is a cynical spirit. Cynicism and weariness have this in common:  they both question the active goodness of God on our behalf.  Left unchallenged, their low-level doubt opens the door for bigger doubts.
  • A praying life is engages evil.  It doesn’t take no for an answer.  Prayer is feisty.  Prayer is hopeful.
  • Cures for cynicism:  be warm but wary, learn to hope again, cultivate a childlike spirit, cultivating a thankful spirit, cultivating repentance, and developing an eye for Jesus.
  • The Enlightenment has truly influenced us more than we realize.  Nancy Pearcey summarized the splits between facts and feelings saying, “the lower story became toe realm of publicly verifiable facts while the upper story became the realm of socially constructed values.”
  • Power of the Enlightenment:  first prayer is defined as phony, and then it feels phony.
  • If you’re going to enter this divine dance we call prayer, you have to surrender your desire to be in control, to figure out how prayer works.
  • The name of Jesus gives my prayers royal access.
  • Don’t create two selves – a spiritual self and a material self.  Be one person who abides in Christ and allow him Kingship in all facets of your life.
  • Here are some kingdom prayers that we regularly pray:  change in others (too controlling, too hopeless), change in me (too scary), change in things I don’t like I our culture (too impossible).
  • At the center of self-will is me, carving a world in my image.  At the center of prayer is God, carving me in His Son’s image.
  • Until you are convinced that you can’t change your child’s heart, you will not take prayer seriously.
  • The desert becomes a window to the heart of God.  He finally gets your attention because He’s the only game in town.
  • When you persist in a spiritual vacuum, when you hang in during ambiguity, you get to know God.
  • The praying life is inseparable from obeying, loving, waiting, and suffering.
  • To live in our Father’s story, remember these three things:  Don’t demand that the story go your way (in other words, surrender completely).  Look for the Storyteller – Look for His hand, and then pray in light of what you are seeing (In other words, develop an eye for Jesus).  Stay in the story.  Don’t shut down when it goes the wrong way.
  • We can dream big because God is big.  If you wait, your Heavenly Father will pick you up, carry you out into the night, and make your life sparkle.  He wants to dazzle you with the wonder of his love.
  • Systems of prayer can become rote, desensitizing us to God as a person.  We can become wooden or mindless when we pray.
  • Use prayer cards instead of one long list – prayer cards give you more personalization.
  • Work your prayers:  Write it down, watch for God to work while you pray and then God may provide an opportunity where you might “work” the prayer request.
  • Three-step pattern of praying:  planting, waiting, and then working again at the harvest (Mark 4:26-29).
  • Where Christians go wrong when it comes to hearing God’s voice in their lives and how we can correctly discern when God is speaking to us.  “Word Only” – Going wrong by not listening.  “Spirit Only” – Going wrong by elevating human intuition.
  • Communion or conversation with God breaks down into two questions:  How am I doing?  What is coming at me?  Am I happy, say, thankful, discouraged, angry, frustrated?  And…What is God saying to me.  What does the Word say?

I could have spent pages upon pages in not only sharing the principles that Miller states in his book, but also in the myriad of ways in which his words hit me right between the eyes but I didn’t, because this post doesn’t need to be a novel (and you’re already thinking it’s pretty long right!).  My advice would be to simply go buy Miller’s book and read it methodically, self-critically and with a receptive spirit to what the Spirit may be doing.

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