Connecting with God in a Distracting World
Review by Barbara Henderson
A Praying Life is a stunning book that can’t be read in just one season of life. It is one I’ll return to again and again, like the gospels. My second read-through about a year after the first,
especially the second half of the book, was like the first time. If I were to recommend you read one book this year, it’s this one.
Long seasons of waiting for answered prayer can create doubt, restlessness and a sense of distance from God. While I wait for some long-term answers to prayer, particularly in my prodigals, God has used this book and opened my eyes to many ways, almost daily, my prayers are being answered for everyday needs, to surprising blessings and a “less busy heart” because I know my God hears. I also know now, like a little child, I cannot do life on my own. And now, more often than not, prayer happens.
Paul Miller is a father of six children and director of seeJesus.net. He is now, to me, a new pastor and dearly loved brother in the faith. I own my copy of this book; it is marked, highlighted and dog-eared as I’ve journeyed with the author to the restful, right-where-I-live heart of prayer. It’s not one I’d ever lend out now that it’s more of a journal of my responses as I’ve read, including dates and initials of those I love. I’ve given away many and sold several through our church bookstore, though.
A conference message and video by Paul Miller is available where he address concerns such as, “How do you concentrate?” and “What does good praying look like?”
Here are a few quotes directly from A Praying Life:
“Learning to pray doesn’t offer you a less busy life; it offers you a less busy heart.”
“It didn’t take me long to realize that I did my best parenting by prayer. I began to speak less to the kids and more to God.”
“Until we become convinced we can’t change our child’s heart, we will not take prayer seriously.”
“You don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; you just need to be poor in spirit.”
“Jesus gives us a secret to real prayer when he invites us to come to him weary and heavy-laden. Jesus does not say, Come to me all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest. No, Jesus opens his arms to his needy children and says, Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28 NIV). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with a wandering mind. Come messy.”
“Anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos.”
“If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.
“My heart is hunting for its true home.”
“Jesus isn’t just the Savior of my soul. He’s also the Savior of my prayers.”
“The Father wants to draw us into the story of his Son. He doesn’t have a better story to tell, so he keeps retelling it in our lives….[see Phil 3:10]. It was Paul’s prayer.”
“This is my Father’s world. Everything you do is connected to who you are as a person and, in turn, creates the person you are becoming. Everything you do affects those you love. All of life is covenant. Imbedded in the idea of prayer is a richly textured view of the world where all of life is organized around invisible bonds or covenants that knit us together. Instead of a fixed world, we live in our Father’s world, a world built for divine relationships between people where, because of the Good News, tragedies become comedies and hope is born.”
“We forget that God is not a genie but a person who wants to shape us in the image of his Son as much as he wants to answer our prayers….If you are on the road of Good Asking, you have also given up — but in a good way. You’ve given up on your ability to change other people. Instead, you cling to God and watch him weave his story.”
Click here for further information and a video of the author.