New York Times best-selling author of Wild at Heart John Eldredge offers readers a step-by-step guide to effective Christian prayer.
How would it feel to enter into prayer with confidence and assurance—certain that God heard you and that your prayers would make a difference?
It would likely feel amazing and unfamiliar. That’s because often our prayers seem to be met with silence or don’t appear to change anything. Either response can lead to disappointment or even despair in the face of our ongoing battles and unmet longings—especially when we don’t know if we’re doing something wrong or if some prayers just don’t work.
New York Times bestselling author John Eldredge confronts these issues directly in Moving Mountains by offering a hopeful approach to prayer that is effective, relational, and rarely experienced by most Christians.
In a world filled with danger, adventure, and wonder, we have at our disposal prayers that can transform the events and issues that matter most to us and to God. Moving Mountains shows you how to experience the power of daily prayer, learn the major types of prayers—including those of intervention, consecration, warfare, and healing—and to discover the intimacy of the cry of the heart prayer, listening prayer, and praying Scripture.
Things can be different, and you personally have a role to play with God in bringing about that change through prayer. It may sound too good to be true, but this is your invitation to engage in the kind of prayers that can move God's heart as well as the mountains before you.
Moving Mountains is also available in Spanish, Mueve montañas. To dive deeper into the Moving Mountains message, the Moving Mountains study guide and video study are available now.
|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Sold by:||HarperCollins Publishing|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
John Eldredge is a bestselling author, a counselor, and a teacher. He is also president of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own hearts in God’s love, and learn to live in God’s kingdom. John and his wife, Stasi, live near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority Study Guide | Eight Sessions
By John Eldredge
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 John Eldredge
All rights reserved.
THERE IS A WAY THINGS WORK
We just want [prayer] to be simple and easy. ... The problem is, sometimes [God] comes through, often he doesn't, and we have no idea for the rhyme or reason why. We lose heart and abandon prayer. (And we feel hurt and justified in doing so.) We abandon the very treasure God has given us for not losing heart, for moving the "mountains" in front of us, bringing about the changes we so desperately want to see in our world. The uncomfortable truth is this: that is a very naive view of prayer, on a level with believing that all a marriage needs is love, or that we should base our foreign policy on belief in our fellow man. That simple view of prayer has crushed many a dear soul, because it ignores crucial facts. There is a way things work.
This week, read chapters 1 and 2 in Moving Mountains: "Prayer That Works" and "Third Graders at Normandy." Let's begin simply and honestly with your reaction to these first two chapters. Our first reaction is often a telling one, revealing places and assumptions in us that God wants to speak to. So, without any pressure to get the "answer right," what did this stir in you?
Prayer That Works
» Right up front, I confess that we all have a mixed story with prayer — prayers answered, prayers unanswered, and silence we can't quite make sense of. What is your story with prayer? To begin with, do you pray much? Why or why not?
» Can you recall a few stories of answered prayer? If so, what were they?
» And what about unanswered prayer — what have you been praying about that seems to as of yet have no answers?
» What have you done with unanswered prayer? (Gotten mad, given up, lost heart, stopped praying, kept at it like the persistent widow?)
» In chapter 1, I said that most people approach prayer like this:
We just want it to be simple and easy; we want it to go like this: God is loving and powerful. We need his help. So we ask for help, as best we know how. The rest is up to him. After all–he's God. He can do anything (Moving Mountains, page 5).
Does that pretty much sum up the way you'd like prayer to work? Why or why not?
» One of the big ideas in chapter 1 is that there is a way things work — even in prayer. In what ways has that been part of your understanding of prayer?
» After recounting the story of Elijah praying to end the three-year drought, I said this:
I love this narrative; it is so practical, and immensely helpful when it comes to understanding prayer and how it works. God is going to come through alright, but he insists on involving Elijah's prayers. It reminds me of Augustine's line, "Without God, we cannot, and without us, he will not." We find ourselves in the sort of universe where prayer plays a crucial role, sometimes, the deciding role. Our choices matter (page 9).
The story of the way Elijah prayed to end the drought-how would that compare to the way you have traditionally approached prayer?
The brother of Jesus is giving his readers a tutorial on the subject of prayer. (He had seen some serious demonstrations of prayer, we might recall, growing up around the man who turned a boy's lunch into an all-you-can-eat buffet for five thousand.) James points to the famous drought story I just cited, then makes a staggering connection-you are no different than Elijah. That was his purpose in using the phrase, "Elijah was a man just like us." James was trying to disarm that religious posture that so often poisons the value of biblical stories: Well, sure, that was so-and-so [in this case Elijah] and they were different than us. Nope. Not the case. Actually, James makes it very clear: Elijah was a human being just like you. In other words, you can do it too (page 11).
» What do you make of the idea that James says, "You can do it too"?
Third Graders in Normandy
» There are two big ideas in chapter 2. The first is simply this: God is growing us all up.
... until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature ... (Ephesians 4:13).
... wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured (Colossians 4:12).
Brothers, stop thinking like children (1 Corinthians 14:20).
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1–2).
The call to grow up is very clear. "And how does God provide for growing us up? What are his means? Situations that stretch us, strain us, push us beyond what we thought we could endure — those very same circumstances that cause us to pray" (page 16). How has "growing up" been central to your understanding of what God is up to in your life?
» How might your assumptions about that affect your prayer life?
This assumption is important for one simple reason: it changes your expectations. When you show up at the gym, you are not surprised or irritated that the trainer pushes you into a drenching sweat; it's what you came for. But you'd be furious if your housemate expected this of you when you flop home on the couch after a long day's work. (Perhaps you might begin to see the connection in some of your feelings toward God) (page 16).
» Do you see the connection? Explain.
» The second big idea in chapter 2 is this: We are at war. We were born into a great battle.
The Scriptures are a sort of wake-up call to the human race, a trumpet blast, to use Francis Thompson's phrase, "from this hid battlements of eternity." One alarm they repeatedly sound is that we are all caught up in the midst of a collision of kingdoms-the kingdom of God advancing with force against the kingdom of darkness, which for the moment holds most of the world in its clutches. Is this your understanding of the world you find yourself in? Does this shape the way you pray–and the way you interpret "unanswered" prayer? (page 20).
Has this been true of your basic convictions of the world? If not, why not?
» How might it change your prayer life if you did hold as one of your deepest beliefs that you live in a world at war?
Watch the video for session one. If you find it helpful, use the following space to take a few notes on anything that stands out to you.
After the teaching session has ended, discuss as a group any or all of the following questions.
1. Read Matthew 17:14–20. According to this passage, why is prayer the "greatest secret weapon God has given to his people"? What did Jesus say was required on the disciples' part for this prayer to work?
2. Whether playing an instrument, reading a book, cooking, or riding a bicycle — there is a way things work. We know that to get good at something, it takes practice. Why do we tend to have a different attitude when it comes to prayer?
3. Read Luke 11:1–4. What are some aspects of Jesus' prayer life that motivated his disciples to want the same? Why did Jesus give them this prayer as a model to follow?
4. Think about the story in the video of the wildfire, which burned 20,000 acres and consumed more than 340 homes in Colorado Springs. What does this story reveal about the power of prayer? What questions does it raise about how prayer works?
5. Read Ephesians 4:11–16. In what ways does Paul say that God is "growing us up"? How does God use prayer to help us mature in Christ?
6. Read 1 Kings 18:41–45. What does this story reveal about being persistent in prayer? What do you tend to do when you don't see any results from your prayers?
7. In James 5:17, we read, "Elijah was a human being, even as we are." What is James saying about the power we have been given in prayer? Do you believe you have access to this same power?
Okay — this may prove to be the best part of your work in this study guide. I want you to pick a "prayer project" that you can begin to "practice" on. Like anything else in life — music, driving, sports, love — we learn as we practice, and as we practice we get better. So, pick something that you want to see changed through the power of prayer, and begin to make it a daily practice to pray into it, applying the things you are learning in this book and video series.
Caution: DO NOT pick something massive for this "exercise." What I mean is, some prayer projects are harder than others and very difficult projects would fall into the realm of things like, "my husband's salvation," or, "healing my friend of breast cancer," or "ending global terrorism." Those are all very worthy things to pray about; but things like this also fall into the category of "grad school prayer," prayer that is probably going to take time and effort.
For this exercise, pick something small like that presentation you need to make at school or work next week, or the conversation you want to have with your friend on a touchy subject. Things that fall within the realm of, "I can pray about that every day, and if I do I will probably see some results in the near future."
Write down one, two, or three prayer "projects" here. Also write out your prayer for each as well. We'll check in next time to see how things are going.CHAPTER 2
THE CRY OF THE HEART
The Father loves you like he loves Jesus. Is this In your mind and heart as you come to prayer? You are not an orphan. You are not merely a "servant" of God. You are a son or daughter. And with that comes privileges: "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons" (Galatians 4:4–5).
This week, read chapters 3 and 4 in Moving Mountains: "The Cry of the Heart" and "Who He Is and Who We Are." Let's begin again simply with your reaction to the chapters. What did this content stir in you?
The Cry of the Heart
» At the beginning of chapter 3, I write that some prayers just happen — they are "the Cry of the Heart." We don't need any kind of training when it comes to this kind of prayer.
I've uttered it thousands of times; I'm confident you have too. Like when the phone rings and the bad news starts to spill and all you can do is say, Father ... Father ... Father, your heart crying out to God. It's a beautiful expression of prayer, rising from the deep places in us, often unbidden, always welcome to his loving ears. The Psalms are filled with this emotive praying:
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord (77:1–2).
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe (61:1–3).
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? (13:1–2).
Doesn't something within you resonate simply reading those words of the psalmist? Our soul responds, Yes. There is a kinship here. Words are being put to places we have known. Words like "distress" and "my heart grows faint" and "refuge" play like a bowstring on the cello of our hearts. As does, "how long?" I let go a deep sigh I didn't even know was there; I didn't know I was holding my breath in that way. "How long?" is a phrase you run into many places in the Psalms; it is so true to the human condition (Moving Mountains, pages 26–27).
In what ways does your heart resonate with these psalms? How can you hear your heart's cry in them?
The Cry of the Heart just comes, if you'll let it. These are the prayers I find myself already praying as I'm waking up in the morning. "O God–help. Help me today, Lord." Sometimes it's just one word, repeated in my heart: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I think it will just flow for you, too, if you give it permission. Turn the editor off; let your heart and soul speak (page 27).
» Are you familiar with this kind of praying-spontaneous, informal, anytime anywhere? When do you find yourself saying these kinds of prayers?
[David] certainly isn't embarrassed by the world reading his journals; nothing is hidden here. David quite lustily sails the seven seas of human emotion in his prayers. ... These psalms are given to the church as our prayer book, our primer, and they are beautiful. Assuring us that not only can God handle the full span of our emotional life, he invites us to bring it to him I find myself embarrassed by how "formal" my prayer life has become, how careful. As I read the Psalms and watch Jesus pray, I realize I am not allowing my heart's full range of emotion to express itself in my prayers, as if I had to somehow shield God from the full depth of the seas within me (pages 30–31).
» Do your prayers sound like David's and the other psalmists'? Do you feel assured that God can handle the full range of your emotions? Why or why not?
The Cry of the Heart is not something you have to arrange for, or practice, or even learn. It doesn't require religious language. You do not have to kneel or close your eyes (and a good thing, too, because most of my praying takes place in the car or as I'm out walking in the woods). There needs to be nothing formal about it at all; in fact, do everything you possibly can to get rid of all formality, all those "thees" and "thous" and religious posturing. Just give it permission. Those prayers are in there (page 33).
» What would it look like to "give yourself permission" for praying this way?
Who He Is and Who We Are
» In chapter 4, I write about a dear friend who is currently in a heinous battle with cancer. My friend has waged this battle for years now, and I do not know if we are in the final hours or not.
Only God knows the number of prayers that have gone up for him; it feels like the number of stars in the heavens. This morning we received a turn of bad news and immediately went to prayer. But I did not feel confident and assured; I certainly did not feel triumphant. I wasn't expecting a cloud the size of a man's fist rising from the sea. I felt discouraged and distressed–my gaze was fixed on his suffering, not upon the resources of the living God (pages 36–37).
Can you relate? What are you typically "looking at" (focused on) as you pray — God or the problem at hand? Explain.
The "wallpaper" on my computer–the background image that fills the entire screen–is a gorgeous photo of a piece of ocean and rugged coastline in Ireland. Our family spent an idyllic summer holiday there. One look at this photo and I am reminded of everything I know to be true about God: he is the creator of everything I love. Waterfalls, mountains, wild places; rivers, forests, sunshine, the night sky; beauty, goodness, truth. Just start there–think of all the things you love in this world. And then remind yourself that the God you are praying to is the one who made them all (page 40).
» This is a wonderful exercise: start naming all the things you love in this world. List them below. Then look at them and "remind yourself that the God you are praying to is the one who made them all."
Now get this–there are roughly one hundred billion stars of all sizes in a galaxy, and one hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Which means there are approximately four hundred billion billion suns like ours that God has made. If you began counting to that number today, you could not finish the task in your lifetime. Meanwhile, God is providing the energy of those suns every moment. J.B. Phillips nailed the predicament of too many Christians: "Your God is too small." Words seem ridiculous at this point, but let us say clearly: Power is not an issue with God. His resources are unlimited. Is this the Person you have in mind as you pray? (page 42).
Excerpted from Moving Mountains by John Eldredge. Copyright © 2016 John Eldredge. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Prayer That Works 1
Chapter 2 Third Graders at Normandy 12
Chapter 3 The Cry of the Heart 25
Chapter 4 Who He Is and Who We Are 36
Chapter 5 Bold Authority 57
Chapter 6 The Prayer of Intervention 73
Chapter 7 Removing One More Obstacle 90
Chapter 8 Consecration-Bringing Things under the Rule of Jesus 96
Chapter 9 Daily Prayer 112
Chapter 10 Pray Now! 122
Chapter 11 "Let There Be Light!"-Prayer for Guidance, Understanding, and Revelation 125
Chapter 12 Listening Prayer 137
Chapter 13 Praying Scripture 151
Chapter 14 Warfare Prayer 163
Chapter 15 Inner Healing-Restoring the Soul 185
Chapter 16 Physical Healing 202
Chapter 17 Holding the Heart in Every Outcome 214
Appendices: The Prayers 232
About the Author 248