Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?

by Philip Yancey


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Philip Yancey probes the very heartbeat--the most fundamental, challenging, perplexing, and deeply rewarding aspect--of our relationship with God: prayer. What is prayer? Does it change God’s mind or ours--or both? This book is an invitation to communicate with God the Father who invites us into an eternal partnership through prayer.

In his most powerful book since What’s So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey probes the most fundamental, challenging, perplexing, and deeply rewarding aspect of our relationship with God: prayer. What is prayer? How does it work? And more importantly, does it work? In theory, prayer is the essential human act, a priceless point of contact between us and the God of the universe. In practice, prayer is often frustrating, confusing, and fraught with mystery. Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? is an exploration of the mysterious intersection where God and humans meet and relate. Writing as a fellow pilgrim, Yancey explores such questions as:

Is God listening?
Why should God care about me?
If God knows everything, what’s the point of prayer?
Why do answers to prayer seem so inconsistent and capricious?
Why does God seem sometimes close and sometimes far away?
How can I make prayer more satisfying?

"I have found that the most important purpose of prayer may be to let ourselves be loved by God," says Yancey. Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? encourages us to pray to God the Father who sees what lies ahead of us, knows what lies within us, and who invites us into an eternal partnership--through prayer. Also available: unabridged audio CD.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310328889
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 03/28/2010
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 298,588
Product dimensions: 5.72(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Philip Yancey es periodista, autor de varios exitos de libreria y conferencista. Sus mas de veinte libros son conocidos por su honestidad, profundas busquedas en torno a la fe cristiana, especialmente en lo que concierne a interrogantes y dilemas personales. Millones de avidos lectores lo consideran como un companero confiable en la busqueda de una fe que importe. Philip y su esposa Janet viven en Colorado.

Read an Excerpt


Does It Make Any Difference?

By Philip Yancey


Copyright © 2006 Philip D. Yancey
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-34509-1



When a doctoral student at Princeton asked, "What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?" Albert Einstein replied, "Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer."

I chose the wrong time to visit St. Petersburg, Russia. I went in November of 2002 just as the city was reconstructing itself to prepare for its three-hundredth birthday the following year. Scaffolding covered every building of note and rubble littered the quaint cobblestone streets, which turned my morning jogging routine into an adventure. I ran in darkness (the sun rose mid-morning at that latitude) with my head down, dodging the workmen's piles of brick and sand while glancing ahead for the dim gloss that betrayed the presence of ice.

I must have lost concentration one morning, for suddenly I found myself facedown on the street, dazed and shivering. I sat up. I could remember jerking my head sideways as I fell, to avoid a piece of steel rebar protruding from the curb at a wicked angle. I removed my gloves, reached for my right eye, and felt blood. The entire right side of my face was wet with blood. I got up, dusted dirt and flecks of snow from my running suit, and felt for more damage. I walked slowly, testing my throbbing knees and elbows. I tasted blood, and a couple of blocks away I realized a front tooth was missing. I returned to search for it in the dark, in vain.

When I reached Nevsky Prospekt, a busy boulevard, I noticed that people were staring at me. Russians rarely look strangers in the eye, so I must have been a sight. I limped to the hotel and talked my way past dubious security guards to get to my room. I knocked on the door and said, "Janet, let me in — I'm hurt."

We had both heard horror stories about medical care in Russia, where you can go in with a surface wound and come out with AIDS or hepatitis. I decided on self-treatment. After raiding the minibar for tiny bottles of vodka, we started cleaning the scrapes on my face. My upper lip was split in two. I gritted my teeth, poured the alcohol over the cuts, and scrubbed my face with a packaged refresher-cloth left over from the Lufthansa flight. We taped the lip together tightly with a Band-Aid, hoping it would heal straight. By now the area around my eye had swollen and turned a spectacular purple, but fortunately my sight seemed unimpaired.

I took a few aspirin and rested awhile. Then I went back out to Nevsky Prospekt and looked for an Internet café. I climbed three flights of stairs, used sign language to negotiate the price in rubles, and settled in at a computer terminal. My fingers rested on a strange keyboard and I faced the Cyrillic alphabet onscreen. After ten minutes of false starts, I finally found my way to an AOL screen in English. Ah, connected at last. I typed a note to a prayer group at my home church in Colorado and to a few friends and family members. The wireless network kept cutting on and off, and each time I had to find AOL again and retype the message.

The message was simple: a few background details, then "We need help. Please pray." I didn't know the extent of my injuries. The next few days I was supposed to speak at a booksellers' convention in St. Petersburg, then go on to Moscow for more speaking assignments. The news banner on AOL was telling me that armed Chechen rebels had just seized a theater full of patrons and Moscow was under military lockdown. I finished my message and pressed "Send" just as a warning popped up informing me my time was running out.

Is this how prayer works? I wondered as I walked back to the hotel. We send signals from a visible world to an invisible one, in hope that Someone receives them. And how will we know?

Still, for the first time that day I felt the lump of fear and anxiety in my stomach begin to loosen. In a few hours my friends and family, people who cared, would turn on their computers, read my message, and pray on my behalf. I was not alone.

A Universal Cry

Every faith has some form of prayer. Remote tribes present offerings and then pray for everyday things such as health, food, rain, children, and victory in battles. Incas and Aztecs went so far as to sacrifice humans in order to attract the gods' attention. Five times a day modern Muslims stop whatever they are doing — driving, having a coffee break, playing soccer — when the summons comes to pray.

Even atheists find ways to pray. During the heady days of Communism in Russia, party stalwarts kept a "red corner," placing a portrait of Lenin where Christians used to keep their icons. Caught up in the fervor, Pravda ran this advice to its readers in 1950:

If you meet with difficulties in your work, or suddenly doubt your abilities, think of him — of Stalin — and you will find the confidence you need. If you feel tired in an hour when you should not, think of him — of Stalin — and your work will go well. If you are seeking a correct decision, think of him — of Stalin — and you will find that decision.

We pray because we want to thank someone or something for the beauties and glories of life, and also because we feel small and helpless and sometimes afraid. We pray for forgiveness, for strength, for contact with the One who is, for assurance that we are not alone. Millions in AA groups pray daily to a Higher Power, begging for help in controlling their addictions. We pray because we can't help it. The very word prayer comes from the Latin root precarius — a linguistic cousin to precarious. In St. Petersburg, Russia, I prayed out of desperation. I had nowhere else to turn.

Prayer is universal because it speaks to some basic human need. As Thomas Merton put it, "Prayer is an expression of who we are. ... We are a living incompleteness. We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment." In prayer we break silence, and sometimes those words flow out of our deepest parts. I remember in the days after September 11, 2001, saying over and over the prayer, "God, bless America." "Save America" is what I meant. Save us. Let us live. Give us another chance.

According to Gallup polls, more Americans will pray this week than will exercise, drive a car, have sex, or go to work. Nine in ten of us pray regularly, and three out of four claim to pray every day. To get some idea of the interest in prayer, type "prayer" or "pray" in an Internet search engine like Google and see how many millions of links pop up. Yet behind those impressive numbers lies a conundrum.

When I started exploring the subject of Christian prayer, I first went to libraries and read accounts of some of the great pray-ers in history. George Müller began each day with several hours of prayer, imploring God to meet the practical needs of his orphanage. Bishop Lancelot Andrewes allotted five hours per day to prayer and Charles Simeon rose at 4:00 a.m. to begin his four-hour regimen. Nuns in an order known as "The Sleepless Ones" still pray in shifts through every hour of the day and night. Susannah Wesley, a busy mother with no privacy, would sit in a rocking chair with an apron over her head praying for John and Charles and the rest of her brood. Martin Luther, who devoted two to three hours daily to prayer, said we should do it as naturally as a shoemaker makes a shoe and a tailor makes a coat. Jonathan Edwards wrote of the "sweet hours" on the banks of the Hudson River, "rapt and swallowed up in God."

In the next step I interviewed ordinary people about prayer. Typically, the results went like this: Is prayer important to you? Oh, yes. How often do you pray? Every day. Approximately how long? Five minutes — well, maybe seven. Do you find prayer satisfying? Not really. Do you sense the presence of God when you pray? Occasionally, not often. Many of those I talked to experienced prayer more as a burden than as a pleasure. They regarded it as important, even paramount, and felt guilty about their failure, blaming themselves.

A Modern Struggle

When I listened to public prayers in evangelical churches, I heard people telling God what to do, combined with thinly veiled hints on how others should behave. When I listened to prayers in more liberal churches, I heard calls to action, as if prayer were something to get past so we can do the real work of God's kingdom. Hans Küng's theological tome On Being A Christian, 702 pages long, did not include a chapter or even an index entry on prayer. When asked later, Küng said he regretted the oversight. He was feeling so harassed by Vatican censors and by his publisher's deadlines that he simply forgot about prayer.

Why does prayer rank so high on surveys of theoretical importance and so low on surveys of actual satisfaction? What accounts for the disparity between Luther and Simeon on their knees for several hours and the modern pray-er fidgeting in a chair after ten minutes?

Everywhere, I encountered the gap between prayer in theory and prayer in practice. In theory prayer is the essential human act, a priceless point of contact with the God of the universe. In practice prayer is often confusing and fraught with frustration. My publisher conducted a website poll, and of the 678 respondents only 23 felt satisfied with the time they were spending in prayer. That very discrepancy made me want to write this book.

Advances in science and technology no doubt contribute to our confusion about prayer. In former days farmers lifted their heads and appealed to brazen heavens for an end to drought. Now we study low-pressure fronts, dig irrigation canals, and seed clouds with metallic particles. In former days when a child fell ill the parents cried out to God; now they call for an ambulance or phone the doctor.

In much of the world, modern skepticism taints prayer. We breathe in an atmosphere of doubt. Why does God let history lurch on without intervening? What good will prayer do against a nuclear threat, against terrorism and hurricanes and global climate change? To some people prayer seems, as George Buttrick put it, "a spasm of words lost in a cosmic indifference" — and he wrote those words in 1942.

Prosperity may dilute prayer too. In my travels I have noticed that Christians in developing countries spend less time pondering the effectiveness of prayer and more time actually praying. The wealthy rely on talent and resources to solve immediate problems, and insurance policies and retirement plans to secure the future. We can hardly pray with sincerity, "Give us this day our daily bread" when the pantry is stocked with a month's supply of provisions.

Increasingly, time pressures crowd out the leisurely pace that prayer seems to require. Communication with other people keeps getting shorter and more cryptic: text messages, email, instant messaging. We have less and less time for conversation, let alone contemplation. We have the constant sensation of not enough: not enough time, not enough rest, not enough exercise, not enough leisure. Where does God fit into a life that already seems behind schedule?

If we do choose to look inward and bare our souls, therapists and support groups now offer outlets that were once reserved for God alone. Praying to an invisible God does not bring forth the same feedback you would get from a counselor or from friends who at least nod their heads in sympathy. Is anyone really listening? As Ernestine, the nasal-voiced telephone operator played by comedienne Lily Tomlin, used to ask, "Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?"

Prayer is to the skeptic a delusion, a waste of time. To the believer it represents perhaps the most important use of time. As a Christian, I believe the latter. Why, then, is prayer so problematic? The British pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones summed up the confusion: "Of all the activities in which the Christian engages, and which are part of the Christian life, there is surely none which causes so much perplexity, and raises so many problems, as the activity which we call prayer."

Pilgrim Quest

I write about prayer as a pilgrim, not an expert. I have the same questions that occur to almost everyone at some point. Is God listening? Why should God care about me? If God knows everything, what's the point of prayer? Why do answers to prayer seem so inconsistent, even capricious? Does a person with many praying friends stand a better chance of physical healing than one who also has cancer but with only a few people praying for her? Why does God sometimes seem close and sometimes faraway? Does prayer change God or change me?

Before beginning this book I mostly avoided the topic of prayer out of guilt and a sense of inferiority. I'm embarrassed to admit that I do not keep a journal, do not see a spiritual director, and do not belong to a regular prayer group. And I readily confess that I tend to view prayer through a skeptic's lens, obsessing more about unanswered prayers than rejoicing over answered ones. In short, my main qualification for writing about prayer is that I feel unqualified — and genuinely want to learn.

More than anything else in life, I want to know God. The psychiatrist Gerald C. May observed, "After twenty years of listening to the yearnings of people's hearts, I am convinced that human beings have an inborn desire for God. Whether we are consciously religious or not, this desire is our deepest longing and most precious treasure." Surely, if we are made in God's own image, God will find a way to fulfill that deepest longing. Prayer is that way.

By journalistic instinct, I asked many other people about prayer: my neighbors, other authors, fellow church members, spiritual mentors, ordinary people. I have included some of their reflections in drop-in boxes scattered throughout the book, as examples of actual down-to-earth encounters with prayer and also as a reminder to myself not to stray far from their questions. I use mostly first names, though some of them are well-known in Christian circles, to avoid any kind of hierarchy. When it comes to prayer we are all beginners.

I have not attempted a guide book that details techniques such as fasting, prayer retreats, and spiritual direction. I investigate the topic of prayer as a pilgrim, strolling about, staring at the monuments, asking questions, mulling things over, testing the waters. I admit to an imbalance, an overreaction to time spent among Christians who promised too much and pondered too little, and as a result I try to err on the side of honesty and not pretense.

In the process of writing, however, I have come to see prayer as a privilege, not a duty. Like all good things, prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter.

If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn't act the way we want God to, and why I don't act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.



We must stop setting our sights by the light of each passing ship; instead we must set our course by the stars.

George Marshall

To climb a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado you need an early start — as in four o'clock in the morning early — but you need to limit coffee intake in order to avoid dehydration. You drive on chassis-slapping rutted roads in the dark, always alert for wildlife, gaining elevation to somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 feet, where the hiking trail begins. Then you begin the hike by wending your way through a forest of blue spruce, lodgepole pine, and Douglas fir on a trail that feels spongy underfoot from fallen needles. The ground gives off a pungent smell of decay and earth. You walk beside a tumbling creek, silvery white in the predawn moonlight, its burbling the only sound until the birds awake.

Around 11,000 feet the trees thin, giving way to lush meadows carpeted in wildflowers. The sun is rising now, first casting a reddish alpenglow on the mountain tops, then dropping its rays into the basins. Bright clumps of lupine, fireweed, columbine, and Indian paintbrush dapple the open spaces, while plants with more exotic names — monkshood, elephant head, bishop's cap, chiming bell, marsh marigold — cluster near the water's edge.

You follow the creek up the basin, skirting cliff banks, until a climber's trail veers off to zigzag up the grassy shoulder of the peak you have chosen to climb. By now your heart is racing like a sprinter's, and despite the morning chill you feel sweat under your backpack. You take a water break, then head up the steep trail, forcing yourself to gut it out. The dawn chorus of birds has begun, and you are startled by a flash of indigo, bright as neon, as a flock of Mountain bluebirds suddenly catches the sun's rays.


Excerpted from Prayer by Philip Yancey. Copyright © 2006 Philip D. Yancey. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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


1. Our Deepest Longing, 11,
2. View from Above, 18,
3. Just As We Are, 30,
4. The God Who Is, 45,
5. Coming Together, 56,
PART TWO Unraveling the Mysteries,
6. Why Pray?, 73,
7. Wrestling Match, 89,
8. Partnership, 101,
9. What Difference Does It Make?, 115,
10. Does Prayer Change God?, 131,
11. Ask, Seek, Knock, 145,
PART THREE The Language of Prayer,
12. Yearning for Fluency, 157,
13. Prayer Grammar, 170,
14. Tongue-Tied, 184,
15. The Sound of Silence, 198,
PART FOUR Prayer Dilemmas,
16. Unanswered Prayer: Whose Fault?, 215,
17. Unanswered Prayer: Living with the Mystery, 232,
18. Prayer and Physical Healing, 248,
19. What to Pray For, 267,
PART FIVE The Practice of Prayer,
20. Prayer and Me, 285,
21. Prayer and Others, 301,
22. Prayer and God, 314,
Epilogue, 329,
Prayer Resources, 337,
Thanks, 341,
Sources, 343,
Credits, 359,

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Yancey strikes a moving chord with this book that is more full of yearning and wonder than it is of easy answers. Prayer, he writes, is our partnership with God, our chance to join forces with God's power to confront suffering and evil head-on. Yancey is candid about his nagging sense of failure in prayer, but the book is suffused with a cautious hope; he writes of his growing confidence and joy as his prayer life has deepened from a spiritualized to-do list to a conversational communion with God. The key, Yancey writes, is that prayer is a window into knowing the mind of God, whose kingdom is entrusted to all of us frail, selfish people on earth. As with his other books, Yancey draws upon his international travels to bring a fresh perspective to the topic, detailing, in nations such as Romania and South Africa, how he believes prayer has transformed hearts and permitted bloodless change. The book's strength lies in its balance, with Yancey holding equally important ideals in a beautiful tension: action and meditation, doubt and certainty, and the unchanging God with the God who appears so moved by people's petitions in the Bible that he changes his mind. Yancey also offers some startling and insightful observations about Jesus' own prayer life. (Oct.) -- Publisher’s Weekly

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Prayer 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prayer is a cross-cultural and ageless practice. But what, exactly, is it? A tough question Philip Yancey tackles in this latest book. Many times prayer is a thinly disguised wish list or an attempt to manipulate someone into doing something we want them to do. But is that what Jesus taught? Are those examples found in the Bible? The short Mr. Yancey uses the prayers of the origial prayer revolutionary and the Psalms to explore what prayer is meant to be. Many times what was meant to be and what is, are miles apart. Sidebars contained within the book cover the gamet of emotions when it comes to prayer--happy, sad, struggling to just hang on. He writes as a sojourner, not as one that has all the answers. I feel as though I can explore along with him and draw my own conclusions. His conclusions, many times, are contrary to what is practiced today and some of which would be unpopular in many circles. If you struggle with prayer-what it is, what it has become, what it was meant to be-this book is for you. Another outstanding book from Philip Yancey.
ncb More than 1 year ago
Philip Yancey's scholarly research on the subject of prayer is evidenced in his book. I found the book helpful; especially his list of Prayer Resources. He referenced the works of Henri Nouwen and C.S. Lewis who also were great thinkers of their time. The book includes interviews he has had with other people on prayer. After reading this book, I realized more than ever that prayer does make a difference.
JanetRuth More than 1 year ago
Philip Yancey covers the subject of prayer in great detail, and just like the subtitle of this book, he asks lots of questions. I did not find this book to be an instruction manual about how to pray, but rather guides the reader to change how they think about prayer. I found the book almost too much to digest, and wish it were easier to grasp what Mr. Yancey was trying to portray. My favourite part of this book was the individual interviews or writings by a number of various people who discussed their personal thoughts about prayer. Jim quoted on page 141, "Nowadays I don't spend time worrying, "Is God there or not?" I assume God's presence. I don't spend much time asking God for things either. Specific requests are almost a joke to me. Mainly, I want reassurance that God loves me, and that he understands what I'm concerned about. I've learned to trust God. When I do that, everything else slides down in importance." I found it much easier to relate to the inserts written by these individuals than to the author's words. I have read other books by Philip Yancey, but found this one just harder to get into. However, this book is one that I will definitely keep on the bookshelf and I will try to read through it again. Maybe I will get more out of it the next time.
Jen_from_Florida More than 1 year ago
I checked out this book from our local library twice. After going to check it out a third time, I decided to buy it so I would have a copy of my own. I also ordered two copies to give as gifts. It is a book that I like to pick up and read a chapter from time to time. The author writes about things I think about and questions I have also had myself. I liked his writing so much that I ordered two more books by him in the last few weeks. I think you will really enjoy having a copy of this book.
ptemple2k More than 1 year ago
Yancey is not an easy read; he has his own style and once you get into his rhythm it reads smoother. The book is filled with wonderful insights about prayer and our approaches to prayer; what we expect from prayer and from God; and stumbling blocks we commonly have. I find his insight and perspective most helpful
Grace4all More than 1 year ago
Yancey has a gift for clarifying difficult subjects without watering them down. Prayer engaged both my mind and my heart. Doesn't get better than that.
rockerfeller More than 1 year ago
I have read most of Philip Yancey's books & I think he is a thoughtful & puts felling in his books. However I think this is one of his weaker efforts. I think the book is not as well written as his other books. I think it is ok, but not as good as other books on prayer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is Yancey's best by far. I pray regularly, but it has given me a whole new outlook. It is extremely readable, while at the same time provoking deep thought. A wonderful contribution to the literature on prayer.
coffeebookperfect on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yancey delivers yet again with a fresh perspective for modern Christians who have gotten caught up in the "modern" part. Excellent reading, insightful and intelligent as always
jonahfwb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One thing about Yancey is that he is not afraid to share the struggles he has experienced in his prayer life. This proves to be very useful in that you can find encouragement in the way he was able to work through it all. He writes an excellent book that will strengthen your prayer life. This work is much longer than the other books I have suggested, but it is well worth the read. 352 pages.
librisissimo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Substance: Yancey writes from the perspeective of a knowledgeable layman who has researched the subject in depth both academically and in personal interviews. He separates pious hype from sceptical disdain to give a solid view of how prayer operates in people's lives. With a different doctrinal perspective, he could have reached even more meaningful conclusions. Worth reading.Style: Yancey is very personable and easy to read, without being juvenile or condescending.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started Philip Yancey's Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? with high expectations. Several years ago I read his book The Jesus I Never Knew, and liked it tolerably. And Prayer had been recommended by a friend. Well, I didn't even get halfway through. Yancey's theology is very, very shaky. The problems start early on, when Yancey says that he doesn't believe God "personally programs" every lightning bolt (19). There are only two logical deductions from this belief; either God is not powerful enough to direct every atom in the universe (i.e., there are things beyond His control), or He is unconcerned with details like that. In either case, there is another power in the universe ¿ random chance ¿ that *does* direct those lightning bolts. The Bible is clear that God is indeed powerful enough to direct everything in the universe, and He cares enough to do so. The book of Job is poetic, but it makes several references to God sending lightning bolts as He pleases (chapter 36). The point is that God is totally sovereign over everything in nature. And most Christians are familiar with the passage in Matthew 10 where Jesus says that not a sparrow falls to the ground but that God sees it. He is intimately involved in His creation.It is appalling that a well-known pop theologian like Yancey has not thought through the implications of beliefs like that. What it really boils down to is a small view of God. This is shown several pages later, where Yancey says "By trying to be strong, I might even block God's power" (36). Block God's power? God can't work His will because we decide to get in His way? Our wills are stronger than His? Is Yancey really saying that we puny humans can thwart the Creator-God of the universe so easily? Wow. Yancey also misuses the verse about God's desire that none should perish, a common mistake of Arminian theologians. It is II Peter 3:9 which is addressed to the church, not the world at large. Yancey's tiny, inadequate view of God is chronic and permeates everything he has to say about prayer. He cites Ray Anderson, another theologian who argues that Jesus did not know that Judas was going to betray Him (82). Supposedly this tells us about the uncertainty of prayer ¿ ? Then Yancey goes on to talk about Jesus knowing that Peter would betray Him, as evidenced by His prayer in Luke 22. So Jesus knew Peter would betray Him, but He didn't know Judas would? I really don't understand how Yancey gets away with illogic like this! I was further sickened by Yancey's over-emphasis on God's so-called "respect for human freedom" (85). Did God respect Israel's freedom when He chose them to be His people and bear the hatred of the rest of the world? No, it was a done deal when God made the choice, not when Israel did. In fact, Israel never did choose to be chosen! Did God respect Job's freedom to decide if he wanted to suffer like that or not? What about Abraham? What about Paul? Yancey writes, "The Lord of the universe becomes so small, so freedom-respecting as to put himself somehow at our mercy. Words fail to capture the enormity of descent when a sovereign God takes up residence in a person and says, in effect, "Don't hurt me. Don't push me away" (85). Faugh. This is not the God of the Bible. It's pathetic. I only got about ninety pages into this book before I threw it down in angry disgust. The typos I caught were just insult added to injury. The only good things were the quotes from other authors; some were quite thought provoking. But then Yancey would go and include some inane testimony of a random person talking about how it's hard to concentrate while praying. *sigh*Yancey, I may have appreciated The Jesus I Never Knew seven or eight years ago, but I doubt I would now. A small view of God affects every corner of a person's theology... and there are too many good theologians out there to waste time on the confused ones. Thanks, but no thanks.
jpogue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading Philip Yancey¿s work is like sitting down with a wise, sensitive friend who opens himself up with vulnerable transparency, as a fellow sojourner rather than a spiritual expert. As I read Prayer, my clumsy attempts to commune with my Creator and the insecurities that hang over me as I search for intimacy with God faded into earthly insignificance. Yancey weaves a poignant picture of a loving God who craves relationship with me in all my utter humanity. As I read the last couple sentences of this book, I knew I had received a precious gift: a deeper understanding of what it means to be a friend of God.Yancey begins with an insightful discourse on ¿Keeping Company with God¿ and continues to wax eloquently about the mysteries, the language and the practice of prayer. He also boldly delves into prayer dilemmas. Each topic is sprinkled with nuggets of Truth and revelations that had me jotting notes, smiling, crying, and sometimes singing praises to Jesus.Surprisingly, some of this book¿s most profound insights don¿t come from its author. In each chapter, Yancey generously shares a variety of blessed ¿inserts¿¿myriad short stories, poems, and testimonies about prayer written by others. The honest cries of other souls yearning for connection with our Maker often left me breathless, humbled and a little less lonely. Furthermore, Yancey shows no fundamentalist bias in his selections, with contributions, from across the globe, as diverse as Christ-followers themselves.Prayer is full of wonderfully enlightening analogies, Biblical references, and quotes. I loved the author¿s likening of confession¿an especially difficult concept for me in light of God¿s omniscience¿to the healing that comes after asking a spouse for forgiveness about a sin they are both acutely aware. Another of my favorite sections was ¿Battering the Gates¿, full of familiar Bible stories: the widow nagging the judge for justice; the guest incessantly banging on his neighbor¿s door for some decent hospitality; the years Hannah spent begging for a child. These reminders gave me renewed passion for those requests I¿ve been presenting for many, many years, seemingly without a response from God.Not only is this book the single best piece I¿ve ever read on prayer, it may be one of the best books I¿ve ever read on Christian spirituality. So clearly did I see God¿s longing for me to be with Him as I read Prayer, that I repeatedly paused with the book open on my lap to carry on a conversation with my Lord.
stephendr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yancey raises many questions but he answers very few of them. "Prayer" strikes me more as a literary critical work than as an experimental work. For help on the subject of prayer I recommend Charles Spurgeon, E.M. Bounds, Leonard Ravenhill or A.W. Tozer. These men were first and foremost men of prayer. They knew not only what it is to 'pray'; they knew what it means to meet with the living God... and, indeed, they spent hours each day in prayer.
KingstonUCA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This best seller provides an in-depth look at all aspects of Prayer. It addresses such questions as What is prayer?, What difference does prayer make? and why should we pray? Difficult aspects of this subject, such as unanswered prayer, are discussed. It contains thought provoking contributions on prayer from numerous people. A good book, but may take a while to read.
chalcedon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Philip Yancey probes the very heartbeat¿the most fundamental, challenging, perplexing, and deeply rewarding aspect¿of our relationship with God: prayer. What is prayer? Does it change God¿s mind or ours¿or both? This book is an invitation to communicate with God the Father who invites us into an eternal partnership through prayer.
debs4jc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yancey explores prayer with an honest and open approach, by discussing the questions about prayer he himself has had. It is a pleasure to read an author who doesn't offer pat answers, but explores the issues with the reader and acknowledges that God allows us room to doubt and grow in our understanding of him. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic of prayer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please pray for me, my family, and my friends back in Tennessee. It would be greatly appresiated
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please pray for my me and my mom, we are really struggling in our relationship to get along.... its been going on since i was little. Also if anyone is going through this or has advice please respond. My name is kenzie... i could really use some help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pray for my grandma and papa because my grandma has brain cester and it is hard for all of us and ahe is not doimg what the nurses are teeling her to do she is not getting any better then we went her too si pkease pray for my family
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I ask of you to pray for an old friend of mine. His father recently died of cancer, and he's only 12. Him and his family are all Christians, but they must be having a hard time right now. Please pray for comfort for them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, let me just say that this prayer post thing is AWESOME! It is sooo exciting to see christians gather together, even if it's only on nooks. I just ask for prayer for this country and for Donald Trump, that he would lead our country the way God guides him. Thanks to whoever started this! I will definetly come here every day to pray!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pray for this world, this messed up society we live in to improve. Pray so that the rules aren't so twisted, pray for fairness. Pray for all those with depression/anxiety or suicidal thoughts. Pray for the opinions of those who aren't strong enough to voice them. Pray for people's relationships with each other. Pray for all those who are oppressed. <p> And l will pray for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really want my friends to become Christians. Also my great grandmother is dying. And shes catholic. Please pray for her to become christian.