Reading Pete Greig’s new book, Dirty Glory: Go Where Your Best Prayers Take You, was for me, at once unsettling and deeply moving, frustrating and fulfilling, intriguing and disconcerting. I laughed out loud and wept as well, and often had more questions than answers. Yet, with every page, I found myself yearning for more of God. This, more than anything, is why you need to read it.
I was first exposed to Pete Greig through the 24/7 prayer movement back at the turn of the century. His book, Red Moon Rising, chronicling the unlikely ways God was working through ordinary people who dared to pray, catalyzed believers throughout the world to take a chance and see for themselves. A few years later he would write what some might consider a strange sequel called God on Mute. This turned out to be one of the best books on prayer I’d ever read, and in fact is in my top five books on prayer. Weened on the classics of prayer, this is about as high of a recommendation as I could give. (To find out what my other four are, or to order this one, click here.)
That’s why the minute I heard Greig had written another book, this one telling the story of what God has done through the prayer movement in the intervening years, leading up till now, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The book did not disappoint—I couldn’t put it down once I started, and now I want to go back and re-read it, just to take notes and ponder more thoughtfully.
Pete is a phenomenal storyteller and the tales in this book are mind-boggling. From transvestites with prophetic words to frat brothers getting saved in droves, to blessings from the Vatican itself—you will be continually stunned and overwhelmed at how God works as people pray. I might add that Greig’s style is winsome, and he’s also very funny.
But perhaps more importantly, Pete is a teacher, and you will glean a boatload of important principles on prayer and mission from this book. In one example, he spends a couple of pages outlining four reasons we tend not to pray in the face of terrible disasters—limited worldview, low self-esteem, doubts about prayer and practical questions as to how to pray. The way he unpacks these simple truths is worth the price of the book!
I often look to the end of a book early on, just to see where an author is going to take me. I’m really glad I did this with Dirty Glory. In the final pages, Pete offers a “Disclaimer about miracles,” that made me breathe a little easier and be grateful for God’s work all around me. I won’t give it away, but you might want to check page 321 out sooner, rather than later.
As a bonus, the book includes small group reflection questions, and I can’t think of a better way to assimilate all of this than with thoughtful conversations among friends. The prompts in the study guide (written by Hannah Heather) are excellent.
Finally, if you just need a good laugh, turn to the very end for Pete’s glossary of American and British terms (he is a Brit who has lived in America). It is a lot of fun and might come in handy in your travels one day.
It seems like a lifetime ago that Joe first took a sledge hammer to our 28-year old kitchen and, like a madman, tore the whole thing apart in a matter of days. Never having been through the remodeling process, we had a lot to learn. Every day brought the unexpected, twists and turns we couldn't have foreseen. To be honest, more than once we questioned our own sanity! More about that later, but with each day that passed, I saw in the remodel, metaphors for my spiritual life--the demolition, the debris, the delays, the development, and yes, eventually the joy of having a brand new room! I jotted my thoughts on scraps of paper here and there, and last Sunday at New Hope Church I shared a few of them, beginning with this question:
If you knew at the start, the kinds of heart and life renovation God was going to take you through, would you have said yes to following Jesus so readily?
I went on to encourage people not to rush past a question like this because their answers could reveal something about the kind of journey they were on. I ended up sharing four things that my kitchen remodel reminded me of from my own personally painful heart renovation some years back. You can listen to that message below.
If you knew at the start the kinds of heart and life renovation God was going to take you through, would you have said yes to following Jesus so readily?
There were so many lessons learned, and I can't do much more than mention several of them here, but I'll throw in some pics, including the moment when I would have given anything to go back to the start and forget the whole thing, but couldn't--the moment that made me consider the question above. I'll have the "reveal" at the end, even though you've probably already scrolled down! Here's some of the stuff I wrote on those scraps of paper--you'll have to unpack the underlying truths yourself.
Remodeling Kitchens and Renovating Hearts
This lesson was the most critical--the morning I woke up and there was nothing happening, but everywhere I looked there were messes I could do nothing about. All I could really do, was learn to sit with the deconstruction. After a few days of this, I found myself thinking about my old kitchen, even secretly wishing I had those funky tile counters with thick brown grout, or a full-sized refrigerator to put groceries in. I knew there was an end to the renovation out there on the horizon and that I'd love it when it finally happened, but in that moment, I wasn't sure it had been such a good idea to embark on this adventure.
In our spiritual lives, these are the moments where faith is forged, these episodes where we stop denying our doubts and try them on for size. In other words, these are the times when we just have to sit in the middle of our messy heart renovation. We may wish we could go back to some easier season, but we can't. Confused and anxious, we wonder if we could walk just away and forget we ever started this journey with Jesus. I've had a few times like these, moments when I would have left--if I could have. But frankly, I have always known that there is truly nowhere else to go. Like Peter, when Jesus asked if he would leave too, I could only eke out: "To whom shall I go Lord, you have words the of eternal life." (John 6:68)
In our spiritual lives, these are the moments where faith is forged, these episodes where we stop denying our doubts and try them on for size.
The beauty of heart renovation is that if we hang in there, God creates something so wondrous in us and through us, that we know beyond a doubt that the process, no matter how painful, has been worth it. I am as certain of this as I am my own name. This is perhaps the greatest lesson from my kitchen remodel:
VIDEO OF MY NEW KITCHEN!
So that's the story of our kitchen remodel and the lessons I learned about the renovation of our souls. If you want to know more of the backstory--like how much it cost us and what the original kitchen was worth, click here. I'll end with one final lesson:
LESSON TWELVE (AND COUNTING): There is always something more to do --in kitchen remodels and heart renovations!
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Tricia McCary Rhodes
Author of 7 books and a professor for Fuller Theological Seminary, Tricia specializes in helping others experience God’s presence through practicing soul-care.