resources for your journey with jesus
I read once of an elderly woman who went to her priest for advice because she still wasn’t experiencing God’s presence after praying faithfully for years. He instructed her to stop talking to God and instead get quiet and just knit before the face of God for 15 minutes each morning. After struggling for a few days, something happened as she began to realize that in the silence God was there with her. This awareness changed her life.*
I have always loved that story because it did for me what I believe this book can do for anyone with desire for more of God or frustration over their prayer life. Simply put, Where Prayer Becomes Real charts a path that sets us free from religious constraints, and redeems duty-driven spiritual practices that have not been as life-giving as prayer is meant to be.
The best thing about this book is that it is heavily practice oriented. While the second part is devoted to unpacking specific practices, Coe and Strobel carefully interweave Part One-What We Need to Unlearn about Prayer-with meaningful invitations designed to peel back the layers of our good Christian prayer assumptions. For example, Chapter Two addresses ways we avoid God, even as we offer up prayers. When we think prayer is up to us or feel obligated to do it well, we focus on the doing, and hide the true state of our soul. The practice for this chapter opens a way for us to think more deeply about what it means to be with God in truth.
To be honest, I never realized how much I talk to myself in prayer until I read this book. Coe and Strobel point out that we can tend to ignore the messiness of our own hearts because we think God wants us in an improved state. As a result, prayer becomes an internal conversation about how to do better. I have found a new level of freedom in prayer as have begun to recognize the ways I do this.
a little taster
For Strobel and Coe, intercession centers around being present—to the people we intercede for, to our own hearts and to God. They note that often: “(1) I am absent from the person I am praying for, as I name requests to mark off a list; 2) I am absent from myself, since I am not actually entering into the heart of the request; and 3) I am absent from God because I am not with him with these requests. I’m just lofting them at him.” (page 157) The art of presence as they refer to it, has brought a refreshing energy to my practice of intercession.
why you should get it
This book is about the most important relationship in the world and that alone is reason enough to get it now. But beyond that, When Prayer Becomes Real makes us want to pray, drawing us in with the simple invitation to be ourselves with God. This, plus the many practices ensure that there is enough help to keep anyone growing in prayer for years to come.
*told in School of Prayer by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.
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Tricia McCary Rhodes
Author of 7 books and pastor of Global Leadership Development at All Peoples Church in San Diego, Tricia specializes in helping others experience God’s presence through practicing soul-care.