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Sonderbooks Book Review of

A Praying Life

Connecting with God in a Distracting World

by Paul E. Miller

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A Praying Life
Connecting with God in a Distracting World

by Paul E. Miller

Review posted January 19, 2013.
NavPress, 2009. 279 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #3 Other Nonfiction

My small group began this book more than a year ago, and I continued slowly through it on my own. I think it's the best book I've ever read on prayer, full of practical ideas for really getting personal with God and listening for His voice.

I like the first section: "Learning to Pray Like a Child." He thinks of prayer in a very personal way with God, and gives examples of how that has worked in his life. He prays like someone really talking with his Father, and helps me want to do that, too.

And Paul E. Miller doesn't simply talk about prayer. He talks about a praying life. Here's a section from the Introduction:

Because prayer is all about relationship, we can't work on prayer as an isolated part of life. That would be like going to the gym and working out just your left arm. You'd get a strong left arm, but it would look odd. Many people's frustrations with prayer come from working on prayer as a discipline in the abstract.

We don't learn to pray in isolation from the rest of our lives. For example, the more I love our youngest daughter, Emily, the more I pray for her. The reverse is true as well; the more I learn how to pray for her, the more I love her. Nor is faith isolated from prayer. The more my faith grows, the bolder my prayers get for Jill. Then, the more my prayers for her are answered, the more my faith grows. Likewise, if I suffer, I learn how to pray. As I learn how to pray, I learn how to endure suffering. This intertwining applies to every aspect of the Christian life.

Since a praying life is interconnected with every part of our lives, learning to pray is almost identical to maturing over a lifetime. What does it feel like to grow up? It is a thousand feelings on a thousand different days. That is what learning to pray feels like.

He goes on to explore many different facets of prayer. How much do we really know our Father? How comfortable are we talking with him? The ideas in this book can help.

There were many, many sections of this book I especially like, and I've posted them on Sonderquotes. I am sure I'm going to come back to this book again and again for encouragement from a fellow-traveler.

When it comes to prayer, we, too, just need to get the words out. Feel free to stop and pray now. It's okay if your mind wanders or your prayers get interrupted. Don't be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying. Remember the point of Christianity isn't to learn a lot of truths so you don't need God anymore. We don't learn God in the abstract. We are drawn into his life.