Friday, February 1, 2013


After completing my first book by author Philip Yancey, Where is God When it Hurts?, I knew that I wanted to read more of his works. The second Yancey book that I selected to read through was Prayer (Does it Make any Difference?). Like many Christians, I pray to God every day. Prayers for my daughter, my friends, folks in the news, trouble spots in the world, and myself. I have come to the conclusion that most of the prayers that I pray for myself are not answered. If the prayers that I pray for myself, which I would admit are the lion's share of my prayers, are not answered, it gives me serious doubt as to whether any of my other prayers are answered. The truth is that I find prayer mostly frustrating, haphazard, and all too often pointless. This may be the case since I am more focussed on the day to day, while God works on a much more extended time period. It may be that I am far too impatient. It may be that my prayers are selfish. Yet given who I am, given my makeup, I cannot think up and out when I am so focussed down and in. When black clouds fill my life, I cannot see the sun. So, with all of this, I thought it would be appropriate to get some wisdom from a source that I have found trustworthy and reliable.

Let me list a few questions/insights from this book:
  • Why does prayer rate so high on surveys of theoretical importance and so low on surveys of actual satisfaction?
  • Prayer can seem a spasm of words lost in a cosmic indifference.
  • Is prayer a pious form of talking to myself?
  • Prayer as transaction rather than relationship can decline into a practice more duty than joy.
  • If God knows everything, then what is the point of prayer?
This book explores prayer from many different points of view and Yancey asks and considers the natural and hard questions. Does he have all the answers? Certainly not, nor does he claim to. He approaches the subject by discussing what prayer is and what prayer is not. He states that prayer is a declaration of dependence on God. He prays for others because he often feels helpless to do anything else. It is the main staple of our relationship with God, it is what brings us together and binds us. Prayer is not meant to be wishes to a genie in a magic lamp or chantings to some mythical sky spirit. It represents an opportunity to regularly approach God with what is on our hearts and minds. It helps to sensitize us to the needs of others, to seek the will of God, and to declare our dependence on God. You may gain some insight in reading this and you may find some answers to long-held questions on this critical part of your faith. However, regardless of what you take away, I think that you will find comfort and some ease.