Book Review

I Never Thought I was a Cynic… Until I Read This Book.

A Praying Life
(Connecting with God in a distracting world)
by Paul E. Miller
NavPress, 2009

Every so often you read a book that completely reboots the way you think. A Praying Life has been that kind of book for me.

Don’t be turned off by the title – or the cover for that matter. This is a book with the potential to change your perspective on every level, not just the few minutes you grab with God each day, running through a list of pleases and thank yous in your head.

Paul begins by defining prayer as “interconnected with all of life”. Such an important distinction right there. He continues, “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 on your left arm.”

With an easy turn of phrase, Paul grounds his teaching with stories, many from his own family including the trials and triumphs of his daughter Kim who has autism and developmental delay. Paul and his wife, Jill, are living testament to the effectiveness of prayer – effectiveness on God’s plane. Prayer that is raw and childlike, that is messy and distracted, that threads seamlessly throughout a day, that is strategic and rooted in the Bible, that isn’t always pushing forward but revels in what God is doing right now. The book also took an unexpected stab at the culture of cynicism today, and how it chokes our ability to pray with hope and desperation. Yep, that’s the part where I felt particularly convicted!

Here are some lines that resonated with me:

“Cynicism looks reality in the face, calls it phony, and prides itself on its insight as it pulls back. Thanksgiving looks reality in the face and rejoices at God’s care. It replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one.”

“Don’t be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”

“You don’t need self-discipline to pray continuously; you just need to be poor in spirit.”

“Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.”

“Start asking. Don’t just ask for spiritual things or ‘good’ things. Tell God what you want. Before you can abide, the real you has to meet the real God. Ask anything.”

“Oddly enough, idolising our emotions doesn’t free us to be ourselves but instead results in us being ruled by the ever-changing wind of feelings. We become a thousand selves or, to use Jesus’ words, ‘a reed shaken by the wind’ (Matthew 11:17).”

There is so much more, including some practical ways to allow prayer to permeate (prayer cards, for example).

Basically, I highly recommend it.


  1. Pingback: Name Your Happiness Serum | Faith Like a Mushroom

  2. Maria Amore says

    Thank you Claire. Another inspiring article.

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