Wednesday 9 May 2012

Book Review:

The Prayer Matrix

While battling with cancer, Pastor Jeremiah rediscovers the meaning of prayer.

Book by David Jeremiah

Number of pages: 86

Multnomah Publishers.

Price: RM 30.00 (Hardcover).

Review by Lim Poh Ann

“Why does God ask us to pray?” In answer to this, Jeremiah writes, “Scripture insists that God has hard-wired the universe in such a way that He works primarily through prayer…At the moment we pray, we become subject to the most powerful force in the universe.” And he continues, “When we neglect prayer, we actually limit what God might do in our lives and in the lives of others.”

The senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, humbly shares, “I don’t write this book as an expert in prayer.” When he was battling with cancer, he began to discover a new dimension to prayer: “When things are going smoothly in your life, you pray one way; when you get into a tight spot, you pray another way. Your pleas become more intense; you find yourself crying out to God.” Why can’t our prayers be equally intense on both our good and bad days?

Jeremiah also debunks the common belief that we need to break down God’s reluctance to do something for us. He does not believe we have to “bash in the door of God’s unwillingness” to answer our prayers.

Once, during his travels, he willingly obliged his four-year grandson who had reminded him to bring home the airline magazine. Why? “Because he’s my grandson, and anything he requests from meif it is within my power, and it isn’t harmful for himI’m going to do for him.” (The lad loved to view the wonderful products in the magazine).

In the same way, he shares, the heavenly Father would gladly meet our requests if we would only ASKask, seek and knock. Asking God in faith, he adds, should be our first resort and not our last when other avenues have been exhausted.

Sometimes we get discouraged by great needs and difficulties, even to the point of desperation. Could it be, Jeremiah asks, that “one reason we have great problems is that God wants to show us great solutions?” Isn’t this in line with the truth that God is able to do far more than what we can ask or think? (Ephesians 3:20).

Jeremiah believes we don’t pray because we’re too busy. He shares one particularly busy day in Jesus’ life from Mark 1:21-34. While teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath, he healed a man with an unclean spirit. Then he went over to Simon’s house and healed Simon’s mother-in-law of fever. At sunset, the “whole city” brought all those who were sick and demon-possessed to Jesus for healing and deliverance. It was an exhaustive day, putting strain on both the mind and body. While most of us would want a full night’s rest, Jesus was different. The following morning, before daylight, he went out to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35).

But then we reason, He is God; we are mere mortals. But if Jesus needed prayer, what makes us think we can neglect it? Then, Jeremiah goes on to emphasise a fundamental truth: “The very thing that qualifies us to pray is our helplessness.” It is like what Ole Hallesby wrote in his book, Prayer: “Only those who are helpless can truly pray.”

For those who falter with words, thinking we need a special “insider” language before God takes our prayers seriously, Jeremiah writes: “God doesn’t want us to shift into a stained-glass prayer voice.” Rather, God wants us to come to Him openly and sincerely. “Prayer is about real-world concerns, spoken in real-world language,” he adds.

Jeremiah also shares insights from Bill Hybels’ book, Too Busy Not to Pray on how journaling helped him in prayer: “… write out your prayers and then read them to God …It forces me to be specific … it keeps my mind from wandering. And it helps me see when God answers prayers.”

Only 86 pages, this little book holds the promise of big change in our lives. A chili padi of sorts on prayer insights. No, this book has nothing in common with the sensationalism of Hollywood’s The Matrix. But it is an amazing  book which we will need to read ... because the tumultuous times we’re living in call  for extraordinary solutions.

Like it or not, many of us will be feeling the heatthe contagion effect of the world’s economic crisis, something no maverick, not even Obama, can offer an immediate panacea.

We need to go back to the basics and rediscover the meaning of prayerlike the  author.

If Prayer Matrix has stirred your heart to spend more time in prayer—not just feed your mind on a difficult subject—then you would progressively appreciate what its tagline says, “Plugging into the Unseen Reality.”

The above article was first published in Asian Beacon magazine, Dec 2011, issue 43.6

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