Intro to a Series on Prayer

One interesting aspect of posting book reviews on Amazon is that I receive some negative feedback. As I’ve only posted 10 reviews, the negative comments are not all that numerous, but I welcome critics for several reasons.

First, the questions and criticism challenge me to think seriously about what I believe. For the most part, my life, such as it is, does not require me to answer many questions about Christianity or why I live the way I do. It’s good exercise for me to have to answer.

Second, critics make me reconsider why I reviewed a book the way I did. Many times my review is the sole negative review out there. They remind me that the Bible is the standard by which Christians live, not an individual opinion.

Third, I am reminded that judging books is a healthy practice. A couple of negative responses to my reviews are simply, “Judge not lest you be judged,” or, some version of “you’re just a mean Christian.” For some reason, most people believe that being a Christian means that you aren’t supposed to judge anyone or anything. But even saying that a book is good is a judgment of the book. So, what they are really saying is that we ought not be allowed to disagree or say that a thing, a book in this case, is bad.

We are reminded again and again in the New Testament, however, to discern the truth, to return to the holy scriptures for understanding and correction so that we are not tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (see Ephesians 4:14, 2 Timothy 3:16). It is good and healthy for Christians to judge between truth and error. This is easy for most Christians to accept regarding some things, such as salvation, what is sin, or whether to go to church on Sunday. But I am finding, through the comment I am about to share and various Christian websites, that the prevailing attitude toward prayer is “anything goes.”

Here is one comment I have received regarding my review of How Strong Women Pray:

Prayer is a personal endeavor. Each person has to find their way and what works for them. Because it is not based on bible principles as you see it, does not mean it is wrong or a bad thing, it’s just not your way. Who are we to criticize someone else’s prayer life. The important thing is to have one. Judge not less you be judged.

Many questions and answers can be raised from this one comment:

  • What is prayer?
  • How do you know it is a personal endeavor?
  • What is the purpose of prayer?
  • What is a person’s responsibility when it comes to prayer?
  • Who is God?
  • How can we know Him?
  • When it comes to a relationship with God, is the Bible the standard for everyone?
  • Are we to use the Bible to help us fashion our own way?
  • Is it wrong to criticize another person’s prayer life?
  • Is it true that the most important thing about prayer is to just do it?
  • Does God say anything in the Bible about how He wants us to pray?
  • What does it mean to have our own way of prayer?
  • Is there such a thing as connecting to God through your own way of prayer?
  • Does God accept whatever we offer?
  • Are all ways good?
  • Is there a wrong way to pray?

Then there are other questions that do not relate specifically to prayer:

  • What did Jesus mean about judging?
  • Is it wrong to judge?
  • If so, why?
  • If not, why?
  • We are all so different, is it right and good to use the Bible as the standard for everyone?
  • Does believing one book and one way make me hateful and mean?
  • Is living by the Bible’s principles just my way?
  • Am I free to interpret the Bible in whatever way works best for me?

I am going to attempt an in-depth series on the doctrine of prayer over the next few weeks. I originally thought I’d write every day and have it finished in one or two weeks, however, I do not have unlimited, uninterrupted time to do it. I would love to be able to lock myself away for reading and studying and writing, but I’m in the raising children season of my life. Those of you who can spend your day that way, feel free to take a question, or two or three, and have fun. I, on the other hand, will write out this series on prayer in small increments.

I know some of you have already answered many of those questions on your blogs and could type out an answer and cross-reference it without it taking you all day. If you’ve already written about prayer, feel free to use the “link to this post” option or leave a link in the comments. I’d love to read your answers/responses/reactions.

Prayer is one of the most important disciplines of the Christian life. J.C. Ryle wrote that “a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian” (from A Call to Prayer). If so, then it is important to understand what the Scriptures say regarding prayer and its proper practice.

6 Comments on “Intro to a Series on Prayer

  1. Oh boy, this is a doozie feast. I’ll play along. I’ll pick a question and let you know when I post. I think that your book reviews are so good because with great diligence you apply Scripture as the standard. The world hates this. Persevere, sister.


  2. Wow. A LOT of questions to answer. Two remarks from that post. I disagree with the commentor that we don’t have a bibilical standard to pray with. Jesus gave us the Lord’s prayer, and our prayers should mimic that in some form. Also, I believe that we SHOULD judge. That doesn’t mean in a hateful, spiteful way, but we should be using biblical discernment to know the difference between right and wrong.


  3. Wow! Some deep questions and thoughts here. I will be subbing your blog and studying along. It’s good to have some spiritual depth in bloggyland.


  4. Hey, I’m 30 and a homeschooling mom, too :)thanks for joining our bloggy move!


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