Tolle Lege: A Praying Life

Readability: 1

Length: 268 pp

Author: Paul Miller

Next to A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Paul Miller’s A Praying Life is my favorite book on prayer. You won’t just learn about prayer, you will be moved to pray.

Still I offer one caution. I am hesitant to say anything because I like to use these posts for book recommendations, not book reviews. I am thankful for reviews, but may aim is to commend more than critique. I never agree with everything in a book and I assume my readers understand this. For this reason I think a mystical reference here and a poor use of the text there unworthy of mention. Yet there is some language here that makes me quite uncomfortable.

The opening words of the Lord’s Prayer are Our Father. You are the center of your heavenly Father’s affection. That is where you find rest for your soul. If you remove prayer from the welcoming heart of God (as much teaching on the Lord’s Prayer does), prayer becomes a legalistic chore.

I agree that we must remember that we pray to our Father, not so that He will be our Father, or fatherly to us, but because He is our Father, yet, I wish that Paul would have said that Jesus is central to the Father’s affections, and that because we are in Christ we are loved. We are not loved with a different love, rather the love that the Father has toward the Son is His love to us. We are loved in the Beloved. The Son is chief in His Father’s affections, and this adds more stability, more power, and more warmth not less. I am unshakably and eternally loved in the Son.

Elsewhere, and more troubling to me, Paul writes,

The Father deliberately delayed a book [that Paul was writing] about the beauty of his Son for the sake of Kim [Paul’s daughter] for the sake of Kim being able to speak more clearly. He put Kim ahead of His own Son’s honor. I do not understand that kind of love. I guess that is what the cross is all about.

God puts nothing before or above the honor of His Son. All things were created through Him and for Him that in everything He might be preeminent. The cross and everything else works together for His eternal glory. Paul’s book about Christ being delayed does not mean the putting of Kim above the Son, but the magnifying of the Son in a different way. One notable way is in Paul’s Christ-like, Spirit-empowered self-sacrifice for his daughter.

I think Paul would agree with me as to the Father’s chief love and aim in all things, so perhaps the issues here are pastoral more than theological. Read the book yourself and note the context. But even despite these huge issues I highly commend this book because it is otherwise so solid and good.

Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to pray because they are focusing on praying, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making conversation the center of a family mealtime. In prayer, focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure of where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another. Consequently, prayer is not the center of this book. Getting to know a person, God, is the center.

The great struggle of my life is not trying to discern God’s will; it is trying to discern and then disown my own.

I have prayed for humility, and it dawned on me that God was answering my prayer. I would have preferred humility to come over me like magic. Instead, God teaches humility in humble places. He keeps me sane by letting me pick up dog manure after I’ve spoken at a conference.

Prayer is where I do my best work as a husband, dad, worker, and friend.

WTS Books: $9.23               Amazon:$9.38

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