Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller

A Praying Life is probably the most accessible book I've ever read on prayer. Miller's writing style is easy to understand and his message is straightforward. Miller is transparent about the mystery of prayer -- which is comforting because it is indeed a great mystery, and he is also candid about what makes praying difficult.

I just finished this book yesterday, but as I flip back through it I am struck by how many profound statements I have underlined. Miller offers many nuggets of wisdom and practical applications. I have picked out a few to share, but I sincerely hope that you will take the time to read this book. (Here is the link for the book on Amazon).

Notable Quotes:
  • "Learning to pray doesn't offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart." p.25
  • "If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life." p.49
  • "The very thing we are afraid of, our brokenness, is the door to our Father's heart." p.99
  • "Until we become convinced that we can't change our child's heart, we will not take prayer seriously." p. 169
  • "If we pursue joy directly, it slips from our grasp. But if we begin with Jesus and learn to love, we end up with joy." p.215

Practical Suggestion:
  • Use notecards to pray for family, friends or specific needs. Find verses to pray over these people or issues, and write them on their respective card.
So if you've read this book, I would love to know what you thought. What was the biggest takeaway for you? What really challenged you about this book? Have you begun to put anything Miller suggested into practice? Did you disagree with Miller on anything? I definitely did.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller

I honestly believe that The Prodigal God is the most important book that I've read in a long, long time. It is nothing short of a paradigm shift and an important one if you claim to follow Christ. I could not begin to summarize this book even though it is a short and easy read, because Keller's development of his argument is so dead on. Having heard countless sermons on "the prodigal son" I was astounded to realize for the first time that Jesus never framed his story as being about the prodigal son at all. He began his story by saying, "There was a man who had two sons."

I think it is really interesting to think about why we might so easily gloss over such a patently obvious fact. The story is just as much about the son who stays as the son who runs away. Keller is so methodical in pulling out lessons from both brothers and the father, that it is almost surreal to look back and acknowledge that before I read this book, I had missed huge and vitally important chunks of this very familiar parable.

This new blog, Word, is intended to be a dialogue about books. It is not my intention to summarize someone else's book. Clearly that would be arrogant and wrong, but I will give you a few quotes. Hopefully these teasers will lead you to read this incredible little book. Here is the Amazon link to order your copy.

Notable Quotes:

  • "When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink." p.78
  • "The key difference between a Pharisee and a believer in Jesus is inner-heart motivation." p.86
So if you've read this book, I would love to know what you thought. What was the biggest takeaway for you? What really challenged you about this book? Did you disagree with Keller on anything?

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a great and inspirational read. It is extremely quick -- it will make you smile and it will make you think. One of the major themes of the book is that we all want to have lived a great story, but many of us are unwilling to work at it. We often check out of life, and do not take a hard look at the story we are telling. Miller is a gifted writer, and his observations about life make him feel like he's your good friend. He's easy to relate to and his candor at looking at his own story is endearing. Plus, this book is a fantastic conversation piece. My book club recently used it and I was amazed by how much there is to unpack in it -- that makes it fun because it is such an easy read, but it has surprising depth too.

So I recommend this book without reservation even though there are some parts of it that I disagree with completely. Here is the Amazon link to order your copy.

If you've read this book, and I know many of you have, what was it you liked most? What do you see yourself applying to your own life? Does it make you more inclined to hike the Inca trail or does it make you want to embrace life where you are? Do you know someone like Bob Goff? How has this person inspired you? According to the book, who is the main character in our story? What makes a good life story? What is the purpose of a good story anyway? Do you disagree with Miller on anything?