It Happens After PrayerFriday, May 31, 2013
First of all, a word of disclosure.
Since I wrote the Foreword to It Happens After Prayer, it is no surprise that I recommend this book. But in this case, I would happily recommend it anyway because my friend H. B. Charles Jr. manages to do something that many authors on prayer don’t do.
He makes me want to pray.
More than that, he makes me believe all over again in the true power of prayer. Like many Christians I have prayed many times in many situations for many different things. I would say, if I am honest about it, that prayer does not come naturally to me. I know some people for whom prayer seems to be easy. Prayer is like breathing to them. I like being around such people because they show me that prayer has possibilities that I have not yet experienced.
And I need books on prayer to help me pray, to keep me praying, and to remind me that “prayer changes things.”
I pause to consider those three words for a moment. What exactly does prayer change? Prayer does not changes the heart and mind of God in the absolute, eternal sense. We do not pray in order to convince an unwilling God to help us in the hour of our need.
God is already on our side.
He knows what we need before we ask him.
He hears the faintest cry of the desperate heart.
He wants us to pray, he invites us to pray, he commands us to pray, he begs us to pray.
Prayer may certainly change our circumstances. Doors open that would stay closed except for prayer. Marriages move back from the brink of divorce, hardened hearts grow soft, prodigals return home, the money we need to pay our school bill comes in, the surgery is successful, and in a distant land without the gospel, the Good News goes forth and a church is born.
We cannot prove these things mathematically. From time to time I read of scientific experiments that “prove” the value of prayer. But how do you “prove” that your prayers caused that particular result? Better to say that you prayed, God answered, and how it happened is known only to the Lord.
Prayer certainly changes us.
It humbles us, forces us to our knees, teaches us to cry out for what we need, and connects us to the the “real world” that lies just beyond our five senses. It seems to me that perhaps this is both the greatest challenge and the greatest blessing of prayer. When we pray to an unseen God, we declare that this world is not the only world, that the things we can see and measure are not the only things that exist, that behind “this world” stands another world, just out of our reach, on the other side of the gossamer veil, where God himself waits eagerly to help us. Sometimes “this world” seems like the only world there is, and we behave as if God doesn’t really matter so we don’t pray very much.
But when we believe with the eyes of faith in the “world beyond this world,” we have entered by faith a realm where supernatural things may happen when we pray.
That all sounds rather mystical to me.
And it is all true because it is based on biblical reality. I think of Hebrews 4:14-16 with its emphasis on Jesus who has “passed through the heavens,” which is a mind-blowing thought. It means that he is not here (He’s on the “throne of grace”), and yet he is here with us (“Let us approach boldly”) when we pray.
Now back to the book for a moment. Nothing is easier (or less productive) than making people feel guilty about prayer. Who among us feels like we pray enough? We could always pray more than we do.
I’m not in favor of using guilt as a means of getting people to pray. Most Christians struggle enough as it is. I am certain that H. B. Charles Jr. agrees with me on this. Time and again, chapter after chapter, taking one biblical story after another, he reveals to us the amazing, world-shaking, life-changing, mountain-moving power of prayer.
The highest praise I can give to any book on prayer is that it makes me want to pray. This book made me want to pray. And for that reason, I happily commend It Happens After Prayer to you.
Read it and be blessed.