I could say so much about this book. First off though, i must say that i have always been a fan of Charles Stanley. He is passionate about God. Passionate about preaching biblically. Passionate about leading others to Christ. And his writing is solid. Stanley has never, at least in my experience, pulled any punches in his teaching and writing. He has a tender boldness that is hard to match.
And he does no different in this book. I have read quite a few books on prayer and the elements associated with prayer (such as fasting etc.), but i can say honestly that this is by far the best book on the subject of prayer that i have read.
A quick look at the chapter list, and you have an idea what i am talking about: 1)Unveiling the Hidden; 2) Praying with Authority; 3) Praying and Fasting; 4) A Prayer Burden; 5) Answered Prayer; 6) Why our Prayers are Unanswered; 7) How to Pray in the Will of God; 8) A Time to Wait, a Time to Act; 9) Praying for Others; 10) Prayer is Where the Action Is; 11) The Warfare of prayer. The solid list of topics covered was quite good, and at first i questioned the order of the chapters, but after finishing the book, think that they are in proper order.
The book itself is 222 pages long, and so i was disappointed to find out that the actual content is only 152 pages. The latter half of the book contains a comprehensive study guide to work through each chapter. While i think the study guide is useful, and i shall probably go through it, i find myself wishing that the material presented in the content could have been expanded a little more. Therein lies the conflict however. Stanley uses a lot of scripture throughout the chapters, which is awesome (how many books do you read now-a-days where the author does not back up what they are saying with the authority of the scripture). Stanley also uses a variety of examples, both personal and in general, to aid in the understanding of the point he is trying to get across. But some of the points could have been elaborated on just a bit more to help solidify the understanding.
Having said that, the topics covered, and the clear writing that Stanley has been blessed with, make this a really easy read. One of the issues i have had trouble dealing with in my life as a Christian has been how to talk about Unanswered Prayers, and the chapter that Stanley provides on this issue helped my understanding tremendously. He did not simply say, “God is not answering your prayers because of sin in your life.” Rather, Stanley gave a list (for those who like lists), of eleven things that may be hindering prayers from being answered. I was pleasantly surprised when i read this chapter. He writes, “Usually when a prayer is answered no, we look for sin in our lives. Sometimes this is the problem, but many times there is nothing to confess. Yet our prayers are answered no.” The he provides the list. What sort of things does Stanley provide for our consideration? In his order of importance: 1) We Must Seek God; 2) We Must Trust Him; 3) He is Preparing Us; 4) God has Something Better; 5) Family Relationships; 6) We Must Check our Motives; 7) We Must Have Unwavering Faith; 8 Focus on His Word; 9) Selfishness Hinders our Prayers; 10) Indifference to God’s Word; and finally 11) Unconfessed Sin. What is striking about this list, and which is why i get excited reading it, is that all of these items point back to God. God wants us to be looking at him, and if we are not and are focused on other things but still expect Him to answer our prayers, why would He? This list forces the individual to take stalk of what their priorities, and gets them re-oriented to once again focus on God.
Anyway, enough rambling. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for resources on how to build their prayer life. This book is for pastors and for lay-persons. It is a book for the devout follower of God and for the person struggling in their faith. It is a solid tool for building up an area of life that can often be such a struggle to develop in the Christian faith. As the disciples asked Jesus in Luke 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray,” this book will do just that.