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Parable of the Demons

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The church was overcoming the darkness. The kingdom of heaven was advancing. So Satan held a council of war to determine the best way to defeat the church.
“Who will devise a strategy to stop this troublesome church?” asked Satan.
A cruel-looking demon stepped forward. His flesh was covered with ulcerated sores, and his face was hideously deformed. When he spoke it sounded like acid dripping on hot stones.
“I will persecute the church,” he said. “I will put them to death and beat them and hound them from place to place. I will imprison them and cause them to suffer for daring to side with our Enemy.”
“No!” said a smooth, reasonable voice, and another demon stepped forward. He was a handsome devil, worldly and urbane. “When you persecute the church, she grows stronger. Listen to me. I will give them what they want most.”
“What will you give them?” asked Satan.
“I will give them respectability,” said the debonair demon. “I will cause them to be esteemed in their community. I will flatter them with honor and respect until they love the praises of men more than the praises of our Enemy. Before long they will not dare to do anything uncivilized or risk losing their respectability.”
“Yes,” agreed Satan. “Go and do as you have said.”
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An Uncommon Book of Prayer

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Read this article on my blog and post comments there.

I’ve read a lot of books about prayer. Years ago I read Rosalind Rinker’s Prayer: Conversing With God, one of many books to describe prayer as a conversation rather than a ritual observance. More recently, I read Steve Brown’s Approaching God: How to Pray. Despite the how-to subtitle, I didn’t find it to be a very practical guide. It didn’t address the fundamental issues that cause prayerlessness.

Paul Miller knows why we pray and why we don’t. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World is absolutely the best book on prayer I have ever come across. Miller, using compelling examples from his own life as well as scriptural teaching, shows us why we need to pray, why we don’t pray, and how to pray.

He begins with establishing child-like trust, moves on to how cynicism undermines that trust, and explains how to overcome cynicism by deconstructing its allure and false promises. A lot of prayer is petition, and petitioning—asking—is the very thing we find hardest to do. Complaining, “dialoguing,” soul-searching, and even praising are all easier to do because they don’t require trusting God. We can do them even if no one is listening. So Miller wisely focuses on asking and examines why we don’t ask and what we fail to ask for.

Finally, Miller integrates prayer into the story of God. Every life is a story, and prayer can make that story exciting and compelling if we let it. He concludes with some practical suggestions for helping us gain our Father’s perspective on our story through prayer cards and journaling.

This book has transformed the way I think about prayer, and I have already begun to put it’s suggestions into practice. It has also helped build my faith as I have seen real needs met and real prayers answered. A must-read for anyone interested in prayer. Even non-Christians would benefit from understanding the fundamental difference between prayer as the desperate cry of an overwhelmed child and prayer as ritual observance. Get this book, read it, and pray.

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