Book Review –“Praying In Jesus Name For 21 Centuries”

by Pastor Rande Wayne Smith

           I cannot even begin to attempt a guess on the number of books on prayer that I’ve read throughout my lifetime.  Add to that the many occasions I’ve preached on prayer and taught on prayer.  So when my good friend Phil Miglioratti asked that I review “Praying in Jesus Name for 21 Centuries” by Terry Teykl I immediately agreed.  But to be honest, with a sense of self- arrogance, I wasn’t expecting to “learn” anything new.  Thankfully I was mistaken. 

            I used Terry’s “Chronicles” of 21 chapters as my morning devotional reading material for three weeks.  I believe this should be the way to approach this book … a chapter a day, allowing a block of time for reflection before moving on to the next chapter

            Terry’s premise was stated clearly on page 31 … “The goal of this history book is to help us pray better today.”  And then repeated on page 240 … “The goal of prayer is to know God intimately.” (That is a worthy aspiration and should, truth be told, be a desire for all followers of Jesus.)  So this was going to be a “history book” on prayer with the aim to deepen the reader’s relationship with God, and with only a couple detours, Terry stayed focused on that objective throughout. 

            Recognizing that this was a “history” book, and realizing that our Christian faith is 21 centuries old, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Terry wasn’t devoting a chapter specifically to each century.  He was subtly instructing his readers about prayer while using examples of famous, and not-so-famous, individuals from the time of the Apostles to the present.  In other words, he was teaching theological truths.  “My thesis in this book is that prayer is both taught and caught,” (p. 246) and he presented numerous concrete examples of how God worked out His purposes when both of those took place.

I often found myself stopping to ponder some of Terry’s powerful observations, such as: “Our real enemy to intimacy with God is often not some terrible sin or even the devil himself, but the way he uses the lull of life’s rhythm to numb us to the grandeur of God.” (p. 181) That statement, along with the corresponding detailed paragraph, was just one of the many gems that I took away from the book, that both convicted and instructed.

I came to appreciate the subtle way that Terry brought prayer theology and intimacy with God together.  He explained the importance of crafting prayers before they are prayed, even suggesting the practicality of writing prayers out.  He encouraged the reader to keep a notebook of prayers that others have prayed that were meaningful, and referring back to them time and time again.  New insights on the awesome personhood of God can be learned as the prayers of others are studied and prayed.  “Prayer is the most important communication, it is worthy of one’s best time and heart and mind.” (p. 243)

            Once again, there is considerable benefit in applying “Praying in Jesus Name for 21 Centuries” to one’s prayer life and practices. 

            Of course, any reader will approach the subject of prayer with their own habits and prejudices, and I am no exception.  Being a committed Calvinist, it quickly became apparent that John Wesley’s approach to prayer was Terry’s focus.  And certainly Wesley’s contribution to the Christian faith cannot be disputed.  But to write a 332 page book on the influence of prayer throughout the centuries, with only a short paragraph on John Calvin’s impact left me a little wanting. 

            Having said that however, let me state categorically … this is a worthwhile book about prayer that is not only beneficial to read, but that should be included in the library of any follower of Jesus, so that they might refer back to it often.  

            … Rande Wayne Smith

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