Love, Pray, Read: More Books I Recommend
Lately, I have been focused on how I can walk more intimately with Christ in life. A conviction has developed in me that I will grow no closer to God than I am willing to connect with him in prayer. I can read the Bible all day long, all year, and be filled with knowledge of God and still not know him. In prayer, God makes himself known to us and allows us to openly share our vulnerability to him. It is true intimacy when one prays waiting to hear from God, to know him and to be known by him. Two books I have read lately speak to this idea.
The first is When the Soul Listens by Jan Johnson. Dr. Johnson is one of my professors at Hope International University. Her book is one which speaks plainly about prayer in daily life. She presents spiritual disciplines, not as hoops to jump through to get God's attention, but rather as simple means of helping us to stay focused on what God is saying to us in Scripture and in response to our prayers. Interwoven throughout these pages, the biblical support for every concept is clearly and accurately discussed.
One of my favorite quotes from this book is:
"We do the connecting, God does the perfecting."
That is the heart of Johnson's understanding of prayer and spiritual discipline: that we focus on connecting with Jesus that he may continue to perfect us in his image through our growing relationship. I highly encourage everyone who desires to grow in Christ to read this book.
The next book I recommend is Gospel by JD Greear. In this book you will not find a long discussion on the power on prayer. Instead, Greear's intent is to convict the heart of the reader as to what the true gospel message is and how it impacts one's daily life. The most compelling idea of the text is found in the chapters explaining what the author calls his "Gospel Prayer." What you will discover in these fantastic chapters is a unique treasure of Christ-centered, gospel filled prayers which are a great catalyst for personal application. These chapters alone are worth the price of the book. Check it out.
Both of these books help us understand that God desires more from us than our dirty laundry or our wish list. He desires a dynamic, loving, and ever-deepening relationship. Consider what that might look like in your life, and consider reading one or both of these texts to help you in that prayerful contemplation of God's Word. Ask Jesus to share with you his thoughts on what you are reading. I believe the one who loves you most will not be silent in response to this request.