Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey

I went through a lot of emotions while reading Philip Yancey’s new book on prayer. Excitement that I can join God’s work on Earth by praying, turning inward to contemplate the kind of praying I do compared to what the Bible talks about, surprise when confronted at the truth of what scripture (and Jesus) had to say about prayer, and, most significantly, sorrow when he talked about unanswered prayers, when he talked about healings or lack thereof (specifically when he said, and I quote, ‘And I have never yet read an account of miraculous healing of pancreatic cancer (which has a 100 percent mortality rate), or of cystic fibrosis, or ALS’).

It’s hard for me to read this kind of non-fiction, where an idea is expounded upon for many pages. It’s easy for me to lose the thread, to get distracted. I took this book slowly, and I meant to take notes, but it would have been hard to reduce what he was saying into bullet points or summarized form. It’s a book that I will probably revisit in a year or so.

Meanwhile, it has given me a lot to think about as far as prayer, and a renewed interest in its efficacy. I had been wanting to read it, but being on the Prayer Team at church gave me more motivation to actually get through it, which was helpful. If you have read and enjoyed Philip Yancey’s books in the past (here’s where I should disclose that I’m pretty much a Yancey fangirl), you will probably like this one, too, though I think it’s more scholarly and less conversational than many of his books. I did particularly enjoy his heart for missions and the poor as expressed in this book – I think that’s been a growing theme in his work, and it fit well into a book that isn’t offering easy answers.

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