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Monday, December 11, 2017

Whispers of Hope


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Maybe it’s my ego, but I considered myself a prayer veteran. I mean, I’ve studied Kay Arthur’s, Lord Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days. I’ve read many of Stormie O’Martian’s books, I even own Beth Moore’s, Praying God’s Word, flash cards. I’ve been a Christian since I was seven and I’ve led Bible studies on prayer. I have over a dozen journals filled with notes from my morning conversations with God.

So, when I was asked to review Beth Moore’s new book, Whispers of Hope, I admit I wondered how it could possibly be different. Prayer isn’t exactly an evolving science and God didn’t suddenly change the rules. What is there left to learn?

I opened, Whispers of Hope, the moment it arrived on my doorstep, and read the introduction and Day One. Immediately, I knew that this book was less about teaching me to pray, and more about cultivating a habit of deep prayer. If a habit is formed in 21 days, Beth triples her bets with this book, offering the reader a full 70 days of gentle reminders, guidance and incentive to talk to God.

The first thing I appreciated about, Whispers of Hope, is the brief introduction. No ten page didactic on, “How to use this book”. Just a simple, one page spread explaining the journal headings and reminding the reader of the command and reward of consistent prayer.

Beth uses an acronym of the word PRAISE to designate six essential elements of prayer. How humbling to discover that in my frequent “popcorn” prayers, I often forget important aspects of communicating with the High King!

Each of the seventy days begins in with a Scripture reading and a one page devotional by Beth. Following, are two pages with three categories each for jotting down prayer notes.

Two aspects of my own prayer life, Acknowledgement and Intercession, were particularly strengthened by this book.

Acknowledgement: This is an aspect of prayer I often forget, assuming I cover my bases with praise and thanksgiving. Of course, I know God is in charge, but most days I still find myself questioning each interruption, flustered by changes in plans, or cross because a certain item on my to-do list takes longer than expected.

In this category, Beth reminds us to recognize God’s sovereign authority over the minuscule moments of our lives. This is the ground floor of humility; at the same time, it’s the epitome of freedom.

Taking Beth’s frequent admonition to use Scripture in my prayer, I found Psalm 15 to be an excellent guide for acknowledging God’s rule and goodness in my life.

Intercession: I am ashamed to admit that this is a topic I have brushed over lightly in the past. Sometimes, my intercessory prayers seem redundant, so I default to casual, passing thoughts, “Haven’t I been praying this thing for that person forever? God, you know.”

Beth points out a relieving truth about intercessory prayer that I have never considered before. Using Jesus’s mother, Mary, in John 2:3, Beth says that we don’t need to offer God a solution to the problem. We do not need to ask God to do something specific in an individual’s life or a certain circumstance. Instead, as Mary did, we can simply state the need. My part in intercession is to show a oneness with His heart, a sensitivity to the Spirit and compassion for the person in need. God is capable of solving the problem in His own time and manner. In fact, He already knows the issue.

As it turns out, there is much I can still learn about prayer. No, it isn’t an evolving science, but it is an ongoing conversation. As I child grows up and learns to participate respectfully in adult conversation, so I believe, as we grow in faith and intimacy with God, the tone, attitude and expression of our prayers will change.

Whispers of Hope, is an excellent, unique resource both for learning to pray and for maturing in our relationship with God.

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