Review Date: 02/26/2015
Review By: Gerry Kearney
Release date: 07/08/2014
Rating: [usr 7]
It has been said that faith is spelled r-i-s-k. Greg Darley’s new book, Wasted Prayer, is a timely challenge for Christians to risk putting legs to our faith and allow the Holy Spirit to write a personal book of acts for each of our lives.
His argument can be summed up as follows: too many Christians fail to obey the known will and call of God for their lives because they continue to hide behind the stuff of wasted prayer, that is, prayer in which they continue to engage in order to procrastinate taking positive action in obedience to what they already know God has told them to do.
Now, anyone grounded in theology will at first question some of Greg’s more controversial statements – but only if they are taken out of context. In the overall context of the book, and to the extent that he qualifies and defines what he means as the narrative unfolds, they make sense. He has probably chosen to phrase them provocatively up front in order to provoke the church into action on those very things that we know we ought to be doing for God.
For example, the title of the book itself; I mean, can any prayer really be wasted? Didn’t the apostle Paul say that we should “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17, NIV), and did Jesus not encourage us to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1, NIV).
Greg addresses these points and as you read through the book it becomes clear that he is not against prayer at all. Rather, prayer should become a proactive lifestyle of relationship with the Father so that when action is required, for example when your house catches fire (as it did in Greg’s case!), or you hear the promptings of God in your heart to do a specific task, then you do not need to continue to “pray about it”. Just do it! Anything short of this would constitute disobedience to the express will of the Lord. Likewise, the commands of Jesus to love our neighbor and to forgive do not require a Christian believer to “pray about it”. Just love our neighbor who is in need, by our corresponding action.
All of these points are well made by the author and skilfully supported with poignant examples from church history and from the Bible. I found his insightful analysis of the lives of William Wilberforce, St. Patrick and King David very refreshing. Certainly, this book is a timely wake-up call for Christians to get off our blessed assurance, to show love in action, and, in particular, to step out on what we know the will of God is for us. In a nutshell, it is to become doers of his Word. Well done to the author for bringing much needed teaching to the church on this! Christians need something more than “inspiration” or “motivation” in this critical area. We need to be challenged, and even provoked, into action. This book does that in spades, right from the front cover.
Does he cover all the bases on the subject? No single volume can. Any book whose goal is to get people to do something must focus on just that. However, there are a couple of cautionary counterpoints that are worth highlighting.
First, although it is clear that the author is not against prayer, the question nevertheless arises whether he might be stretching the point a little too far in his desire to make his case. For many Christians, prayer and obedient action to the will of God are not mutually exclusive. As believers step out into the known will of God, it is perfectly Biblical to continue to pray for God’s grace to carry out the given task with success (Heb. 4:16), for example to get God’s help to forgive, or boldness to face down intimidation (Acts 4:29, 31), or wisdom on how, when and where to step out into a new ministry (James 1:5, 6). Perhaps this latter point gets lost in the author’s exhortation to stop praying and start doing.
Second, Greg could have cast the net wider to cover the personal experiences of even more Christians by looking at the many other hindrances preventing Christians from stepping out in faith. For example, a lack of confidence in hearing from God personally (“Is that really you Lord?”), past disappointments in stepping out, conflicting advice from respected counsellors, etc. Now, he does address the underlying hindrances of fear, insecurity and pride, sure, but within the context of hiding behind the presenting excuse of (wasted) prayer as the umbrella hindrance. However, it is easy to get rid of the “wasted prayer” syndrome – just stop praying. But that doesn’t necessarily deal with the underlying causes for failing to take the risk of faith in the first place. By the way, all of this merits another book.
That said, this book is a valuable contribution to the mission of motivating the church to move from excuses to exercise, from cowardice to calculated risks of faith for God, and thereby accomplish great things for the kingdom. He skilfully calls Christians out from hiding behind the stuff and shadows of continued truly wasted prayer, onto the open playing field of their God-given dreams: from spectator to competitor, from watcher (pray-er) to doer. It will empower believers to convert their prayers into actions a là the wisdom literature of the Bible, especially the Epistle of James, and also the Book of Acts.
It is a good read and its success will undoubtedly be measured not so much by how many believers will be unable to put the book down, but by how many will put it down once read and then go and do all that they know God has called them to do. I am sure, to this end, it will bear much fruit. And wisdom is justified by her actions and her fruit.
Buy Wasted Prayer on Amazon here.
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