Reviewed by: Brian De Jong
Date posted: 09/10/2006
Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name, by Bryan Chapell. Published by Baker Books, 2005. Paperback, 205 pages, list price $12.99. Reviewed by Pastor Brian De Jong.
At first glance, Bryan Chapell's recent book on prayer may seem to be just another book on prayer. The title and subtitle may seem to offer a new prayer gimmick, rather than a serious study of one of the means of grace. However, the reader will find here more substance than initially anticipated. And if one makes the effort to implement Chapell's approach to prayer, one may conclude that this has been a very helpful book. The more theologically oriented reader will discover serious theological reflection woven into the fabric of this work on such topics as praying "in the Spirit" and praying "according to God's will."
The book begins with a statement of purpose: "The message of this book is to put first in our hearts what those words are supposed to mean: 'I offer this prayer for Jesus' sake.' When Jesus' priorities come first, our prayers will change. They will be less self-oriented, more Christ-directed, more blessed, and ultimately most satisfying to our hearts." The rest of the book works out that premise in various directions.
In addition to developing his idea of beginning prayer "in Jesus' name," Chapell provides practical encouragement in his chapters on praying boldly, praying expectantly, and praying persistently. The book also features more theological sections on praying in God's will and praying in God's wisdom - both of which should provoke beneficial reflection.
Although Chapell is a seminary president and denominational leader, this book reflects the pastoral heart of a preacher. Anyone who has heard him preach will immediately recognize his style, complete with ample illustrations of the truths he seeks to convey. This book is neither a doctrinal treatise nor an academic tome, but it may provide much spiritual stimulus for Christians who yearn for a more Christlike prayer life.