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Book Review - Moving Mountains

I'm cross posting this review from my book review website, because this is the book my small group recently studied -- and our lives were blessed.

Moving Mountains

Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority

by John Eldredge

Nelson Books, 2016.  248 pages.
Starred Review

Moving Mountains is a book about prayer, and praying effectively.

We have embarked on the most exciting story possible, filled with danger, adventure, and wonders.  There is nothing more hopeful than the thought that things can be different, we can move mountains, and we have some role in bringing that change about.

As in his other books, John Eldredge reminds us that we are at war – but God has given us authority in the battle.

The Scriptures are a sort of wake-up call to the human race, a trumpet blast, to use Francis Thompson’s phrase, “from this hid battlements of eternity.”  One alarm they repeatedly sound is that we are all caught up in the midst of a collision of kingdoms – the kingdom of God advancing with force against the kingdom of darkness, which for the moment holds most of the world in its clutches.  Is this your understanding of the world you find yourself in?  Does this shape the way you pray – and the way you interpret “unanswered” prayer?

The author also points out that God is growing us up.  He’s teaching us to use the weapons He’s given us by throwing us into the battle.

Now, if you believed both assumptions, if they were woven into your deepest convictions about the world, you would want to learn to pray like a soldier wants to learn to use his weapon, like a smoke jumper wants to learn survival skills.  We really have no idea what sort of breakthrough is actually possible until we learn to pray.  Perhaps we, too, will be ending droughts and stopping wildfires.

With that background as to where we’re going, John Eldredge doesn’t leap right into prayer of warfare.  He lays the groundwork, looking at our beliefs about God.  Here’s a moving section:

A slave feels reluctant to pray; they feel they have no right to ask, and so their prayers are modest and respectful.  They spend more time asking forgiveness than they do praying for abundance.  They view the relationship with reverence, maybe more like fear, but not with the tenderness of love.  Of being loved.  There is no intimacy in the language or their feelings.  Sanctified unworthiness colors their view of prayer.  These are often “good servants of the Lord.”

An orphan is not reluctant to pray; they feel desperate.  But their prayers feel more like begging than anything else.  Orphans feel a great chasm between themselves and the One to whom they speak.  Abundance is a foreign concept; a poverty mentality permeates their prayer lives.  They ask for scraps; they expect scraps.

But not sons; sons know who they are.

Before he talks about praying for others, he covers our authority in Christ.

We really thought this life was simply about getting a nice little situation going for ourselves and living out the length of our days in happiness.  I’m sorry to take that from you, but you and I shall soon be inheriting kingdoms, and we are almost illiterate when it comes to ruling.  So God must prepare us to reign.  How does he do this?  In exactly the same way he grows us up – he puts us in situations that require us to pray and to learn how to use the authority that has been given to us.  How else could it possibly happen?

After talking about prayers of intervention, the book goes on to talk about consecration and about daily prayer to align ourselves with God’s purposes.  Then it covers prayer for guidance, listening prayer, praying Scripture, warfare prayer, and inner and outer healing.  The final chapter talks about outcomes that are not what we had desired.

I love this reminder:

Life wins.  Sometimes now, especially if we will pray.  But life wins fully, and very soon.

Just as we must fix our eyes on Jesus when we pray, we must also fix our hearts on this one undeniable truth:  life will win.  When you know that unending joy is about to be yours, you live with such an unshakable confidence it will almost be a swagger.  You can pray boldly, without fear, knowing that, “If this doesn’t work now, it will work totally and completely very soon.”  We can have that kingdom attitude of Daniel’s friends, who said, “God is able to deliver, and he will deliver.  But if not . . .”  we will not lose heart.  Period.

As we worked through this book, our Small Group found ourselves getting opportunities to practice what we were learning.  We saw some mighty examples of God working.  And we feel like we're only at the beginning of our journey.

I highly recommend this book for personal study, but especially for group study if your group is ready for an adventure together.

Walking with God in the School of Prayer

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Walking With God In The School of Prayer

Ok, so here we were a few months ago sitting in our Small Group (aka Home Fellowship for you Gateway old-timers) discussing what to “study.” We had just finished a book called Waking the Dead and it proved to be a powerful time of growth; both within our group and for our individual walks with God. We followed that up with Watchman Nee’s small book Sit, Walk, Stand, based upon Ephesians, which provided additional reinforcement to our Waking the Dead study. So, how do we follow that up? What does God have for us next … where should we go from here?

As it turned out, there was a new book on prayer coming out by John Eldredge called Moving Mountains. I had received an advance copy and thought it might be a good complement to the work we had already done. Little did I know what God had planned.

We started Moving Mountains in early April and, guess what, God is moving. Why does this always surprise me? He is moving in a way I have not exactly experienced before and it is powerful and amazing, integrated and gracious. God is providing us with a living, breathing, life altering study guide. A living field manual. The laboratory exercises to our intellectual “study” of prayer and it is powerful and effective; joyously simple and beautiful. Since we started “studying” prayer we have had three practicums that are bringing prayer to life in a very new and fresh way.

First, a member of our small group and his daughter traveled out of the country under very trying circumstances. The details really don’t matter. What does matter is how our small group circled up and covered them, their travel, their accommodations, their situation, their interactions with others, and their return in prayer. It was powerful. It was effective. From roughly 4,000 miles away God showed up, sent his Spirit, and his angels. God moved!

Second, a member of our small group was moved to pray over the Gateway land and building process. This in turn ignited activity that resulted in consecration and cleansing prayer by Pastor Ed and the elders on the property which was followed up, the next day, by our small group, along with a few others, praying on the church property. It was amazing and powerful. The fruit of this time of prayer and our continued follow-on prayers is still playing out but it was amazingly beautiful and restorative.

Third, yesterday, a neighbor’s son experienced cardiac arrest. Immediately, I contacted our small group members and we were “on our knees” and will continue to be as he continues his touch and go road to recovery.

But this story is not really about our small group. It is about God. It is about his faithfulness in helping his saints to grow up. It is about the sons and daughters of the King, many of who we do not even know, who he has raised up, united in prayer for individuals and situations that need him. It is about the men and women who are being loved by God through us and through our willingness and faithfulness to pray, learn and grow. To walk alongside God as he brings his Kingdom.

Yes, the world is many times dark and bleak; but it is also a world of beauty, love, caring, restoration, hope, and life. Our God reigns. In real-time. In the here and now. In the details of your life and mine. In the lives of men and women around the world. God is redeeming, renewing and restoring his Kingdom. But, the world IS at war, dear hearts; you are desperately needed and you have a crucial role to play!

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