This book seeks to answer many of the doubts of everyday believers about prayer and divine providence, especially in relation to human suffering.
Praying successfully is not merely getting whatsoever and everything you want, but, rather, enjoying intimacy with God, whatever may happen. If blessings, let us delight in them and praise him; if hardships, let us hold his hand and go through it, overcoming challenges by faith, as faithful witnesses of Christ and with a view to the day of his glorious return.
Prayer is the focal point of our communion with God. Talking to him prepares us for everything in our lives. We reaffirm our belief in him and thankfully ask him to give us orientation, help, strength and consolation.
Faith is not groundless, blind, senseless confidence. It has the soundest ground in God’s revelation of his power, which came to us by the recordings of the prophets and apostles. By raising Jesus from the dead, God substantiated our faith in the eschatological glory. So, we may be as assured regarding our glorious future as we are regarding his manifestations of power in the past. What else can make faith more robust? Human reasoning?
“You are a systematic theologian in heart and marrow (Afrikaans proverb).”
— Adrio König, former professor of Systematic Theology at the University of South Africa and author of several theological works, among which is Here Am I! A Believer’s Reflection on God.
(Some comments added by the instrucutor for your convenience)
1. Causes of Failure in Prayer (I)
(a) A life unpleasing to God
(c) Syndrome of “second-class saint”
2. Causes of Failure in Prayer (II)
(d) A conflictive and unforgiving spirit
(e) Superfluous petitions, unworthy of Jesus’ name
(f) Arrogance in addressing God
(g) Lack of openness to the will of God
(h) “Little faith”
(i) Ignorance about the nature of the dispensation in which we live (Sometimes, if not always, we seem ignorant about this. The “day of all miracles” has not come yet.)
3. Doubts about Prayer (I)
(a) Isn’t it possible that events attributed to prayer could have happened naturally?
(b) What difference can prayer make, if God has decreed from eternity everything that will come to pass? (My youngest son asked me this when he was only fifteen!)
4. Doubts about Prayer (II)
(c) Is prayer not merely a surrender of will, since God imposes his?
(d) If God knows our needs beforehand, why is prayer necessary?
(e) Does Paul not say that the Holy Spirit compensates our weak prayers?
(f) Is God embarrassingly limited by his own plan for this time, full of pain? (No, at all. He is following faithfully his perfect economy of redemption. In truth, our sufferings affect him. He is on his way to free us universally abd conclusively…)
(g) Is there faith nowadays as in the past? (Yes, of course! But we live in another dispensation, with its own purpose and characteristics in God’s economy of salvation.)
5. What Praying in Jesus’ Name Means and Presupposes
6. “Whatever” We Ask or the Will of God?
What “whatever” typically means to mission-minded believers
7. God’s Demonstrated Power: The Historical Foundation of Faith (This chapters contains the most fundamental truths of the book. We are not called to a blind faith exactly. It has a tangible an historical, objective, tangible basis. Unless we are not willing to believe in the witness of the prophets and apostles. This chapter may appeal even to our Atheist friends.)
8. Faith is Recognition of God’s Almightiness
(a) Incredulity laughs at God’s miraculous power
(b) Faith says: “Lord, if you are willing, you can. . .”
(c) Doubt says: “Lord, if you can . . .”
9. How Faith Can Be Strengthened – Let God Do It!
(a) If you are truly a believer, you should have faith as a mustard seed
(b) Sanctification and intimacy with God – The matrix of faith
(c) How Abraham’s faith was strengthened
(d) Learn from a simple father in despair: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” (These words of that father express the conditon of many of us, who are genuine believers but find their faith fragile. An excellent point of departure for improving our faith!)
(e) Keep Praying: Perseverance is an Expression of Faith
(f) A great faith keeps faithful to God whatever happens
10. The Will of God and Our Pain
11. Anxiety, Depression, and Prayer (This a short but inspiring chapter.)
12. Dealing with “Unanswered” Prayers
13. The Eschatological Glory: The Ultimate Purpose of Faith and Prayer (Yes! Faith, first of all, keeps us faithful to God’s eschatological promises.)
14. The Eschatological Impact of Believers’ Prayers (A wonderful, but widely unknown subject.)
15. Practical Aspects of Prayer from a Theological Perspective (I)
(a) Are there better places to pray?
(b) Is there any inherently advantageous time to pray?
(c) How long should the prayer time be?
(d) How do we avoid wandering thoughts as we pray?
(e) How insistently should we pray for something?
16. Practical Aspects of Prayer from a Theological Perspective (II)
(f) Must we observe special positions to pray?
(g) Should Christians fast?
(h) What’s the “best” prayer: accompanied or alone?
(i) To what extent or in what sense is the prayer taught by Jesus normative?