Review by Gloria Furman
“Praying in Jesus’ name is not merely the postscript to a good prayer; it is the prelude to God’s providing the best of all things for his loved ones” (page 189).
The subtitle of this book might seem like an over-promise at first glance: “Transform your prayer life by beginning in Jesus’ name.” But if you understand the principle behind that statement, you have to agree that our prayers are different when Jesus’ priorities come first.
Praying Backwards is an incredible, God-centered book on prayer. I know there might not be any room for another book on prayer in your bookshelf. That’s okay—you can download it to your mobile reading device!
Here are a few of the reasons why I can’t recommend this book highly enough:
- Praying Backwards is a thoroughly Trinitiarian treatment on prayer. How refreshing!
- The thesis is grounded in the gospel: “By praying in Jesus’ name, we petition God for blessing not on the basis of our discernment but on the basis of Christ’s work on our behalf.”
- The author’s arguments are supported by the foundation of solid scriptural exposition (as opposed to subjective personal experiences).
- The author’s clarification of the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer. (I elaborate on this further below.)
- A short section titled “More than a Conversation” on pages 176-178 contains a powerful Trinitarian description of prayer (see my first enthusiastic point).
On Romans 8:22 and following…
In this passage Paul compares the pains of childbirth to our wait for Jesus to make all things right.
“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:22-23
I can’t think of any books on prayer that contain expositions of Romans 8:22 that are even half as helpful as Chapell’s. I’m going to restrain myself from quoting the entirety of chapter 4 (“Praying in the Spirit: power beyond our power”) so here’s a brief paragraph:
“The Spirit cries as in the agonies of one birthing new life because new life is being formed—a new world order. The world is hurtling toward the kingdom of God for which Jesus taught us to pray. Yet at the same time the Holy Spirit groans with urgency and affection beyond our ability to muster, urging the heavenly Father to fashion all things for the good of his children. The Spirit becomes Christ’s instrument of intercession for us. He pleads for God to order the temporal world for our eternal good. And because our Triune God cannot deny himself, the Father must respond to the near and dear cries of the Spirit (2 Tim. 2:13). The Father makes all creation bow to our good in response to the pleading of the Spirit” (pg. 70-71).
You can read the section he’s referring to in Romans 8 here.
“When we pray, God listens to our heart and he changes our world. It’s difficult to say which is the greater blessing. Each response is astounding in itself, and together they point toward prayer feels more vast than we can comprehend. Yet an inkling of the privileges that are ours fills us with power, peace and fresh desire to pray” (page 181).
Click here to view Praying Backwards on Book Depository (cheaper than Amazon + free shipping worldwide).