Friday, July 9, 2010

‘Pray Big: The Power of Pinpoint Prayer’ by Will Davis Jr. – Book Review

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One of the most important – and most neglected – actions in the life of a Christian is prayer. In his book ‘Pray Big: The Power of Pinpoint Prayer,’ Will Davis Jr. provides terrific pointers on what he has learned in his many years of ministry and study on this world- and life-changing activity.  

Here is the synopsis of this practical book:

Why do we settle for weak, vague prayers, couching our requests in words like “just be with Bob” or “bless Janet in her time of need”? God wants us to be bold and direct in our prayers. It’s time to pray big to unleash the power of God in the big and small things.
Will Davis Jr. calls this kind of specific and biblical prayer “pinpoint prayer.” He offers straightforward guidance on how you can call on God with focus and confidence when praying for big miracles, small details, other people, and, yes, even ourselves. He teaches you how to pray the Bible back to God and includes one hundred pinpoint prayers based directly on Scripture. Each chapter ends with questions to guide small group discussion and help you develop a more focused, passionate prayer life.

Here is the biography of the author:

Will Davis Jr. is the founding pastor of Austin Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Austin, Texas. He is a Baylor University graduate who also holds a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. In addition to being the author of six books (Wake-Up Calls, Pray Big, Pray Big for Your Marriage, Pray Big for Your Child, Why Faith Makes Sense, and Faith Set Free), Davis frequently travels and speaks to audiences on the subject of prayer. He and his wife, Susie have been married since June 1985 and have three children. The family enjoys the outdoors and, in their free time, participates in horseback riding, hiking, snowshoeing, mountain climbing, waterskiing and bicycling.

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing his wife Susie’s book, ‘Uncovered: Revealing the Secrets of a Sexy Marriage’; you can read my review here.

Here is Pastor Davis discussing his book:

Pastor Davis begins by showing us that, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus gave us a perfect prayer sample:

You know those words and have probably prayed them on countless occasions. But have you ever noticed the pure simplicity of this prayer? Have you noted its brevity and clarity? Jesus obviously was giving us a model outline for how our prayers might flow. But as a simple prayer, the Lord’s Prayer is the perfect example of what I call pinpoint praying. There’s no fluff, no fat, no extra words or theologically heavy terms. There’s just simple, spot-on, pinpoint accuracy from Jesus. Jesus acknowledge the character and sovereignty of God, surrendered to the Father’s will, and sought provision, protection, and guidance from God. That’s pinpoint praying. (p. 12)

It’s important to keep pinpoint prayers simple:

The great news is that pinpoint praying doesn’t require a master’s degree in principles of advanced theological and spiritual dialogue. In fact, it’s just the opposite. If anything, pinpoint praying is what you’re most likely to do when left to yourself. It’s the childlike, straightforward kind of communication with God that Jesus applauded in the Gospels and modeled in his own ministry. At its core, pinpoint praying is simple. (p. 14)

We’ve made praying too difficult:

…Somehow we’ve gotten the impression that true prayer requires big words, lengthy phrases, and choice theological terms. But that’s not what Jesus modeled for us. He taught his prayer-hungry disciples to pray with focus, confidence, specificity, and brevity. What a concept! If you want to be razor-sharp in your praying, tell God what you’re thinking in the most direct, blunt and simple terms possible. Pray in a language that you understand, and then trust that God will get it. (p. 15)

Pastor Davis also suggests that we use the Bible in general to pray to God:

Praying the Bible takes the guesswork out of prayer. Right at your fingertips there is an arsenal of pinpoint prayers that you know God will answer. Why spend time trying to figure out how to word your requests and needs to God when the Bible has already done it for you? Instead of struggling with what to say, just pray God’s holy Word right back to him. (p. 17)

Pastor Davis suggests we should pray big, and we should call those prayers Big, Hairy, Audacious Prayers (BHAPs):

The Bible teaches that such praying is neither arrogant nor irresponsible. In fact, both Testaments of the Bible endorse the principle of praying big. It’s the kind of praying that the Old Testament leaders and heroes engaged in. It’s the kind of praying that Jesus both modeled and encouraged. And it’s the kind of praying that we need to practice.
Do you make big asks of God? Don’t be timid in your prayers. Prayers should be as big as God’s promises and as full as God’s resources. Your requests should require the full power and provision of God. (p. 25)   

God is waiting for us to ask:

….Are you praying BHAPs? Do you regularly go before God seeking kingdom-level answers? Do your prayers require the best of God? As a follower of Christ, you need to know that you’re on solid biblical ground when you’re seeking miraculous things from God. You also need to know that all the divine power of the Creator of the universe stands ready to move when you pray. (p. 31)

We are also expected to be relentless in our prayers:

[God] wants us to persistently seek him until he answers. Tell God that you are completely serious about securing his answer. Tell him that you will not be silent until he moves in the situation for which you’re praying. Show God that you’re willing to pray and wait until he comes through just like he promised. (p. 36)

God also cares about the small things:

Philippians 4:6 instructs us to pray about everything. If Paul had wanted us to limit our praying to everything big, he certainly would have told us. But he tells us to pray about everything. For those of us who are in the habit of losing our checkbooks and car keys, that’s great news.
God is as interested in your small, seemingly insignificant requests as he is your kingdom-level, life-changing needs. God’s interest in your prayers isn’t dependent upon their relative kingdom weightiness. It’s based on his love for and interest in you. (p. 43)

Praying for little things teaches us to be dependent on God:

When I’m praying, I’m acknowledging my dependence on God. I’m deliberately unplugging from my earthly and human sources of strength and choosing rather to plug in to God’s holy and infinite source. Prayer is an all-out declaration of dependence. When you choose to seek God’s leadership, direction, and provision for something as seemingly insignificant as a parking place, the right wording of a letter, or what clothes to wear to the office, you’re acknowledging that you want and need God’s direction in every aspect of your day. You’re inviting Jesus to rule and reign as Lord over every last detail of your life. That’s pinpoint praying that pleases God. That’s prayer that teaches you how to depend on him in everything. (p. 51)

It is also important that we pray for the lost:

Without Christ, we entomb ourselves spiritually. The things unbelievers choose over Jesus become the sites of their spiritual burials – their spiritual crypts. People invest themselves in all sorts of hobbies, activities, work, recreation, relationships, and even addictions in an effort to find life; in reality, they’re lying down in their spiritual graves.
Someone who is so determined to find his or her life’s meaning in things outside the church isn’t likely to spend much time there. So it is incumbent upon us, like Mary and Martha, to get Jesus to our lost loved ones. And the way we do that is through prayer. (p. 68)

I really liked this paragraph on how we should pray that Jesus should interrupt the lives of the lost people in our lives:

When you’re praying for unbelievers, there is nothing wrong with praying for them to go to church with you. That can be a great step in helping them find Christ. But why not start by asking Christ to find them? Picture your unbelieving friends in their study, in their bedroom, in their office, in the gym, or on the jogging trail. Think about them at school, at the computer, on a date, or giving a lecture. Ask Jesus to meet your friends there. Pray that he’ll interrupt their plans and disrupt their day. Ask Jesus to ambush them in their thoughts and ideas. Encourage him to invade their privacy when they think they’re alone. Pray that they’ll have an undeniable God encounter at a time and place they least expect. In short, ask Jesus to go to the place where they’re buried spiritually and to start speaking life to them. (p. 70)

We often need to be knocked over the head in order for us to see the Lord. This is an aggressive method which should work!

We need to be involved in Peacetime Praying – praying before a crisis, not just during or after one:

One of the most important factors in crisis pinpoint praying is to be a person of prayer before the crisis hits. A crisis is not the time to start praying; it’s the time to keep praying. That isn’t always easy. It’s typically a crisis that drives us to prayer. When things are just rocking along, we usually don’t feel the need to pray. But we need to pray “in season and out” (2 Tim. 4:2), in good times and bad. Be a praying person before the hurricane blows through your life, and then when it does, you won’t have to try to start praying. (p. 84)

It’s also important that we pray with other believers:

In Matthew 18:19, Jesus used a descriptive term to help the disciples understand why praying together is so powerful. Our English Bibles typically use the word agree, but that doesn’t do it justice. The word Jesus used is the Greek word symphoneo, and you can probably see its similarity to our word symphony.  At its most basic meaning, the word means “to sound the same.” This we get the meanings “to agree,” “to be in one accord,” or “to be harmonious.” When Jesus used this word, he obviously had in mind the appealing sound of his people praying for the same things. And while Jesus probably wasn’t thinking of a symphony, it’s still a great illustration of what he meant. (p. 103)

We need to remain pure in our words and needs; David provided a good example for us:

David believed that whatever went into his heart would flow back out of his mouth, so he fed himself a strict diet of God’s commands. He contemplated, reflected on, memorized, and internalized them. He bombarded his mind with God’s teachings in the hopes that no errant thought would be allowed in or out. David prayed that as he learned the truth of God’s commands, he would always be committed to speaking it. He wanted to be a truth teller, a truth promoter, a truth messenger. He asked God to help him always speak the truth. (p. 144)

Pastor Davis suggests these seven pinpoint promises you can pray for yourself (pp. 161-168:

                1. Lord, help me hate sin.
          2. Lord, help me love prayer.
          3. God, give me a platform.     
          4. Lord, please give me the gift of brokenness.
          5. Father, please give me your heart for lost people.
          6. God, please give me wisdom.
          7. God, please make me a “so be it” Christian.

I thought this book was very helpful. Each chapter ends with probing and insightful discussion questions; therefore, it is terrific for personal or group study. I appreciate Will sharing what’s he learned over the years with us!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Revell Publishers and provided by B&B Media Group for review purposes.

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