Prayer changes things. That makes prayer dangerous and the pray-ers themselves a danger to anything that opposes the kingdom of God. Dangerous Prayers is a collection of powerful prayers and a brief biography of those who prayed them.
Growing up, a constant refrain rang in my ears from my parents whenever I faced a problem: “Have you prayed about it?” I’m not sure why we make prayer our last resort instead of our first response, but it often seems that some of the most heartfelt, passionate prayers are offered up in the darkest of times.
Dangerous Prayers offers a short biography of some world-changing people who changed the world in large part because of their desperate dependence on God’s help, as seen in the frequent and bold prayers they prayed. Many of these prayers were prayed in dark places—prisons, before the executioner, in the midst of war, in unimaginable poverty, or staring down the evils of slavery. These men and women repeatedly turned to God, and God repeatedly strengthened them to accomplish amazing things. Some of the answers to prayer came in their lifetimes, and some prayers were only answered long after they had died.
Dangerous Prayers is an excellent coffee table book. By that, I mean it’s a great book to leave out in the open as a conversation-starter. Parents could read these short biographies and prayers with their children, and friends could use them as a bridge from past history to current events. But more than anything, keep Dangerous Prayers close at hand will—I sincerely hope—cause you to turn to prayer frequently and boldly.
I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.
As I said in my book review of Amy Carmichael’s book If, this is definitely not a book for everyone. Amy herself said, “It is clear, I think, that such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be undershepherds.” So the quotes I’m sharing today are just a few of her “If…” statements that especially resonated with me in my role as an under-shepherd pastor.
“If I enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, ‘Just what I expected,’ if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I cast up a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin against another, and allow my remembrance of that sin to color my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I do not give a friend ‘the benefit of the doubt,’ but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I say, ‘Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,’ as though the God who twice a day washes all the sands on the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“Let us listen to simple words; our Lord speaks simply: ‘Trust Me, My child,’ He says. ‘Trust Me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandoned to My will than ever thou didst before. Trust Me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute. And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering that flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt so much as that. Draw all the closer to Me.’”
Amy Carmichael was a committed follower of Jesus Christ! She served as a missionary in India, where she operated an orphanage, for 55 years. During all that time, she never took a furlough, but remained at her post, faithfully loving Indian children with God’s love. She wrote a number of books, but perhaps the most hard-hitting is a little book simply called If.
This isn’t a book for everyone. In fact, Amy herself wrote, “It is clear, I think, that such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be undershepherds.” By ‘undershepherds,’ Amy is referring to those who feel God has called them into full-time vocational ministry.
(A little side-note. I feel the Bible is clear that all followers of Christ are to be involved in ministry [see Ephesians 4:11-16], but God has appointed some to positions where their ministry is also their vocation. These ‘undershepherds’ [see 1 Peter 5:2-3] will have to give account to God for the handling of their vocational ministry [Hebrews 13:17]. It is to these folks that Amy writes.)
Amy set the bar high for herself. She expected to be continually growing in her level of commitment to Christ, and she expected that her outward life would continually show greater devotion to her Savior. If comes out of Amy’s personal introspection in the Holy Spirit’s presence on how she was progressing in her faith-walk with God.
If is written as a series of challenges that all follow the same format: “If I don’t measure up to God’s standard in this area … then I know nothing of Calvary love.” I realize this sounds challenging. In fact, this book smacked me right between the eyes! This is why If is only for a small segment of people.
Warren Wiersbe’s book 10 People Every Christian Should Know was filled with lots of quotes by and about the notable historical figures he covered in his book. You can read my book review by clicking here, but these are some of the quotes I highlighted while I was reading.
“You have been asked to take notice of the sayings of dying men—this is mine: that a life spent in the service of God and communion with Him is the most pleasant life that anyone can live in this world.” —Matthew Henry, on his deathbed
“I am greatly persuaded that the generality of preachers talk of an unknown, unfelt Christ. And the reason why congregations have been so dead is because dead men preach to them.” —George Whitefield
“To quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open up the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.” —William Temple, giving his definition of worship
“There are men called by God to preach on the issues of the hour, and we need their ministry. But for permanent strengthening of the church, we also need preachers who will dig again the old wells and lead us intelligently down the old paths and who, renouncing cheap pulpit rhetoric, will focus the white light of revelation on the human heart and examine us in that light.” —Warren Wiersbe
“Want of trust is at the root of almost all our sins and all our weaknesses, and how shall we escape it but by looking to Him and observing His faithfulness. The man who holds God’s faithfulness will not be foolhardy or reckless, but he will be ready for every emergency.” —J. Hudson Taylor
“I’d rather be able to pray than to be a great preacher. Jesus Christ never taught His disciples how to preach, but only how to pray.” —D.L. Moody
“The work will never go deeper than we have gone ourselves” —Amy Carmichael
“You can be much more for Him than ever you know by just being yourself and relying on Him…. Keep praying and playing and being yourself.” —Oswald Chambers
“You can never give another person that which you have found, but you can make him homesick for what you have.” —Oswald Chambers
“Stop having a measuring rod for other people. There is always one fact more in every man’s case about which we know nothing.” —Oswald Chambers
“The best book is not one that informs merely, but one that stirs the reader up to inform himself.” —A.W. Tozer
10 People Every Christian Should Know is a quick survey of notable Christian movers and shakers from the 1600s through the 1960s. Warren Wiersbe gives us a quick overview of their lives, attempting to whet our appetites to learn more about them.
By no means are these in-depth biographies, but rather short biographical sketches of their lives. Rev. Wiersbe quotes from other biographies and works written by the person being studied to give us insight into why they belong on this “Top 10” list. Each chapter contains Rev. Wiersbe’s recommendations about which books to read by or about that person to go deeper in your study of their life and beliefs.
I don’t have any arguments with the list of distinguished people who made this list, and I found the book recommendations in each chapter helpful, as well as the extensive list of reference books and biographies at the end of the book. The only thing I found slightly off-putting was Rev. Wiersbe’s commentaries into why the spiritual experiences of some of the subjects weren’t what they were portrayed to be. It would have been far better for him to simply say, “Here’s what happened, and here’s where you can read more.” Other than that, I would recommend this book as a great starting point for anyone who loves studying history as much as I do.
By the way, the Top 10 people covered in this book are: