Review of Unleash the Power of Prayer in Your Life by Horace Williams, Jr.
Have you wondered what the purpose of prayer is? Have you felt guilty that you should be praying more?
I have often wondered if I was praying “right.” Wondering if maybe God would listen to me more if I did certain things a certain way. But that is religion, ritual, all things we in evangelical Christendom abhor.
But I was always left with a vague question, “So I know what not to do. What should I do? What should I be praying about and how often?
If you've had some of these same questions, you will find some answers from Horace Williams, Jr.'s short book called Unleash the Power of Prayer in Your Life. While it's not an exhaustive theological treatise on prayer, it will give the ordinary Christian several example prayers, suggestions about what to pray, and how to pray.
Out of the many good qualities about this book, I will focus on the three most important to me. This book is Biblical, Biographical, and Motivational.
Not filled with fluff; backed up by the Bible. I appreciated Horace Jr.'s commitment to basing most of his assertions and opinions on Scripturally sound theology.
The author uses lots of verses throughout each chapter, always set off in italics, which makes for easy reading and referencing. Some of the verses are my favorites, which especially touched my heart.
One of God's traits that has meant the most to me is His faithfulness. The Conclusion focuses on the Faithfulness of the Lord, one of main reasons to persist in petition.
I personally related to the teaching on listening to the Lord Psalm 46:10 and John 10:27 (chapter 6). Prayer is not just us verbalizing our wish list or reciting verses back to Him, though portions of our prayers can include these things. But the purpose of prayer is communicating with the God of the Universe. Any conversation should never be a one-way street, or it becomes merely a speech, a sermon, an oration. We also need to spend time listening to the Lord's response to our prayers.
Personal and relatable with many illustrations, examples, and opinions. For example, Horace Jr., though still patiently waiting for full healing through limitations left from his stroke, determined to remain grateful for all the healing he has already experienced (chapter 7). The reader is drawn in to appreciate the author's style and even the accomplishment of finishing this book while typing with just one hand. Horace Jr. is encouraging and comes along beside each reader. Whatever limitation or trial you're going through, Horace Jr. knows how tough it can be, but he has persevered with thankfulness. And you can, too.
Sample prayers at the end of each chapter. Each chapter concludes with a sample prayer that incorporates the main teaching of the chapter into a simple conversation-starter. These are personal, written in first person, obviously from Horace Jr.'s own prayer life. They give a glimpse into his thought process as it relates to real prayers, and they also give the reader a place to start (not a rote prayer to memorize and recite but a starting topic to elaborate on in their own prayers).
Many wonderful analogies and word pictures. My favorite such analogy was of a parent waiting until the child is old enough to drive before handing them the keys. It represents God answering our prayers with a “not yet,” maybe not until we're ready or spiritually mature enough (chapter 5: Power of Perseverance).
Inspirational application in chapter 8, Purposeful Prayer. Horace Jr. reminds us to remind God of His promises like a child persists in reminding his parents of their promises. He invites us to ask: “Are my prayers all about me?” or are they all about Him? Am I seeking to do His will, seeking to fulfill His plan, seeking to help bring His Kingdom? Am I seeking His Kingdom first (Matt. 6:33)?
A few of my favorite quotes:
“Take advantage of the blessing you have to speak with God every day. Jesus's sacrifice on the cross ripped the veil in two...” (conclusion)!
“...continue praying humble. He will reveal what you can do if you actively wait to hear form Him” (chapter 5, emphasis mine). We have a responsibility to act; but not according to our will or on our timeline.
“God is not some Santa Claus in the sky to whom we pray our wish list” (chapter 5). This is what I've been teaching my sons.
A few sentences seemed out of place: for example, the author included James 5:16: “The effective prayers of a righteous man accomplish much” in the chapter on discipleship. I felt that it should either have been in a separate chapter on intercession, or the chapter should have focused more on intercession and the chapter title been changed (chapter 4).
The sample prayer at the end of chapter 4 was very evangelistic, good and true, but it did not match the rest of the chapter about discipleship.
Though very motivational with lots of illustrations and sample prayers, it was not what I would consider practical. There were no steps or actions to take, just a Power Point at the end of each chapter, which though good and true and summarizing, still not always actionable. Those who like homework and checklists will be disappointed.
Some points could be more concise, like the entire first page on chapter 5.
I disagreed with his absolute statement in chapter 8: “Yes, you should converse with God throughout the day. However, it is imperative you have a plan and a place” (emphasis mine). I don't think it's absolutely necessary to choose one specific place and go there at a specific time on a regular schedule. Our life with Christ is a relationship, and in relationships, the best times of communication don't come when we schedule a specific time on a specific day to talk about a specific subject. “Okay, Honey, it's two o'clock. Time to talk. What do you want to talk about it?” “I don't know, what do you want to talk about?” “I don't know.” It becomes rote, just another task to check off the old to-do list. The author says he feels “closer to Him in our special place of prayer.” I don't feel closer to husband in any one place than I do any other place. There are times of closer intimacy when we're alone; I agree that we should have “alone times” with the Lord in prayer. But it can be while washing dishes or mowing the lawn or driving down the road. It doesn't need to be the same place every time.
Conclusion: Except for a few negative qualities, my main impression was good. This is a quick read, a great little book for a gift or someone who just wants an authentic reminder of what power can do and what the God of the universe has allowed us to do through prayer.
Join the Conversation: When reading about theological issues like prayer, do you personally prefer deeper or intellectual treatises, or do you prefer more conversational, personal reminders?
[I couldn't add page numbers as references, because I got the digital version on my Kindle reader, and there were no page numbers (and they would have been different from any other version anyway). So I just gave the chapters. :)