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Stephanie’s book will give you a solid, Biblical grounding for your prayer life!
Paul Miller, Author, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World
“Although many people would admit there is value in prayer, few would say prayer is the driving force in their lives.” With this incisive, rather disturbing question, Stephanie Blake begins her in-depth examination of the basic questions related to prayer. Using the prayer life of the Apostle Paul as a backdrop, she demonstrates the “why and how” of a prayer-driven life. At the same time she launches her own quest to discover the mystery of prayer.
With her husband, Richard, Stephanie has served English-speaking churches in Western Europe for a number of years. As their ministries broadened in scope, extending their ministries to Cuba, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, they organized Xtend Ministries International, a missionary entity largely supported by prayer driven faith. Stephanie has been writing her own material for use in Bible studies in churches and conference settings for over thirty years. With the encouragement of her husband, she writes some of it down in this book.
Not only does the reader find inspiration and instruction on the question of private and personal prayer, but also a thorough treatment of the theology of Paul’s prayer life, worthy of Seminary level study. Stephanie brings Paul’s prayers for his friends, his churches, and his ministry into the 21st century with her easy reading style that prevents the reader from avoiding a 21st century application to his/her prayer life. After treating the “how, who, what, and why” of prayer, the transforming power of prayer in Paul’s life is highlighted.
Although written for personal application, the book lends itself as a guide for group study. The milestones and categories that structure the book would be very helpful to systematic Bible study. Stephanie laces content with quotes from well-known prayer warriors of Christian history such as Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, D.L. Moody, E.M. Bounds, Abraham Lincoln, and Billy Graham.
The book ends with this admonition, “No matter who you are, what your past has been, or how hopeless you think your life might be, a prayer driven life can give you hope . . . and help in discovering how you, too, can communicate with the God of the universe at all times and in all places.” The Prayer Driven Life is a great “read” that drives one to “deed.”
Justice C. Anderson, Board Member, Xtend Ministries International, Professor of Missions, Emeritus, Southwestern Baptist Seminary.
The author has insightfully pointed out that Paul, the great church planter, had prayer at the foundation of his ministry. Her use of Paul’s prayers, found in each of his letters, will provide the reader with a clearer understanding of the passion he had to please his Lord. You will be challenged by this book on prayer and will be reminded “When you pray, `in the name of Jesus,’ the requests should be those such as Jesus would have prayed.” This book will be helpful to individuals and small groups desiring to grow in one’s prayer life.
Gary Waller, Rockbridge Seminary
This book is a thorough expositional study of the numerous prayers of the Apostle Paul recorded in the New Testament. The author shows how these prayers can serve as models for today’s Christians to use. She challenges the reader to give prayer a higher priority in one’s daily routine in order to experience more of God’s presence and blessings in one’s life. I especially appreciated the many wonderful quotes regarding prayer sprinkled liberally throughout the book. This book is for anyone who desires to learn how to pray more effectively. It would serve as a great study for either an individual or for a small group.
Paula K. Combs (Texas)
This book provides great insight into the early church and the life of Paul. Ms. Blake has shown the similarities and contrasts in Paul’s New Testament letters. She allows the reader to understand Paul’s heart for the early church. Paul was organized and single-minded as he wrote to the believers and was ‘praying without ceasing’ for them. I found the quotes at the beginning of each chapter well chosen and helpful in my own prayer life. I have been reminded and encouraged to pray for grace and peace each morning. I think this book would be an excellent personal or small group study for anyone seeking to improve their prayer life.
Suzanne Arrington (Little Rock, AR)
The book is a wonderful guide to learn how our prayer lives will give purpose to our days, weeks and years. Paul’s prayers in the Bible, which are the foundation for the book, are excellent examples of how we should pray. This book gave me new perspective on my prayer life for which I am most thankful.
F. Robertson (Fort Worth, TX)
Christians often reflect on Paul only as the great evangelist and missionary he was, overlooking his deep love and prayers for fellow Christians and the churches that had been started throughout the known world. “The Prayer Driven Life” opens a door to Paul’s life through which many Christians have failed to venture, and a rich blessing awaits readers as they step through the door. Not only has Mrs. Blake revealed Paul’s heart through his powerful prayer life, she has also very succinctly described how we can experience God’s power and presence through our own prayer life. Even if your prayer life is fully charged, examining the power and extent of Paul’s prayers can only enhance your own prayer maturity as you see the demonstration of Paul’s total dependence on God. Even more importantly, if your prayer life needs recharging or has never been charged, this book will convict you, encourage you, and fill your life with an overwhelming desire to be the prayer warrior that God would have you be. As you read this book, allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart, and as you do so, a magnificent spiritual blessing will be experienced.
Bob Woolley, Bible Teacher and Deacon, First Baptist Church, El Paso, Texas/Author, Prayer Devotional, a Daily Email Devotional
“The insights in the book have been such a blessing to me. You give such a comprehensive, rich look at these prayers … one could keep reading and re-reading and get new insights each time.”
Liz McNown (El Dorado, Kansas)
|The Prayer Driven Life|
|Prayer #6 of 13 prayers in Chapter 15: The Comfort Giver|
|Praise for the God of Comfort6. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).Have you ever found yourself in a situation where upon meeting another believer for the first time, he/she unexpectedly shared something very intimate with you? At the end of the telling of his story, he said something like, “I have no idea why I just told you that. I don’t think I have ever told anyone else that story in detail.” The Holy Spirit then caused you to admit, “I believe that you told me because I know exactly what you are going through. I have been there.” And then you proceed to tell your new friend how God brought you through the identical circumstance. That is the reality of what God is saying through Paul in this prayer.
Paul goes on to say, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation (2 Corinthians 1:5-7).
The God of all comfort enables us to comfort others when we truly understand their trials. That is empathy, not sympathy. Only Christian parents of wayward children can really comfort other parents going through the same situation with their children. Mothers who have lost babies in childbirth can comfort other mothers in the same circumstances in a way that no one else can. A person who has been wrongly accused of a crime and committed to prison is able to comfort someone else who has been wrongly convicted. A pastor of a church who has been unjustly fired is able to give comfort to another brother who finds himself in the same situation.
A dear friend, Junior Hill, writes in The Shadow of His Hand,
The meaning of this prayer is clearly that God is bringing comfort to those who are in tribulation for the cause of Christ for Paul’s next statement is: For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5).
Special Comfort for Repentant Believers
There is something else, though, that the God of all comfort does for us and enables us to do for others. The God of all comfort also gives us the ability to comfort those who have just experienced true repentance because of sin in their lives. Some, when confronted with the hideousness and shame of their sin upon an Almighty God, are then tempted by Satan to be unproductive because they cannot leave that sin at the cross. Sometimes a believer who does not “feel” forgiven can be as ineffective as a believer who has not yet asked for forgiveness.
Paul said, in response to the real situation in this church, Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). All believers have walked in the shoes of sinfulness and understand the need for God’s forgiveness and mercy. If God has forgiven our brother, we must as well. This was the literal case in the Corinthian church.
In his previous letter, Paul had many hard things to say to the Corinthian believers. In this letter, he tells them out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you (2 Corinthians 2:4). It is evident from this letter that repentance was expressed by one who was mentioned in his first letter (1 Corinthians 5). Since the believer has repented, Paul tells the church to receive him back, forgive and comfort him and reaffirm your love to him (2 Corinthians 2:7-8).
God is truly a merciful God who forgives those who come in true repentance. As a result of His mercy, we also experience His comfort. David knew from experience that the correcting and guiding instruments of the Good Shepherd bring comfort, Your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4). Isaiah declared the reality of God’s comforting hand when sin has been forgiven, Yes, comfort My people, speak comfort to Jerusalem . . . her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins (Isaiah 40:1). Paul told the Corinthian believers that because of the change in them, therefore we have been comforted in your comfort . . . Therefore, I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything (2 Corinthians 7:13a, 16).
The Father of mercies and God of all comfort is the Father in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). When the wayward son came to himself in the far land, he came back to his father hoping for mercy. He never expected comfort, but that is what he received from his loving father. Even though our sin breaks the heart of God and put Jesus on the cross, our Father wraps us in his loving, forgiving, comforting arms when we come to him in repentance. In His eyes, our sins were washed away by the blood of Jesus and He sees them no more. What amazing grace!
God is the Father of mercy and comfort. Consider the ways an earthly father might respond to a son’s transgression.
Suppose a father has a treasured collection of beautiful model airplanes. These airplanes are not made from a kit, but from the tools that the father has himself put together. He designs the airplane model, cuts the pieces himself, and puts the pieces together very carefully so that the result is evidence of a gift of creative genius. He autographs each one of them upon completion. Even though other models of the airplane type do exist, his is truly one of a kind.
While this father makes his models, he invites his son to watch him in his workshop. The son, too young to be trusted with actually working with the model, is just an observer. It brings delight to the father to have his son in the workshop and the son is so impressed with his father’s ability to create the model.
Upon completion of the model, the father places it carefully on the shelf reserved for it in the house and carefully instructs his son, “Now, remember how delicate this is and how much work went into it. It is not a toy to play with. It is a piece of art to admire. Please don’t touch.”
There comes a day when the little boy, now ten years old, cannot resist the temptation to play with the model. He takes it down from the shelf when his father is not at home and in the process of playing with it, he drops it and shatters it into pieces.
When the father comes home, he finds his son uncontrollably sobbing with the broken pieces of the airplane model in his hands. “Father,” he says, “I know you told me not to play with it. You warned me what would happen. Look, I disobeyed you and it is broken beyond repair. Can you forgive me?”
The father has a choice. He might respond like this:
“You are right. I did warn you. Now you see what has happened. It cannot be fixed. I can forgive you, but not only are you forbidden to touch the models, you cannot go into the room that contains the models any longer, and I don’t believe that I want you to work with me in my workshop anymore.”
You can just visualize how the son walks out of the room after his father has said these words. Not only is the model beyond repair, but the relationship between the two of them will never be the same. Crushed, this ten-year-old boy tries to figure out how he can right the relationship; but he comes up empty.
Or the father might respond like this:
Reaching out his arms, he says, “Come here, son, sit on my lap. You are right. I did warn you that the model was very delicate, but I want you to know that you are more important to me than any model could ever be. You see, I created this model for you. Someday the entire collection is going to be yours. I always wanted you to have something that I created that you could enjoy even when I was gone. You are also right about the fact that this model cannot be repaired. However, you know that I have the tools and the workshop and the supplies and we can make another one. Yes, son, I said, ‘we.’ I believe that you are now old enough and wise enough to help me in the workshop. You now know the value of the work and I know that you will be careful. I love you, son, more than I can say.” As the father put his loving, comforting arms around his son, they walked together out to the workshop.
This time imagine the reflections of this ten-year-old boy. Yes, he disobeyed. Yes, he destroyed the model. However, he learned more than the reality that the model would break and that he was capable of breaking it. He learned that his father loved him more than he ever imagined or dreamed. His relationship with his father would never be the same. It was better.
That is what it is like to feel the mercy and comfort of a God who forgives, the God of all comfort.
This prayer sets the tone for this letter. It has a completely different feeling than his first letter. Paul’s relief that his friends heeded his instructions in his previous letter is nearly tangible.