Too Busy Not to PrayPaperback Slowing down to be with God Bill Hybels
Bill Hybels' work on prayer has been widely read and appreciated for over twenty years. During this time the urgent need for prayer has not diminished, but busyness still impedes many of us from finding space to pray. These classic treasures are represented for a new generation of prayer warriors.(more...)
Our Father (Paperback) Enjoying God in Prayer £7.01 (You Save 22%)
Praying (Paperback) Finding our way from duty to delight £9.67 (You Save 12%)
The prayer God longs for (Paperback) £3.50 (You Save 50%)
The Message of Prayer (Paperback) Approaching the throne of grace £8.63 (You Save 28%)
Prayer and the knowledge of God (Paperback) What the whole Bible teaches £8.79 (You Save 12%)
Prayer and the Voice of God (Paperback) £6.15 (You Save 23%)
A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Paperback) Priorities from Paul and his prayers £10.91 (You Save 22%)
Yours is the Kingdom (Paperback) A systematic theology of the Lord's Prayer £8.79 (You Save 12%)
Bold I Approach (Prayer) (Paperback) Prayer £3.50
What would transpire if every Christ-follower got serious about prayer?
Bill Hybels believes, 'hearts would soften. Habits would shift. Faith would expand. Love for the poor would increase. Positive purposeful legacies would be built. And a ravenous hunger would rumble through us all to get usable and used in significant ways by the one true God.'
This practical and time-tested classic calls us to make prayer an urgent priority, and enlarges our vision of what God will do when his people slow down to pray.
'You'll not only be inspired, but you'll have a guidebook for prayer for the rest of your life!'
'This book can't help but boost your sense of God's nearness.'
'Thoughtful, clear, compelling and challenging'
Description of Contents:
Introduction to the twentieth-anniversary edition
God calls us into his presence
God of peace, God of power
God is willing
God is able
God invites us to talk with him
Praying like Jesus
A pattern from prayer
God breaks down the barriers between us
The hurt of unanswered prayer
Cooling off on prayer
God speaks to our hearts
Slowing down to pray
The importance of listening
How to hear God's promptings
God prompts us to action
What to do with promptings
Living in God's present
The needs around us
Questions for reflection and discussion
A guide for private or group prayer
Extent: 208 pages
Publication Date: 18/03/2011
Published by: IVP
GOD CALLS US INTO HIS PRESENCE
1. God of peace, God of power
2. God is willing
3. God is able
GOD INVITES US TO TALK WITH HIM
4. Heart-building habits
5. Praying like Jesus
6. A pattern for prayer
7. Mountain-moving prayer
GOD BREAKS DOWN THE BARRIERS BETWEEN US
8. The hurt of unanswered prayer
9. Prayer busters
10. Cooling off on prayer
GOD SPEAKS TO OUR HEARTS
11. Slowing down to pray
12. The importance of listening
13. How to hear God’s promptings
GOD PROMPTS US TO ACTION
14. What to do with promptings
15. Living in God’s presence
16. The needs around us
Questions for reflection and discussion
A guide for private or group prayer
Chapter 8: The hurt of unanswered prayer
Nearly every week someone meets me at the church or calls me and asks, ‘Bill, didn’t Jesus say, “Ask and it will given to you; seek and you will .nd; knock and the door will be opened to you”?’
Not having been born yesterday and being fairly confident where conversations that open like that usually go, I sometimes bypass a theological discussion of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:7 and simply ask, ‘Friend, what prayer have you been praying that you fear God is not answering? Let’s get right to the root of the matter.’ It’s amazing how often that response opens the door for an outpouring of honest confusion and frustration.
• I’ve been praying for my husband to stop drinking, and he came home drunk again last night.
• I’ve been praying for a job, but no-one wants a fifty-year-old middle manager.
• I’ve been praying for my wife’s depression, and now she’s threatening suicide.
On and on the lamentations go, week after week, month after month, year after year. I couldn’t begin to count how many people I’ve counselled about the mystery – or, perhaps more accurately, the agony – of unanswered prayer. And the people who suffer most keenly are those who truly believe that prayer moves mountains.
In private counselling sessions with individuals who are troubled because their prayers aren’t being answered, I use a little outline I borrowed from a pastor friend of mine:
• If the request is wrong, God says, ‘No.’
• If the timing is wrong, God says, ‘Slow.’
• If you are wrong, God says, ‘Grow.’
• But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, ‘Go!’
We’ll look at the first two problems – wrong requests and wrong timing – in this chapter, saving the third problem for chapter 9, where we can look at it in some detail.
First, if the request is wrong, God says, ‘No.’ Some prayer requests, no matter how well intentioned, are inappropriate. Jesus’ disciples were not beyond making misguided requests. Not even the three who were closest to him – Peter, James and John.
These three famous disciples once accompanied Jesus to the top of a high mountain. Suddenly God’s full glory descended upon Jesus, and Moses and Elijah appeared beside him. Beholding God’s splendour so close to where they were standing, Peter, James and John dropped back in awe. Then Peter came up with a bright idea. Some believe that, loosely translated, his request went like this: ‘Jesus, let us build shelters up here for you and Moses and Elijah. We’ll be happy to stay on the mountain with you and bask in your glory.’
Jesus’ immediate response was effectively ‘No’: a thick cloud enveloped them, cutting of further conversation. Jesus and the disciples still had work to do down in the plains where people live. They couldn’t stay on the mountaintop. Peter’s request was inappropriate, and Jesus would not grant it. (See the complete story in Matthew 17: 1-8; Mark 9: 2-8; Luke 9:28-36)
On another occasion James and John came with their mother to Jesus, asking if they could reserve the best two seats in his kingdom. It wasn’t just a good view they were after; they wanted to be Jesus’ chief executive o cers. ‘No,’ said Jesus. ‘You don’t know what you’re asking. There’s going to be a lot of pain and hardship in my kingdom before my glory is revealed. Besides, the places of honour are already reserved.’ In other words, ‘Your request is inappropriate, and I will not grant it.’ (The story is recorded in Matthew 20-23; Mark 10:35-40.)
James and John seemed to have a knack for requesting the wrong thing. Some time after the Transfiguration, Jesus and the disciples were denied a travel permit through a Samaritan village. This setback irritated James and John so much that they asked Jesus to destroy the village with .re from heaven. Once again, Jesus denied their request. In fact, he rebuked them for making it. (Luke 9:51-56 tells the story.)
Too loving to say yes
If the disciples were capable of making wrong requests – requests that were totally self-serving, patently materialistic, shortsighted, immature – so am I and so are you. Fortunately, our God loves us too much to say yes to inappropriate requests. He will answer such prayers, but he will say no. I wouldn’t want a God who would do any less than that.
With hindsight, I thank God for saying no to prayers that at the time seemed appropriate. I remember once when my church was looking to fill an important staff position. As a staff we had been praying for years that God would show us the right person to fill the need. Then simultaneously we all thought of an individual who looked custom designed to .ll the position. We asked God if this person was the one we were looking for, and we agreed to go ahead and contact him in faith.
The elders commissioned me to meet with the person and ask him to consider joining our sta. I took him to a restaurant, and we enjoyed a good lunch together. The whole time I was praying, ‘Lord, should I ask him right now? Is this the time? You know how desperately we need a person to lead in this area.’ As I was ready to launch into my presentation, it became apparent to me that God was saying, ‘No – don’t ask him.’ I had no idea why, but by God’s grace I decided not to issue the invitation. Toward the end of the lunch, the man said, ‘Was there anything else you wanted to talk to me about?’ I answered, ‘Not really. It’s been great seeing you again.’ And I went back and told the elders I couldn’t present the ministry opportunity to the man.
Six months later we learned that there was deception in the life of that leader. His entire ministry crumbled around him, and even today he is disqualified from service. That could have happened in our congregation, and God could have been dishonoured in our midst. When I heard the tragic story, I silently prayed, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for having enough love and concern for our body and for our elders and for our staff just say no.’
The importance of motives
It isn’t likely, of course, that any of us would approach God with the intention of making a wrong request. What are some wrong requests we might make without even realizing we are out of line?
The most famous wrong request is this: ‘O God, please change the other person.’ Wives make this about husbands, husbands about wives, parents about children, employees about bosses. In fact, whenever two or more Christian people have to relate closely to each other, somebody is likely to make this request.
Now it’s often perfectly appropriate to pray that someone will change. After all, that’s what we do when we pray for conversions, for hearts to be softened, for bad habits or addictions to be broken. But too often the motive behind such a request is not authentic concern for the other person.
A more genuine prayer might be this: ‘I don’t want to face my own shortcomings. I don’t want to work on this relationship. I don’t want to change at all. Instead, I want the other person to accommodate all my personal needs, so I’m asking you to change him or her.’ If you pray that kind of prayer, God may say no.
God’s glory or mine?
There are plenty of other inappropriate, self-serving prayers masquerading as reasonable requests. ‘Please give me this new account’ may be a good request for sales reps to make. There’s nothing wrong in praying for help in business; we should bring all our concerns to God. But if our motivation is to show off in front of the other reps, or to get rich in order to live lavishly, or to thumb our noses at managers who advised us not to go after the account, it’s a wrong request and God is likely to say no.
Or ministers may pray, ‘O Lord, help our church to grow.’ Surely God would want to honour that request! But if the ministers’ real meaning is, ‘I want to be a star with a big church, fancy activities and lots of media coverage’, their requests are wrong. Likewise, the Christian musicians who pray, ‘Help my album sell and my concert tour to take shape’, may be asking for personal glory, no matter how often they refer to God on stage. We can fool ourselves into thinking selfish requests are appropriate, but we can’t fool God. He knows when our motives are destructive, and he often protects us from them by saying no.
Before bringing a request to the Lord, it’s a good idea to ask: If God granted this request,
• would it bring glory to him?
• would it advance his kingdom?
• would it help people?
• would it help me to grow spiritually?
By forcing us to look closely at our requests, prayer can purify us. When we conclude that our motives have been wrong, we can say, ‘Lord, forgive me. Help me grow. Help me present requests that are in line with your will.’
Why not sign up to our weekly email for all the latest news and offers?