Stone Soup for Five: Book Club { The Hidden Life of Prayer } Week 3

Book Club { The Hidden Life of Prayer } Week 3

Wow.  Chapters five and six were full of amazing (and painful) truths!  Let's just jump right in to these great chapters.  You can find chapters one and two here, and chapters three and four here.  grab a cup of coffee or cocoa and your book and let's dive in!

Chapter 5 -- The Engagement: Confession
I love one of the opening sentences: "The altar of reconciliation stands at the entrance of the New Testament temple; from the altar the worshiper passes on, by way of the laver, to the appointed place of meeting: the blood-stained mercy-seat.

Be Explicit 
We're first encouraged to be explicit in the confession of sin.  I wrote out in my prayer journal the quote at the end of the first paragraph: "A child of God will confess sin in particular; an unsound Christian will confess sin by wholesale; he will acknowledge he is a sinner in general..."

And I loved the entire next paragraph about how we confess at the moment our sin and guilt, but then as soon as possible we review with God, with deliberation, the wrong we have done.  And as we consider it with God we are to consider the guilt of it and review if perhaps this is a sin that we commonly struggle with and cast ourselves on Him that we may never again grieve Him this way.

Yield to the comforter
"It is of the first importance that in all the exercises of the secret chamber we should yield ourselves to the blessed influences of the Comforter, by whom alone we are enabled to pray with acceptance."  Just reading this made me realize how often I come to prayer without ever once thinking of the Holy Spirit and asking Him to help me, search me, guide and direct my prayers.  I always intend to, I know I need to, but the reality is that I usually forget to.

Why Deadness of Heart?
There were four reasons given for the deadness of heart we sometimes feel when we pray:

  1. We have allowed for fervor of our first love die out from lack of fuel watchful care.  "[A christian's] greatest sorrow is that he has no sorrow for sin, his heaviest burden that he is unburdened."
  2. The Holy Spirit may be causing it as conviction because of sins we have let go unnoticed.
  3. It may arise from realizing our many sins of omission, things we have been not doing, duties we haven't attempted, opportunities wasted, or grace disregarded.
  4. It may be due to our own inborn sin that we are to confess, grieve, and sorrow over, but also to remember that the sense of sin is lost, swallowed up in an ocean of peace and grace and love from Christ.
Optional Questions for chapter 5
1.  Are you explicit in your sin, naming it with the names the Bible uses and not excusing it?  
2.  Which sins are you most open to? Which sins will you always have to be watchful of?  Take some time to review them with God, ask Him to forgive you, help you hate them, and thank Him for His forgiveness and grace.
3.  Do you remember to ask the Spirit to join you in prayer?  If you need help remembering to do that, what can you do to remind yourself?
4.  Which of the four reasons for deadness of heart have you experienced?  What can you do, based on the book, to stoke the fire again?

Chapter 6 -- The Engagement: Request
"Oh brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper--and sleep too--than not to pray.  And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest.  The Lord is near.  He comes softly while the virgins slumber." 
--A.A. Bonar  (That quote, right there, is enough to start and end this chapter with, amen?  Ouch.)

I'm not going to go through each section of this chapter, but just write out a few powerful thoughts that I'll be working on for months if not years:

From a footnote:  "In prayer we tempt God if we ask for that which we labor not for; our faithful endeavors must second our devotion....If we pray for grace and neglect the spring from whence it comes, how can we [go further]? man should pray without plowing, or plow without prayer."

I love that he directly answered that age old question:  If God is going to do what He said He'll do, why should we pray?  
  1. We must pray because we are instructed to pray.
  2. By prayer we show our continued and humble dependence on the grace of God.
  3. In prayer we have communion with God.  "We will rather speak of Him than to Him." OUCH.
  4. God prepares our hearts through prayer.
  5. We are called to be fellow-laborers together with God, and part of that is through prayer.
He ended the chapter with what deep prayer looks like with some great examples of Luther, Livingstone, Bruce, and Baxter.  Of Martin Luther he said that he prayed "with as much reverence as if he were praying to God, and with as much boldness as if he had been speaking to a friend."

Optional Questions for chapter 6
1.  Are there areas in your life where you are asking God for something that you are not laboring for?  Areas you are praying without plowing, or plowing without praying?  List them out and review them with God.  Ask for His wisdom in how to pray and plow.  
2. Re-read the quote from the first of the chapter by A.A. Bonar.  Which of those great thoughts can you meditate on this week?  
3.  All of these specifics of prayer require a quieter life than most of us are living.  They require slow, thoughtful time alone with Him.  How can you find more quiet moments to spend with Him?  What could you sacrifice?

As usual, let me know what you thought of these chapters in the comments below!  There was just so much to ponder!


  1. There was so much in these two chapters! I also loved the Bonar quote and the quote by John Laidlaw just after it: "The main lesson about prayer is just this: Do it! Do it! Do it!" I would rather read about prayer sometimes than actually spend time praying so this was very convicting.

    1. I know, if I had typed all I wanted to, this post would have been as long as the chapters! Great stuff and that Laidlaw quote is very convicting because I'm right there with you in reading about prayer rather than praying!

  2. One of the four reasons for the deadness of heart that I identified with was the operation of the Holy Spirit convincing me of sins that have gone unnoticed. In particular, “search Jerusalem with candles” Zephaniah 1:12 which follows with “and punish those who are complacent” (NIV) (ouch!). During my prayer time, I need to sit quietly and allow the Spirit to search my “darkest corners” (NLT).

    Also, I was struck full on with the truth of our native sinfulness, “It has been said with much truth that the only “sign of one’s being in Christ which Satan cannot counterfeit” is the grief and sorrow which true believers undergo when God discloses to them the sinfulness of inbred sin.” So Well Said.

    The thought in the A.A. Bonar quote that I could meditate on this week is “And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest.” Less talk, more action. ☺️

    1. Yes, you are so right about sitting quietly... that's what I struggle the most with. I pray I get better at it! Yes to all of these points! So good and so painful but also strangely encouraging too.

  3. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart--These, O God, You will not despise." Psalm 51:17
    Broken...violently separated into many parts, crushed; sorrowful, disconnected
    Contrite...feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for a sin or shortcoming look down on with contempt, to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful

    Prayer no matter how great or small can never be mimicked for it is the heart of a person that is looked at by God. "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (See I Sam. 16:7)

    Theses chapters gave a bit of comfort to me because it was humbling to find out that I am not the only one who has struggled in prayer as well as with prayer. So how does one pray from the heart? It is the cry from the determination that is set upon each man's heart (through Jesus Christ) which God sees and answers. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a doubled-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-7


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