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

Book Club { The Hidden Life of Prayer } Final Week!

Welcome to the last week of book club here on the blog.  I had such a good time reading through these last two chapters and was inspired and encouraged to keep growing in prayer.  I hope you were too!  If you're a little behind, find week one here, week two here and week three here.  Today we finish up!

Chapter 7--The Hidden Riches of the Secret Place
Matthew 6:6 heads up this chapter with special emphasis pointed out that the Father which sees in secret rewards openly.  From there, he describes the rewards we shall see:  holiness and intimacy with Christ.

There were so many good and exciting things written down here!  First, I loved how he described what holiness is: "A habit of mind--a setting of the Lord continually before one's eyes, and constant walking with God as one with whom we are agreed."

And the encouragement that "all decays [in the spiritual life] begin in the [prayer] closet; no heart thrives without much secret converse with God and nothing will make amends for the want of it."  Nothing will make up for not praying.  That's a powerful statement.

I wrote another "OUCH" in the margin next to "If prayer is hindered, even [if] it be hindered by devotion to other duties of religion, the health of the soul is impaired."  "Communion with God is the condition of spiritual growth."  I especially loved the last paragraph of this section where he compares progressive sanctification to the growth of a tree.  

Intimacy with Christ
This section is so full of encouragement and inspiration.  The really opened my eyes to the beauty and excitement of prayer!

The habit of prayer produces serenity of spirit.  I loved the word picture that followed: "When one looks into the quiet eyes of Him that sitteth upon the throne, the tremors of the spirit are stilled." I love reading because I love the movies that form in my mind.  When I read this sentence, I pictured me, as a beggar in rags, face smudged and dirty, on my knees in front of the throne holding up each of my problems, each of the people I'm praying for, each thing that causes me worry, thinking that maybe one of them that I'm so worried about or confused over will cause His eyes to widen in surprise, but they never do.  Each thing I hold up to Him, each person I love that I worry about and pray for, He cares about and He has completely under control.  His eyes are quiet as He listens to and hears me, and nothing ever has or ever will take Him by surprise.  Wow.  He is so good.

Prayer also trains me to rule my life according to the will of God.  I love the quotes from the hearts of real men who were amazing prayer examples, yet still struggled (it gives me so much hope!).  For example, the footnote quote from George Muller: "These last three days I have had very little real communion with God, and have therefore been very weak spiritually, and have several times felt irritability of temper.  May God in mercy help me to have more secret prayer."

Prayer also leads me to be more of an influence and of wider usefulness to God.  "It is true that we can effect little for one another by ordinary human means, but much may be done by prayer."  There is so much power in prayer!  I remember when I first started driving a car and my first solo drive into town (45 minutes or so away) thinking that I can't believe I was allowed to drive something with so much power (it wasn't an amazing car, just a station wagon, but 3000+ pounds of steel at 55 miles an hour has a huge destructive force) and I was allowed to operate it and use it!  After finishing this little book I feel the same way about prayer.  What used to be the last thing I did in my spiritual life, only if I had time or felt like it, I realize is the single most powerful part of my life, and I should wield it thoughtfully and carefully, but it is also the best way to get to know my Creator, my Redeemer, and my King!

What about you? What stood out in this section to you?  
How are you doing in growing in holiness?  Do you think prayer (or lack of it) plays a part?  
What would your life look like a month from now, if you set aside regular, formal time in prayer?  What would the lives of those you pray for look like?  (exciting to think about!)

Chapter 8--The Open Recompense
This chapter started off with a HUGE OUCH.  "It is atheism to pray and not wait in hope.  A sincere Christian will pray, wait, strengthen his heart with the promises, and never leave praying and looking up till God gives him a gracious answer."  O.U.C.H.  Lord, help me pray that way!

According to the Will of God
We are encouraged here to not doubt those prayers which are according to the will of God.  But other than some brief words that didn't really flesh this out,  I thought this is one area that I could have used some more information.  So that led me to search for some more ways to determine if what I'm praying for is the will of God and found these helpful questions from Jerry Bridges:  "First of all, is your request according to the Word of God? I’m not asking if you have a particular verse that you’re claiming. I’m asking if your request is according to the character of God as revealed in the Scripture. Is it according to the principles of the Christian life?  Second, will your request glorify God?  Third, does the Spirit give you freedom to ask the request you have petitioned? Sometimes we find ourselves praying a particular prayer, and there’s no promise in the Bible to match it..."

What we should ask for
"Let our desires be restrained, and our prayers be unselfish... daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from sin's power."  But when asking for spiritual blessings, he says we never ask in vain.  "You say you want reviving--go direct to Jesus, and ask it straight out, and you'll get it straight away.  This revived state is not a thing you need to work yourself up into, or need others to help you rise into, or need to come to England to have operated upon you.. Ask and ye shall receive!"

The ending sections of Answers to Prayer and Extension of the Kingdom was packed full of encouragement and excitement to set some real goals and try some new things in my prayer time!

I'm so thankful you read through this with me!  What an amazing little book!  What did you think of this book?  How has it changed your thoughts on prayer?  Have you changed anything in your prayer life as a result?  Let's discuss in the comments below.  


  1. I fell behind on my reading this week so not finished yet.

    1. No worries at all! These posts will all be here forever, so just add your thoughts when you can!

  2. I don't know if anyone else is having as much trouble keeping up as I am, but may I suggest that we go slower. I know I started late, but I was never able to catch up. I really want to be successful at this.

    1. Just keep plugging along and add your thoughts as you finish reading the sections. There is no timeline for you guys, I just wanted to be sure to get through it on the blog, but there is no rush for you to comment until you are ready! Thanks for joining and go whatever pace you need!

  3. I agree with all you’ve claimed about holiness and add the quote “Holiness is the harmonious perfection, the “wholeness” of the soul”. I do like that. And, “Holiness is conformity to Christ, and this is secured by a growing intimacy with Him.” Spending time in prayer with Him will certainly bring bonding and intimacy with Him.

    The final chapter left me with an affirmation of faith...of William Grimshaw “It was his custom to rise early in the morning—at five in the winter, and four in the summer—that he might begin the day with God.” I have made a habit of rising at 5:00 to meet with God for over two decades and I am a firm believer of beginning the day with God.

    I am challenged by Evan Roberts claim that there is no secret to revival, “It is only ‘ask, and receive’.” Learning how to persist in prayer and push past the doubt created by worldly negativity and uncertainty is a continuing work in process.

    I enjoyed reading this book and the exchange of thoughts on prayer. The book was chuck full of nuggets of prayer wisdom. One takeaway is that when spending time in prayer—be consistent, be patient, do not rush, do take the time. Thank you, Kari, for following God’s calling to lead this online book club and giving us all the graceful opportunity to share.

    1. Yes, I was greatly convicted by the William Grimshaw quote too. I rise early but don't always use that time well. It gave me a renewed desire to work hard at maintaining focus on what I rose early to do!

    2. Oh, yes, I can totally relate. MOST of the time, I would find myself planning my day! So, I started keeping a pad and pen by my side and would jot down any ideas that popped up to distract me and dealt with them when I was done praying. Which did indeed worked better. But, then, I followed your lead and created a prayer binder and THAT gave me the focus I needed! But...I found I would check the weather, email, etc BEFORE I started to pray and was bombarded with conviction to get with God first—absolutely first! So there it is, the prayer binder has my priority and I begin each and every day with God! ☺️

  4. Thanks for leading this online book club! I am enjoying reading everybody's thoughts, and it is helping me to think about the book more deeply. I listened to the audio book version since I have a long commute to work. I think I will have to go back through and jot down my take aways to think more on since it is harder to go slowly while listening to it. One of the main things that stood out to me was that the enemy hates prayer and tries to keep us from it. That is something I want to keep reminding myself of to help me keep from falling into his distraction and laziness schemes!

    1. I love that you listened to the audio version! It is one that I will definitely read and re-read!

  5. I highlighted so much in chapter 7 and also loved chapter 8. I am convinced that I need to take my prayer life seriously. My influence may be unknown to me but powerful nonetheless. Plus I need the constant contact with God for my own sake. I am not sure yet what I will do with all I learned but it was a great book.

  6. After all I have learned in the last 4 chapters of this book, I find myself writing out more of my prayers as I feel this might help me be explicit and precise with my words.That writing might help me to slow down,
    hoping by slowing down I will also be more open during these prayers to hear the spirit leading and direction making for a more conversational prayer time.


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