Again, scraping in close to the wire, partly this month because for most of the month there was no one book that grabbed me and that I felt I had to write about. That is not to say there have not been some good books, such as Janet Frame's first collection of short stories, an anthology of comic stories, H G Wells' engaging but slightly strange book Marriage or the ever delightful Psmith. Instead I have decided on a book I am only half way through: God on Mute: Engaging in the Silence of Unanswered Prayer by Pete Grieg, recommended to me by a friend as I have struggled with prayer for quite a time now. I often struggle to want to pray and I find myself worrying about prayer, particularly in light of all the terrible things happening around the world. Or I end up feeling that as prayer is one of the few things I can do, I ought to be doing it more or "trying harder".
God on Mute is a book about faith, about prayer, specifically grappling with unanswered prayer and why our prayers might not be answered. Pete Grieg set up the 24/7 Prayer network and in his own life has had serious struggles and unanswered prayers meaning he writes with power and from personal experience. Pete Grieg combines this personal material with solid theology, presented in an accessible way and structured loosely around the narrative of Maundy Thursday to Resurrection Sunday. Some of what it has to say is not necessarily what we want to hear about prayer and about God, but it is what we need to hear.
I cannot fully write about this book or do it justice: God on Mute is honest, godly, transformative. I am only part way through the book but already feel freer, less worried, with an increased understanding of prayer, how wrestling with prayer can draw us closer to God. How suffering does not mean we have done something wrong, but that suffering and persisting in prayer through the hard times can draw us closer to God. It is so refreshing to read a modern Christian writer affirm that life is hard, but God is good. The world is broken, life is hard, but that is not the end of the story: God is with us, Jesus died and was buried and rose again so that one day things can be different, the battle may rage around us, but the war, ultimately is won.
If you want a taster of Pete Grieg's teaching on unanswered prayer he has recently done a sermon on the subject at his church, which is well worth a listen (also available as a podcast). Then go and buy a copy of the book, I am thinking of buying at least one more copy so I can start lending it round.
To see the rest of the year in books entries for July click here