My first introduction to Priscilla Shirer was her Bible study on Jonah (Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted). I loved it! I was an almost-college-graduate who joined this study with the married women in our church. Each week we gathered together to watch Priscilla’s teaching videos and discuss our homework.
Since then, I have followed Priscilla Shirer on social media but haven’t had the opportunity to participate in another study. So I was absolutely thrilled when I came across her book Fervent.
I eagerly began to read. The book was incredibly timely because my prayer life had been gradually fading and her entire emphasis was prayer. Then, it felt too timely. So I quit.
I walked away from the book. Every chapter was more convicting than the last and I just couldn’t deal.
I moved onto a long string of just-for-fun books. The stress level of adding a foster child to our house caused me to withdraw from my spiritual growth books. I’ve always favored literature and fiction, but I had been carefully selecting at least one spiritual book to read every month or two.
It was time to finish what I had started and put Priscilla’s fervent prayer life into practice. So early August, I picked it up again. And it was every bit as challenging, convicting, and encouraging as it had been the first time.
Toward the beginning of her book, she speaks of prayer that is “an afterthought, a formality, a mindless mix of duty and manipulation, some we do but usually don’t do, and rarely if ever do with any meaning and vitality, with confidence and clarity.”
Wow. She nailed so many of my prayers this past year with that one sentence.
She immediately encourages us. She says, “Prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth. It is kryptonite to the enemy and to all his ploys against you…We’re going to do it by touching on the areas of your life that the enemy is targeting the hardest – the bulk of what frustrates you, worries you, defeats you, exasperates you, angers you, taunts you, deflates you, and sometimes makes impossible demands on you.”
That’s the kind of prayer I need! She tells of her friend who prayers “faithfully, personally, [and] punctually.” We go to God the same way we go to an intimate friend. And the more constantly we approach Him in this way, the more natural it becomes.
What I loved about Priscilla’s style in this book is that the beginning paragraph of each chapter reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. In his book, Lewis narrates an imagined correspondence between demons sent to distract humans from their relationships with God.
For example, Priscilla begins her chapter on “Your Identity: Remembering Who You Are” with these words:
If I were your enemy, I’d devalue your strength and magnify your insecurities until they dominate how you see yourself, disabling and disarming you from fighting back, from being free, from being who God has created you to be. I’d work hard to ensure that you never realize what God has given you so you’ll doubt the power of God within you.
In another chapter opening, she says as the enemy, “Because if I can’t separate you from God forever, I can at least set you at odds with Him for the time being.”
With some of her closing words, she continues to encourage us. She says, “If you ever don’t know what to pray exactly, just start with gratitude. Affirm out loud that you know He is there and that He cares for you, no matter what difficulty may be pressing down on you at the moment.”
This book is truly evidence of the Holy Spirit alive and working in and through the life of Priscilla Shirer. It pushed me to grow in my prayer life. It’s a book that, quite honestly, as soon as I finished reading, I ought to have picked it up and started again. She perceptively describes many tactics of the enemy and then encourages through stories and Scripture how to fight these attacks. The end of every chapter is full of Scripture to pray on that chapter’s topic.
It’s a resource that everyone should read. I highly recommend this book – for yourself, for a friend, for your small group. What other books or resources on prayer have impacted your life? I’d love suggestions – send me a tweet @R_Adelsberger