For me, reading is enjoyable all year round; but to be able to read outdoors in the Summer months is extra, extra enjoyable. When I read I am always excited about the new things I will be taught. For me, reading is not just a hobby, or just a pastime; instead I choose it to gain wisdom, and even to build character.
Two of my books are: If My People Pray, by Randy Maxwell, not new off the press, I just hadn’t read it yet. The next book is entitled: A People’s History Of the United States, by Howard Zinn-National Bestseller.
The quote “If My People Pray…” comes from a Bible verse in the book of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which the author describes as “has been set to music, interjected in countless speeches and sermons, and has become almost as familiar to Christians as the twenty-third Psalm.” It states, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I grew up being taught how to pray and why I should pray, and I gratefully seek a time for prayer throughout each day. But now that I am reading Randy Maxwell’s book on prayer, I realize that I too could be “as barren of the Spirit of God as were the hills of Gilboa of dew and rain.” Not to worry, there’s hope for me…and besides, this is why I love to read…because I love to learn!
There are so many wonderful thoughts in this book that have helped me, and I believe will also help you, to either begin a prayer life, or to enhance your time with God that you currently enjoy. By now you might be thinking ‘why should someone tell me how I should pray?’ The good news is, this author does not tell us how we should pray, he so tactfully helps us to understand why we should pray.
Randy Maxwell’s thoughts:
“The Lord’s name is His glory. And, like Moses, through prayer, you and I can and must ask for God to reveal and cover us with His “glory.” And because God is eager to share Himself with His people, He gives us that name, and we are enfolded by His “goodness,” branded with the “glory” of His compassion and grace. The call to prayer is a call to first receive and then reveal God’s glory-to experience and live in His awesome presence. It is not the voice of a stranger or enemy who calls. Rather, it is the voice of one who knew and loved us with an everlasting love long before we were born (Psalm 139:13-16); One who provides, redeems, heals, sanctifies, shepherds and saves. One who paid with His life to give us His name.
Bear that name with pride, representing it before the world in everything you say and do. Possess that name fully as your own, and with it-in prayer-open the windows of heaven. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
“Lord, I confess that I have often approached prayer more out of a sense of duty than out of a sincere belief that it would make a real difference. When my conscience convicts me that I should pray, I rush through a set of well-rehearsed phrases to make me feel like I have done my part. But this must stop. I now realize that my own pride and unbelief have kept me from a rich and meaningful prayer life. I see now that what appears weak and foolish to me is what God uses to demonstrate His wisdom and power. Teach me to grasp the “foolishness of God.” Help me to humbly seek You in prayer. Move me beyond the rut of pet phrases and pious-sounding words to heart-to-heart communion with you. Meet me on my knees, Jesus, and show me Your glory. I can’t make it without You.”
This is what I am learning from this book; I need to receive-reveal-experience-live. And then I can exclaim anew with the Psalmist “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.”
The second book by Howard Zinn is a stark contrast. This book was given to me last Christmas by my elder son in-law. Evidently he remembered me saying that I love history and have procrastinated in taking an American History class. I am now reading the second chapter; not only have I had to stop reading it several times because it’s content made my stomach sick, but I am also wondering if I will ever want to even acknowledge “Columbus Day” again. I will share two paragraphs:
“To emphasize the heroism of Columbus and his successors as navigators and discoverers, and to deemphasize their genocide, is not a technical necessity but an ideological choice. It serves-unwittingly-to justify what was done.”
” My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; It would be a useless, scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)-that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth. We have learned to give them exactly the same proportion of attention teachers and writers often give them in the most respectable of classrooms and textbooks. This learned sense of moral proportion, coming from the apparent objectivity of the scholar, is accepted more easily than when it comes from politicians at press conferences. It is therefore more deadly.”
So, I will continue reading this astounding history, and bear in mind the thoughts of the author “… not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia.”