The Lifestyle Of A Watchman: A 21-Day Journey To Becoming A Guardian In Prayer, by James W. Goll
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Chosen Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Although I am by no means a famous or notable prayer warrior, even within my own denominational culture, the subject of intercessory prayer is one that I am definitely familiar with and do reflect on from time to time . Fairly commonly I am asked to pray on behalf of a choir, or on behalf of my local congregation, and it is a responsibility I take seriously. Moreover, at times I have prayed for many hours, sometimes even all night, concerning the crises that I have been a part of during the course of my eventful life. I say this not to brag about my own prayer life, but rather to comment on the fact that the subject matter of this book is certainly one that deals with one of my own characteristic concerns. And, it should be pointed out, that this book does a good job at bringing to bear passages that relate to the duties of a watchman in a wide variety of ways, making this a worthwhile book for those who want to be encouraged in praying for others.
In terms of its contents, this book contains an introduction and then twenty-one chapters break up the task of intercessory prayer into three parts, each of them with a characteristic figure. The first seven chapters for seven days focus on Abraham as a figure for intimate intercession, dealing personally and directly with God. The second seven chapters deal with Anna, the elderly prophetess who prophesied over the baby Jesus in the temple, as an example of a lifestyle of sacrifice. The third seven chapters for the last seven days deal with Daniel as a model of consecration, and praying for institutions and leaders in the grand scheme of events. Each of the chapters includes a key scripture, some extensive commentary, often drawing upon the lives of famous prayer warriors in the Bible and in more contemporary experience, as well as a prayer and some questions for the reader to ask in order to think about the contents of the chapter as a whole. All in all, this book is an effective introduction for the reader on the matter of intercessory prayer and it contains many references to the lives of others, some of whom I have even heard about, as well as to other books and ministries related to the general subject.
Is this an effective book at its subject? I would say that it is. Certainly this book was thought-provoking for me, and in reading this book I wondered for myself if I do a good enough job at interceding for others in my life, as well as church leaders and political leaders who could certainly use my prayers and those of other believers. For those of us who believe that much of our political scene is unseemly and that our society is in a state of moral crisis, intercessory prayers marks a way to engage in the real spiritual battleground that we are called to deal with as believers. Additionally, it is hard to feel badly about people we pray for and are genuinely concerned about spiritually. All of this suggests that the author has done a good job at dealing with a topic that can be somewhat complicated and contentious. That is not to say that I think this work is beyond criticism, as its detailed categories of intercessory prayer warriors was more than a little bit off-putting and a bit too tidy, but rather that I think this book succeeded in its mission and is worthy of being read and considered thoughtfully, which is all I can expect from a book of this subject matter and approach.
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