The Hour That Changes The World: A Practical Plan For Personal Prayer, by Dick Eastman
Although I had some issues with the author’s approach of naming it and claiming it, there was a lot I appreciated about this book. From time to time I like to read books about prayer as a spiritual discipline , and this book was certainly a very practical one and a short read I managed to finish in the course of about half an hour to an hour of reading during my lunch break at work. There is some irony in this. The author is promoting the idea that believers could find their lives drastically improved by developing a discipline of praying an hour a day, and looking at what counts according to the author as prayer, I do not think this to be an unreasonable task. Admittedly, being an overscheduled and somewhat easily distracted person I would find it difficult to devote a solid hour to it, and no doubt many people would agree, but devoting an hour through the course of a day does not appear like too difficult a challenge for someone as busy as I am, and if that is the case for me I imagine that quite a few people would likely be able to make the time–and may already be making a large amount of it.
At its core, this book is a systematic attempt at making organized prayer over the course of an hour with twelve different parts beginning and ending with praise to God. In between these two doses of five minutes of praise, the author recommends waiting (a silent reflection), confession of sins, praying over scripture, watching about outside circumstances, intercession for others, specific petitions to God, thanksgiving, singing, meditation, and listening. Each of the short chapters of this book, which goes on for about 160 pages in total, includes a few tips for that section. Many readers are likely to find that they already devote time to these elements over the course of their day–many days I find myself singing hymns and spiritual songs, and confession and praying over scripture and petitions and intercessions are all very common for me. In reading this book, I feel that the author is simply turning into a system what many people likely do in part at least informally, at least if they take communication with God seriously. After discussing the twelve portions of prayer that the author expects someone to engage in for five minutes apiece–hardly overwhelming if you include five minutes of silent reflection, five minutes of reflective prayerful Bible study, and five minutes of singing among them, for example, the author then turns his attention to looking at the destiny of nations and scriptural intercession.
Without a doubt, the praying included here is a humanly-designed system, although the types of prayer included here are definitely strongly biblical and this book is full of thoughtful citations of scripture to support the sort of praying that the author writes about. What I found most intriguing about this book, though, was the way that the author tried to cast a wide net when it came to encouraging prayer. There are some people who relish the struggle between different worldviews, but this author is as ecumenical as can be imagined. In his discussion of prayer the author looks at prayers from people as diverse as Catholics and Protestants, Arminians and Calvinists, and seeks to build as wide a basis of support for encouraging prayer as possible. Again, aside from my issues with questions of “claiming” that occur towards the end of the book, this is a solid book as far as personal devotional practice is concerned. It earns at least a cautious recommendation from me, at least.
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