What I like about Pete Greig's God on Mute is it's got-level honesty, vulnerability, rawness and authenticity. There is no plug and play mentality like the Prayer of Jabez, where you download a piece of scripture into the rubble of your life and suddenly all the territories of your life are increased.
God on Mute, reveals the reality that unanswered prayer is a journey through seasons...where beyond cliche' answers...that far greater truths can be found in the mystery of discovery.
Much of Pete's reflection comes from navigating the dark endless valleys, deserts and occasional mountain tops with Samie...the diagnosis, brain tumour, surgery and continuing seizures. It was a book that Samie needed when she was ill...in the midst of struggling with unanswered prayer...the book offers a sense of humour and hope.
God on Mute draws insights from some of the great writers on suffering, such as St. John of the Cross, Elie Wiesel, CS Lewis, Brennan Manning and Philip Yancey. It is really a book on the practicalities of prayer: how it works; why it doesn't always work; how to get better at it; how to navigate the disappointments without losing your faith; and how to cope with those who seek to interpret your experince for you.
Now I know that sounds like a lot of " How to ", but Pete has an amazing ability as a writer to spread his thoughts out that they don't come across as a formula.
The book is broken into three larger pieces searching for biblical answers to the intellectual problems of unaswered prayers: God's world and the way it seems to work; God's will and the way it seems to interact with human free will; and God's, the cosmic struggle between good and evil.
Pete and Samie's story is not everyones...but it gets close, we all share the experience, we all struggle with prayers not being answered as we would like. The book is much more than their personal journal of a painful journey, it is filled with good quotations, good stories and solid preceptions of what the bible says about prayer.
Some are going to look at this book and judge it by its cover. It looks and feels like one of those " emerging books." Not that is a bad thing, but some will suspect it's content will be soft, lacking real truth and content. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don't be fooled. This is by far one of the most serious books on prayer I've read in a long time. It is a must read!!!
Pete offers 16 reasons why prayer might not be working...
- Common Sense; Am I asking God to do something stupid, meaningless or illogical?
- Contradiction; Are my prayers likely to be conflicting with those of someone else?
- Laws of Nature; Are my prayers potentilly detrimental to the natural order or to the lives of others?
- Life is tough; Am I expecting God to spare me from stuff that's just common human experience because of the Fall?
- Doctrine; Does my prayer reflect God's character and his promises in the Bible? Might it be out of line with his will for my life?
- Second best; Although my desire in prayer is for something good, is it possible God has something even better in store for me?
- Motive; Are my prayers essentially just selfish?
- Relationship; Is there an opportunity here for going deeper in my relationship with God?
- Free will; Am I expecting God to override someone's free will?
- Influence; Am I trying to exercise ungodly power over a person's life in prayer?
- Satanic opposition; Is my prayer in line with God's will but experiencing resitance from the powers and principalities Paul spoke about?
- Faith; Do I really believe God can do this?
- Perserverance; Do I want it enough to keep praying?
- Sin; Getting brutally honest, is there some secret sin sin you need to confess?
- Justice; Am I actively seeking to express God's love for the poor?
- None of the first 15; Am I trying to find answers where I need instead find trust?
What I like about Pete's list of 16 reasons why prayer's are "not answered" , a phenomeno-logical way of saying " they were answered but not according to my designs "...is their completeness, there honest rational thinking, and their biblical foundation. They are not simple answers; they are well thought out, lived ideas that lead us to reflect and meditate on why it is that God, at times, does not answer our prayers.
Jesus himself suffered the pain of unanswered prayer during His Passion. In the Garden of Gethsemane he uttered the heart breaking cry of dispair, " Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me." Pete Greig says that Christians must also embrace what Jesus said next: " Yet not what I will, but what you will." The power to choose God's will instead of one's personal preferences is the defining human opportunity, he says. It means saying " yes " to God, no matter what the cost.
Pete uses the frame work of the Easter drama to gude readers into a deeper understanding of prayer, suffering and sacrifice. The journey through the three days of the Pssion asks the hard questions:
- Maunday Thursday: How am I going to get through this?
- Good Friday: Why aren't my prayers being answered?
- Holy Saturday: Where is God when heaven is silent?
Finally on Easter Sunday, every prayer is answered. Living as we do with the hindsight of Easter, " we know God may be silent but that he will speak again ", Pete says. Christian faith is based on the greatest story ever told about suffering and silence, miracles and hope. The story of Christ's agony, abandonment, and eventual resurrection reamins the hope for a hijacked world.
I highly recommend Pete Greig's , " God on Mute ", I have no doubt on my journey, it will be a book I will go back to time and time again.