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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great on prayer, bit harsh on the enlightenment, 30 May 2011
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This review is from: A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (Paperback)
Three things have stuck in my mind about what this book teaches about prayer. The first is to really be like a kid in God's presence. To call him daddy. Not to worry about pulling at his sleeve. Not to fuss if your mind wanders. Just be as you are, like kids. Of course we Christians know this, but it's so easy to adopt a religious tone when you pray. I am grateful to Miller for drilling this point home. The second is to pray for small things - his disabled daughter pouring milk, parking spaces....everything. It's worth trying. Nothing to lose. I've found it's making a difference. And the third is his system of prayer cards for people. It makes you think carefully about what you want to see happen in the lives of those you love. And when the answer comes,there's the card with the request to remind you that you prayed. The book is a great encouragement. So much so that I definitely hope to read it again.

There was also an excellent chapter on the grim impact of cynicism. The author then went on in another chapter to argue that its roots are with the enlightenment which divides the world into `facts' and `feelings'. As religion is in the `feeling' section, it is by definition not real. This paradigm in the mind then inevitably breeds cynicism towards religion. There is surely much mileage in this argument, but the way the author dealt with the origin of the enlightenment was a bit harsh. He writes, `leading thinkers decided they didn't need God anymore.' It would have been fairer to say that any thinker, let alone leading thinkers, faced with a medieval Christianity had sent thousands of women to be burnt alive for allegedly being witches, and which in the 17th C had shattered Europe with a war that had killed about a million had sanely come to the conclusion that the world would be a safer place if religious dogma - not God - was kept to the sidelines. He could have then gone on to explain that when Christianity fused herself with the enlightenment principles, or became Erasmian, it was then incredibly successful, especially in the land founded by those escaping medieval Christianity, America.

Miller is absolutely right to point out how seed thoughts in the Enlightenment can undermine a fresh faith in God's world, but he gives the impression he is writing off the whole of the Enlightenment which is regrettable. A great part of the enlightenment was the belief that individuals are not tied to fate or feudalism, and our lives can change a situation. And that ironically is what Miller's book is all about - that as individuals we can make a difference to situations through our prayers. I suspect this teaching can make much more headway in people who have been impacted by the Enlightenment, than in those which haven't.
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