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Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Beloved Dust" (Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel)

TITLE: Beloved Dust: Drawing Close to God by Discovering the Truth About Yourself
AUTHOR: Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2014, (240 pages).

Books on prayer fill the shelves of many churches and Christian libraries. Many of them often give out tips and techniques on how to pray. Some provide useful background of the prayer classics before indulging in various forms of practical steps on how to improve one's prayer life. Read a passage. Find a method. That's the solution often given. This book attempts to do it differently by focusing on the relationship that prayer brings about instead of the methodologies of prayer. It focuses on what life with God means. It evokes conversational moments with four connected questions:
  1. Who is God?
  2. Who are we?
  3. What does it mean to relate to Him?
  4. What does it mean to be with Him?
Some of us know that Prayer is a relationship.  Now what does that really mean? Beginning with Genesis, authors Goggin and Strobel remind us that we are made to be with God in the first place. Life is not found by running away or hiding from God. Life is understood by being found in God and with God. Life has no Plan B because life per se is Plan A over and over. For example, time is one big struggle many of us face. We are not getting younger. Life is short. Time is precious. We are so busy that we are hard pressed for time. On and on, we allow time to occupy our minds that we forget to ask why? Relationships are timeless moments in which we learn to appreciate the people we love. The same is with God. As finite beings trying to relate to an Infinite God, the more we pray, the more we become aware of our frailty and helplessness of man and the power and might of God.  We learn dependence. Prayer is about coming out of hiding from our own expectations and fleshly desires and to immerse ourselves into God's great presence. It is being caught up with the purposes of God that we learn what we are created for. Prayer facilitates that awareness to instill in ourselves the great truth that "prayer is being with God who is always with us."

Like playing music beautifully, prayer is enjoying and celebrating God's presence with us. Prayer is a relationship because it requires honesty, authenticity, and inner sharing. It is not about solving problems or searching for some spiritual solutions for an earthly problem. It is about entering the heart of God and to follow after Jesus. We discover God in worship. We worship God with embrace. We recognize that words or silence can both be pathways to seeking God. Prayer is not limited to guttural sounds from within. Prayer is essentially resting in God and to let God lead us.

This is one of the most unique books on prayer that I have ever read. There is no four or five steps to prayer or techniques to learn. There are no prepared words to say or intercessory examples to imitate. It is instead a journey through the Bible that lets the Word of God speak to us as we make ourselves available to seek God at a deeper level. There is no specific right or wrong way to pray even though the authors did alluded to some wrong ways of techniques and methodologies at the beginning. It focuses exactly on what "prayer as relationship" means. The last chapter of the book shows the authors softening their stand as they provide three tips to enable us to pay better attention to our life.
  1. Pay Attention to Your Life: Attend to the "struggles, disappointments, and challenges" of our lives not to seek solutions but to learn humility. Be wary of any attempt to fix ourselves, but to experience God's forgiveness of our shortcomings.
  2. Reframe Your Practices: Learning to go through our struggles with God beside us. Keep in step instead of simply grabbing something from God and go it alone.
  3. Enter Honestly into Life with God: Learn to be absolutely open and honest to God about where we are and how we feel.
These are very helpful tips. In fact, they are examples of what it means to have a relationship with God. Let God guide us not in the way we want but in the way that God desires for us. Trust God. Know God more through his Word. Above all, take a step of faith. Life itself is uncertain anyway. Every step taken is thus an act of faith.

Rating: 4.25 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Thomas-Nelson via the BookLook Bloggers Network in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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