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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens (Jurgen Matthesius)

TITLE: PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens: Divine Principles for Praying with Confidence, Discerning God's Will, and Blessing Others
AUTHOR: Jurgen Matthesius
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2014, (256 pages).

Two things about this book grab my attention. The first is the acronym for PUSH which I think is brilliant. The second is that this is a book on prayer, in particular, persevering prayer. According to author Jurgen Matthesius, this book is essentially an exposition on biblical truths he had learned, surrounding persistent prayer. He intends this book also to push every button of ours so that we can be motivated to pray more. As founder of C3 San Diego, he is part of the leadership team for the global C3 Church network, with its origins from Australia, known for its impact on youths. He led the C3 Church and planted the San Diego plant in 2005. Today, they have three campuses in San Diego.

In this book, Matthesius uses a series of popular movie names to title his chapters. He uses "Inception" to point out the overall strategy of the movie. Instead of extracting information from people in their most vulnerable state, the movie centers on how the protagonist plants information into the minds of individuals. Matthesius then uses this example to show us that the Word of God planted in us will teach us rich truths of God to sustain and hold all things together. It motivates prayer. He teaches us that prayer is not about our own opinions about God but what the Word of God says about God.

Analogies between movie and faith matters will always be limited. Sometimes, it can cause misunderstanding. For example, while "Inception" can appear manipulative as people tries to control the actions of a few individuals, the Word of God in us is freely given and freely received. Not only that, Jesus gives of his life and is the Incarnation of the Word. The movie itself can be a trigger point for discussing the differences between "Inception" and "Incarnation" too. In "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," Matthesius contrasts between authority and power. Authority trumps power because of status rather than raw might. Likewise, in Christ we have authority over spiritual forces of darkness. We cannot allow the world to discourage us and make us fatalistic believers. We need to exercise the will of God through prayer for God's will to be done. The topic of spiritual warfare is expanded in "The Fight Club" where we cannot be deceived by worldly attempts at peace through mere proclamations of "world peace" at beauty pageants. Peace is not about paying lip service by active engagement in acts of justice and responsible use of authority. We pray as if we are pushing into areas where God said all things are possible. There is the "King's Speech" which stresses the need to pray according to the Word of God. I initially thought the "Silence of the Lambs" is about the pathetic lack of prayer. Instead, it was about learning to know when NOT to pray. "The LORD of the Rings" is about the great adventure of prayer, just like the Tolkien's trilogy about two kingdoms in conflict. The movie "Battlefield Earth" was about the first half of a novel written by Scientologist's founder Ron Hubbard. The best part of the movie is none other than the title, which Matthesius gladly uses to tell the story of our key battle strategy on earth: Prayer. It is likened to a pregnant woman pushing a baby out. He includes in this chapter some responses to the problem of evil. In "Battle Royale" is about building God's heavenly on earth through prayer.

Apart from prayer, the author draws in several lessons with regards to what the will of God is. He asserts the position of God's Word. He teaches us on how the will of God comes to pass and the role of prayer. He explains what spiritual warfare is.It pushes one beyond mere knowing God's will to doing what God wills. As one reads further, there is a strong push toward spiritual warfare and battle language. By ending with "Ocean's Eleven," there is a push toward believing prayer and a triumphant spirit that overcomes the symptoms of an unbelieving heart.

As I read the book, I can feel the enthusiasm of the author oozing through the pages, linking prayer with action; faith with belief; hope with courage; and a passion for God. These various chapters can easily form a series of sermons to encourage congregations to pray more and to seek God more deeply. How would I categorize this book? Three thoughts. First, it is an honest effort to help readers understand prayer from a biblical perspective. The many scriptures used in both the Old and the New Testament attest to the passion of the author, that everything must be Word-centered, Word-drive, and Word-motivated. Second, there is a strong feeling of spiritual warfare. In quite a number of chapters, prayer is not simply meditating or quiet contemplation until one's own oblivion. Prayer is very much a visible act of engaging in spiritual fight in God's might. This aspect of prayer is most common in Pentecostal or charismatic churches. The Church network that Matthesius represents have many elements of the charismatic movements.  Third, the many stories in each chapter help to make the reading engaging and exciting. Stories from the Bible give a biblical background. Stories from his life make it very personal. It puts a human face to a book of prayer. I appreciate that because some prayer books are often heavy on the theory but minimizes the practice. This book aims to correct that though sometimes I felt it may have 'overcorrected' it. All in all, if this book can spur readers to pray more, to seek God more, and to live as transformed kingdom people, it would have worth every cent.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


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

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