Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Hidden Life of Prayer: The Life-Blood of the Christian, by David MacIntyre


At 128 pages, this is more booklet than book, but it's got enough substance to merit a review nonetheless.  Unlike Foster's Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, MacIntyre breaks the topic into only 8 chapters.  The opening chapter reiterates the value, importance, and difficulty of prayer.  In the second chapter, MacIntyre addresses the need for a quiet place, a quiet hour, and a quiet heart.  The third chapter, on directing the mind, encourages Christians to realize the presence of God, be honest, and come in faith.  The next three chapters break prayer down into 3 categories or components (worship, confession, and request), as opposed to Foster's 21.  The final two chapters tell us what effect prayer will have on our lives.

Full disclosure:  I listened to the audiobook version, which was made available free of cost at in connection with Tim Challies' selection of the book as the next entry in his Reading Classics Together series.  And I . . . did not like it.  The book is written by a Scottish preacher, and it was first published in 1913.  David Cochran Heath (the narrator) speaks with a standard American English accent, with very even pacing and not much in the way of inflection or animation.  In my experience, the audiobook market is not short on Brits, so I haven't the foggiest idea why they hired a white-bread American to read a book by a Scottish preacher.  I mean, maybe they couldn't find a Scot, but there are loads of Brits in the audiobook industry.  Instead, they opted for a nondescript American voice.  And honestly, it was jarring to hear old prose in an American accent.

The narration was simultaneously distracting and also failed to hold my attention.  I kept wandering in and out of the reading, and didn't absorb more than about a third of what MacIntyre had to offer.  I suspect the book itself is quite good and has lots of good things to day (Challies liked it, anyway).  I just didn't get all that much out of it, largely because I couldn't pay attention.  Which is on me, I grant you, but I listen to a lot of audiobooks (mostly fiction, sure, but more than a few nonfiction as well), and I don't normally struggle quite this much to focus on what's being read.

So if you're interested in checking out this book, do yourself a favor and get a print copy (or at least a Kindle version).  I fully intend to do just this when (yes, when) I re-read this book.  Plus, that way you (I) can mark up the passages you (I) like.

Oh, and the best part of the book (in my humble opinion, and based on my imperfect absorption):
“The main lesson about prayer is just this: Do it! Do it! Do it!” (quoting John Laidlaw)

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