Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell

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The thesis of Chapell’s book is that when we pray in Jesus’ name we are praying in His power, for His honor and for the will of God. Chapell recommends that we begin our prayers, “In Jesus name,” for in doing so “we will more readily discern when our prayers go astray from his purposes, hijacked by our self-interest” (p. 15). But Chapell is not stuck on one note in Praying Backwards, and allows himself to venture into a number of prayer-related issues and problems including: the nature of prayer in the light of the sovereignty of God, praying in the Spirit, and praying expectantly, persistently and specifically.

Chapell provides three good chapters dealing with praying in God’s will, which is found between two fences: the fence of righteousness and the fence of prudence. Throughout Praying Backwards there is much that is excellent advice and biblically sound. The reader will be encouraged to be more excited about prayer and to pray in ways that are in the will of God.

Still, there were a few things about Praying Backwards that concerned me. First, Chapell made a number of statements throughout that, while interesting, were biblically indefensible. In particular, his view concerning Jesus speaking through us is convoluted and not supported by the Scriptures given (pp. 86-88). His statements concerning corporate prayer did not hold water (p. 115); his use of Matthew 18:19-20 is out of context (p. 116) and his mystical belief in the prompting of the Holy Spirit was disappointing (pp. 136, 160, 165-178).

Overall this book is well worth reading, even with the few caveats mentioned above.

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