Arminian Today

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Book Review: Authority in Prayer by Dutch Sheets

Dutch Sheets is known for his teaching on prayer.  I hope he is also a man of prayer though I don’t know much about him other than from his books.  Sheets is a charismatic teacher and travels the world teaching on prayer.  He has written other books on prayer besides the one that I am going to review.

The Positives 

1.  The Short Chapters.

The book has only 14 chapters.  This is a relatively short book for me.  It is only 197 pages.  The chapters are short and mostly to the point.

2.  No Guilt Trips on Prayer.

Some books on prayer simply seem to make you feel guilty.  “You are not praying enough.”  “You must spend 2 hours with the Lord or you are not even saved!”  “You will never see revival with your pathetic prayer life.”  This is what I mean by guilt prayer books.  They beat you up with no mercy or grace.  This book doesn’t do that.  While prayer is the focus, the author does not spend a lot of time focusing on making you feel guilty.  He just wants you to pray.

3.  Some Biblical Focus.

What I will have more to say about this later, there was some emphasis placed on what the Bible says about prayer and the promises of God.  Nearly every chapter had passages of Scripture in them.  The Bible wasn’t ignored in this book.  While I have some troubling aspects of the author’s usage of some passages, I appreciated that the author seems to believe the Bible is the Word of God.

4.  Victory in Christ.

Daniel 7:13-14 has been in my heart now for days and the author focuses on how Christ has won the victory.  Christ will reign forever over His enemies and His disciples will rejoice!  In the meantime, we have been given biblical authority to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20) and to pray (John 14:12-14).  Because Jesus sits at the right hand of God (Hebrews 7:25), He is able to help us (Hebrews 4:14-16) and this is true in prayer.  We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The author does a good job of teaching that Christ has won the victory, that Satan is defeated, and that we can seek God through Christ.

5.  Prayer is Powerful!

Prayer is powerful only because God is all-powerful!  The author shows that God answers prayer (Mark 11:22-24).  He tells many stories to teach the reader that God does hear our prayers and He does answer our prayers.  In the author’s case, the Lord answers prayer in many astonishing ways.  I too have seen the Lord answer prayer.  God has been faithful to hear my cries and to answer my prayers.  While I have never seen miracles (though I have seen His hand of providence), I don’t doubt that God can and does miracles from time to time but always for His glory and honor and not for ours (Acts 14:3).  We should pray big prayers and seek God for big things.  I have no trouble with this and in fact I was convicted that I pray too often for “easy” things instead of praying for amazing things like the saving of souls by the thousands.

The Negatives

Let me point out a few negatives I took away from the book.

1.  Too Experiential For My Taste.

I prefer books that focus on the biblical text.  There are books that are more devotional in nature such as the prayer books of Andrew Murray and there are books on prayer from a more theological point and those are my favorites.  Sound doctrine goes hand in hand with sound living (1 Timothy 4:16).  This book has many experiences from the author.  The author writes much about his experiences with hearing God speak.  I have never heard the voice of God and I am convinced that we hear God speak in the Bible.  The Bible is His final, inerrant, and infallible revelation given to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and this is why we should teach prayer from the Bible and not from personal experiences.

2.  Lack of Biblical Content.

I mentioned above that the author does use Scripture.  Sheets used a Bible verse in every chapter.  Yet Sheets never really teaches the text.  In fact, his chapters used Bible verses but much like a topical preacher.  He sort of used Bible verses only to back up his points.  Sheets didn’t deal with the text nor exegete them at all.  I would rather read a book say on the disciple’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 which deals with each verse slowly and deeply than to hear personal stories over and over again.

3.  Lack of the Gospel.

A book on prayer should be gospel-centered and Christ-exalting.  Sheets did not tear down the Lord Jesus in any way so I want to make that clear.  Sheets, in my estimation from this book, is not seeking to turn people away from Christ as a false teacher would.  Christ is spoken of all over this book.  Yet what was missing was the gospel.  The gospel is the very reason that I get to pray!  The gospel is what opens the doors of heaven so that I can pray to my Father.  The work of Christ is vital and our understanding of the gospel is necessary to help us to pray.  When we understand the death of Christ for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and His resurrection for our justification before God (Romans 4:24-25), this opens our prayer lives because we see that we are not praying out of religious duty to earn God’s perfection (Isaiah 64:6) nor His blessing for what have all that in Christ Jesus (Romans 4:5).  Christ is the reason that I get to pray (John 15:16).  While Sheets does mention the Lord Jesus often, he doesn’t spend any time speaking of the glory of the cross nor of Christ sitting at the right hand of God making intercession for the saints.  This point is vital to prayer.

4.  Territory Spirits.

One final point.  Sheets talks often about God placing him in places to pray.  He tells a story in the book about the Lord placing him in Washington DC to pray for the United States.  He believes his prayers have shaped many political situations and has kept the hand of God back from judging the nation.  Sheets seems to have a view that spirits control areas such as DC or other cities.  This comes from some who teach this based on Daniel 10:13.  I appreciate those who would pray for cities and nations.  Paul prayed for people groups in Romans 10:1.  The Messiah prays to the Father in Psalm 2:8 for the nations.  Did He fail to get those?  No!  Jesus reigns over the nations and that is why He could tell His disciples to go and get them (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8).  We are Christ’s ambassadors telling the world to repent and submit to the Lordship of Jesus in all things (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  So I disagree with Sheets over this issue.  Satan is defeated and Christ is victorious.  Our job is to proclaim Christ and His victory over the enemy (1 John 3:8).

Conclusion

Overall this book was not a bad read.  I don’t want you to think from my negative points that the book was all bad.  It wasn’t.  There was some good that I took from this book.  While I have read better books on prayer, this was not the worst.  I would recommend it for someone wanting to devour books on prayer.

This review was based on a free copy of the book provided by Bethany House Publishers.  I was free to give my review in whatever way I saw best.  Thank you to Bethany House for the book.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/28/2015 at 6:48 PM

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