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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.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/28/2015 at 6:48 PM

John MacArthur on E.M. Bounds

John MacArthur recently made comments about E.M. Bounds at his Strange Fire Conference.  His attack on Bounds is not defined as MacArthur merely states that he read a book by Bounds while in college that he says “was worse” than the mystics he had been reading on prayer.  MacArthur never states the problems he has with Bounds.

I have wrestled with this and I cannot read into MacArthur’s mind as to why he opposes Bounds but I suppose it would be two fold.  First, I suppose MacArthur would oppose Bounds because Bounds places much emphasis on prayer.  Obviously, MacArthur would reply that we need to be balanced between prayer, evangelism, studying and teaching the Word, etc.  Prayer, while important, would not be the most emphasized ministry I suppose that MacArthur would want to push.  Again, I am just giving my thoughts here as I don’t know the man.

Secondly, I suppose Bounds’ Arminianism would be a problem for MacArthur.  Though Bounds does not talk about Arminianism, we know that he was a Methodist chaplain for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.  Bounds was captured by the Union and was held in prison in Tennessee until the end of the Civil War.  He then returned to Georgia where he preached and prayed until his death.  Many of his books today on prayer were not penned by him but came following his death.  MacArthur, no doubt, would not appreciate Bounds’ Arminianism.

I for one have loved Bounds for many years.  His books on prayer have taught me much about prayer.  I have read nearly all of his works.  I have also encouraged many other disciples to read and study the prayer books of E.M. Bounds.  Bounds, contrary to what MacArthur seems to suggest, is not mystical.  Bounds does not present an unbiblical notion about prayer.  If Bounds fails, it is that he guilty of praying too much?  Bounds was known to have prayed up to nine hours a day before his death.  Yes Bounds preached and yes he taught the Word but in has later years, he spent his time in prayer.  It was from his times of prayer that his books would be born.

I don’t see how one can downplay prayer.  The disciples came to Jesus in Luke 11:1 and didn’t ask how to preach.  They didn’t ask Him how to teach theology or how to do miracles.  The disciples asked one question and one question only, “Teach us how to pray.”  Jesus lived a life of prayer (Luke 5:16).  Jesus said that His own disciples would be marked by praying (Matthew 6:5).  He told His disciples to ask anything in His name (John 14:12-14).  Jesus also taught His disciples to pray always and not lose heart (Luke 18:1).  Jesus said that if we pray in true faith, we could move mountains (Mark 11:22-24).  The Apostles continued this in the book of Acts (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4) and in the Letters (Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 4:2-3; 5:16; etc.).  How then can we just place prayer among other duties?  Prayer is what should be our focus and it should lead us toward doing greater works for the kingdom.

Ironically MacArthur penned a devotional book on prayer, Alone with God in which he quotes from Bounds.  Why quote from Bounds if he is so bad?  To read the works of Bounds on prayer, I suggest this book.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/04/2013 at 4:11 PM

Four Kindle Works You Need on Prayer

Prayer is so vital to the life of the disciple of Jesus that Jesus said that His disciples would pray (Matthew 6:5).  Our Lord’s own prayer life was so powerful that His disciples came to Him and asked Him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1).  Oh how often have I prayed those words to Jesus!  Oh how often have we neglected to seek God in prayer!

I urge you to read these books and allow the Holy Spirit to purge you of laziness in prayer.

1.  The Path of Prayer by Samuel Chadwick.  Only $0.99 and this book is full of wisdom form a man of prayer.  He was the master of Cliff College when Leonard Ravenhill was a student there.

2.  Why Revival Tarries? by Leonard Ravenhill.  Great book that first challenged this vessel to prayer.  Brother Leonard had a way with words and his prophetic voice is missed in the church.

3.  Praying Hyde by E.G. Carre.  John Hyde was a great man of prayer and you’ll be challenged as you read his stories.  Brother John was such a man of prayer that he earned the nickname “Praying Hyde” and “Apostle of Prayer.”  Like Rees Howell, Praying Hyde knew how to touch the throne of God and God heard his cries often.

4.  The Complete Collection of E.M. Bounds on Prayer.  E.M. Bounds was a man of prayer.  Most of his works came after his death in which he left behind his notes on prayer.  Bounds was a Confederate chaplain during the American Civil War but he learned how to pray and God heard his cries and saved many souls during the Civil War through this man’s preaching.  He was imprisoned by the Union and there he taught others how to seek God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/08/2013 at 10:00 AM

Books To Spark Your Prayer Life

Here are a few titles that I highly recommend on prayer to spark a passion in your life to pray.  All true disciples of Jesus know that we should pray (Matthew 6:5) and that prayer makes a difference (Luke 11:1-13; James 5:16) but so few of us take the words of our Lord to heart (Luke 18:1).  These books can help you see your desperate need for God and how wonderful it is to seek His face.  The wicked are those who do not seek His face (Psalm 10:4).  May that not be true of us!

Most of these titles are linked for the Kindle.  They are all inexpensive but the Kindle formats are very cheap and worth purchasing.  Again, I would urge you to get a Kindle.  You’ll be amazed at the large amount of books that you will able to purchase for less than a dollar.

1.  Why Revival Tarries? by Leonard Ravenhill.

2.  Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill.

3.  The Path of Prayer by Samuel Chadwick.

4.  The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer.

5.  How To Pray by R.A. Torrey.

6.  The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennett.

7.  Prayer by John Bunyan.

8.  Soul of Prayer by P.T. Forsyth.

9.  The Pastor in Prayer by Charles Spurgeon.

10.  The Spirit Helps Us Pray: A Biblical Theology of Prayer by Robert Brandt and Zenas Bicket.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/19/2012 at 11:13 AM

One Note on Modern Books on Prayer

I mentioned in a previous post my disdain for many books that I have read on prayer as of late by modern writers.  I want to add that I find it interesting that when you read older books on prayer such as E.M. Bounds, Samuel Chadwick, John Bunyan, or Charles Spurgeon, they rarely use any personal illustrations and in fact don’t rely on many illustrations at all.  R.A. Torrey might be the exception to this in his book, How To Pray.  Leonard Ravenhill, as far as I have read, never used personal illustrations much in his books other than telling a brief story about purchasing a book by E.M. Bounds on prayer while in college.  It seemed the older books on prayer focused entirely on prayer and the Scriptures.  I find comfort in that much more than in story after story about the author and their “great faith.”  What we really need to hear is not how God provided you with your 100,000 square foot building but what the does the Scriptures teach on prayer.

Just another reason I enjoy older books on prayer.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/21/2012 at 5:53 PM

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