Do you ever feel as though you need a new way to approach prayer? Author Jeannie Blackmer did, and out of that came her new book Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer. The BlogAbout Blogger Network generously sent me not only a copy to read and review myself, but one to give away to a reader!
So, about prayer…
What does prayer look like for you? I’m a morning person, and I’ve always thrived on an early morning quiet time when I can have some time in the Bible and in prayer (along with a cup of coffee, of course!). That was a great way for me to start my day when I was single and working, and it’s just as good for me as a wife and mom. Especially as a homeschool mom; having that time of peace, God’s Word, and time with Him helps me to stay on track and get going in the right direction each day. (And, I hope, staying the course throughout that day!)
Our family has been through a lot in the past few years, including job challenges, surgeries, and most recently, the chemotherapy treatments I had following my May 1 surgery. And I noticed recently that my prayers had just been knocked down to the bare bones. It’s not that I WASN’T thankful for God and His character, and His love. But I was urgently pleading and asking for the help I so desperately needed without focusing on thankfulness, praise, and worship. It looked a lot like, “help, help, HELP!”
And about Talking to Jesus…
Also recently, I was given this meaningful book, Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer. Something that author Jeanne Blackmer experienced when her children became teens was that she desperately needed to find a way to pray deeply for them…to change the focus and perhaps the nature of her prayers. Blackmer was inspired as she looked through Scriptures and found other parents coming to Jesus with their needs about their children…their loved ones…and themselves. Out of this, the wonderful Talking to Jesus was birthed and written. In 21 chapters, we meet 21 different people or groups of people who encountered Jesus (plus a few preceding and closing chapters). While staying faithful to the Scripture accounts, Blackmer has written about what the characters might have been thinking or feeling as they ministered (the disciples); as they came to Jesus with a huge request (like the Canaanite woman, or Jairus, or the woman who’d bled for 12 years), or as they lived and struggled (the blind men or the scribe). I loved this! I am a person who loves and finds meaning in story, and by adding story to the lives of these real Biblical men, women, and children, Blackmer is able to take us into what the characters might have experienced….and help us to see how those feelings aren’t so (if at all) different from our own. Here’s a sampling of some of the Biblical characters whose experiences with Jesus are explored here:
- The Centurion
- The Paralytic and His Friends
- The Ruler (a.k.a. Jairus)
- The Bleeding Woman
- The Disciples (in various situations)
- The Blind Men
- and more!
Blackmer concludes each chapter with three very good–and very impactful–sections. First, there is her Personal Response portion, where she talks more about what we can glean ourselves from the Bible account, and some specific things she noticed. She concludes these sections with gentle encouragements and exhortations for the reader. Second, there is a Reflection segment, which includes pertinent Bible verses (with both the verse itself and its address printed out); further nuggets from the Word of God that will draw the reader closer into the arms of God. And third, is a place for the reader’s own Observations. Here are spots where we can write about our responses to Jesus’ experiences and invitations, or prayers for the ways we’d like to move forward.
What this book has meant to me
So I mentioned earlier that my prayer life had been, for quite a few months, in sort of a crisis mode place. I knew that I needed the help that only God could give me. And I was definitely desperate enough to ask, and keep asking, for it. During my chemotherapy journey there were a lot of moments of amazing provision…and absolute hilarity…and faith and trust. But there were also fear and pain, which kept driving me to God for His help.
I’m so thankful that we’re past the chemo now. I am feeling better and more energetic every month. But I’ve noticed that there can be more to my prayer times now. After all, I’m in a relationship with God; and any relationship has got to be about more than the things one person needs from the other. Reading and working through Talking to Jesus has been a rich, lovely experience that has opened my eyes to some wonderful things, like who God is; how He loves me; and how readily He stands to be in relationship with me.
As I read Talking to Jesus, I was encouraged to place my own name–and myself–in one of the stories. You can probably guess which one was deeply meaningful to me! It was Blackmer’s chapter on The Bleeding Woman. The woman who was desperate–really desperate–for healing. She believed that Jesus might be the one who could help her. And He did! She reached out and touched his garment. Not even his hand or his leg…but the fabric of his robe. And He noticed! He turned, and asked who had touched Him…and, knowing she’d been found out, she came forward.
As an “unclean” person, she shouldn’t have even have been in a crowd of people in Israel. Her very presence or accidental touch of another person would have transferred (albeit temporarily) her uncleanness to that person. And yet Jesus didn’t say, “Get away, you’re dirty, you’re going to taint us.”
He called her “Daughter.” Beloved girl child. Wanted.
And then, He told her that her faith had healed her!
What an incredible moment. I’ve loved it for years, ever since a favorite pastor taught on Jairus (and his own desperation) and the bleeding woman. But never, in all those years, did I see until I read Blackmer’s retelling, how very deeply Jesus loved and valued the bleeding woman. And how very deeply He loves and values us.
Wow! What a moment. And what a book.
And your chance to win!
The BlogAbout Blogger Network has given me a copy of Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer to share with one reader! Let me tell you, whether you use this book in a devotional fashion, or just read it in huge chunks, you will be blessed and encouraged. Just click on the pink “Enter here!” link below, and you’ll be taken to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you can enter to win this for yourself. Giveaway closes December 18, 2017. Best wishes!
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