PhiMake 03-3-35




The Courage to Pray Dangerously


Michael Phillips

WaterBrook Press, 2003, 135 pp. 



This is the most spiritually challenging little book I’ve read in quite some time.  Phillips is the author of Christian fiction who has also modernized the George MacDonald classics.  This book is about the same size as The Prayer of Jabez, but it begins at the other end of the spectrum.  It has grown out of the author’s personal experience and life-long prayer, “God, make me like Jesus.” 


Observing the evangelical church’s increasing preoccupation with blessings, Phillips point out that we may get the blessings and miss the best!  God’s primary purpose is to conform us to Jesus.  “He is in the enterprise of fashioning sons and daughters.”  (17)


Praying, “God, make me like Jesus,” carries a heavy cost.   Although the words are simple, the means are costly.  This pilgrimage will set your course apart from the crowd, perhaps even the crowd in your church.  (22)  “There have been times when it has been so difficult that my stomach physically ached as I did so.”  (23)  God answers that prayer through self-denying obedience (27)


This prayer brings the question of how can we live, respond, behave, and think like Jesus?  We must turn our hearts to the Father, as Jesus did.  We can pray, “Father, what would you have me do?”  We learn to give over our free will, the most precious gift God has given humankind.  Finding God’s will is complicated because we tend to hear confirmation of our will. 


“Each successive stage in the prayer of Christlikeness contains steadily deepening consequences.”  “Not my will, but yours be done,” relinquishes my freedom of choice, the ultimate expression of human freedom.  With that prayer, Jesus submitted to death on the cross.  We give up our rights to determine the course of my own life for the greater privilege of ultimate freedom. 


Phillips describes “My God, my God, why…?” as the prayer of death.  This is the prayer of faith in the face of no feeling or reason to sustain it, placing oneself blindly in the hands of God when to all appearances he has removed his hand from us.  And we go on, because God is God and he is good. (94)


These prayers are followed by the prayer of life and the prayer of joy.