I love to read. In our homeschool we love our time reading aloud together too. I admit though I am not much of a fan of fiction. I prefer to read things that are deep and thoughtful; not that action isn’t but….Anyway when I saw the opportunity to review this book by Mark S. Mirza, published by CTM Publishing Atlanta, The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles, I admit I had to know more. I mean, its a book about prayer but its fiction. So I read the basic overview of this story and there was even a video to watch, of the author speaking about this book, and it all left me intrigued. I admit it. I was quite curious about this one. So when I had the chance to review the book, I really was happy to do so. However I admit, I was a bit surprised when it arrived and I saw how thick this book was! What a story this was going to be.
The author, Mark S. Mirza, is a men’s ministry leader in Atlanta and started Common Threads ministries specifically to teach individuals to pray. He also coaches men in starting their own prayer groups. He wanted to write a novel to help people to pray because he preferred books and novels that taught him something in the process (this is my kind of author!). Unfortunately with a lot of Christian novels, that doesn’t always happen, which is why he chose to write his own novel. Since his focus is on prayer (even though it’s something he admits doesn’t come easily to him ~ does it come easily to any of us? really?), his debut novel is the first in a series that is meant to teach Christians how to pray more effectively. “If I can teach prayer through the fun of a novel, then THAT’S what I want to do,” he says on his website.
Troubles is the story of three men living in three different eras: Epaphras (first century), Alexander Rich (contemporary of Dwight Moody living in post-Civil War Georgia), and Dr. Dale (modern times). Each of these men face adversity in their prayer life and find themselves having to rely upon the Lord to overcome these trials. And of course there is an additional viewpoint within this novel: that of the demons who are causing all of the chaos within the lives of these upstanding men of God.
This is one of those books that you have to read, paying close attention, to every detail. Because it moves around a lot. So if you aren’t reading carefully, you will get confused. There were a few times we had to go back and review previous pages. I admit, I find that refreshing to read something that requires such great attention to detail. Shame on me perhaps, but I am used to most fiction being pretty “fluffy” ~ This author sure shows me! ha-ha
I do have to say right away, this is definitely not a book I would just hand to one of my kids and have them read independently. This book is full of wonderful inspiration and wisdom but I fear with all that is going on and the range of times and characters, for some kids this could really get confusing. Add to that the aspect of spiritual warfare which, while I am all for my kids learning about this, it is a sensitive and difficult thing for some youth to full grasp. There are also some things thats that are for more mature youth (mine are not there yet) like discussions of premarital sex, abortion, and other things of a more sexual nature, so some of these things we just did not read together. It’s not a matter of the appropriateness of these things; context is totally understandable but for my oldest, this would be too much to grasp right now. However some things, we did discuss (a lengthy discussion on our actions and thoughts; being wise as some things we may do now and deeply regret later).
Regardless of these things, I am really enjoying reading this book with my older son and I think there are great things that he gleans out of this; even more so this has encouraged quite the conversation between us regarding spirits and powers that be and prayer too. Because these are things we do need to be wise about; these are things we need to seek God’s wisdom and direction on. Prayer is something that really matters; I often find my kids learn more and gain a greater understanding of things, when it is in the form of a living book like this. We certainly want to ensure that we are not tossed about by every wind of doctrine. 🙂
“My responsibility is to be obedient, for God demonstrates time and time again who He is and that He can be trusted.” Hael
From the very first page I love how he clearly defines his purpose in the writing of this book. He makes sure that we are prepared for some of things that we will encounter within these pages too. There are often phrases within this book that speak so truly as to the value of prayer, the power and importance of prayer… “so long as they think they only think they know whom they are praying to…” Again and again we are reminded of the need to not just know of God but to truly know Him for ourselves. This is a book that shows how important it is for us to remember that we have an enemy; that it is not individuals but principalities and powers which we are to fight against daily. This is not a battle that we can war at now and then; we need to be strong in prayer that we may overcome.
Prayer is something so powerful; we are called to pray without ceasing. We are called to be prayer warriors ~ to intercede for those in need ~ and it has been something I have really been feeling more and more strongly called to. To go deeper in my own prayer life; to go before the throne more boldly than before. This book was so timely; such a great blessing and inspiration to me not just as one called to prayer but also as one called to disciple, to train up my children in the way that they should go!