“Prayer: Does it Make any Difference?”

by Philip Yancey
Study with Anne Griffith, Founder, The Enlighten Foundation

Welcome to the Prayer Study Page!!!

If I could make a suggestion on how to work through this study, set up a file on your iPad or laptop, or pull out a notebook and begin taking notes.

I have my own notebook of Philip’s insights, scripture, odds and ends that pertain to prayer. Referring back and forth through the information helps secure it in your spirit. So don’t be stingy in your writing and by all means don’t rush through this work. As the Holy Spirit moves through you, share it with all of us. Just click on the Comments below and add your insight. The comments and insights of others can expand your understanding of the book. These are fellow followers of the Lord. We’re in this world together to learn and to share. Let’s jump into this stream together! You’ll understand that statement when you read Chapter 2.

Let's Pray

Chapter 1: Our Deepest Longing

by Philip Yancey
Study with Anne Griffith, Founder, The Enlighten Foundation

Chapter 1: Our Deepest Longing

Page 13: Philip quotes Thomas Merton, “Prayer is an expression of who we are…We are a living incompleteness. We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.”

I am an emotional eater. If something hits me wrong or someone slights me (which happens far too often 😉), I seek the solace of food, my personal ticket to feeling better. But all that really gave me was an extra 25 pounds. Years ago, I realized that just about everyone has that same emptiness and it’s not in your stomach. And most of us try to fill it with something.

1. What’s your emptiness?

2. What is the trigger that makes you search for something to fill you?

3. Do you think prayer has the “strength” to calm that trigger?

a. Why? Or why not?

Page 15: Philip states: “We have less and less time for conversation, let alone contemplation. We have the constant sensation of not enough; not enough time, not enough rest, not enough exercise, not enough leisure. Where does God fit into a life that already seems behind schedule?”

I can’t think of a single person who isn’t struggling with this same issue. In fact, we have a great topic in The Enlighten Foundation Journey called My Geography. It specifically goes into carving out time and space to make sense of our crazy lives. With the added insights of this book we begin flipping around our priorities to incorporate prayer with the Lord first. The difference in that priority makes all the difference in the amount of time and space we have as we face each day.

1. Have you ever thought that you really didn’t know what being a follower of Christ meant for you and your daily life?

2. Do you wonder what God had in mind when God created you? Do you continually ask God that question?

3. At the end of the day, do you find yourself wondering what you did all day?

4. Do you put the Lord into your daily communication? Or do you find yourself letting that slip by?

5. What does Philip mean when he says that “prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter?” (p.17)

Leave your insights below in the Leave a Comment section.

Chapter 2: View from Above

by Philip Yancey
Study with Anne Griffith, Founder, The Enlighten Foundation

Chapter 2: View from Above

Page 23: Philip states, “It occurs to me, thinking about prayer, that most of the time I get the direction wrong. I start downstream with my own concerns and bring them to God. I inform God, as if God did not already know. I plead with God as if hoping to change God’s mind and overcome divine reluctance. Instead I should start upstream where the flow begins.”

1. What does it mean on page 23 to join the stream?

2. Explain “Grace, like water descends to the lowest part. Streams of mercy flow.” (p.23) Can you see a place in your life where this might apply?

3. Are you standing on the bank of that stream? Pleading with God?

Woman Praying

4. As we contemplate jumping in the stream, we might visualize that sometimes streams can be calm and peaceful, and other times they can really bump you around. But God tells us in 1st Corinthians 10:13 that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

a. If God is faithful to you, can you be faithful to God?

Page 26: Philip writes about “taking a break,” “let God be God,” “I must uncreate the world I have carefully fashioned to further my ends and advance my cause.” Along with these actions, Philip challenges us with the notion of being still. (Psalms 46:10)

1. Is being still even possible? Can you see yourself being still? Even for a minute?

2. Reflect back through your experiences and think of a time when you were calm, standing in a calm, still, beautiful place. How did that help clear your head? When you left that place, were you able to face decisions with a little more confidence?

3. On page 29, Philip talks about prayer becoming a “realignment of everything.” As a follower of Christ, what are the prayers you would pray with God if you were standing side by side.

Leave your insights in the Leave A Comment section below.

Chapter 3: Just As We Are

by Philip Yancey
Study with Anne Griffith, Founder, The Enlighten Foundation

Chapter 3: Just As We Are

Page 30: “Sometimes I wonder if the words I use are the least important part of prayer.”
Is that a great statement or what? Do you ever fumble for the right words, sort of drift off and think of the grocery list? Sometimes I even think to myself, “for Heaven’s Sake, God already knows what is going on, I have no idea what to ask for, talk through or confess about. In fact, I’m sure the Lord is looking over my shoulder at the next person thinking, enough of this blather, “Next!”

But, in this sentence, Philip so aptly places our fallenness right in front of us. We go to the Lord in prayer because we are unsure, feel unprotected, indecisive and weak. Prayer time is when all the hype is stripped off while we humbly look to the Lord for answers.

1. Today, are there areas of your life that are loose? Unsure? Are you looking at your future with uncertainty? Concern?

2. Are you afraid to admit those issues to the Lord? Are you afraid that you might bungle the prayer?

Page 40: Philip states, “Prayer allows a place for me to bring my doubts and complaints—in sum, my ignorance—and subject them to the blinding light of a reality I cannot comprehend but can haltingly learn to trust.”

1. Have you ever just wanted to “lay it all out” with the Lord and just be honest with what’s going on with you?

2. On Page 41, Philip refers to Psalm 139: 4, 7-8. Read that verse. Philip states that for him, … “what I think and feel as I pray, rather than the words I speak, may be the real prayer, for God "hears" that too.”

3. Have you thought of having a real “heart to heart” prayer with the Lord?

4. Finally, Philip asks this question on page 44: “Do we allow our day to be shaped by God’s desire to relate to us?” How do you respond to this?

If you want to break out and start your own path to your life with the Lord, sign up to start your Journey. Every second of your life makes a difference in this world for God. Live your life to the fullest. Contact Anne@enlightenfoundation.org

If you have a prayer you would like our Prayer Warriors and Walkers to pray for, please email us at Prayer@enlightenfoundation.org.

Leave your insights in the Leave A Comment section below.

Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Patricia Crowley says:

    Like Yancey, I want to know God, yet at the same time I let everything else in my life come first—all the mundane, often trivial, aspects of day to day existence. Prayer challenges me to take the precarious step of becoming vulnerable, admitting that I cannot meet my own needs, pave my own way through life.

  • Anne Griffith says:

    Thanks Patti for your comment, it seems we all do the same thing. I think Yancey takes us step by step through learning to communicate with God, not by begging but by talking with the Lord, walking with the Lord, looking from the top down with God, at the larger picture of life. Helping us to understand why we were created by God for God. I love that you’re reading this, you’re such a strong ambassador for the Lord, this is a great study for you. Love, Anne

  • alice Hudson says:

    I loved this book it has something to glean on every chapter. Rereading it is even better. I am taking the time to go thru it in a more precise way.
    To begin with I pray because I want to be close to God. I want him to know me and I know Him. It also makes me feel closer to the people I pray for. As I pray for certain individuals I visualize their suffering and I empathize with them and the situation of need. God is not always quick to answer as sometimes I am in a hurry for the answer but He never disappoints. I have a journal of asks and answers which are not always to my liking but He is God and I am not!!! Page thirteen in the book “WE pray because we want to thank someone or something for the beauties and glories of life.” It goes on to say We pray for forgiveness, for strength, for contact with the One!!” I could quote on and on from this book!!!Everyday is a struggle to be a better person and I have to go back and forth
    so that I can lead a Godly life and it seems with so many things it is so hard, with the media taking out attention daily we must renew ourselves in Gods word. I can come before the One who loves me.

    • Noel Schulze says:

      I am amazed how Yancey can approach prayer from every angle. He discusses the definition, questions the reasons for prayer, addresses our guilt about not praying enough and in right way. One if his statements really hit home with me, “Prayer is the act of seeing reality from God’s point of view” – wow!
      I hope this question from page 15 is answered- “What accounts for the disparity between Luther and Simeon on their knees for several hours and the modern pray-er fidgeting in a chair after 10 minutes?”

  • Barbara Fox says:

    The understanding that is being driven home to me is the relationship with God. In just 3 chapters I have had confirmation of what I discovered on my own and epiphanies of ideas that seemed crystal clear once I read them . It is intense and I look forward to each page.

  • Deborah Gamber says:

    I’ve been reading Philip Yancy’s book on prayer and find it refreshing to read his comments on prayer that I’ve also struggled with during my life as a believer. As an example on page 22, when Philip says ‘Job did not receive a single answer to his probing questions, a fact that no longer seemed to matter.’ I too when asking God as to ‘why’ something has happened in my life, do not get answers, but know just by voicing my hurt and frustrations to the Lord, He hears my prayers and has given His answer, whether no, wait, maybe or yes; but only He knows the Why? Also, knowing as Philip says on page 23, that God already cares about my concerns and even more than I do. I liked the top of page 36, ‘admission of weakness disarms pride at the same time that it prepares us to receive His grace’ in our lives. Just being able to go to the Lord with all of my fears, concerns and agonies that I cannot control, admits my weakness and shows me His strength to carry my burden and solve it in a way that brings in His grace, as well as the grace of other believers, family members and friends in my life. We are indeed the ‘body of Christ’ who need ‘one another’. I’m thankful for my women friends in Enlighten Foundation!

  • Kris Van Wormer says:

    This book has been very beneficial for some ladies in my Journey Group. They are learning to pray even when things are crazy in their lives and they have nothing good to talk to God about. Phillip tells us that we need to just be honest with God and have a conversation as if he was sitting across the table from us. I love that idea, just envisioning God having a cup of coffee with me.

  • Barbara Fox says:

    Do I realize that God is always around me? Yes I sense it when I realize that man just copies God. Nature is Gods idea board, whether it is construction, art, or a new invention.

  • Alice Hudson says:

    Alice Hudson IN this time uncertainty we need to pray— “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord, Renew them in our day, in our time make them known,” Habakkuk 3:2

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